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Thread: Creative Works

  1. #41
    When I think about it that way Seth, Skull Face, Phoenix is the Harry Potter who went dark.

  2. #42
    The Brain
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Posts
    2,757
    Wrote something new for my sister. I may rework it a bit still but I like how it came out.


    Old Timey Happiness Good Old Days Sunshine Theater
    By Christopher Hageman

    MOM Wants everything to be ok, all the time. A bit overprotective.

    DAD He tries, but he’s very stressed. Having a bad day, in a bad mood.

    BILLY Young. Happy, when he can be. Perhaps around 10 years old.

    THE TOUR GUIDE Loves, perhaps worships the theater.

    THE DIRECTOR A showman, and the man running the show. A twinkle in his eye.

    THE HERO On air, the archetypal hero. Off air, incomprehensible and weird.

    THE HEROINE On air, the archetypal damsel, also narrator. Off air, listless.

    THE VILLAIN On air, a melodramatic megalomaniac. Off air, painfully shy.

    THE HENCHMAN On air, a bumbling goon. Off air, has lofty pretensions.

    THE STAGE MANAGER Tired of all this.

    THE SOUND GUY Only speaks in sound effects.

    THE COMMERCIAL GUY Commercials, he just loves them!!

    SETTING: A small town radio station.

    AT RISE: Stage is empty. DIRECTOR appears and walks to center stage. He looks around angrily at the empty stage, then looks offstage stage right. He taps his wrist and stamps his foot, and STAGE MANAGER enters wearily, carrying as many chairs/stools as possible. HERO, HEROINE, VILLAIN, HENCHMAN, SOUND GUY, and COMMERCIAL GUY all enter behind him, each carrying no more than their own stool/chair. Everyone starts setting up with a lot of hustle and bustle. They can interact as they set up but should not reveal much of their character. If the STAGE MANAGER has to make multiple trips, so much the better, the DIRECTOR should focus most of his micromanaging on him. Suggested setup: At far Stage Left, 2 stools/chairs for COMMERCIAL GUY and SOUND GUY, facing straight ahead. Slightly to Stage Left of Center, 4 stools/chairs for HERO, HEROINE, VILLAIN, and HENCHMAN, facing straight ahead. Slightly Stage Right of Center, 2 stools/chairs for DIRECTOR and STAGE MANAGER, angled to face the performers but cheated towards the audience. Behind them at far Stage Right, 4 angled stools/chairs. When everything is set up, everyone should take their assigned seat. Everyone stays seated for the duration unless otherwise directed, except the DIRECTOR, who can get up and pace behind the performers as much or as little as they like to. The space between the cast and the stage manager should serve as an informal barrier, no need to mime a door but indicate subtly that this is a barrier if possible. When everyone is seated, the DIRECTOR gives the signal, and the cast assumes their stage persona.

    STAGE MANAGER
    On air!

    COMMERCIAL
    Today’s show is brought to you by John Jay’s Hair Cream! Nobody creams your hair like John Jay! It’s Jaylicious! And now, live from the historic Independence Studio, it’s the Old Timey Happiness Good Old Days Sunshine Theater!

    SOUND
    (Zippy fanfare.)

    HEROINE
    Welcome back everyone! You’ve just in time for the next part of the story!

    HERO
    The story of the good!

    SOUND
    (Heroic trumpets!)

    VILLAIN
    And the bad!

    SOUND
    (Dramatic reverb!)

    HENCHMAN
    And the ugly! Hey, wait!

    SOUND
    (Wah wah wah)

    HEROINE
    And also there’s a woman!

    SOUND
    (Wolf whistle!)

    HEROINE
    We last left our dear hero in a precarious position!

    SOUND
    (Tense crescendo!)

    HERO
    You may have trapped me on this precarious cliff, you scoundrel, but you’ll never win the day!

    VILLAIN
    (Evil cackle) Fool, victory is already within my grasp! The secrets of the Egyptian Mummy’s Curse will be mine!

    HEROINE
    No, not the curse! Somebody do something!

    HERO
    Don’t worry, my darling! All will be well!

    VILLAIN
    All will be doom! Loyal henchman, produce the parchment!

    SOUND GUY
    (Wind whistles through an awkward pause)

    HENCHMAN
    Uh, is that me?

    VILLAIN
    Of course it’s you, you fool! Give me the parchment!

    HENCHMAN
    Ah, yes m’lord! Here it is!

    HEROINE
    Oh no, he has the parchment!

    HERO
    Don’t worry darling, he’s in for a nasty shock!

    VILLAIN
    Why, you dundering dunderhead, this is no parchment! It’s… toilet paper!!

    SOUND
    (Extended dramatic reverb!!!)

    HENCHMAN
    But it’s quilted!

    COMMERCIAL
    Not feeling comfortable in your sarcophagus? Try Thomas Paine’s TP! Thomas Paine’s TP, for common comfort. No Paine, no inflamed! Now quilted!

    SOUND
    (Tada!)

    VILLAIN
    Comfortable and gentle though this may be, it is not the parchment! You blistering buffoon, what have you done?

    HERO
    Twas not him, twas me, thou villain!

    HEROINE
    Oh my, you know I love it when you speak old English! I’m all a-flutter!

    HERO
    When thoust underling was distracted, I didst swap thine cursed document! I have the true item right here in mine possession!

    HENCHMAN
    Well, don’t I feel foolish.

    VILLAIN
    Why you!

    SOUND GUY
    (Bonk!)

    HENCHMAN
    Doh! Sorry master!

    HEROINE
    An ingenious plan my love…

    (The radio drama continues but fades into silence. TOUR GUIDE leads MOM, DAD, and BILLY on from Stage Right.)

    TOUR GUIDE
    And here’s where the magic happens!

    MOM
    Oooh, the magic! Billy, did you hear that? It’s the magic!

    BILLY
    Like a magician?

    DAD
    Yeah, he made my 50 bucks disappear so we could come in here…

    TOUR GUIDE
    And you won’t regret it! Because this is the studio where they make the Old Timey Happiness Good Old Days Sunshine Theater Radio Show!

    DAD
    (Pause) You know, I’m in marketing. I could probably help you with that Encyclopedia of a name.

    MOM
    Oh, stop.

    TOUR GUIDE
    No need sir, the name is perfect! Just like everything here!

    BILLY
    I like the name!

    TOUR GUIDE
    Because you have a pure heart! Let’s sit down and watch!

    (MOM, BILLY, and TOUR GUIDE sit)

    DAD
    He also likes Barney…

    TOUR GUIDE
    (Brightly) Shut up and sit down sir!

    DAD
    Did you just say…

    DIRECTOR
    (Walks over to the group, blustering) Excuse me, we are trying to make beautiful art over here, can you please sit quietly and allow us to create beauty?

    DAD
    Ah… yeah, of course.

    BILLY
    I want to see the beauty!

    DIRECTOR
    Ah, then you shall, small boy!

    (DIRECTOR goes to STAGE MANAGER and taps him on the shoulder, and makes a circular motion. STAGE MANAGER nods and turns and the sound returns.)

    HEROINE
    ...But what will we do now? How will we escape this precious perch?

    HERO
    Don’t worry! I have a plan! Geronimo!!

    SOUND
    (Slide whistle dooooooooooown! Sploosh!)

    VILLAIN
    The fool has jumped!

    HEROINE
    (Screams!) What a brave and foolish thing to do!

    VILLAIN
    No matter! Come, my mindless minion. Take the girl, we shall travel to the bottom and retrieve the precious parchment from the corpse of the fool! (Evil cackle!)

    HENCHMAN
    Yes m’lord! Come along miss, we’re going to see the corpse!

    HEROINE
    No! Unhand me! You fiendish brute! Your hands are so rough!

    HENCHMAN
    Oh, you hurt my feelings miss!

    COMMERCIAL GUY
    Rough skin got you down? Try Pat Henry’s moisturizing sandpaper scrub! The women will say, wow! The fellas will say, hey now! Give me smooth skin or give me death! Now 100% safe! We’ll be right back!

    (DIRECTOR gives the signal)

    STAGE MANAGER
    Off air!

    (Everyone resumes their off air personas. The performers can’t hear the tourist group.)

    DAD
    I didn’t knew they still made shows like… this.

    MOM
    On the radio, you mean?

    DAD
    No, I mean this bad. (Loudly) Anybody heard of Netflix?

    TOUR GUIDE
    (Unphased, Cheerful) Here at OTHGODS, we believe the old ways are best! If it’s not broke, don’t fix it!

    DAD
    Oth-gods? Old Timey Happiness… Oh, I get it. Yeah, still think you have an image problem.

    MOM
    Honey, we talked about this.

    BILLY
    I want to know what happens next!

    DIRECTOR
    (Coming back to them) And yes, why should you not? The drama! The danger! The artistic expressions! The pathos!

    DAD
    I can’t believe I paid money for this.

    MOM
    Dear, he’s happy. Let’s not do this.

    TOUR GUIDE
    (After an awkward pause) Would you like to meet the cast, Billy?

    MOM
    Oh Billy, maybe you should stay with us.

    DAD
    For Pete’s sake, we’re already here, just let him go. It’ll be fine.

    BILLY
    I want to meet them!

    TOUR GUIDE
    Your wish is my command! I’m the tour guide, nice to meet you. I love it here! I love it more than anything. And you’ve already met our director, of course.

    BILLY
    Hi, I’m Billy!

    DIRECTOR
    Ah, young master William! There are many great artists named William, did you know that?

    BILLY
    Like who?

    DIRECTOR
    Why, the great Shakespeare, for one!

    BILLY
    (laughs) I like Billy better.

    DIRECTOR
    “Billy” is not the name for a great artist. But you will know this in time, no matter.

    DAD
    Good luck getting Billy involved in art, all he likes is TV.

    MOM
    Well, he’s still finding what he likes best.

    BILLY
    I like the stories!

    DIRECTOR
    Ah, but the story is the greatest art of them all.

    DAD
    Yeah, that’ll help him when he grows up…

    DIRECTOR
    (Eyes DAD unpleasantly, he doesn’t notice) Yes, well, come on master William, we shall meet the rest of the artists.

    MOM
    Oh, I should come along-

    DAD
    He doesn’t need you every second. We talked about this.

    DIRECTOR
    Not to worry, not to worry, all will be well for young William!

    (DIRECTOR ushers BILLY up and over towards the cast. They walk behind the stools. MOM looks over-worried, DAD looks bored. TOUR GUIDE chats at the silently. DIRECTOR and BILLY approach STAGE MANAGER first.)

    BILLY
    Hi there, I’m Billy! What’s your name?

    STAGE MANAGER
    (Startled, didn’t realize they had come in) Oh, no-

    DIRECTOR
    We don’t speak to this one, young William, he is only the stage manager! A simple, quiet tool of the great director - Me!

    STAGE MANAGER
    Please, not-

    DIRECTOR
    We go on!

    BILLY
    Bye! See you later! (DIRECTOR shoots a look at STAGE MANAGER as they walk by. STAGE MANAGER looks unhappy but stays quiet. They walk behind HERO.) I know you, you’re the hero! I heard you doing brave things!

    HERO
    (Very different than his “on air” persona) Oh you know, I like to show the stoppers what for, give ‘em a good run around, it’s no problem to take a leap if you’re king of creation, you know?

    BILLY
    What?

    HERO
    It’s all I can do to stay ahead of the black hearts! They’re always in the corners, weeping on the walls! You have to keep your face on or they’ll get you!

    BILLY
    (Laughs) You’re weird.

    HERO
    Oh, he’s laughing behind my front! But he doesn’t know, not what we know, eh?

    HEROINE
    (Listless) Just stop it. Nobody knows what you’re talking about.

    DIRECTOR
    Yes, young master William, this is indeed our hero and our heroine.

    HEROINE
    Such as we are, I guess.

    HERO
    We’re an elephant! We’re as big as houses!

    HEROINE
    Sure.

    HERO
    We’re as big as the moon! We’re the sun, we’re on fire baby!

    HENCHMAN
    Oh for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention! A kingdom for a stage, princes to act, and monarchs to behold the swelling scene.

    HERO
    Oh aye! The ayes have it!

    BILLY
    Wow, what was that?

    HEROINE
    Ugh, don’t get him started.

    DIRECTOR
    Why that, William, was your own namesake, Shakespeare himself!

    HERO
    The Willy himself! The very one!

    HENCHMAN
    Indeed, forsooth! Twas the Bard, he of Stratford-Upon-Avon! He is the inspiration for my art!

    BILLY
    But you do the dumb stuff in the show.

    DIRECTOR
    Ah, but you cannot have comedy without tragedy! It is true art!

    HENCHMAN
    (Mournful) And perhaps someday we shall stage a production befitting my… classical training?

    DIRECTOR
    Perhaps so! Until then, the children shall laugh at the toilet paper jokes!

    HENCHMAN
    Indeed…

    HERO
    The potty’s the thing, twill catch the conscience of the king!

    BILLY
    And you, you’re the bad guy! I liked when you did the big laugh. I wasn’t scared though.

    VILLAIN
    (Very quiet) Thank you.

    BILLY
    What’d you say? (VILLAIN looks pleadingly at HEROINE)

    HEROINE
    He doesn’t like to talk to people.

    BILLY
    Why not? (HEROINE shrugs. VILLAIN looks at the floor.)

    DIRECTOR
    (Draws BILLY to the side) Well, what do you think of our little cast, young William?

    BILLY
    I don’t get them.They’re supposed to be big and crazy, cool and… better. (Thinks about it) I like them better the other way, not like this.

    DIRECTOR
    (Delighted) So do they, so do they! And here are the last members of our little troupe, our master of sound-

    SOUND
    (Whistles hello!)

    DIRECTOR
    And the man who sets the scene, very important job!

    COMMERCIAL
    And I do the commercials! This conversation brought to you by sweet, sweet commercials! You deserve a break, and should buy some things! Try commercials, today!

    BILLY
    Hi! I’m Billy. I don’t really like commercials… except sometimes they’re funny or weird.

    COMMERCIAL
    I’ll see what I can do for you, Billy!

    SOUND
    (Wacky noise, these guys are nuts!)

    BILLY
    Can’t you talk like everybody else?

    SOUND
    (Wrong buzzer sound!)

    BILLY
    Why not?

    SOUND
    (Long collection of bizarre noises that might, somehow, conceivably tell a story, one with lots of action and explosions. And that’s how it happened!)

    BILLY
    Haha, you’re silly. Why are they the same as they are on the radio?

    DIRECTOR
    Well, they serve a simple purpose William, so there was no need to leave in anything extra.

    BILLY
    Huh?

    DIRECTOR
    Perhaps you’ll understand in time. Now William, how would you like to be in the cast for the next part of the show?

    BILLY
    Yeah, that would be great!! But… do we need to ask my parents?

    DIRECTOR
    What do you think, William? (They look towards them)

    MOM
    I hope he’s ok in there.

    DAD
    Stop, just stop it. This is why he can’t make any friends at school.

    MOM
    I beg your pardon!

    DAD
    We’ve talked about this. You smother him.

    MOM
    Well maybe if you weren’t so… unpleasant all the time!

    DAD
    Sure, it’s my fault. Why not.

    MOM
    We are supposed to be coming together as a family on this trip.

    DAD
    You can’t force people to come together. Just back off, it’ll be ok. Everything will be fine.

    STAGE MANAGER
    Until it’s not. (DIRECTOR gives him a nasty look)

    MOM
    Did you just say-

    STAGE MANAGER
    Nothing, sorry.

    DIRECTOR
    Well, what do you say William?

    BILLY
    We don’t have to ask. I’ll do it!

    DIRECTOR
    Wonderful! (The cast congratulates BILLY as the DIRECTOR positions him to stand in the gap between HENCHMAN and SOUND GUY) Places everyone!

    MOM
    What’s happening now?

    TOUR GUIDE
    Don’t worry about it!

    MOM
    But-

    DAD
    Let him stay in there, he might actually have fun. When was the last time you saw him this happy?

    MOM
    Well… (DIRECTOR gives the signal)

    TOUR GUIDE
    Quiet! It’s starting!

    STAGE MANAGER
    On air!

    COMMERCIAL
    Welcome back to the show! This segment brought to you by Squeaky Betsy’s Grease. When you need to grease those squeaky joints, this should always flag your interest! Grease me up, Betsy!

    HEROINE
    We return to our story at the bottom of the precarious cliff.

    SOUND
    (Waves and wind!)

    HEROINE
    Did our brave hero leap to his death? Or is his story just beginning?

    COMMERCIAL
    The answer brought to you by Washington Floatables!

    HERO
    Good thing I brought my Washington Floatables!

    COMMERCIAL
    Washington Floatables! The flotation devices that never tell a lie, or let you drown! Cross the Delaware today with Washington Floatables! Now available in cherry flavor!

    HERO
    But hark, I know that knave will soon appear, and the ancient parchment will be in danger once again. I must have aid! You there, boy!

    (Everyone looks expectantly at Billy. MOM just looks worried. The pause stretches out and DAD rolls his eyes, disgusted by his child’s helplessness. DIRECTOR makes an encouraging motion.)

    BILLY
    I…

    HERO
    Yes, you there, boy!

    HEROINE
    You see, our intrepid hero had spied a young rascal, travelling by bike along the base of the cliffs!

    SOUND
    (Bike bell!)

    COMMERCIAL
    A Hamilton Bike! The best money can buy. Declare your independence from walking today!

    HEROINE
    Though the boy looked a ruffian, our Hero knew he could trust a young man with such impeccable taste.

    HERO
    Boy! I must trust you with a document of extreme importance! Will you help us?

    BILLY
    (After a short pause, BILLY adopts a cocky, somewhat rough tone, very different than his normal voice) Well what’s in it for me, buddy?

    HERO
    You may act tough, but I know you have a heart of gold! I will trust you, for I must. Take this parchment and at all costs, hide it from the villain that seeks it!

    BILLY
    Not unless I get something for my trouble, mister!

    HERO
    Ah, the follies of youth! I promise, when I return to take the parchment back, I will repay you handsomely.

    BILLY
    (The DIRECTOR nods at this) Alright, but I better not get in trouble with the coppers!

    COMMERCIAL
    Buy Franklin’s Copper Pipes, for all your piping needs! Whether it’s a Pied Piper, a piping hot bowl of soup, or the pipes of freedom, Franklin’s Copper Pipes are for you! Pipe it in, pipe it in!

    (BILLY is thrilled to have provided the lead in for this. He is part of something!)

    HERO
    Alas, here comes the scoundrel himself! Reveal nothing, my boy!

    BILLY
    I’m not your boy, but I’ll play mum for now!

    SOUND GUY
    (Chugging car noises, car doors opening and shutting)

    VILLAIN
    Aha! Fool, you have only slightly delayed your day of reckoning!

    HENCHMAN
    That’s right, uh, we’re gonna reckon you real good!

    VILLAIN
    You ignominious ignoramus! Stop your blather and bring the girl!

    HENCHMAN
    Right, stop the girl and bring the blather. Blah blah blah-

    VILLAIN
    Silence! (Melodramatic) It’s so hard to find good help these days!

    SOUND
    (Wah wah wah, sad trombone!)

    HEROINE
    Unhand me this instant! Somebody doooo something!

    HERO
    My lady!

    HEROINE
    My hero! Are you quite safe?

    HERO
    When you are near, how can I be anything else?

    VILLAIN
    Touching, but stupid! You are in as much danger as ever!

    SOUND
    (Gun sounds!)

    BILLY
    Boy mister, you might really hurt something with that piece!

    VILLAIN
    Begone, vagabond! Trouble me not, street urchin, this concerns not you!

    BILLY
    Alright, I’ll be on my way!

    HEROINE
    And thus, the parchment was delivered to safety… for now!

    VILLAIN
    Take them both, my loyal henchman! We will soon make them give up the ancient parchment, or it shall be curtains for them! (Evil cackle!!)

    SOUND
    (Thunder! Lightning!)

    HENCHMAN
    Can we take them inside? Seems like a spot of rain!

    VILLAIN
    Very well, my simpering sycophant. We go!

    HERO
    You’ll never win, blaggard!

    HEROINE
    Justice shall surely prevail!

    VILLAIN
    That’s what they all say! (Evil cackle!)

    HENCHMAN
    Actually, they all say, oh no, please don’t, arggggh!!

    VILLAIN
    Well yes, they say that later. And so shall you! (Evil Cackle!)

    HEROINE
    Can our heroes prevail? Will the parchment be saved, or used for evil? And what of the mysterious child entrusted with this powerful document?

    COMMERCIAL
    Find out next time, brought to you by Adams’ Windows! When someone needs to open up a window, sit down and let Adams do the work for you! Adams Windows, keep the flies out!

    STAGE MANAGER
    Off air!

    (DIRECTOR starts applauding, and everyone joins in! BILLY is overjoyed.)

    MOM
    That was wonderful, Billy!

    DAD
    Good work, didn’t know you had it in you.

    MOM
    Now just come out of there.

    DIRECTOR
    Well now, he can’t do that, can he?

    DAD
    ...What’s that you say?

    DIRECTOR
    He has the parchment. The story can’t continue without him, so he’s got to stay.

    DAD
    Look buddy, you did my kid a good turn, I’m glad he had a good time, but I’ve put up with enough weirdness today.

    MOM
    (Uneasy) Dear, don’t get overexcited…

    DAD
    I’m not, I’m just telling this guy here that the fun’s over.

    TOUR GUIDE
    The fun’s never over at OTHGODS!

    DAD
    (Starting to lose his temper) Quit it with the Oth-gods, ok? Billy, get your butt our here right now!

    BILLY
    (Unsure) Dad, I...

    STAGE MANAGER
    (Despairing) You don’t understand.

    DAD
    I understand you and I are going to step outside if you don’t give my kid back!

    DIRECTOR
    Oh? What will you do, beat me up?

    DAD
    Maybe I will-

    (As DAD stands up, all the theater personnel, even including the STAGE MANAGER, stand up in perfect unison and stare at him. They all look deadly serious now, except the STAGE MANAGER, who looks miserable. The tension hangs in the air as DAD starts to get a little scared.)

    MOM
    What… what is this?

    (DAD slowly sits down, as does everyone else.)

    TOUR GUIDE
    This is OTHGODS! You should feel glad your son has been chosen!

    MOM
    Chosen?

    ` DIRECTOR
    You see, this is a place for people who need to, shall we say, get away. When we encounter a soul in need of escape, one that yearns to become something other, we… help.

    MOM
    I don’t understand? What exactly does Billy need to get away from?

    DIRECTOR
    Perhaps we should do what you so rarely did, madam, and ask the young man himself. William?

    (Everyone looks expectantly at BILLY, who is clearly conflicted.)

    MOM
    Billy! Come out right now!

    DAD
    What can you possibly be thinking?

    BILLY
    (Bursts out) Why do you always have to be so… you! Why do you fight all the time! Everything would be fine if you would just stop it!

    (Silent pause. MOM and DAD are shocked.)

    DIRECTOR
    (Smoothly) You see, you have harmed this child more than you knew, though you must have known deep down.

    DAD
    You have no right… you don’t know about me, about us! You don’t know anything, you freak!

    MOM
    Billy, please!

    DIRECTOR
    Everyone thinks their situation is special! It’s a story told again and again.

    TOUR GUIDE
    We all need something to believe in! Discover the beautiful wonder of the OTHGODS! Lose yourself in service of something greater than yourself! Lose yourself utterly, forever and ever!

    HERO
    Used to know. Used to know! Had what I needed. One day, different, have you heard? Not the same! Nobody understands. Lost them, lost them all. Now come home, here’s the place! All better!

    HEROINE
    None of it means anything anyway. You end up doing something you hate, but everything else sounds just as bad. If you find something you don’t hate, you might as well hold onto it. It’s better than nothing, if only a little.

    VILLAIN
    (Quiet) Out there… it’s hard. In here… (Looks at HEROINE, pained)

    HEROINE
    In here you can just be someone else. It doesn’t matter who you really are. Who says what’s real anyway?

    HENCHMAN
    To sleep, perchance to dream? Aye, there’s the rub. A dream will not end the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Choose to be, rather than not to be, and wake up one day to find yourself a sad parody of your dream. But better a parody than not to dream at all.

    SOUND
    (Sounds of a happy baby, sound of a car crash, sounds of a lot of meaningless babbling, a great intake of air, then the sounds of a key locking a lock and being thrown away, this last part accompanied by hand motions. SOUNDS waves around their head with a whooshing noise, all the other thoughts have been blown away.)

    COMMERCIAL
    This life brought to you by Paul Revere’s Cure for Emptiness! One if comes slowly, two if comes quickly, but death is coming for us all! Outrun your darkest thoughts with mindless devotion to meaningless activity!

    MOM
    I don’t understand any of this…

    STAGE MANAGER
    I’m sorry, but you won’t. I’ve been here… I can’t tell you how long. They need me to remember some things so I can run the equipment, so they can keep telling their horrible story, but I can’t… I can’t stop, I can’t leave, you don’t know what they do...

    (He looks at the DIRECTOR, who doesn’t bother to look back. Instead, he walks over to the left of BILLY and puts his arm around him.)

    DIRECTOR
    We are here to help the child, not you, and because of that, there will be one chance. The child must choose for himself if he will stay or go.

    DAD
    Fine, I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing, but no child of mine is going to go off with a bunch of disgusting freaks he just met. Billy, let’s go, NOW.

    (BILLY is far from sure about this order)

    MOM
    Billy please… I don’t know what’s going on, but I know you belong with us. We’re your parents, I’m your mother! I love you!

    BILLY
    I… love you too Mom.

    (Everyone is very tense as Billy thinks about it.)

    DAD
    Billy…

    BILLY
    Do you promise it’ll be different?

    MOM
    Yes, we’ll be different! We’ll do anything we have to!

    DAD
    (This is tough for him, even under these circumstances) We can change, bud. We’re not perfect, but we’ll do better. (BILLY still isn’t sure) I’ll… do better. Please.

    BILLY
    You promise?

    DAD
    Promise.

    MOM
    Promise!

    BILLY
    No more fighting?

    DAD
    We’ll do better.

    BILLY
    And we’ll be happy all the time? (He is almost convinced, he wants to believe it)

    MOM
    All the time, every day!

    DAD
    Billy... nobody is happy all the time. Nobody can be, and nobody should be.

    BILLY
    (He is hurt by this. He considers it a betrayal. He turns to the DIRECTOR.) I want to go with you.

    MOM
    Billy, no!! (to DAD) What did you do? You idiot! I hate you, this is all your fault!

    DAD
    Billy, I’m sorry, I lied! We’ll be happy forever, whatever you want!

    BILLY
    (Firmly, doesn’t look back) I want to go with you.

    DAD
    Billy, these people aren’t happy! There’s something wrong with them, they’re not living in the real world! It’s not natural!

    MOM
    Billy please! Please! I love you, don’t go!

    TOUR GUIDE
    (Stands up and grabs DAD by the shoulder, starts to pull him out. DAD struggles but it seems TOUR GUIDE is unnaturally strong.) Thank you so much for touring the Old Timey Happiness Good Old Days Sunshine Theater!

    DAD
    Get your hands off me! Billy!

    TOUR GUIDE
    It’s been our pleasure to have you!

    DIRECTOR
    (Crosses to MOM and starts to push her out as well.) It was so good to meet you. Don’t bother coming back, you won’t find us.

    MOM
    No! No, please, stop!

    DAD
    Billy, we’re sorry! I’m sorry!

    MOM
    Billy!

    (DIRECTOR and TOUR GUIDE shove MOM and DAD offstage)

    SOUND
    (Door slamming and locking!)

    (TOUR GUIDE returns to their stool. DIRECTOR crosses back to BILLY, who looks a little unsure again.)

    BILLY
    I did the right thing… right?

    DIRECTOR
    My dear child, it doesn’t matter. You never have to think about that again. Soon, you’ll barely remember them. Now, would you like to do the next part of the show?

    BILLY
    Ok, sure...

    STAGE MANAGER
    (DIRECTOR gives the signal) On air!

    (Everyone changes to their on air persona, this time including BILLY)

    COMMERCIAL
    Welcome back to the show, brought to you by Jefferson Brand Running From Your Problems! Why emotionally confront those pesky life problems again and again, when you can bury yourself in mindless entertainment? Run From Your Problems! You’ll never regret it, and if you do, bury yourself deeper!

    HEROINE
    We last left our heroes in the clutches of the terrible villain!

    SOUND
    (Dramatic mood!)

    VILLAIN
    (Evil cackle!) You’ll never escape my clutches! Now hand over the parchment!

    HEROINE
    Oh no, somebody dooooo something!

    HENCHMAN
    Duh, what would you like me to do? Do you need a cookie?

    VILLAIN
    Don’t offer them a cookie, you wimbling wastrel!

    SOUND
    (Bonk!)

    HERO
    I wouldn’t give it to you anyway, but the truth is I don’t have the ancient parchment! I gave it to that child!

    VILLAIN
    What’s this? What child?

    BILLY
    This child!

    SOUND
    (Heroic fanfare!)

    BOY
    And now I’m using the power of the parchment on you, you bum!

    SOUND
    (Electrical zapping!)

    VILLAIN
    Noooooo! Foiled again!

    HERO
    Let’s all hear it for the Child! Hurray!

    (Everyone cheers for BILLY, who looks overwhelmingly happy. They jump up from their chairs, celebrate, hug each other, etc, except the STAGE MANAGER. The DIRECTOR pauses to give him a new signal, motioning upwards.)

    STAGE MANAGER
    Off air! Going up!

    (The celebration continues, but BILLY starts looking uneasily towards the door his parents were sent out of. DIRECTOR holds him with one arm over his shoulder, and smiles with just a hint of malice. The motion of the celebration continues around them but the sound of the celebration slowly fades out and is replaced by SOUND creating a loud whooshing sound, which gets louder and louder, as loud as possible, until it’s the only thing that can be heard. The lights grow brighter as well, and suddenly we BLACKOUT. The whoosh stops, and instantly we hear the next lines.)

    STAGE MANAGER
    On air!

    COMMERCIAL
    Welcome back to the show, brought to you by All American Brand Forever! Sometimes you need something that just won’t end, no matter how much you want it to, for all of eternity. That’s when you think of All American Brand Forever! So just remember, from all of us here at the Old Timey Happiness Good Old Days Sunshine Theater-

    DIRECTOR
    We’ll be waiting for you. Forever.

    THE END

  3. #43
    Very good, man. Very sinister flip of the script. And there's something creepy about places like that which I could see something like that happening. Love that their doing an old form of entertainment that you can tell they've been doing a long time . The sounds were used for perfection to tell the real story going on. Liked the assonance of the villain's insults towards his stooge, got a good laugh with it. Also, you surely should write commercials. But man really dug how the commercials began capturing the mood of the real story once it took a turn. I think I can relate to every member of the family, including the dad. Probably the dad more than I'd like. it's hard not to be a spoiler when you're a realist, and man I loved how though trying so hard, he couldn't let go of his view of the world to lie in order to save his son. There's kind of a weird virtue underneath it. lol.

    Also, the real life personas of the cast were very true to life even with the little they did. And they didn't need to do more. I'd watch this on TV. Very, very good. Bet your sister is thrilled with this!
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 08-28-2018 at 09:01 PM.

  4. #44
    The Brain
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    I just hope it's not too dark for a high school production, haha. Really glad you liked it, I was pleased with the way it came together.

  5. #45
    Here's a short story I've been working on in my spare time. This is part one of probably two.


    My Ol’ Boy, Sparky


    Nazi science, James thought. How could he introduce co-workers to the pup when some devil worshippers sowed another head, that of a German Shephard’s, on the Golden Retriever’s upper left torso? Matter of fact, he himself, couldn’t lay eyes on the poor ol’ boy. He’d been afraid of Siamese twins, and of dragons, and of Hydras and of all things with multiple heads. Fear’s hand on James’ heart squeezed him every time he passed his kitchen and refrigerator to entertain the knob on the basement door. A half turn of the knob, a whimper from the silly, once happy face, and a feel that he’d see the additional head creaked and twisted in rapid circles in his mind. He’d run from the door. Sometimes, in bed he heard from the basement growls drawling out, the kind of growls that the ol’ boy never had enough violence in his lungs to do. When he heard the low pitch fuming, he knew it belonged to either a changed Sparky or worse—his eyes widened, he sunk his hands into his covers when he admitted those fierce audible pulses may have succeeded from the large dog’s sown on other set of vocal cords.


    He awakened after a night like the aforementioned, took a butter knife from the kitchen drawer next to the sink, and started spreading peanut butter on his whole-wheat bread, while giving zombie eyes to the boring, brown basement door. His first acquaintances in Rockford, Mark and Jen, would be stopping by. Jen beamed at him at his cubicle when, with his tie uneven, he nervously mentioned his boy.


    “You have a dog. Well what kind?” Jen said.


    “He’s a-uhh Golden Retriever. Just m-me and him live...” he swallowed and finished, “together.”


    Nobody else at the office talked to James, not even Stu his trainer. With his curly hair and paper-racks a-mess, the others at Arnold's Packaging didn’t see him as a fit.


    “You don’t have family or a wife or any kids?” Jen said.


    “Don’t pry.” Mark said, while turned to Jen.


    “It’s just m-m-me and S-sparky. He’s a Golden Retriever.” James said, repeating himself.


    Somehow, Jen’s plumpness in a blue pantsuit laid a blanket over James’ naked awkwardness.


    His days were boring and uneventful, and he knew he’d probably get fired. Stu would come by and tell him to relax— Stu with his bald head and eyes that said, “guys like you come and go.” But his mouth said, “Relax.” Once he mumbled, “Oh, don’t worry, you won’t be working here long, anyway.” He showed him the software for adding items to projects that the floor would use for their manufacturing. Then, he’d say “I’m getting coffee.” Stu never came by to check on him, but sometimes he’d hear him talking about him. “This kid’s a weirdo. And he’s fucking boring. Won’t last a month.”


    Stu would bullshit, in close by cubicles, with old jokes. “You hear Rick got that sodomy charge reduced to tail-gating?”


    “Oh, Stu, you’re terrible,” Donna would say. He’d hear Donna gossip a lot. She especially liked to talk about who she saw on Rockford Mugshots.


    His day consisted of hearing voices from surrounding cubicles: Stu’s and Donna’s and Jen’s. He fell in and out of nervous habits of wrapping his fingers in his un-kept curls. He’d set his head down and think about his dog. He’d run into questions for what Stu gave him to do but would just look at the screen and hope the answer would come. He’d see skirts, belts, bottoms of ties, and zippers on dress pants passing. He’d see little of his boss, Sarah Lee, but she stopped by once. “Look at me, James!” She said. Her chin glowed in the light. It was long and round like her tall body, and it extended from a frown and shoulder length hair. She wore a tie underneath it. “Stu said he put you in charge of the Jones account. Did you see the email! They say they’re getting delayed responses and have zero…ZERO confidence we will meet their needs in a timely manner. We’ve got three months left on them before they pull the plug. I want first thing Monday, on my desk, a written plan of how their needs will be put first over the next three months. I know you’re busy, but answering a customer’s email shouldn’t be difficult!”


    He didn’t know he was supposed to answer emails and really wasn’t very busy but stayed silent.


    “Are you listening, James, this is important!”


    “Yes.” He said.


    The rest of his Friday consisted of Stu around in other cubicles saying “I told James to do it. It’s like talking to brick wall,” and Donna telling Stu that Mark was an ex con and Donna telling Jen that Stu was a homophobe and Donna telling Mark she thinks James doesn’t wash his hair. James never looked at Donna but only knew her by her gossiping.


    But the hi-light came when Jen came by. He didn’t get attention from many people, especially women. Jen said, “I heard Sarah Lee ripped your butt a new asshole.”


    “Yeah, I-I gu-guess.”


    “I was talking with Mark and if it’s ok with you, we’d like to come over next Saturday. I’ll cook. I’m not really that good at it, but I can make some real cool homemade pizza! And besides, we’d love to meet that Sparky you’re always talking about!”


    She showed some pizza weight on her, but James liked the freckles under her strawberry blonde hair when he glanced at them. “Ok.” James said.


    “Alriigghhht, bud!” Jen said.


    James peeked at Jen’s pantsuit as she bounced away. He liked her; maybe because she’s the only one, including Mark, who didn’t threaten him. The unease that Mark would be accompanying her settled in. Just a day after they first introduced themselves to him, next to him at the urinal, he saw Mark’s wide shoulders in a white shirt, extending from his buzzed blonde hair and tan neck. In his glance, Mark’s dress shoes spread wide. Then, Mark looked dead at James, with his teeth clenched and showing. “Stop trying to be cute with Jen, you got it?” Mark said.


    James gazed ahead and gulped.


    “All these women—like Jen, like Sarah Lee, like Donna—they love men like me,” Mark continued, “You need to go to the gym, punk!” Then, before flushing, Mark said, “what’s your story, weirdo? You shoot up a school? Do your parents in? When I got this gig, I realized anybody can pass a background check here; even me!” Then, Mark did something that James had never seen but did feel threatened by. For Mark spit on his own dick and showed him his white, angry teeth, once more.


    On Friday, Jen invited herself and Mark over for next Saturday. However on this prior weekend, on Saturday, he took his boy out front to piss. Instantly the golden retriever stood erect and moved with such force, his arm felt like it jerked out of socket. The leash burned his palm and slipped out of his hand. Sparky took off to the road, hidden by the darkness.


    “S-sparky! Come back, boy…” James said and ran behind him. He heard witchlike cackling and ran in the direction of it. Then, headlights blinded him and tons of steel knocked his breath out. He lay on the road in shock and a car door opened.


    “You, alright! A man’s voice said.”


    “Y-yeah. S-sorry.


    “Sorry? You cracked my goddamn windshield!”


    James stood to his feet, numb in the collar bone, as he looked at the small crack in the black Hyundai civic.


    “Go sit on the curb! I’m calling the police!”


    James stared ahead down the dark road, trying to see or hear a hint of Sparky.


    “Sit on the goddamn curb!” The man shouted.


    “Ok, ok!” James said, looking helplessly down the road, while squatting down to the curb.


    “I was turning on 13th, and he came out of nowhere!” James heard the man saying on his cell phone.


    The Hyundai was pulled to one curb with its headlights on, while James sat on the other side. Finally, blue flashing lights pulled up. The Ford SUV with all its police get up pulled behind the Hyundai. The officer stepped out and talked with the guy.


    “What speed were you driving?”


    “No more than 30 miles an hour! He just ran right in front of me. Cracked my windshield!”


    James stood tall as the police officer approached him with the flashlight in his eyes.


    “Are you alright?”


    He felt pain in his color bone but just shook his head yes.


    “You could have been hurt, pretty bad. You’re lucky.”


    James just shook his head.


    The officer nodded at the scene of the man by his Hyundai, and said “he says you ran in front of him. Is that true?”


    “Y-yes?”


    “Have you been drinking?”


    “No, I don’t drink. I was just chasing my dog. He ran away. Heard some scary laughing and was trying to get him back.”


    “I see. Can I get your phone number and address?”


    James complied, and the officer stepped away to his SUV for some time and came back with a slip. “I’m writing you a ticket here for jaywalking. You can go online and pay it, but the court dates up there if you wish to contest. As far as your dog goes…What type of breed? We can be on the lookout, but I recommend you go home. Matter of fact, I can give you a ride. There’s been some rough characters around this part of town lately. Suspected to be devil worshipers.”


    J
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 09-29-2018 at 11:25 PM.

  6. #46
    The Brain
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    You have a talent for putting a really visceral sense into your writing. I can feel the horror of something multi headed, I can feel the furrowed brows as James listlessly struggles to muddle through his life, I can feel the twinge of interest and the pull against loneliness when someone speaks kindly to him. And, of course, there's something disturbing beneath the surface, and not very far beneath this time. Hope very much to see the second part.

  7. #47
    Beautiful Fandom Mystic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan View Post
    You have a talent for putting a really visceral sense into your writing. I can feel the horror of something multi headed, I can feel the furrowed brows as James listlessly struggles to muddle through his life, I can feel the twinge of interest and the pull against loneliness when someone speaks kindly to him. And, of course, there's something disturbing beneath the surface, and not very far beneath this time. Hope very much to see the second part.
    I second this. There is always something horrible lurking and, worst of all, that horribleness might just be life itself.

  8. #48
    Thanks fellars...spent some time on the feeling there...and time is expensive... the beast in the basement will continue when I get more time... this fellow, James, is his own worst enemy... That's the idea of having a beast in the basement.

  9. #49
    Senior Member
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    A bare forest echoes louder than a 1000 man army marching off to war.

    You see... the forest is never really empty. Even when it seems so, it is full of life. Trees and vegetation giving oxygen for life to carry on. The sun shining... warming the soul. Even the wind carries the whispers of the dead reminding us to always live life to the fullest and never just settle.

    Speaking of the dead... war is not about death. Rather, it is about life. Yes, people die in war, but it is a sacrifice in hopes of giving a better world to those still living.

    But what do I know about war? Not much... other than I've been more times than I care to admit. And even though I hated it the majority of the time... I understand it is a necessary evil in order for us to preserve our future.

    My war days are behind me. I leave that to the next generation now. And I pray that this new generation of fighters carries on and provides me the freedom to get lost in the woods... where I can reflect on the past, and be excited for the future, and honor the whispers of the dead (carried through the winds) and we can live and love and honor those still living that we fought for.
    Last edited by meandi; 11-11-2018 at 08:34 PM.

  10. #50
    Really good man..makes me think of world war 1. War and nature, life and death, worked together really well, here. Nature and war are revealed to be life-giving in this piece.
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 11-11-2018 at 11:21 PM.

  11. #51
    The Brain
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    I agree, very nice little piece there. Kind of poetic actually, definitely evokes a certain kind of feeling.

  12. #52
    Senior Member
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    Thanks, fellas. Im trying to get back into writing (more than just haiku and limericks... check out those threads, by the way... #mickfoleycheapplug). I find short things like this to help get the creative juices flowing. Hopefully more stuff will pop up soon.

  13. #53
    Good to see a new person here. Creative writing is a wonderful challenge and experience . .Been without a computer for some time now, but would love to do more if I could.

  14. #54
    My Ol’ Boy, Sparky


    Nazi science, James thought. How could he introduce co-workers to the pup when some devil worshippers sowed another head, that of a German Shephard’s, on the Golden Retriever’s upper left torso? Matter of fact, he himself, couldn’t lay eyes on the poor ol’ boy. He’d been afraid of Siamese twins, and of dragons, and of Hydras and of all things with multiple heads. Fear’s hand on James’ heart squeezed him every time he passed his kitchen and refrigerator to entertain the knob on the basement door. A half turn of the knob, a whimper from the silly, once happy face, and a feel that he’d see the additional head creaked and twisted in rapid circles in his mind. He’d run from the door. Sometimes, in bed he heard from the basement growls drawling out, the kind of growls that the ol’ boy never had enough violence in his lungs to do. When he heard the low pitch fuming, he knew it belonged to either a changed Sparky or worse—his eyes widened, he sunk his hands into his covers when he admitted those fierce audible pulses may have succeeded from the large dog’s sown on other set of vocal cords.


    He awakened after a night like the aforementioned, took a butter knife from the kitchen drawer next to the sink, and started spreading peanut butter on his whole-wheat bread, while giving zombie eyes to the boring, brown basement door. His first acquaintances in Rockford, Mark and Jen, would be stopping by.


    Jen beamed at him at his cubicle when, with his tie uneven, he nervously mentioned his boy.


    “You have a dog. Well what kind?” Jen said.


    “He’s a-uhh Golden Retriever. Just m-me and him live...” he swallowed and finished, “together.”


    Nobody else at the office talked to James, not even Stu his trainer. With James curly hair and paper-racks a-mess, the others didn’t see him as a fit.


    “You don’t have family or a wife or any kids?” Jen said.


    “Don’t pry.” Mark said, while turned to Jen.


    “It’s just m-m-me and S-sparky. He’s a Golden Retriever.” James said, repeating himself.


    Somehow, Jen’s plumpness in a blue pantsuit laid a blanket over James’ naked awkwardness.


    His days were boring and uneventful, and he knew he’d probably get fired. Stu would come by and tell him to relax— Stu with his bald head and eyes that said, “guys like you come and go.” But his mouth said, “Relax.” Once he mumbled, “Oh, don’t worry, you won’t be working here long, anyway.” He showed him the software for adding items to projects that the floor would use for their manufacturing. Then, he’d say “I’m getting coffee.” Stu never came by to check on him, but sometimes he’d hear him talking about him. “This kid’s a weirdo. And he’s fucking boring. Won’t last a month.”


    Stu would bullshit, in close by cubicles, with old jokes. “You hear Rick got that sodomy charge reduced to tail-gating?”


    “Oh, Stu, you’re terrible,” Donna would say. He’d hear Donna gossip a lot. She especially liked to talk about who she saw on Rockford Mugshots.


    His day consisted of hearing voices from surrounding cubicles: Stu’s and Donna’s and Jen’s. He fell in and out of nervous habits of wrapping his fingers in his un-kept curls. He’d set his head down and think about his dog. He’d run into questions for what Stu gave him to do but would just look at the screen and hope the answer would come. He’d see skirts, belts, bottoms of ties, and zippers on dress pants passing. He’d see little of his boss, Sarah Lee, but she stopped by once. “Look at me, James!” She said. Her chin glowed in the light. It was long and round like her tall body, and it extended from a frown and shoulder length hair. She wore a tie underneath it. “Stu said he put you in charge of the Jones account. Did you see the email! They say they’re getting delayed responses and have zero…ZERO confidence we will meet their needs in a timely manner. We’ve got three months left on them before they pull the plug. I want first thing Monday, on my desk, a written plan of how their needs will be put first over the next three months. I know you’re busy, but answering a customer’s email shouldn’t be difficult!”


    He didn’t know he was supposed to answer emails and really wasn’t very busy but stayed silent.


    “Are you listening, James? This is important!”


    “Yes.” He said.


    The rest of his Friday consisted of Stu around in other cubicles saying “I told James to do it. It’s like talking to brick wall but something deafer and dumber” and Donna telling Stu that Mark was an ex con and Donna telling Jen that Stu was a homophobe and Donna telling Mark she thinks James doesn’t wash his hair. James never looked at Donna but only knew her by her gossiping.


    But the hi-light came when Jen came by. He didn’t get attention from many people, especially women. Jen said, “I heard Sarah Lee ripped your butt a new asshole.”


    “Yeah, I-I gu-guess.”


    “I was talking with Mark and if it’s ok with you, we’d like to come over next Saturday. I’ll cook. I’m not really that good at it, but I can make some real cool homemade pizza! And besides, we’d love to meet that Sparky you’re always talking about!”


    She showed some pizza weight on her, but James liked the freckles under her strawberry blonde hair when he glanced at them. “Ok.” James said.


    “Alriigghhht, bud!” Jen said.


    James peeked at Jen’s pantsuit as she bounced away. He liked her; maybe because she’s the only one including Mark who didn’t threaten him. The unease that Mark would be accompanying her settled in. Just a day after they first introduced themselves to him, next to him at the urinal, he saw Mark’s wide shoulders in a white shirt, extending from his buzzed blonde hair. In his glance, Mark’s dress shoes spread wide. Then, he looked dead at James, with his teeth clenched and showing. “Stop trying to be cute with Jen, you got it?” Mark said.


    James gazed ahead and gulped.


    “All these women—like Jen, like Sarah Lee, like Donna—they love men like me,” Mark continued, “You need to go to the gym, punk!” Then, before flushing, Mark said, “what’s your story, weirdo? You shoot up a school? Do your parents in? When I got this gig, I realized anybody can pass a background check here; even me!” Then, Mark did something that James had never seen but did feel threatened by. For Mark spit on his own dick and showed him his white, angry teeth, once more.


    On Friday, Jen invited herself and Mark over for next Saturday. However on this prior weekend, on Saturday, he took his boy out front to piss. Instantly the golden retriever stood erect and moved with such force, James arm felt like it jerked out of socket. The leash burned his palm and slipped out of his hand. While James wrist went light from emptiness from the other side of the leash, Sparky took off to the road hidden by the darkness.


    “S-sparky! Come back, boy…” James said and ran behind him. He heard witchlike cackling and ran in the direction of it. Then, headlights blinded him and tons of steel knocked his breath out. He lay on the road in shock and a car door opened. “You, alright! A man’s voice said.”


    “Y-yeah. S-sorry.


    “Sorry? You cracked my goddamn windshield!”


    James stood to his feet, numb in the collar bone, as he looked at the small crack in the black Hyundai Civic.


    “Go sit on the curb! I’m calling the police!”


    James stared ahead down the dark road, trying to see or hear a hint of Sparky.


    “Sit on the goddamn curb!” The man shouted.


    “Ok, ok!” James said, looking helplessly down the road, while squatting down to the curb.

    “I was turning on 13th, and he came out of nowhere!” James heard the man saying on his cell phone.


    The car was pulled to one curb with its headlights on, while James sat on the other side. Finally, blue flashing lights rolled up. The Ford SUV with all its police get up pulled behind the Hyundai. The officer stepped out and talked with the guy. “What speed were you driving?”


    “No more than 30 miles an hour! He just ran right in front of me. Cracked my windshield!”


    James stood tall as the police officer approached him with the flashlight in his eyes.


    “Are you alright?”


    He felt pain in his color bone but just shook his head yes.


    “You could have been hurt, pretty bad. You’re lucky.”

    James just shook his head.


    The officer nodded at the scene of the man by his Hyundai, and said “he says you ran in front of him. Is that true?”


    “Y-yes?”


    “Have you been drinking?”


    “No, I don’t drink. I was just chasing my dog. He ran away. Heard some scary laughing and was trying to get him back.”


    “I see. Can I get your phone number and address?”


    James complied, and the officer stepped away to his SUV for some time and came back with a slip. “I’m writing you a ticket here for jaywalking. You can go online and pay it, but the court dates up there if you wish to contest. As far as your dog goes…What type of breed? We can be on the lookout, but I recommend you go home. Matter of fact, I can give you a ride. There’ve been some rough characters around this part of town lately. Suspected to be devil worshippers.”


    James, not one to bother anyone, got in the back of the SUV.


    “You stay with your parents?” The officer said. The interior light gave sight to his pale, apple shape face and enormous red lips.


    “N-no just moved here by myself.” James curly head said from the back seat.


    “Oh, yeah? Better look out for yourself. “The officer continued, while his engorged mouth may seemingly explode with blood at any breath. “There are some real undesirable characters around here. My name’s officer Toots Prong, by the way. “


    The road home led only some 30 feet and took no longer than that conversation.


    In shock, James squatted on his leather sofa, feeling his neck stiffening, when he heard whimpering and scratching at the front door. James popped to his heels and charged the door.


    “You the—there, boy?”


    He opened the door, but the large puppy’s intention, alone, to run through him knocked him aback. The dog slid left at the kitchen. In the wild motion, James saw the brown of his Golden Retriever but something else…James eyes widened; he’d just seen the gray anomaly attached to and hanging from the dog.


    His steps took caution and paranoia as he followed the minor blood drops on the wood of his living room’s floor then the tile of the kitchen’s. Horror told him the creature had another head attached. Insight told him his boy retreated to the basement, the place of shame the dog ran to before. Then, audible crying carrying its tune up the stairs attested to the fact the disfigured dog took its torture to the lowest, darkest part of the house.


    James throat swelled, while his steps moved his body. For his love, against his throat’s growth, moved him toward the basement’s doorway and the howling down its stairs. As he reached the darkness, he ceased with the whimpering’s ceasing. A creak followed silence that lasted one step downwards. Then, “RAR! RAR! RAR! RAR!” Barks threatened James.


    The shadow of a long muscular, horizontal body and two vertical heads with four ears at attention formed against the wall. And from one of the heads emerged another threat “RARRRRRRRRRRR! RAR! RAR! RAR!”


    James leaped back up the one stair he’d taken down, grabbed the gold colored doorknob, and slammed the wooden door. Scratches ensued against the door, and then James took off to his room. He clenched his cover like a shield, closed his eyes, and saw hydras with nine long necks wrapping themselves around one another and their mouths breathing fire and their fangs biting.


    The next morning the sunlit room weighed on his eyes, as his cubicle filled before any others. He took a sip of coffee. Tart. He didn’t make it well but needed it after the sleepless night. Sometime between first sitting down and taking the sip, a tie or two passed him, then a couple belts, then Sarah Lee’s pear shaped face and body hovered above him. He could see up to her thin lips. She said, “Well, James, do you have it?”


    “H-have it?” James stuttered.


    Then, Jen’s plump face under her strawberry blonde hair bounced into view next to Sarah Lee. His sight could barely fit both the women in it. Jen presented a piece of typing paper containing font styled into a memo.


    “I reviewed it for you James. I believe this will satisfy the Jones.” Jen said.


    Sarah Lee took it from Jen and skimmed it. “Two updates, daily, when producing for them? Ok.” Sarah Lee said, “But you will be held accountable for that commitment.” Sarah disappeared from sight. Jen winked and disappeared. James eyes weighed more than both the women’s combined weight. He didn’t know how or when to update the Jones. He thought to ask Stu, his trainer, but never saw him. He figured Stu absent, until he heard the bald, fat man chatting with Donna.


    “My buddy’s sister works at the Radisson. We’ll get free booze all night!”


    Donna squealed. “Stu! It’s Monday for Pete sake. People will talk for Pete sake!”


    “They make boozy… ice…cream…cocktails!”


    “For Pete sake!”


    “And if we’re too drunk to drive, we can get a room!”


    “For Pete sake. Stawp, Stu! Hahaha! Pete sake!”


    The weighing down of bottom eyelids, the laughing from Stu and Donna, the haunting of the two-headed dog, and the eating of a peanut butter sandwich later, and James walked into work late prepared to hear it from Sarah Lee. He’d have to explain oversleeping, but all the planned excuses proved fruitless when he entered a room of tears and Sarah Lee ensuring everyone Stu and Donna would prefer them to be productive, instead of residing with a surreal somber. Cry but try, Sarah said, taller than them all; except Mark who’s height she rivaled. “Cry but try.”


    James tip-toed down the aisle of carpet between cubicles and found himself the narrow filling of a cubicle sandwich with a lot of Jen filling in between. Jen whispered, “You hear about Stu and Donna?”


    “No.”


    Sarah Lee insisted everyone must try.


    Jen whispered, “They resisted arrest last night. And the police shot them…They’re gone.” Jen’s nostrils enlarged. Her nose went wet, her face red.


    “S-sorry.”




    With all the lights turned out at James home, he sat erect on the cushion of his computer chair. Not a wheel underneath the hard plastic chair’s leg turned, while his eyes focused on the google search engine. He typed, “Rockford Stu and Donna” and clicked a story from the Daily Star which said:



    TUESDAY: At the Radisson on State Street, suspects Donna Fanis and Stu Hurt were allegedly engaging in lude behavior outside a green Camera belonging to Donna Fannis. The police officer was said to be met with pepper spray from Donna Fannis and then semi-automatic pistols from Donna and Stu. The officer discharged his weapon and killed the alleged suspects. The sheriff says homicide detail detectives, field supervisors, and department managers were on the scene and an investigation will be undergone over the actions of officer Toots Prong. Officer Prong ensures he was acting in self-defense.



    In the computer-monitor lit darkness, James slid back in his chair when he read “Toots Prong.” Then, barking from the basement began. Angry promises from the monster he locked away sounded into the air. Then, twins appeared on his computer. James opened his mouth in a scream, but his vocal cords failed to make a sound. Siamese twins— two blonde sisters joined at the neck with half their heads shaven—in a You-Tube video gave up witch like cackles like the ones he heard the night his dog disappeared, and the twins contorted their tattooed faces into agony. They pulled at each other’s hair and said “When you coming home, James! When you coming home!” The barking lifted loudly and started coming closer to him. Next to his computer chair a small hole in the wooden floor could give him sight to Sparky’s whereabouts from below, but he dared not look. He squint his eyes shut. The barking felt hotter and turned into sounds of mouths ripping and biting. He could almost feel and smell dog breaths in his face. He moved slowly and locked his eyes shut. With nowhere to go, he only turned into the hallway, then the kitchen. He felt the counter for his medicine bottle, while begging that sharp teeth wouldn’t take his right hand during its reach. Finally, he seized the bottle that read trazadone and took it before passing out inside his shell where his nightmares of multi-headed dragons and his terror resided.


    The next day in his cubicle, Jen bounced into sight, half spinning with her upper body. “Guess what, bud?” she said.


    “Wh-what?”


    “I’m going to be your new trainer!”


    Either his lack of sleep or her radiance caused an erection, under his desk, to stretch against his khakis as he made eye contact with her for a only a second--a second that he could summon at anytime to his imagination for an eternity. Life seemed to be better. Better. He also kept to himself that not hearing Donna gossip all day improved his quiet world.


    He could sometimes feel her breath and her plush against him as she explained software. The hair on his neck rose as she helped him verbalize emails. She introduced him to warehouse and production managers that he'd need to work with to make projects happen.


    Over the next few days, the barks quieted. Sometimes, he wondered if his boy was there, instead of the monster. Still he wouldn't entertain the thought of peaking through the hole in the wooden floor next to the computer. But he did throw extra subs he'd pick up at the restaurants down the stairs to ensure his boy, Sparky, stayed alive. He rested alright, taking his trazodone. He learned to plan projects at work; how to look up bottles they had in the warehouse that the production teams could use to package medication for the Jones account. He stayed true to his twice daily emails, explaining hold ups to the Jones and promising better service and that all three shifts would produce for them.


    Wednesday and Thursday, something else made his day better. No Mark. Mark had some food poisoning, Jen told him. He could laugh with Jen without feeling Mark glaring at him.


    On Friday James strutted into the men’s room and groomed his curls and straightened his tie. Then, he heard a flush from the john behind him. The stall door opened and from the mirror he saw Mark’s broad shoulders towering him. Mark, with his dick still out, spit straight down on it.


    James flinched and looked away from Mark's bare penis.


    “F-feeling better?” James said.


    “How’d you know I was sick?” Mark forced his dick back through his fly and zipped up. “You been talking to Jen?”


    James stayed silent and looked down.


    Mark swaggered towards James, saying “ol’ I know you’ve been talking to her; because she keeps talking about you.” He chuckled with anger, “she broke up with me yesterday while I had the shits.”


    James heart jumped. “S-sorry.”


    Mark looked at him, “You’re patronizing me, punk. You’re not sorry. But you will be when I kill both of you.”


    The entire Friday, while Jen trained James, he remained quiet. He knew her and her ex would be coming over the next day and knew the ideas in Mark’s head. He refused to laugh or flirt in front of Mark. Even, still, he didn’t know if Mark meant it. He couldn’t help but feel happy that Jen may really be sharing his feelings. He didn’t remember love, but when he thought about it, he didn’t remember much, at all.


    He didn’t remember much, at all... Over the day, Jen spent more time with Mark than him, seemingly arguing. He heard her in a calm voice tell Mark not to be a jerk. While at his cubicle he sat in fear and in love. He saw the ties and belts pass by. He felt a hand on his shoulder and saw the hovering Sarah Lee. “You know, you and Jen make a decent team Mr. James.” He saw the back of her long coat as she left. He stayed silent. Love. His parents. Where he lived before Rockford. How he got his bachelors: he couldn’t remember much.


    Jen came by. “Can’t wait to meet Sparky tomorrow.”


    S-sparky, James thought. More ties and belts passed by and he remained the last person there. He buried his curly head in his hands. He couldn’t remember much…S-sparky…


    The next day, he felt himself losing Jen or Mark hurting them racing around in his chest. He thought about Sparky. He went to the hole in the floor by his computer and peeked down to the basement. Pressing his nose against the floor's wood, trapping his breath, he could make out some brown fur on a muscular back moving backwards. Then, in a second where the hole gave him sight of it he thought he saw a German Shepherd's face, with a sub hanging like a long tongue between its teeth, lift an eye up and dead at him. James rolled on his back with his anxiety sitting on his chest.


    The barking returned while he spread the peanut butter on the whole wheat bread. Intense scratching threatened to tear the door down. How’d he’d hide this dog from Jen and Mark? He looked in the bathroom mirror, with big curls and elbows coming from his red polo, he sprayed some Wal-Mart Brute cologne on.


    When the doorbell rang, James saw Jen’s head through the large window on the wooden door. He opened it and gulped. No Mark. Jen carried a large brown grocery bag. She stood there in a her pink pantsuit. James awkwardly tried to maneuver the bag from her arms and it dropped to the wooden floor.


    “S-s-sorry.”


    “It’s ok, bud. I just have some dough and sauce in there. Gonna make some homemade pizza!” she said.


    “O-ok”


    “Mark won’t be joining us...I’m sorry for saying this, but he’s such an ass!”


    “O-ok.” James said.


    “Ah, no time for downers. Let’s make some pizza! Where’s Sparky?”


    James, surprised that Sparky hadn’t made a sound, gulped. He didn’t know what to say.

    “H-he p-p-passed away.”

    “What?!”

    “It’s ok.”

    “No, you loved him. Let it out, man!”


    James stayed silent and remembered something he saw someone do in a movie. He leaned in and tried to kiss her. His tongue touched her clenched teeth, the back of her head forced itself from his hands.


    “Wait...What are you doing!” Jen said.


    “S-sorry! S-sorry! S-sorry!”


    “That's not ok, James...”


    “N-n-no! It's not. S-s-orry”


    Then Mark walked through the door , holding a ridge runner, the knife resembled more a sword.


    “Mark, what the hell!” Jen said.


    “You left the door unlocked! Think you’re gonna get into my girl's cunt in broad daylight, punk?”


    James heart pounded, as Mark grabbed Jen, turned her around and put the knife against her throat.


    Jen choked against the knife as her face reddened.


    James heart pounded. The rejection, the failure, the fear, all of it weighed ten pounds in his throat. Then he heard barking.


    Jen’s eyes met James in curiosity as she choked, for James told her the dog was dead.


    The barking became more and more violent and louder and louder. James ran through the kitchen out of instinct and opened the boring door that’d been a prison gate for the dog. Mark made his way to the kitchen holding Jen hostage with the knife, still. James slid down, against the wall and braced himself. Then, the hell hound emerged at such a speed James couldn't make out how many heads it had. Jen got loose and slid down the wall next to James. She put her arms around him, and, for a moment, he found comfort against her soft breasts humping into him. He could only see the back of the brown dog as it tackled Mark, but he swore he’d seen the gray anomaly. Still, in the viscous second, he could see the back of the dog hovering on top of Mark and Mark's blood squirting into the air. The Golden Retriever’s head arose on the right and then the German Shepherd's on the left. The dog turned dripping blood and drool from both mouths.


    “What the hell,” Jen said in shock. She pulled James in, covering his head with her large breasts. All James felt was plush, all he saw was blackness, and all he heard was growls and bites and Jen staying strong. Then, Mark felt Jen’s blood shower his forehead down his to his nose. As that which had pumped her life painted and stained more areas of his shirt and pants than his mind could accept, her arms let James go.


    James closed his eyes and curled up, he felt the dog’s wet noses bop his face from both directions, then he felt the mouths on both sides of his neck.


    “Cerberus, sit!” He heard a man’s voice say. The dog let James go.


    James opened his eyes to the blood all over the yellow kitchen tile. Jen’s body lay next him and Mark’s across the room. The dog sat still, panting from both heads, while a man in police get up made his way to James. With all his strength, James lifted Jen’s dead weight up and hugged her as her head fell awkwardly towards her left shoulder. The police navy blue pants extended upwards to a blue shirt, a badge, and finally an apple shaped fat face with huge red lips. The mouth that looked to be next to bleeding smiled and belonged to Toots Prong and said, “it’s time to go back to the Underworld, my son. You’ve failed enough at this humanity thing, already...”
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 11-25-2018 at 07:47 PM.

  15. #55
    The Brain
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    Lord of mercy, Benny, that was fucked up but fascinating. I may have asked you this before, but have you read much Palahniuk? I get a real sense of his style from your stuff. The relentless unease, the small strange details, the ability to tap into a deep sense of horror and despair, the reality of a world willing to go mad at any moment. Felt worst for the poor boy, he deserved better than James. Mark was quite a terrifying figure, a man worse than a devil, there's a dark realism to that. Loved the ending, tied everything together perfectly.

    Slight edit, I think it was James who felt Jen's blood shower down at the end. Honestly though, this disturbed me but the writing is stupendous. I'll say what I've said before, you have a real talent man.

  16. #56
    Thanks, brotha! Palahniuk? I just read some excerpts now...He definitely held my interest...was an excerpt of a school teacher reading some dark horror to fourth graders lol...it was great.

    There's definitely some betrayal from James to Sparky due to James fear of the extra head. Mark a favorite of mine in this...not that I liked him but a lot of ideas went into him...A sort of insecure bully.

    Good catch... should of been James not Mark with the blood showering on him...Two things came together when I completed this. Computer magically came to life and I had a day off. Definitely saw the writing getting tired towards the end and I'm sure I'll polish it again when I can...just wanted to write something. Thanks again for all the kind words, my friend!
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 11-27-2018 at 05:15 AM.

  17. #57
    The Brain
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    Check out his book "Damned" if you have time to read, this reminded me a bit of that and I think you'd really dig it.

  18. #58
    What keeps me from being him? I’m passionate, I love my best. I love her. I love what’s in her: the fun, the laugh from deep, the baby. When I see my baby’s brown or blue eyes with a stigmatism, I hope my broken back makes sense. I’ve hammered. I hope for every beat against the nail I’ve swung; her heart pounds louder.


    I’ve hammered at fire places to tear them down and her heart beats to live in my wife’s belly. I love this baby lady, already. I hope she learns purpose. I hope meaning drives her like an Alexus. But, I’d never name her after a fast car.

    Still, what keeps me from being him? He originated his young ones. He pumped them out. He loved to the fullest. Yet, he’s dead. He was my younger brother; the one I’d die for. The one I couldn’t be a Jesus for. He died.


    What’s the difference between the living and the dead? Do his hopes for his children last? Will my hopes last? What do our hopes matter, when our children are on their own? When are they better off without us? Could they ever be better off for not having known us?



    I can lift the sky and flip it over. But can I ever make another feel the things they need to to be happy? I can tell them; teach them; preach to them, but can I make the feel…


    Please little baby girl be better than your old man. And please little girl when your in that deluxe sky apartment, don’t be like daddy. Daddy doubts. Have faith. Do a salute to the trinity like your devout mother. Pray for me and pray for my little brother, your Uncle.


    I love you little girl. Be better than me. Pour Favor.
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 12-20-2018 at 10:28 AM.

  19. #59
    The Brain
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    Man, this stuff is like poetry. It's amazing how much you can evoke in just a few short lines. It's like walking through a cloud heavy with emotion and memory.

    I can lift the sky and flip it over. But can I ever make another feel the things they need to to be happy?
    This line resonated... we can do so much, but how to touch another person's soul in a way that means something?

  20. #60
    Thanks again my friend! Would love to read more of your own

  21. #61
    Until The Last Drop


    There across the kitchen, funny man leaned on the refrigerator. Had a beard curling out his pale face. It was messy like husk, but, underneath, surely funny man had corn for laughs and sugar for some kind of love. After all, he talked with his wife, some short Korean lady. Of course, the glass blurred the image of funny man Wallace to me as it had since the day he placed me on this fiber-wood kitchen counter. Some square feet of yellow tile separated us. Us… Oh, this riot of a man would be the one to consume me!


    Grinded down from natural grains: corn, wheat, and rye and twelve years in the barrel distilling, and here funny man would consume what’s left of me. But there’s ways Kentucky Whiskey can eat back at a man’s brain, till he doesn't shave, till he doesn't work, or can't love, or can't drive, or can't walk a straight line, and it can chew on them wits until the man goes to brush his teeth or wash his hands and he lifts his pupils and, through that rectangle in need of Windex centering his reflection, he beholds the image of that which he thought himself to be consuming, consuming him. Or the whiskey can pull his little fuckin twelve year old Saturn, I heard him talking about, in front of a goddamn semi. Surely someone warned him before, and surely he told himself something like it’s worth the joy he gets throwing his head back with whiskey in his mouth till his guard rolls down and the air blows through his hair like wind.


    His image sunk closer to me like a man moving to the window after catching the eye of his investigator, but the glass distorted away his nose. With a move closer, I saw his nose, though, a wide bastard of a sneezer that needed a shave. I think his wife went to bed. He seized me by the neck and twisted my plastic lid, cracking the seal. Now I saw him, well. He wore reddish-brown shades, even at night. Glasses the same color as me. Ah, he poured me in a glass that fit his palm and then dropped rocks into my pool for his pleasure. He got me mixed with ice, and then I and the ice streamed down his throat and I into his blood. Most of me in the bottle, some in the bloodstream, I saw the world in sepia: the kitchen, the cabinets; his sunglasses colored them all the same as my liquid.


    Ah, the joy of slipping into a woman’s or a man’s memories and into their collective unconscious. I of course prefer the woman since she has a bit less tolerance, but this particular man is weak enough to really fuck with. Their sub-conscience is my favorite part; it’s where you see things they’ll never know and cause them not to remember the things they do. Here, I saw his grandfather of generations back, a small English boy in a sailor suit dress and with pigtail hair. He had a Victorian mother lifting up the hem of her dress and chasing him through the apple stands of the market. She really wanted badly to castrate this lad. With his mother determined to put a high pitch in that boy's vocals in order to put him on the opera stage, it’s a wonder funny many even made it to this earth. But here funny man stood in some real existence to be proud of. He was both of his ancestors, the boy in the dress and the Victorian mother. He wanted the stage like the mom and he rushed away from it like the boy. And some balls that boy in the sailor suit dress must've been proud to have spared, for all he did with them was run from the stage.


    Swimming in the blood and soul of this man, I felt some Irish tramping about, too; though his family didn’t pass that down to him. Make no mistake, Mr. Jameson, himself, owned a few more street corners inside this man than me, on this night. This fool was kicked out the bar some hours earlier, delighting in the Irish whiskey. The part of me still in the bottle picked up a blurry glimpse of him stumbling about the same four or five tiles of kitchen floor, singing Sinatra, “My Way,” like a fool. But this part of me that swam through his blood saw a guilt colored in sepia of a blonde woman in a dim lit room separated from him by the buffed up bar counter shine.


    “Sweetheart, even, the bar tender on the shift ahead of me told me not to serve you, and now—” the skinny blonde said.


    “Kassie, I’m not driving.”


    Her face surrendered a stance she’d surely been proud of, “Ok, but your friend looks perfectly fine, he better take care of you.”


    “The last thing I want is to make you feel forced. I just want the drink, if I may, a last one. If I may…”


    “Look, Wallace! I already told you I’m not comfortable serving you, and you’re not respecting me as your bar tender! You just keep pushing! It’s only two a’ clock and you’re already drunk! Two a clock, Wallace! If I weren’t a woman you wouldn’t be—


    “Kassie…”


    “It’s true! You and your sexist jokes.”


    I felt this man’s heart whipped. And it’d been whipped before. Still, a bar tender depends on tips and she’ll call a fella “sweetheart and baby,” kind of like a hooker does. Here she is calling him “Wallace.” With the courtesy put-ons of this so called relationship shed to the last piece of fabric, Kassie bared it all, including that she didn’t care for his humor, either. A tear rolled underneath his glasses. He said “Kassie,” cause he’d seen her with a goal of getting tips by having something to shoot the shit with the drunks with, villainize others. Drunk enough to walk stiff, but sober enough only to hold on to his last dignity, he walked out Vino’s before Vino, the local Italian hero, emerged to take the role opposite of him. It’s funny the way that goes, as soon as they have a person playing villain, any of those drunks at any minute could turn their behavior in for a white steed and could come galloping at him with a lance.


    But in this man’s—Wallace’s— blood I saw not just a villain made by the bar, but a true villain made by his doings. He’s a funny man, after all, and funny men make jokes and jokes infest the morality of those joked about. The racist ones. The homophobic ones. The religious ones. The sexist ones. He’d told a many of them and they infested like a hoard of bed bugs. Yeah, the folks laugh but on their pillow when they think about it, the jokes with all their legs crawl in their skin and humiliate them, anger them, make them question motives of funny men who spew bugs from their mouths into their beds. Cause who knows the motives behind a joke aside the joker? And dwelling in that man’s DNA, that night, I didn’t know if he knew his own.


    Even this Don Rickles… I’d spread across the country and been in souls of men and women, as they went on and on about Don. Everybody said he was innocent; Don was, no matter the nationalities he made light of with things he supposedly didn’t mean. Still at night, one man of Japanese descent that looked like this funny man’s wife must’ve lay in bed thinking of how Don called him out in front of everybody. He wondered in his soft pajamas, maybe just for a moment, did Don mean that shit about his slanted eyes. Has Don not gotten passed World War Two?


    I decided that night that if I could I’d kill this funny man before he killed me, it’d be a good humor to his time and age.


    And before anybody dare come to this louse’s aid, let me go on about the unthinkable of his actions. I knew what it meant this time of day when he put his plaid shirt on, his dark pants on, his wallet in his back pocket, his feet in his dress shoes, his gel in his hair, his badge over his neck, his scarf around his neck, his coat over it all. I’d been on that fiber-wood counter long enough to see through the blur him ready himself for work. Then dressed for work and all, funny man’s hand lifted me from the counter, his sunglasses looked a hard minute through the clear border that he knew he should not cross. But I convinced myself no soul lived on the other side of his dark brown shields when he consumed three, four, five, six glasses of me knowing he’d take me to work with him!


    Some twenty-four hours later, he started to do the same thing. He did a shot of me, and then his cell rang a “aint that a kick in the head,” ring tone. Wallace put it to his ear.


    “Hello?”


    “Hello, Wallace, it’s Julio.”


    “Hey, brotha. I’m just about to head to work.”


    “I’m off, today. Remember I told you yesterday. Just don’t do the hand off with Carmella, today. She’s going to email you the shift notes.”


    “Ok…What’s with the change?”


    “She still doesn’t want to talk to you.”


    “Wha-why?”


    “You upset her. Best thing you can do is apologize. You know she’s Catholic. And I know she seems crazy and like a—how do you say it? A ‘sloot?’


    “Slut”


    “Yeah, slutt. But she’s still Catholic, and she didn’t like what you said about Jesus’ cock. Anyway, I got to go. Just warning you.”


    Funny man paused and placed the part of me still in the glass back on the counter. I didn’t know what was richer to look at his opened mouth on the outside recalling his behavior or to look at the anxiety in his person recalling it. I loved the sub-conscience the best. I peeked in and Julio and Carmella colored in sepia sat in a triangle, just some carpet separating them from funny man, Wallace.


    “Oh when I see him, I’m gonna say well, who put that fucking tree in the garden? Blame him for your nail scarred hands! Yeah, throw the guilt right on his fuckin’ dad” Wallace sneered as Carmella’s dark eyes shrunk. Wallace went on, “Seriously what kind of dad puts the root-cause right there and then goes—goes to his kid, you go clean this shit up.”


    “You’d tell your hung savior that…” Carmella said shaking her head.


    “Now, that’s the dandiest thing I heard any religious person say, yet.” Wallace retorted.


    “What do you mean,” Carmella said.


    “How do you know he had such a massive cock?”


    “Que!”


    “I don’t think he was so hung,” Wallace went on with words that were as good as throwing a rope around his own neck, “If he was on the cross and naked—ya know they weren’t really wearing cloths, they were up there nude—but if he had such a hung cock, don’t you think it’d been distracting everybody when they should be thinking about all the guilt and grief and shit? Big dicks are like big boobs, you just can’t take your eyes off them long enough to be solemn.” Wallace paused and while Julio and Carmella sat in silence, Wallace continued on with his set, “I mean if he’s up there hung as fucking John Holmes, can’t you see Mary Magdalene and Joseph of Arimathea right now just staring at his goddamn massive weaner when trying to mourn. Mary looking right at it saying, “such a shame, such a big shame.’ Joseph seeing her saying, ‘for a Jewish woman you can’t keep your eyes off the pork, can you?’ Serious, Carmella, nobody ever told me he was hung before. No wonder that Roman said, ’surely he must be the son of God.’ He was looking at his goddamn massive rod!”


    And that’s all funny man, Wallace, could remember. What he didn’t hear as the memory stopped playing was one chuckle from Julio or Carmella, two devout Catholics. He just resolved he’d not take another drink of me till he got off work on that New Year’s Eve.


    When he returned to my vision at night, he seized my neck before even removing his coat or scarf. He had two egg-rolls in his mouth and slid me in there with their inners. He drank, like a sailor, shots of me. And his wife bounced in, gawking at him.


    “Don’t drink too much. We need to go to family’s for the party.” She said and exited the kitchen.


    From the kitchen tile to the bathroom, he hollered, “Just drinkin’ a few to loosen up!”


    He drank more until he stumbled and laughed and listened to Sinatra and yelled the lyrics over the reddish-brown visuals of disgust incarnating itself through Carmella raising her nose.


    “Take a shower, Wallace, maybe the bath will sober you. You’re drunk!”


    Wallace pushed the door open from the shower. He emerged naked with the shower head beating its song, still. I laughed from inside of him and laughed through the glass of the bottle. His wife took one glance as he left a puddle behind. “I’m going to the party by myself.” she said. “Stay here with your liquor!”


    All the judgments hammered down on him, Carmella’s, Kassie’s, and his wife’s. He grabbed my container and with his two eyes made contact with me. Through his shades restricting certain light, those eyes looked into my sepia shapelessness dripping down each side of the bottle back into myself. Then from the area some would counsel with liquid for a reflection, I gave up a vision. I showed him the funny man, both loved and laughed with.


    A real funny man, he wore a tux; his skin tan, his upper figure a triangle. He introduced himself saying, “Hello, I’m Wallace Carlson, and I’m an alcoholic.” He heard some laughing. He said, “Don’t mind that. To get off probation, I told them I’d say that in all my meetings!” He looked underneath his bowtie, and beneath the stage, on the other side of the spotlight, Chicagoans, old and young, male and female, fat and skinny threw their teeth out their mouths laughing.


    He opened for certain comedian, Rico Amore. He had a glass table underneath him with an astray on it. He coughed from the withering camel cigarette between his core couple of fingers and deduced himself a cool “Rat Pack” like smoker. A real Dean Martin, he laid his weight to his left hand leaning on the glass table, and said “What’s wrong with you delinquents? I tell you I’m an alcoholic and on probation and you laugh?”


    An old humped over bald head couldn’t open his eyes to a squint but smiled.


    Wallace went on, “this old man. This Harry Bowden relic up here is smiling? He said he hasn’t seen anything this wild since the 1920’s when he got mooned by a flapper!”


    The audience died, surrendering their last laughter.


    Amongst them, I sat disguised as a black man with a cornrow and in a tux. He looked in my reddish-brown eyes as I touched the laughs in my stomach.


    “This black fella is alright. Ya’ know I, like others, learned to appreciate black people by getting to know a black…a real dark one-my liver!”


    For Wallace, I, wearing the black man's flesh, fell from my chair, held my stomach, squirming and dancing about the carpet with delight.


    Wallace, stroked his handsome beard, his face felt ten years younger. Only he and Rickles could charm with this humor.


    “You know what’s worse about drinking, “Wallace reasoned, “It’s not the hangover. It’s the judgment you get. And I’m just talking about the other people at the bar!”


    He heard laughing and wailing.


    “No, I’m serious. The bar tender always has to be a hero. She’ll do anything to be the damsel that has to stand up against some drunken heel, just so the regular recluses that get out— ya know, get out just there— will rescue her. Maybe, there’s no bigger jerk that day than you and you’re behaving just fine, she’ll still tell ya something like ‘you’re drinking all this Irish stuff and it’s only two a’ clock. Two a’ clock, Wallace! Sweetheart, its daylight and you’re drunk, already!’ Are you saying if it’s ten a clock and dark, I can get just as fucked up as I want, but doing it at two is some kind of cardinal sin? I’m really ok doing the same shit but just in the dark! The worst part is when some drunk comes to her aid.” Then, Wallace slipped into his best drunk dialect. He stumbled on his words like Foster Brooks. “The drunk will say something like, ‘G-go ho-ho…You’re dr—drunk, and it’s only two a’ (hiccup) clock.’”


    A man in the audience squealed, it’s only two a’ clock!”


    Wallace fished his eyes in the pool of that which was left of me, while the dream of all admiration for him disappeared. I pierced back in his baby blues; first time I’d seen them without the glasses. This youngin’ could’ve been special: eyes to fuckin’ die for, experience not half bad for someone who only prepared seventy-four days in the nutsack as opposed to my twelve years in the barrel. But, then the bastard killed us both. He picked me up and I saw his tonsil doing the charlatan. The last of me slid under it. He spared me this long and now he took me. I burned his throat and pumped his blood to get back to his wife to that New Year’s party. He grabbed the keys to that unregistered Saturn of his, that 2001 oddity. He pumped the gas, still tasting me to the very back of his tongue, and went down the alley with them shades on and struggled to see anything right, left, or behind. Just an eight minute drive somehow took him to Perryville Road instead of anywhere near that party!


    Then, shit walloped Wallace’s brain; like did the Nazis understand their evil when they incinerated the children of Christ? And I realized he had some heart for somebody, at least. I felt something, too, that he'd never told a nine-eleven joke, a Pearl Harbor one, or a holocaust one. And, then, shit hit him harder, he had stranger thoughts about himself, his mother, and his grandmother and- and that's all he knew of her side of the family - but he thought of how all had been without siblings and he thought of how he and his wife had no children, while red stop lights and the green stop lights collaborated with the last drop of me. How could he consume me to the last drop? But when he did he didn’t know that I’d poke him in the eyes; make him not know red from green, and he kept going succeeding correctly at some lights and failing at others. And not me, but his own anger pushed the gas to eighty when he thought a red to be a green… A Volkswagen Beetle hit him from the left. He spun out of control, saw a large wooden pole, and some house lost its light. What funnier way to go for a funny man than to a punch bug. This soldier fell at little Germany’s doing.


    Wallace opened his eyes to my last vision for him. His crushed body hung to the left hill next to a man he thought to be Jesus, himself; but this Jesus had my reddish-brown eyes, as funny man's joke laughed back at him. This Jesus next to him had no loin cloth and hung heavier wood than the cross of Calvary itself, and this Jesus next to him heckled him, hailing “Fuck you. You’re terrible. You’re after all, a self-centered louse, a sexist sicko, an alcoholic illiterate. No redemption for you! No redemption for you! Ya see that ol’ thief on my right?” I turned my head right and said, “Later, me, you, paradise. You’re cool” I turned left again at funny man and said, “no paradise for you, motherfucker!”


    “Jesus” laughed, as he once said to a Peter, “When the cock crows three times you’ll deny me thrice. “ “Jesus” not known to be wanting or perhaps even homosexual measured for every inch of his cock twelve denials by a Peter. Wallace could hardly hear him, at first, over the embarking thoughts the ladies made of “King Jesus”’ rising bridge. Still, Wallace’s thirst for redemption caused him to look at “Jesus”’ lips over his chin and the bearing up wood. I, in my Jesus disguise, regurgitated the drug the soldiers forced in my mouth until it dripped down my chest and onto my fully erect twelve inch cock and inevitably from it. For a Jew, this “Jesus” paraded plentiful pork with wine and vinegar running down it. Still Wallace’s own jokes weigh too heavy, now, to make light of them.


    Funny man breathed and thirsted for life, or he thirsted for—even as desperate as it sounds— for the loneliness he experienced consuming me. However, his wrists' blood that mixed with me tapped the wood beneath them, again and again. As “Jesus” denied him redemption, the laws of “all good things must come to an end” denied him I. He exhaled, once more, next to the jokes that he’d never be forgiven for. His ancestors, the Victorian woman and the sailor-suit dress wearing boy, at last, ceased from their quarrel.
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 03-03-2019 at 06:29 PM.

  22. #62
    At the beginnings of a fantasy story.to depic the American border wall situation and the Russian probe. Would like to write it from a non political viewpoint with somewhat unique characters with their own perspectives...
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 01-27-2019 at 09:36 PM.

  23. #63
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    I am horribly behind on my LOP reading but I do have Until The Last Drop on my list to read as soon as I find the time!

  24. #64
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    Man, the stuff you write reads like what Quentin Tarantino must dream. Trippy but awesome. Really enjoyed this one Benny, looking forward to what you're cooking up next.

  25. #65
    there's even a word in Spanish to describe drunken guilt. In English I know no such word, but I try to describe it in its color, smell, taste, and feeling
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 02-08-2019 at 12:55 PM.

  26. #66
    I have a love/hate relationship with alchohol...what I want to hear is contrast and/ or in relationship with this story
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 02-22-2019 at 05:36 AM.

  27. #67
    The paint

    He lived in another era, and the paint itched a bit as it ran down his face. He carved an extra space around his mouth to show the bigger lips that acts before him showed. He turned his vessel upside down and emptied his talent and passion over the crowd. He danced and skipped. He sang on key but improvised, “my little mammie. The sun shines east, the sun shines west, but I know where the sun shines best.” The women swooned, while not an ounce of wrong intent proceeded from the bottom of Al Jolson’s stomach.

    Times have changed.
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 03-02-2019 at 11:42 AM.

  28. #68
    The Shape of Iniquity


    Act I


    “A person who takes the shape of something else entirely is not a person; it is a thing,” Marlon Bottoms said, sounding his famous monologue in front of the Goodman Theatre. He turned from the audience and turned back again a foot and a half shorter. They gasped and murmured as the six foot two, chunky, clean-shaven, suit wearing man now trolled about the Masonite hardboard floor wearing skin yellow as sickness and bushy hair and eyebrows like a cave man and black lips like ink running from a busted pen.


    His voice stayed close to Marlon’s but took on the mood of naivety mixed with pain that matched his eyes. “Hi, my name’s Orrick and this day was a bit different than some others in that something special happened to me at school but just the same as the others in that I just got home from school to see my Memmi.” He, then, humping over as if he carried a back pack, pushed back an imaginary door and made the clicking sound of its closing. “Memmi, I want to read the Bible. The preacher in the school chapel says God likes it. He said we can be like the angels. Today, they even did an alter call, and, Memmi, I just wanted to go up there—up there right next to Emmy in her shiny white choir robe and hold her hand and squeeze all the love right out of it!”


    Marlon kept some masculinity in his voice but took on Memmi’s form when he turned right and grew a long tail and long grey hair, and then scolded with a hovering presence, “What’d I tell you about love, Orrick!”


    Marlon turned left and became the child again and coward a few steps back. “You said it’s our weakest instinct.”


    Marlon felt, coming from the theatre’s darkness, the crowd leaning in with wonder Then, Marlon was the mother saying, “And what does that mean?”


    Then he was the young, shamed monster saying, “that I shouldn’t care what anybody thinks about me…”


    Next, he morphed back into Memmi, saying, “So what are you going to never, ever do, Orrick?”


    “Hold Emmy’s hand. Read the Bible. Pray.”


    Finally, Marlon, as the mother cried, “now go get me some human to eat. I’m hungry for thighs!”


    Act II


    Marlon turned from the audience again and back towards them. He stood once more as the narrator. With not a hair un-gelled from the first act, he embraced the audience, once more. With hands folded behind his back, he said, “Young Orrick did read the Bible, though. And when he did, he learned of the human kind, too. He learned them to be born in sin and shaped into iniquity. In Norwich, Connecticut this scripture couldn’t be truer than it was for one Detective Jude Hawkeye. “


    At what Marlon did next, the dark theatre responded with a second of silence that comes with a collective adjustment of the eyes to a new perception. And then the half of those seated who first grasped what they saw with “oohs and ahs” awakened the others. For what was seen was Marlon’s body narrowing, his three-piece suit turning to a long navy coat, his slick hair lightening in color and growing to a long unkept greasy look. And, alas, they saw without him turning from them, his face tanning, his nose widening, and a beard growing from his face!


    He stepped forward in the light of the painted black stage. “Hello, all,” the man said with Marlon’s protraction but using another man’s deeper, slower Mid-Western plain way of speaking and using that man’s very soul. Marlon bellowed, “I’m Detective Jude Hawkeye, and this is Nineteen Ninety-Seven Norwich, the headquarters of gun manufacturer Wrangler and Rich. I just made the drive on my own dime from Chicago to here, seeking to avenge a series of murders and cannibalisms in my city. I’m chasing leads my department would never promote—leads as a skeptic, I never thought I would...


    Without a backdrop of an elevator on stage, to the audience Marlon breathed life to the scene of Jude going up the sky scraper. He traced his finger up and down the many choices of floors and found his selection at the top. He pressed the air, as if it were a button. While looking down with his long hair opening to expose enough face to show a look as serious as a family income, he used his voice to create the sound cables make to lift the elevator. He made a ding as some passersby got off. He stepped aside for the invisible individuals and made another ding as the doors closed to allow him to continue his ascent. When Jude reached his selected floor, he moved through without struggle, as if he were the last person on.


    When walking through the doors, he talked to the audience again. “Before I detail my visit with Harvey Whitman, CEO of Wrangler and Rich, I’m bound to uncover the lead that got me here. It kind of started coming to a head back in Chicago at the Hotel Monica when myself and a Broadway actress who I met at the ‘FM 98’ radio station had a conversation on the balcony over the view of Lake Michigan. He made a careful step forward and stood quietly while creating the sounds of waves and of wind with his mouth.


    “You need a coat…” He said.


    Then Marlon side stepped, shrunk three inches, and turned from being Jude to be a short haired blonde with luscious eyes and lips that looked up where Jude had been standing. With every trace of a woman but only with Marlon’s voice, she said “I like to feel the wind for everything it has.” They paused for a moment with only the sound of weather and water, coming from her mouth. The woman folded her arms to the cold. “So, if you think Sam Hansen is such a lunatic, then why did you come on his station?”


    Marlon sidestepped to the left and he was, again, Jude watching over the lake. He looked ahead but let a smile for her betray the hardness of his shell. “To tell you the truth I didn’t know him, not a damn thing about him. I just wanted to get this case out. If I knew he just wanted to promote conspiracy theories—Kristina, what I want to know is how a such a talented, artistic person like you got mixed in with all his conspiracy theories!”


    With a slide to the right from Marlon, Kristina looked at Jude with her blue eyes. “Don’t act like you know me. Don’t act like you know—every darn thing, either!”


    “C’mon!” Marlon said as Jude facing where Kristina would be standing. He made fun of Sam with a Texan accent, “My name's Sam Hansen and let me tell you folks what’s happening here. The shapeshifters have infiltrated the city of Chicago. That’s why we got this crime rate! That’s why we got people shooting each other for no reason! That’s why we have these people eating each other!”


    And as Kristina, Marlon said to the now invisible Jude. “You have any better ideas, Detective?” She smiled with eyes looking tired and traced her finger down what would be Jude’s upper torso.


    As Jude, Marlon turned ahead and pulled out an invisible cigarette and put on a struggle against the wind to light it. It felt like his fight against where the facts led him. He put his arm around the air that was now Kristina. “That Sam guy yells like a crazy man, makes up crazy horseshit. Don’t you think he just wants attention... That's why you go on about him so fuckin’ much! He’s like you. You have to have an audience, to feel accepted…”

    As Kristina, Marlon pushed Jude off. “I keep telling you. You don’t damn well know me!” She pulled the imaginary doors apart and walked from the balcony to the room.


    As Jude, Marlon went about smoking, saying “I guess it’s better to walk off the balcony from that end… And Kristina was right. I didn’t know her. But she didn’t know me either. During our fling, she accused me of having an easy life. Fuck her! I was raised by alcoholics and didn’t do school social events when I grew up. Except that one time. My first girlfriend, Becky Sands, talked me into attendin’ one of the basketball games, our team, the Jaguars played. This tall clean point guard for our team, Joel Conner, made the steal, dribbled the ball down the court, made the pass that led to our team winning.


    Ha! “Our team.” Other than that night, I don’t know or give a fuck about how the Jaguars did. I just remember her saying,” and Marlon’s voice went to a high-pitched teen girl. “Oh, look at Joel’s dad out there hugging him. Why don’t you play sports like Joel, Jude?”


    When she tried hugging me, I grabbed her wrists to refrain her. She told everybody I squeezed her, that I hurt her. I knew what my dad smelled like when he came home, the nonsense that came out his mouth. I knew I’d never be fuckin’ Joel.


    And things didn’t get better with me and Kristina or me and any other woman than they did with Becky. Fuckin’ Kristina said I didn’t know her. Damn right, I didn’t know what a conspiracy theorist she was; that she was a member of the goddamn NRA, or that she was a republican that wanted to impeach the President. But she always carried that dramatic tone with dramatic words—that tone and those empty words. Marlon’s voice went from Jude’s to that of Kristina as he mocked her, saying “to assume the intent of another’s heart is to admit the shortcomings of yours. You’re insecure, Jude. Just go. Go make yourself a hero!”


    “Jude” looked at the audience while tapping his invisible cigarette against the invisible rails of the balcony. He turned about and stepped forward on stage, presumably towards Harvey Whitman’s office. “Now, you can imagine I’m a man with an ego, but one thing bigger is this: facts. I wouldn’t be good at what I do, if I didn’t follow them. There was a series of cannibalisms in my city. One survivor testified of being chased by two things with ski masks and pepper spray in Chinatown outside Walgreens at 3:00 am. This strong Korean lady got away with all her flesh but some of her upper arm she lost to a bite. She had hairs from her attackers left on her. Forensic tests showed these hairs didn’t belong to human or animals known to us. The bite, also, was other worldly they said. But we found surveillance from a supermarket of humans, a mom and son, in trench coats buying the masks and the pepper spray.

    The Korean woman said she saw what looked like yellow skin. These cannibals are mother and son, sophisticated but animalistic, mankind but beasts? Long after Kristina left, her theories stayed with me and so did her contacts. One contact being Mr. Whitman and one theory being that of a secret bullet manufactured at Wrangler and Rich, a bullet made just to undo shape shifters.


    To be continued.
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 03-10-2019 at 06:49 PM.

  29. #69
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin Button View Post
    The paint

    He lived in another era, and the paint itched a bit as it ran down his face. He carved an extra space around his mouth to show the bigger lips that acts before him showed. He turned his vessel upside down and emptied his talent and passion over the crowd. He danced and skipped. He sang on key but improvised, “my little mammie. The sun shines east, the sun shines west, but I know where the sun shines best.” The women swooned, while not an ounce of wrong intent proceeded from the bottom of Al Jolson’s stomach.

    Times have changed.


    These little bits are better than your longer writings. At least for me. I prefer shorter stuff, though. Take that as you will...

  30. #70
    The Brain
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    I love your stuff Benny, the long and the short.

    I actually think about Al Jolson sometimes, mostly when he's referenced by a show old enough to have the point of reference and not feel ashamed of it. I think about changing values a lot when engaging with older books/films. It's easy and sometimes right to condemn things from a different time, but it's harder and more important to understand them. I do believe Jolson had no ill intent, at least from what I know about him. Whether he did subtle harm despite his intention is less clear to me.

    The longer piece is stranger but just as interesting, you know I'm a sucker for a shadowy alternate world, both like and unlike our own, glimpsed darkly through small, dirty windows. Very much looking forward to the second part.

  31. #71
    Meandi....yeah it's easy to pack a big punch in a short piece. But the bigger pieces keep me away from the real big punches (trouble)..I just re-read my bigger one and aside from a couple cringeworthy errors, I was happy with it.

    Mizfan,

    Thanks, Al Jolson was in a time that he may have done some indirect damage but from all I've heard he did more good than harm...black people were treated horribly then and he took a stand for them in more ways than one....kinda, backwards the way we think of it now...we just see the blackface, the world they lived in then, they couldn't afford to focus on that.

    I think it's a bad thing, but people who go back in time to judge miss the point.
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 03-06-2019 at 04:23 AM.

  32. #72
    The Brain
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    Indirect damage is such a bitch, ain't it? I guess we all do it sometimes. Missing the point is also very popular these days...

  33. #73
    The Shape of Iniquity



    Act I



    “A person who takes the shape of something else entirely is not a person; it is a thing,” Marlon Bottoms said, sounding his famous monologue in front of the Goodman Theatre. He turned from the audience and turned back again a foot and a half shorter. They gasped and murmured as the six foot two, chunky, clean-shaven, suit wearing man now trolled about the Masonite hardboard floor wearing skin yellow as sickness and bushy hair and eyebrows like a cave man and black lips like ink running from a busted pen.


    His voice stayed close to Marlon’s but took on the mood of naivety mixed with pain that matched his eyes. “Hi, my name’s Orrick, and this day was a bit different than some others but also just the same as them. It was different in that something special happened to me at school but just the same in that I just got home from school to see my Memmi.” He, then, humping over as if he carried a back pack, pushed back an imaginary door and made the clicking sound of its closing.


    He said, “Memmi, I want to read the Bible. The preacher in the school chapel says God likes it. He said we can be like the angels. Today, they even did an alter call, and, Memmi, I just wanted to go up there—up there right next to Emmy in her shiny white choir robe and hold her hand and squeeze all the love right out of it!”


    Marlon kept some masculinity in his voice but took on Memmi’s form when he turned right and grew a long tail and long grey hair, and then scolded with a hovering presence, “What’d I tell you about love, Orrick! What’d I tell you!”


    Marlon turned left and became the child again and coward a few steps back. “You said it’s our weakest instinct.”


    Marlon felt, coming from the theatre’s darkness, the crowd leaning in with wonder Then, Marlon was the mother saying, “And what does that mean?”


    Then he was the young, shamed monster saying, “that I shouldn’t care what anybody thinks about me…”


    Next, he morphed back into Memmi, saying, “So what are you going to never, ever do, Orrick?”


    “Hold Emmy’s hand. Read the Bible. Pray.”


    Finally, Marlon, as the mother cried, “now go get me some human to eat. I’m hungry for thighs!”



    Act II



    Marlon turned from the audience again and back towards them. He stood once more as the narrator. With not a hair un-gelled from the first act, he embraced the audience, once more. With hands folded behind his back, he said, “Young Orrick did read the Bible, though. And when he did, he learned of the human kind, too. He learned them to be born in sin and shaped into iniquity.

    In Norwich, Connecticut this scripture couldn’t be truer than it was for one Detective Jude Hawkeye. “


    At what Marlon did next, the dark theatre responded with a second of silence that comes with a collective adjustment of the eyes to a new perception, and then the half of those who first grasped what they saw with “oohs and ahs”, awakened the others. For Marlon’s body narrowed, his three-piece suit turned to a long coat, his slick hair lightened in color and grew to a long unkept greasiness. Finally, his face tanned, his nose widened, and his face grew a beard.


    He stepped forward in the light of the painted black stage. “Hello, all,” the man said with Marlon’s protraction but using another man’s deeper, slower Mid-Western plain way of speaking and using that man’s very soul. Marlon bellowed, “I’m Detective Jude Hawkeye, and this is Nineteen Ninety-Seven Norwich, the headquarters of gun manufacturer Wrangler and Rich. I just made the drive on my own dime from Chicago to here, seeking to avenge a series of murders and cannibalisms in my city. I’m chasing leads my department would never promote—leads as a skeptic, I never thought I would…follow”


    Without a backdrop of an elevator on stage, to the audience Marlon breathed life to the scene of Jude going up the sky scraper. He traced his finger up and down the many choices of floors and found his selection at the top. He pressed the air, as if it were a button. While looking down with long hair opening to expose enough face to show a look as serious as a family income, he used his voice to create the sound cables make to lift the elevator. He made a ding as some passersby got off. He stepped aside for the invisible individuals and made another ding as the doors closed to allow him to continue his ascent. When Jude reached his selected floor, he moved through without struggle, as if he were the last person on.


    When walking through the doors, he talked to the audience again. “Before I detail my visit with Harvey Whitman, CEO of Wrangler and Rich, I’m bound to uncover the lead that got me here. Back in Chicago at the Hotel Monica, myself and a Broadway actress who I met at the ‘FM 98’ radio station had a conversation on the balcony over the view of Lake Michigan.


    He made a careful step forward and stood quietly while creating the sounds of waves and of wind with his mouth. “You don’t need a coat…” He said.


    Then Marlon side stepped, shrunk three inches, and turned from being Jude to be a short haired blonde with luscious eyes and lips that looked up where Jude had been standing. With every trace of a woman but only with Marlon’s voice, she said “I like to feel the wind for everything it has.” They paused for a moment with only the sound of weather and water, coming from her mouth. The woman folded her arms to the cold. “So, if you think Sam Hansen is such a lunatic, then why did you come on his station?”


    Marlon sidestepped to the left and he was, again, Jude watching over the lake. He looked ahead but let a smile for her betray the hardness of his shell. “To tell you the truth I didn’t know him, not a damn thing about him. I just wanted to get this case out. If I knew he just wanted to promote conspiracy theories—Kristina, what I want to know is how a such a talented, artistic person like you got mixed in with all his conspiracy theories.”


    With a slide to the right from Marlon, Kristina looked at him with her blue eyes. “Don’t act like you know me. Don’t act like you know—every darn thing, either!”


    “C’mon!” Marlon (as Jude) said facing where Kristina would be standing. He went on with a Texan dialect, “My names Sam Hansen and let me tell you folks what’s happening here. The shapeshifters have infiltrated the city of Chicago. That’s why we got this crime rate. That’s why we got people shooting each other for no reason. That’s why we have these people eating each other!”


    And as Kristina, Marlon said to the now invisible Jude. “You have any better ideas, Detective?” She smiled with eyes looking tired and traced her finger down what would be Jude’s upper torso.


    As Jude, Marlon turned ahead and pulled out an invisible cigarette and put on a struggle against the wind to light it. It felt like his fight against where the facts led him. He put his arm around the air that was now Kristina. “That Sam guy yells like a crazy man, makes up crazy horseshit! Don’t you think he just wants attention? Is that why you like him so fuckin’ much? He’s like you. You have to have an audience, to feel accepted…”


    As Kristina, Marlon pushed Jude off. “I keep telling you. You don’t damn well know me!” She pulled the imaginary doors apart and walked from the balcony to the room.


    As Jude, Marlon went about smoking and said to the audience, “I guess it’s better to walk off the balcony from that end… And Kristina was right. I didn’t know her. But she didn’t know me either. During our fling, she accused me of having an easy life. Fuck her! I was raised by alcoholics and didn’t do school social events when I grew up. Except that one time— that one time my first girlfriend, Becky Sands, talked me into attendin’ one our basketball games our team, the Jaguars, played. This tall clean point guard for our team, Joel O’Conner, made the steal, dribbled the ball down the court, and made the pass that led to our team winning.


    Ha! ‘Our team.’ Other than that night, I don’t know or give a fuck about how the Jaguars did. I just remember her saying,” and Marlon’s voice went to a high-pitched teen girl. “‘Oh, look at Joel’s dad out there hugging him. Why don’t you play sports, Jude?’


    When she tried hugging me, I grabbed her wrists. She told everybody I squeezed her, that I hurt her. I knew what my dad smelled like when he came home, the nonsense that came out his mouth. I knew I’d never be fuckin’ Joel.


    And things didn’t get better with me and Kristina or me and any other woman than they did with me and Becky. Fuckin’ Kristina said I didn’t know her. Damn right, I didn’t know what a conspiracy theorist she was; that she was a member of the goddamn NRA or that she was a republican that wanted to impeach the President. But she always carried that dramatic tone with those dramatic words—that tone and those empty words.” Marlon’s voice went from Jude’s to that of Kristina as he mocked her, saying “to assume the intent of another’s heart is to admit the shortcomings of yours. You’re insecure, Jude. Just go. Go make yourself a hero!”


    “Jude” looked at the audience while tapping his invisible cigarette against the invisible rails of the balcony. He turned about and stepped forward on stage, presumably towards Harvey Whitman’s office.


    Marlon in his Jude form, said, “now, you can imagine I’m a man with an ego, but one thing bigger is this: facts. I wouldn’t be good at what I do, if I didn’t follow them. There was a series of cannibalisms in my city. One survivor testified of being chased by two things with ski masks and pepper spray in Chinatown outside Walgreens at 3:00 am. This strong Korean lady got away with all her flesh but with only some of her upper arm lost to a bite. She had hairs from her attackers left on her. Forensic tests showed these hairs didn’t belong to human or animals known to us. The bite, also, was other worldly they said. But we found surveillance from a supermarket of humans— a human mom and a human son— in trench coats buying the masks and the pepper spray.


    The Korean woman said she saw what looked like yellow skin. These cannibals are mother and son, sophisticated but animalistic, mankind but beasts? Long after Kristina left, her theories stayed with me and so did her contacts, a contact being contact Mr. Whitman and a theory being that of a secret bullet manufactured at Wrangler and Rich, a bullet made just to undo shape shifters.



    Act III


    When Marlon entered through the curtains, his steps against the Masonite floor could be heard. Not a clap from a hand welcomed him but the listening from every ear did.


    With his hair still groomed in place, he spoke hitting every syllable. He said, “ladies and gentlemen, tonight you may have gathered that this performance is not from a man who does great impersonations but from a shape shifter who can become those he tells stories of.


    What you don’t know is I am not a him. And I will be quite honest with you, for I know my bullet, the one born at Wrangler and Rich for my kind, awaits me. This bullet doesn’t bend for the bones of humans and it pierces those of shape shifters.


    Go ahead, Jude! You have the approval of the United States government to do it! This is after all, your jurisdiction, Chicago! You took my son, now take me as well! But first I want you to know—know I wasn’t raised to love but my innocent son, Orrick, taught me to! All he wanted was to receive love and I learned to get that after you took him. And you, yourself, may need to know that lesson. For, you took a child who never—”


    The sound of a gun went off. Marlon fell to the ground and turned into a wrinkled grey haired monster. Memmie, a yellow elderly beast bleeding black ink on a black stage, had spoken her last words which were, “a child that never had a chance.”




    And I hope you all enjoyed this show tonight! I of course am Orrick Bottoms. I’m no true shape shifter, but I hope I made the monologue with each expression and sound feel as though I were!


    Orrick inhaled the moment, the Goodman theatre, and the claps, while life on the other side of the curtain awaited the thing that he was.
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 03-18-2019 at 03:26 AM.

  34. #74
    To Make Dormant


    As Joy stepped through the sliding glass back door, the stone patio demanded her to lift her big toes. While acclimating against its heat she inched forward, using the sides of her feet. She took a breath at the sun, and while it breathed back at her she didn’t feel wrong for breaking her mom’s rule. “Joy Hicks, how many times do I have to say it, put your sandals on before you go out!” But her mom was only a few hours in on a long shift at Mercy Hospital, while she was on summer break. Then, she stared ahead at the feet of grass that separated the wooden part of the patio from the tall brown flora of the prairie.


    When her eyes fixed on a man’s meaty back placed underneath his long hair and summer hat; above his vintage, crude stool; and in front of his canvas which set on thin, natural wood, she made a half turn back to the glass door. Her mother may look the other way at the little rules like sandals must go on before going outdoors, but she meant business when she said, “only talk to Herb if it’s an emergency. His ideas are miles of evil away from God, and just ‘not good’.” She’d say “not good” sometimes and “unhealthy” other times.


    Through the glass, Joy saw her father’s summer hat and beard turn at her. “He’s not well,” she heard her mother’s voice say while he stood up.


    “Hey!” He cried standing in his shorts and sandals. He looked pale in the outdoors and appeared about as unnatural with the prairie as a backdrop as a polar bear would. “Come here. I want to show you something! Come on, I could die of loneliness!”


    What more could be an emergency than death itself? She embraced the air and walked to her father. As she got close to him, she saw her own blue eyes from his pale face looking back at her, and she saw her own curls, though her mom had straightened her long, blonde locks.


    She felt he’d gotten shorter or she’d been growing faster. But he didn’t say anything about that.


    “This ecosystem has become dormant,” he said. “Not dead but dormant,” he clarified with the brown tall plants behind him.


    They turned their attention to the canvas with strokes that’d begun mirroring the meadow in its current state. After some seconds of silence, the man her mother told her to call Herb broke it, saying “your mother’s a level three RN, she could be making more money in California or somewhere, you know. But she always said she can’t leave the prairies of Minnesota behind.”


    Joy thought for a moment. It’d been awhile since being forced to communicate with Herb, but she felt obliged to offer something. She said, “mother also says Minnesota is still only a drop of the Heaven that awaits us.”


    “Really? What does your mother tell you about Heaven?”


    Joy took a moment but only could muster the most recent times her mother made her cry. She recalled asking her mom if their family would still be together, but her mom told her they’d all be like angels in a choir but no longer a family. She said in Heaven things were different and praising God would be the only thing that’d matter. What’s worse when she asked her mom if Herb would go, her mom would say “Herb?” It’s what her mom didn’t say that told her Herb couldn’t go. She’d answer the yes or no question with, “God has a plan for everyone. Or only God knows the heart.”


    “She says things will be different.” Joy replied.


    “Is that what you want?” Herb said.


    “No, I want things to always be the same.”


    “Heaven, painting, looking at ecosystems. It is all the same.” Herb said.


    “What do you mean? Heaven is better than everything. And painting is something you learn. Looking at plants is just something—something anybody can do.”


    “Why though do we imagine and learn and observe? What are we really trying to get our minds from?”


    Joy thought about it but didn’t know what to say.


    “From the time of your—Say, what’s your mother told you about that—birth?”


    “She said it hurts more than anything I can ever think of. But once the doctor handed me to her and she saw me, she knew it was a miracle.”


    “That’s what she told you, huh?” With just a sentence Herb seemed to lose interest. He sat back down and transferred a few more strokes of the of acrylic paint from the brush to the easel, creating shapes yet to form anything.


    “You don’t believe her? Then, what's birth like?” Joy said with her shoulders back and her nose in the air. She said it in a tone that asked, “you got any better ideas?”


    “I was there,” Herb responded. “No lights in the room. Strange faces of nurses and doctors in and out. The water breaks, then at first that pain—that pain you’ve only heard about cuts at your wife. First you joke with her, first she tries to keep a tough face. Then, you try standing and she stands in your arms. Then, you try different positions. The nurse asks, ‘is everything alright?’ How is it?’ She knows it’s not alright. There are pictures on the wall of pain at all its intensities from zero to ten, and you know your wife is at a fifteen. Then she cries, and the room is darker. From the shadows, her mother says a prayer over her. Finally, that which she’s been fighting to withhold emerges in screams, in curses, in angers, until her mother puts a towel in her mouth. Her mother prays. Still she cusses God, and her mother slaps her. She says she can’t go on... Joking no longer helps, standing up no longer helps, praying no longer helps. And it’s the wee hours of the morning. You haven’t slept, and your mind is going…Your wife is no longer a human speaking; for her eyes have stopped answering you back. She’s pain incarnated. Her mother is screaming over her and covering her mouth. It’s a freakin’ exorcism!”


    “But what about the part where the little baby comes out, and the doctor hands you her.” Joy said.


    “That’s the worst part. You see, I did something that day in ignorance. I had the internet. God, I could have googled it, but I just made a spur of the moment decision. When the doctor asked, I told her yes—” Herb’s stare was a blank canvas. “He went on. I told them, ahead of time, I’d cut the cord. I thought it’d be like a small hose or something. But when you came out, it extended from your mother to your naval several feet in the air. Purple and fleshy, it had veins, and blood on it. At the top of it you squirmed around and clawed at the air like a beast. Why then did you make a sound? The entire time your head was emerging, everything was silent but the sound of the doctor coaching your mother to push at the two-minute interval of every contraction and your mother yelling when pushing. But when you and that purple evil shot out it happened like lightening, and then you squealed and squealed over us and clawed at the air with your fingers and toes. You scratched at your own flesh. Then, they ordered me to cut it like we planned. I hadn’t slept and had endured contraction after contraction. Under that influence, I took the scissors off that bed of sharp tools that would be needed to repair a human after all the horrors. I took the scissors and cut some point after the clamp. When I did, the darkest red blood you’ll ever see in a lifetime poured from its opening.”


    “Ewe, gross! What’s your point?”


    “Well, the point is…That day we (me and your mother) not only gave life, but we gave death. You see, all things that are born must die. You’re not unincluded. While this horrific ritual of childbirth is seen as the joy of the recent future, maybe, more accurately, it symbolizes the inevitable that we humans keep cycling ourselves into."


    Joy's eyes watered; she looked away.


    After a moment's hesitation Herb said, "now, not to change the subject, but from my room I’ve heard your mother tell you not to come out here with your feet exposed. I won’t tell if you don’t.”


    Joy wept, sorry she’d disobeyed her mother, as Herb went on contemplating how he could paint the story of the prairie that was once energized through photosynthesis but was now made dry and dormant through drought.
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 04-02-2019 at 02:16 AM.

  35. #75
    The Brain
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Posts
    2,757
    Thought for sure I commented on that earlier one! Really enjoyed both of these Benny. The strangeness of the world in the first one, and of the man in the second one. You've got a knack for adding a powerful dose of other-worldliness to everyone you take on. All your stories take place in a place where nothing is quite right, a little broken, a little sad, yet still powerful and maybe a little beautiful.

    Really appreciate your stuff, glad you keep posting it in here.

  36. #76
    Impoverished Souls
    Chapter 1: Society’s Menaces.




    I’ve met grown men—yes, even fathers—who’ve cried at their realization that they were as I was, a menace comparable to malware in society’s system. And while I begged those who I came across to help me escape my status, I couldn’t gouge my eye enough to tear up over it. It’s not that my masculinity forbade me from my turn at weeping, it’s that I, most truly, never secreted a single drop of fluid for it. I’ve made about mourning to get sympathy, to get food, to get extra money, but to really mourn. —I couldn’t, even if I would! Now, my condition worsened when I awoke with my face against the hard floor of the city airship, Van Garth. As I felt its steel indenting in my cheek, I tasted little rocks of dirt that must have transferred into my mustache. That is: I felt the said sensations, at once, when my heavy eyes opened to violence against me.


    “You have to get up!” The owner of the knees next to my head demanded.


    And the owner of the hands that grabbed my jacket caused my face to burn against the floor and my blood to ingest the filth that’d been shifted there by shoes. He said, “Police! Get up!”


    “Don’t rent ma coat!” I said. It was red, vogue, and floral printed, as the fad of the early 2100’s went. But what aroused my cries of protection was the circumstance that it was my only coat in 2112. I’d sent a message to Nelson to send money for a new one, but for the time being this must survive, whether out of style or whether without a button left to it. “I will cooperate, officer, I say! Just don’t rent ma coat!”


    I propped to a sitting position like dirty laundry piling up. My hairs went every which way, on my mustache and my head.


    “You’ve been drinking?” He said behind his blue helmet, which shielded all his face, save his eyes and his nose-bridge.


    “Yesh,” I said salivating. “Yesh, gin, a lot of—” As I spoke my eyes closed. But in my stupor, I envisioned him confining a small breathalyzer under my tongue, which created a taste of a rubber finger and a discomfort of a pressure against a thin band of tissue. He retrieved his device out the wet sewer of a shut mouth, but I still felt the pressing that’d occurred on my frenulum. Then, in my reconstruction of the on-goings, through my subconscious, he communicated in his hand-held chip. “His alcohol level is 1.8, and his scan shows him to be Lesley Ailes. He’s had three prior arrests.” What happened next, to men and women, alike, leaves the average up all night after bail, after court, after AA meetings, still defining themselves by it or telling themselves they’re not defined by it. The tightening of the wrists together with cuffs—When the officer swipes his or her control to torque the wristbands to their discretion, it pinches the skin. When this happens, the accused knows—they know. The police don’t always say, “you’re under arrest,” but the accused knows it and feels it with all their ego. That pinch wakes them to where they’re going, what they’ve done, who they are. They’re a problem that must be corrected. This, which, incidentally, I’ve heard in AA meetings, brings grief or even enlightenment to some.


    For me, however, after I’d get my hours in at the correction facility: I'd fly home, go upstairs to the attic; where we rent, scrunch in, look at the wood shaping the underneath of the Schmitt family’s roof, and pour me another gin. I’d look at Mary, sweet Mary Kay, who consumed at home, too, getting paler and thinner. When I turned in after my third arrest, she told me, “I took Juan-Luke out to the park for Mrs. Schmitt, today. When, still on the conveyor and looking at them geese, I cradled him and he—oh, he grabbed my finger tight with his tiny palm. It felt like we were holding hands!” Just a little into the gin, I kissed her forehead and told her to close her eyes, that she looked pale. After she’d fallen asleep, I typed at a weird tale on my off brand, pocket sized, 2098 simulator. I typed in the thought, “six fingers.” From there, I brain stormed on ideas, until it led me to a father from the twenty-first century, obsessing over his son’s sixth finger, shivering at the thought of the child squeezing onto his (the father’s) finger with the disfigured hand. I construed the father would awaken in a sweat, remembering, after a long night on the bottle, dismembering his child! Every detail had to be real! The reader had to feel it. Nay, the reader had to fear it! Wait,” reader”, I thought. There were none left on the planet…


    Life for a writer in a world where all is spoken and brought to life by the video and the voice commands of the simulator didn’t offer many jobs; and the one I had for the Chicago Times wasn’t coming back. Those nitwits never appreciated my talent. They fired me three times, only to twice bring me back; because their small list of subscribers demanded my gripping supplies. Still, it’s a wonder they were, presently, remaining on the web, because nobody read in 2112. Since I was a writer and Mary Kay a retired play actress— retired because nobody cared for watching plays or anything else outside simulations— we were out of luck.


    Therefore, that night, before I went to bed, I spoke in my simulator to reach out to a source that I thought to be still good.


    “Type message,” I said.


    The screen showed a keyboard at the bottom. With it, I spelled out the following letter:


    “Hello,


    I send you this in the typed form, because I know you’re one of the last left who cares to read words, and, selfishly, because I’m the last left who likes to type them. More than that I do it to be discreet, as I wish to discuss Mary Kay. I fear her health will only decline, unless you can fund her doctor’s visit. We’re, still, without insurance.


    Since my time away, she’s become thinner. As you recall, her liver was not well, either, last we had her looked at. Please, sir, as a humanitarian endeavor, transfer five-thousand points to my account! The code has not changed.


    Yours truly (as they use to write). In the typed form,


    Lesley Ailes.


    “Send to Nelson Strong,” I commanded.
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 04-10-2019 at 03:54 AM.

  37. #77
    The Brain
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Posts
    2,757
    Your work is always so creative, but so tragic Benny. I want to cry for Lesley, a man out of his time, and for Mary Kay, who feels a beautiful fleeting connection as she slowly dies, and for a world where no one reads or writes or cares.

  38. #78
    Thanks, again, man. For sure that is the pain of the characters. I have taken several influences in the Lesley character, but one. inspiration is Edgar Allen Poe. Writing about poverty was a bit tough, even for me. I've never been poor, but must have some underlying fear of it. Usually, I can write about anything without attachment, but it was tough getting it started. Now that I have, I'm glad I did.



    Impoverished Souls
    Chapter 2: The Strong and the Weak



    Nelson consorted with the old, typed form of story-telling, and, without objection, forced his associates to suffer his fancy for it. They, with only teasing, contested his waste on being a connoisseur in literacy. They only teased, because they needed that other side of him to further them in their injuring of the typed prose. And he did further break the legs of the art and cut out its tongue! He did his worst by, without considering the impossibility of loving two masters, trailblazing ahead of the world in its darling simulation commerce. I attributed such an accolade as “trailblazer” to him without exaggerating his influence, without regarding my association with him, without, even, feigning pleasure for his profession. I disclosed, against my own ennui, his success. For he’d, even, achieved humanitarian prizes for simulation by taking it beyond entertaining on screens, into reforming in the state prison. This came about when he attained his most recent and most historical fame as director in the first state-wide correction simulator, “Essence Keep.” However, I, being woke to what I knew, should not, even, credit his reforming of society’s sinners as a benefit. Should the art of simulation, truly, have eradicated menaces from their menacing, it changes naught that it stole billions of eyes, those of criminals included, from the typed word. I should sound hostile, as I am most hostile! For being one of the survivors of those who put their fingers to the keyboard, I understood my weight to not benumb my hatred for that which euthanizes the inputted, spelled word, as my former Editor and Chief had benumbed his! Back when Essence Keep premiered, that loathsome news medium, the Chicago Times betrayed the scent of all letters ever printed on papers through their announcement that stated:


    Tuesday, 28, September 2107: The young multi- billionaire, Brenton Leo, partnering with Chicago police, will open the first state-wide correction simulation on 1, October. Fifty-thousand seats have already been sold for it’s opening, next Monday. This castle-prison, directed by Nelson Strong, will display real life criminals, in front of tens of thousands of spectators, fighting to correct their souls against simulations that seek to destroy them.


    Nelson served two masters. Despite all his innovation for the new form, his love for his dear mother and English teacher, Gertie Strong, inspired him to subscribe to the Chicago Times, where he read my articles. He, even, supported my downloadable collection of short weird tales, titled, Ailes’ Ailments.


    Now, I must digress, only once, to document that Ailes’ Ailments became a sore subject for me. Insomuch, Mary avoided the topic. She’d assimilated it with the distinct harm I’d give her by pulling her cover from her during the cold winters of negative numbers. When I did these acts, I lamented, to no end, over the grievances done to the typed form. See, the sales for my short stories insulted me. Understand, the time that the collection took to type became far greater than the money that it made, for many of the Chicago Times readers didn’t cross over to the dark side with me on these stories. Their inability to inhabit the first-person narrative of a serial-killing paraplegic, was something that I’d bury myself in fermented berry juices over. What did they miss that maddened me? It’s not the evil, it’s not the shock, it’s not the horror; no, it’s none of that.— It’s the way they cannot know the consideration of every word; it’s that they cannot detect the throwing out of the most emotive, well-structured sentences that would, only against the most minimum restriction, betray the mood or theme! Damn them.


    The effort of Ailes Ailments, however, did bring about Nelson and his wife to arrange to meet with myself and Mary Kay, for the first time. Back then, we lived in the Roosevelt Lofts, in the suburbs, where they sent a limousine to pick us up. When we stepped outside, the parking lot conveyor, at our auto commands, took us to their private limo-ship. When we arrived at the “Simulation Theater in Chicago,” I, in high and mighty fashion, made my way through the red carpet and the audience towards Nelson’s and, his wife, Eliza McKenzie Strong’s booth. Mary Kay gazed in my eye, as if she sought me to share with her in surrealness or, perhaps, in nervousness. I prolonged not to calculate the connotation of whatever Mary meant; however, I felt low about the old, black widow-looking gown she donned. She wore it, every day, and I’d hinted for her to purchase something less vintage for this occasion but held back some fervor when suggesting it. For my stepfather (this was before he died of a stroke) hadn’t transferred money in some time. “Mary, I told you to get a Masterchip and credit a new dress on it,” I said, at the comprehension that we’d be meeting the Strong couple. I straightened the tie, under my floral printed jacket, before meeting my most famous reader and his equally, if not more, famous wife, Eliza.


    Somehow, I ended up next to Eliza. Her appearance stunned me, right away, in a way that surprised me! For, I didn’t go to fall in awe of a woman, and it’d been a long time since I had. Yet, she had a fantastic figure in a red dress, which exposed the kind of shoulders that should be the cover of a book on a disciplined lifestyle. No doubt, the mother she’d tell me about, for all her good and bad, reared her to eat vegetables and to do exercises that poised her shoulders to make men; upon meeting her; fall in hate for themselves and in love with her! Underneath her dark flower hat with a polka-dotted veil, she wore her blonde curls up. In red, she colored her pouty, big, lips. Unlike Mary Kay and I, she carried a glow in her complexion; and what’s more, she starred in the simulation we’d be watching, titled, “Hometown Hallie.” When they lowered the windshield over our booth, we took off. Through the simulation, we were backseat in the vehicle to view Hallie Hart, played by Eliza, alongside Winston Davis, a completely computer generated, tall, black player. Seeing the contrast of the love interests made me shake my head, right in front of our hosts. Winston, a wealthy, button- shirt wearing, Alexus-flying, great looking man of the city flew his girlfriend Hallie, too well-taken care of for true poverty (but wearing denim with holes in the knees for theater poverty), back to her rural neighborhood. I’d been—yes, as deep as I buried my vengeful enemy , and as alive as I buried it—I’d been a genius— a genius that was unaccepted for my old form of art and unconventional style of fiction— but people put their money into the same ol’ damned story, as long as it presented itself to them in a way where they didn’t have to invest any imagination. Without a “what if” about it, they felt the turbulence, enjoyed the ride, and literally touched the characters. And it’s not that the experience wasn’t of the realist sensations, for flying, directly, behind the characters in Winston’s 2013, Alexus ship; we rocked in the clouds, when hitting the turbulence.


    “Oh!” said Hallie. “You could have avoided that!”


    “You think you could do better?” Quipped Winston.


    Next thing we knew, Hallie piloted the ship with Winston on the passenger side. We turned upside down and right side up. We flew, surely, over the speed limit! I kept to myself that my beer, from earlier, arose in my throat. I felt my skin turn ghostly. On the other side of me, the woman I’d all but forgotten about, Mary Kay, nudged my leg.


    “Do you need a break,” she said, while pinching her nose.


    “No.”


    “Well, aren’t you passing gas?”


    I snapped back in a whisper, “Mary, if I was, I’d, quite probably, tell you I needed a break!”


    “Um O-K, I won’t question your flying ability, EVER, again!” The computer-generated Winston said to Hallie.


    “Oh, Winston, what’d I tell you…”


    I peeked at Eliza to watch her watch herself. She covered her mouth and giggled without sound. She appeared much more measured than the character in the simulation. My peeking at Eliza turned to a full stare. I could, also, feel Mary Kay captivated by her radiance. While I looked at her, from her other side, Nelson caught my eye. Underneath his periwig, his young, clean face contrasted with it. His smile and nod insulted me. This had nothing to do with jealousy, for I’d not yet understood myself to be in love with Eliza. Though, I mentally weighed his body; he weighed two twigs and a sixteen hundred’s style periwig. Sure, he had height on me, sure he had a tan on me, but I wondered why Eliza married a man that thin. Again, though, making this remotely about his wife, diminished the source of my disgust. This was one-hundred percent, without divided interest, to do with the fact that his nod assumed me to be satisfied with his wretched work. For, I didn’t blame Eliza for playing the flat Hallie. She only worked with the material given to her. In the credits, he’d been attributed as head writer, as producer, as the damned director. His nod sickened me.


    And the ride in the Alexus did, as well. I fell forward, while Hallie displayed her feminist power with crazy piloting. As I leaned in, feeling regurgitation ready to shame me, I felt a hand across my shoulder and a long strand of hair touch my face.


    “I told you, Mary, if I’m flagellating, I’d, probably well, be taking a —” Then, I noticed the hand felt softer, as Mary spent some time, years ago, roughening hers up at the farm. The scents, also, being less bodily and more of rich, flowerily ointments, caused me to savor even the texture of the hair that I supposed to belong to Eliza.


    And Eliza, leaning next to me, laughed and said, “What did you say, Lesley?”


    Though, I inhaled the scents of her ointments, her proper use of every syllable when speaking my name, and her touch, I didn’t know how to flirt. I whispered, “Please, let me recover, alone, for a few minutes.” I, instantly, felt a small gratification of having told a rich actress such, but it fled right away, as I saw her unphased by the exchange, smiling in whisperings with Nelson. Despite my obligation to Mary, it felt, only, my fear for not getting paid back with interest on my adulation refrained me from having my way with her.


    We lowered in the Alexus and stilled. “Hallie, you made it home,” Winston said, before she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. The crowd applauded, and the actors in the simulation turned toward us and shook our hands, before fading away. I sucked at my cheek over an entire film consisting of nothing but crazy flying and a kiss. “The night’s not over,” Nelson assured. I ate my mustache at the outrage that we’d experienced such momentous cinema, already!


    Escalating from the theater doors to our limousine, Mary said, “I’ve never felt a simulation that real before. Winston’s hands were big. I traced the creases in them. It felt real!”


    I coughed to change the subject. Then, I felt her arm over my shoulder. She, like most women, towered some above me. “Are you, alright?”


    I remained silent, until we took our seat in the limousine-airship. The car was fully automatic with no driver; it’s coordinates had been preset to go to the Strong’s mansion without us speaking a word to it. We arose in the air, and I said, “a- one bottle of Brandy, a-two bottles, a- three bottles.”


    The upper compartment opened and three bottles above our heads rotated to our reach. We drank straight from them. Not much came from my mouth, as I awaited the mansion. Still, I felt a bit sour from the bumpy ride, the terrible script, and by Mary Kay’s mention of the bigness of Winston’s hand. But in the spirit of conversation, I said out the side of my mouth, “quite a fine abode, I’m expecting. Their net worth equates to hundreds of billions.”


    Mary Kay said, “Oh, I can hardly taste the alcohol in this.” She didn’t care much to speak of the specifics of others’ bank accounts. When drinking in excess, her cheeks reddened, causing a welcomed bit of life in her face—but a bit, howbeit, in her long, rectangular stretch of death. “I wonder why they haven’t had children.” She said.


    “Now, Mary, that’s their affair.”


    “Oh, and it’s not their affair when we’re talking about their money?” She shot back with a small but secured voice, while she folded her arms.


    We stayed silent, as we felt the ship slowdown. Looking out the window, we saw that we reached a dome that strained over what must have been millions of square feet! What, from our viewpoint, looked like an inkling of the roof opened for the airship to depress onto the estate. After landing, the doors of the ship separated for our departure. We stepped out, and a mansion of a garage elevated its door to open an entrance for the limousine. The ships’ wheels emerged, and it pulled itself in.


    On the premises, an overhead light showed us the conveyor to stand on. We twirled around and saw a hunting range, a golf course, and an outdoors boxing arena. From there, we arrived in a mansion with an elevated door, which gave an opening for us to ride through. Soft bed shoes awaited us at the entrance. As custom, we placed our dirty shoes in a cubby and changed into the slippers. Glass doors opened to allow us to the next room. From here, an entrance up the stairs, lit up and said, “Entrance 3, Welcome, this way, Mary Kay,” and the elevator lit up saying, “Entrance 5, down. Welcome, this way, Lesley.”


    We looked at each other, and I said, “Well, it would only be cordial to split up and see where this takes us, I suppose.”


    “Oh, I don’t want to go without you, Lesley.” Mary Kay said.


    ‘Now, now,” I said, slightly curious if Eliza lurked anywhere in my path. “These are trusted acquaintances.”


    Mary, with her head down, made towards the stairs, and I made steps to the elevator. Doing a few breathing exercises, I wondered what room awaited me. The elevator opened for me, and I stepped inside. In my mind, I heard barbells landing against iron. I saw UV bulbs circling me. What a strange recollection of a place I’d never been!


    And when I arrived, sure enough, a gym and tanning bed, across the room, awaited me. My eyes widened to bald, nude, male and female frames, without privates, running on treadmills, squatting, lunging, and bench pressing throughout the gym. Nelson stood some fifteen feet in, curling a dumbbell in front of a fifty-foot wide mirror. His periwig and coat hung at the entrance, while he wore pink spandex and pumped iron. Without the periwig, he kept a two-inch crew cut, that slightly separated him from the apparent simulations working out around us, and he appeared much more youthful. His one-hundred sixty pound built gave him muscles curving out all exposed body parts. I moved forward in a sort of daze.


    He turned to me and approached me.


    “You want to lift weights?”


    For a moment, I despised my pale body and all its stomach fat. It’d been a long time since I lifted weights or exercised, though, and I longed for nothing of it! I shook my head and said, “In the Navy, I pulled a muscle in my back. I haven’t lifted since.”


    “Even so. There must be some exercise you can do.” He placed his right, bent leg on a bench between us and leaned forward at me.


    “I like to exercise the mind.” I said.


    “True. I’ve read your craziest shit. You’re like the mad scientist of fiction. But, you know, once a fantastic director; a guy passionate like you; told me that he had to get away from it and jog to think about all the shit he was going to pen down.”


    I smiled, stroked my mustache, and said, “’Pen’ down, you say?”


    He chuckled and said, “I haven’t seen a pen since my mom taught my English class! She used to pass them out at the beginning of the semester and demand we bring the same ones in throughout the rest of the year. You know how many kids keep up with them?”


    “Quite a mother you had there...”


    He squinted his eyes, “I’m sensing sadness, there. Is your mother—”


    “I watched her die with liver disease, when I was six. They kept the room dark; and we just…waited.”


    “Oh, man— that explains so much about your work. I thought something as strange, when reading the one about the serial killer, without legs, cutting parts of his victims off for trophies. Always trying to make up for what he’s missing— Do you think our entire lives and all the shit we do: chasing hot girls, being ambitious, trying to have the best stuff— Do you think we’re just trying to get our minds off death?”


    I took a breath, for none of his pleasures I shared as my own. But I took his point. “You can’t give life without giving death,” I said. “My mother only left behind death for me.”


    “Man, that’s so bleak. But, you know, the most creative people I know are sad!”


    His listening drew me in. Most people, I’d come across, gave directions or asked directions, but none really listened to ideas and opinions. At the same time, I felt it peculiar that someone of his caliber of success made like a student and seemed to not have his own concepts cemented. Something felt good, but at the same time, I had my guard up. I said, “Something quite strange overtook me in the elevator.”


    “Explain.”


    “Somehow, I knew this to be a gym; I felt the heat of the tanning lamps, and as you can tell I don’t—”


    He held back a laugh and said, “You want to give it a go?”


    “No!” I said and, then, calmed myself and said, “No. I only find it very a strange omen that I’d remember a place I’ve never been.”


    “This religious guy told me something about reincarnation, about people coming back as someone else. Dj vu. Are you buying any of this?”


    “My stepfather raised me Calvinist Christian.”


    “Yeah, I’m not sure about any religion. Sometimes, though, weird shit just happens, you know.”


    I kept on hearing, out his mouth, words like “shit,” “you know,” “oh, man” Old surfer speak from many years gone by. Something didn’t square. Namely the periwig. “Why do you wear that?” I said, turning my attention to the rack with the wig.


    “Well, it’s in style, again. When you see how the shit started... it was to cover their half-eaten, syphilis heads, you know, back in the sixteen-hundreds. Still, dude, the simulation brought us so close to history that we started wearing them again, and, now, the style just makes sense to me.”


    “Uh, well—ok” I said with a laugh, as to hold back anymore opinion on the styles of the rich.


    “What?” he said.


    I didn’t bite, and somehow the silence didn’t feel too awkward with him. He said, “What do you think about the simulation, tonight?”


    “You are drugging me with such ease that I can’t hold back. I should hold back, but I can't.”


    “Don’t hold back; don’t hold back!”


    “It’s an abomination on story-telling!”


    His open mouth hung itself at the gallows. He said, “Why do you call it an abomination?”


    I gave him theory. I gave him tenants. I gave him god. He did not once interrupt me. Then, I said, “If what I say bewitches your spirit; if I vex you, your welcomed to stop me at any point.”


    But he wanted to hear more and took me up the elevator, three stories, and into a studio that could scan every dimension and play it back. He asked if he could download what I had to say into his simulator. He wanted a memory of my philosophy. After I gave it to him, I felt my own vex deflect from him, back onto me. I asked him if he would change his simulations to tell greater stories. He told me, if I liked, he could give his side.


    “Your side?” I said, “I’ve given you such knowledge, allowed you to download it, and you’re going to continue with these abominations!”


    “Hey, now. I’m considering what you’re saying. There’s no reason to take this personal!”


    “Give me your simulation! That’s my voice; my lecture! If you’re not going to use it responsibly, give it back, I say!”


    “Look, I think it’s time, we call this a night. Sleep on all we’ve talked about. Send me a message, some time. You know, in the typed form. I’d like to read something from you."


    “You cannot serve two masters!” I insisted.
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 04-20-2019 at 05:51 PM.

  39. #79
    The Brain
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Posts
    2,757
    Have you ever read "Of Human Bondage"? I'm getting a bit of a feeling of that from this, though that wasn't futuristic in the least. Reminds me of that mixed with Phillip K Dick maybe, with some Dickens thrown in. This is really interesting stuff, Benny.

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