Monday, September 21, 2009

a tale of wonders, part 2

to begin at the beginning, click here

the clothes provided the traveler were old but cut from the finest cloth in the finest style. he recognized them as the work of the celebrated guido of florence, tailor to crowned heads. they fit loosely but very comfortably, with a hint of unsightly bagginess under the arms.

gruz watched impassively as the traveler dressed himself. "are the clothes to your satisfaction, sir?"

"indeed. they are very dry."

"will you wanting something to eat?"

"of course, if there is anything."

"i will speak frankly, sir. our larder is limited, as the master and his ward are not great trencherpersons."

"i am sorry to hear that." the traveler shrugged. "anything you can provide would be appreciated."

"no doubt, sir. i was thinking of your horse."

"ah. no doubt you can prepare him properly."

"the cook is quite an old hand at such matters. with mars being in the ascendancy for so long."

"of course. there is no reason the poor beast who served me so well in life should not render me this final service. and it will not, i am sorry to say, be a novel experience for myself."

"it's settled then. would you prefer to wait in the great room with the master, or in the kitchen?"

"in the kitchen!" for the first time since his arrival the traveler displayed something other than complete equanimity.

"i am afraid the only table is in the kitchen," gruz answered impassively. "i could, i suppose, bring you a plate in the great room. no doubt you are quite dextrous with a knife and fork. be that as it may, the thought of a single spot of grease from a side of grilled horsemeat falling on the furnishings in the great room - i don't care to think of it."

the traveler finished tying his cravat. "well - i've eaten in worse places. perhaps in worse company. but i think i will wait in the great room, as you call it, with the master."

"very good, sir." gruz picked up the candle and they left the room.

'will i be sleeping in that room?" the traveler asked as they moved down the corridor.

"if you like, sir. and if you sleep."

"so the master and his ward - they don't dine at all?"

"they don't dine at table."

"stop a minute."

gruz stopped, but did not turn.

"i am not a complete fool, you know. i know what your master is."

"really,sir?" now gruz did turn to face him. "i wouldn't have thought you the type to discuss masters with servants."

"your master is a gravigne - a creature who feeds on the golden souls of the innocent."

"but, you see," gruz replied. "i am not the type of servant who discusses his master - with either masters or servants."

"but i am not asking you anything. i am simply telling you what i know."

gruz gestured forward with the candle. "let us proceed. i am sure the master is grateful for your company and looks forward to it."

neither the master nor the ward rose when gruz and the traveler entered the room.

gruz was dismissed with the briefest of nods.

"be seated, sir," the voice from the shadows commanded. there were no chairs in the room , and the only other sofa was some distance from the fire. the traveler lowered himself on to it. he found himself directly across but at some distance from the woman but unable to see his host.

"i apologize for any lack of comfort in our hospitality," the powerful voice went on. "we go for long stretches of time here with no visitors at all. and then, suddenly, the visitors fall like rain. one never knows what to expect."

"yes," the traveler replied loudly. "especially with mars so long in the ascendancy. allow me to thank you for the dry clothing. i couldn't have done better at a visit to the tailor."

"no need to shout, sir. we both have excellent hearing. and now that you are properly seated, may i ask whom i have the pleasure of entertaining?"

"i have many names at my disposal," the traveler replied. "as i am sure you do yourself. for the present, i use the name, comte de st denis."

"ah! the comte de st denis, the comte de st denis! with such a name, i have no wonder you are being chased through the night. as for myself, you may know me as the baron anonyme. and this is my cousin, madamoiselle cecile."

"very good." the traveler bowed to the woman. seated beside the blazing fire and blending with its light, she was almost the only thing visible in the room.

"my servant has asked if you need anything in the nature of food and drink," the baron continued.

"that has been taken care of, very satisfactorily."

"would you like to spend the night with my cousin?"

"indeed i would. i see, sir, that you have not abandoned the old ways of hospitality."

"of course not." the voice showed a slight trace of annoyance. "do you take me for some puling christian, or man of the enlightenment? i am not monsieur de condorcet."

madamoiselle cecile spoke for the first time. "the night grows short, cousin. i am not sure i can do justice to this gallant fellow in the time left." she faced the traveler. "tomorrow night, sir, would that not be more suitable? you can spend the day here, gathering your strength."

"that sounds most agreeable."

"it is settled then."

"and you - you sleep during the day?"

"sleep!" cried the baron. "what a thought! no, sir, we hunt during the day. we hunt!"

part 3

Sunday, August 23, 2009

a tale of wonders, part 1

this starts a new story

it was a dark and stormy night.

thunder crashed. lightning flashed.

in a dark and stormy land, far from the brightly lit cities and towns of genteel civilization,

a lone traveler rode furiously across a battered and windswept landscape, heedless of the uprooted trees, fallen boulders and other obstacles that the maddened lightning periodically illuminated in his path.

animals, too, wolves, bears and panthers growled and hissed in his path. still he rode on.

behind him, audible over the din of the howling wind, the howling of dogs, the pounding of an army of hooves, the clanging of armor and the occasional explosion of firearms could be heard.

suddenly his horse reared up at an enormous mossy rock illuminated in the path by an bright bolt of lightning. a huge black panther crouched on top of the boulder. rain streamed over its sinewy body and dripped from its red roaring jaws.

how it rained!

with a desperate effort, the blinded rider forced his terrified steed to its four feet and dismounted. red eyes appeared in the boiling mist around them. suddenly the panther sprung from the rock, landing a scant six feet from the traveler!

calmly, the rider drew a saber from beneath his rain-drenched cloak. the panther reared back, growling deeply. the other animals drew back also, except for a shaggy bear, with a raven on its shoulder, a hideous black-and-white wolf, and a thin elongated jaguar.

the rider advanced toward the panther. the panther retreated two steps, then sprang!! the horseman seemed to slip forward in the mud, then brought the saber down on the leaping beast's skull, splitting it in two. red blood, white brains, and a loathsome green gas boiled out, briefly illuminating the scene, then was quickly effaced by the increasingly furious wind and rain.

the other beasts who had witnessed the affair began a horrible cacaphony and began to surround the human and his steed, but with an imperious gesture he waved them away. they slunk back into the darkness. only the bear with its raven companion paused to mark the rider's countenance (hidden, indeed, by his thick cloak) before joining its fellows in the darkness.

it was over in minutes. now the clangor of the pursuing army, which had been partially obscured by the raging storm, manifested itself anew.
leaping back on the horse, as the lightning flashed, flashed and flashed again, the rider had just time to see in the distance the outline of a castle, curiously undefended and alone on the horizon.
then the lightning disappeared as quickly as it had come, leaving the cosmos in total darkness, as before. now, the heavens opened in earnest.

after what seemed an eternity the lone traveler reached the castle. it was completely unlit, and he would never have seen it had it not been for the lightning.

the pursuing army had been left behind in the downpour which had still not ceased.

the travelers clothes were hopelessly soaked through. he had ridden his horse to death - when he dismounted the heroic beast collapsed and expired in the mud.

the traveler looked around as best he could. he could not help but notice the most singular aspect of the castle - that although the landscape around abounded in hills, crags and rocky terrain more suitable for a defensive position, it had been built in the most exposed spot imaginable, as if taunting any would be attackers.

there was no moat or any other outer outer fortifications so he strode right up to the door.

although no light shone from within, the building, as best he could tell, did not look neglected. the windows (all barred) were not broken, and no rubbish was visible around the walls.

"it is inhabited - i feel it," he spoke aloud. he proceeded to pound on the front door. after about ten minutes of the hardest blows he could muster, a faint light finally appeared under the door. it opened, and the waterlogged traveler found himself facing the oldest servant he had ever seen - the fellow must be one hundred and twenty years old, he muttered to himself.

"actually, sir, i am four hundred and eighty-seven, but i still have excellent hearing." the ancient lifted his head from the base of his curved spine and fixed the traveler with the eye of a condor or cobra. "are you making a claim on the master's hospitality?"

"it seems the appropriate course of action under the circumstances."

"indeed. will your horse require attention? do you have more than one horse?"

"my horse has expired and will require disposal. and he was, i am afraid, the only one."

"no servants accompany you?"


"very well then." the old man stood aside and the traveler entered. he was led dpwn a long low ceilinged hall unadorned by pictures, statues, banners or armaments. a door at the end was opened, revealing a spacious though low ceilinged drawing room. it was immediately apparent that the lack of light on the outside was not due to the lack of light within, but to the tightness of the shuttered windows. a veritable bonfire blazed in the hearth, revealing the figure seated next to it in the most ravishing light possible. but despite the fire and the tight window, a chill shook the travelers frame as he entered.

"from this wet clothing," he muttered to himself.

the figure beside the fire did not speak. instead the deep voice of one to whom command was first and second nature emerged from the shadows of the room.

"gruz, don't bring the fellow in here dripping wet, put some dry clothes on him."

"yes, sir. i thought you might want to see him first."

"i will see him when he's dry."

the traveler gave a short bow in the direction of the voice. "i apologize, sir -"

a cold breeze brushed the travelers cheek, as if from the wave of the voice's hand. "your apologies can wait, sir," the voice replied in a polite enough tone. "we have all night."

"all night and more," the servant added. "this way, sir."

part 2

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

i is for isidore

to begin at the beginning click here

for previous episode, click here

isidore arrived at the park a little later than usual. he noted with relief that "his" bench was unoccupied and that the shade had reached it on schedule. his "friends" hank and ernestine (he thought of them as "friends" in quotation marks) were sitting on the grass under a tree.

hank, reading his newspaper, looked subdued, and ernestine a little more pugnacious than usual. isidiore surmised that they had had an argument, but had more or less kissed and made up.

isidore never sat on the grass. if the benches were occupied he would just walk around, or sometimes sit on a stone wall. although he had been homeless for a year and a half, he made an effort to present a civilized and gracious appearance. an effort not helped by the fact that he had no teeth.

one thing isidore liked about hank was that his newspaper devouring usually gave them some pretext for conversation. now he sat on his bench about twenty feet from hank and ernestine, draped his arm over the back of the bench and addressed hank in the exact words he used every morning.

"any news today?"

"sure, there is always news," hank answered.

"but some days there is more news than others."

hank dimly remembered having this conversation with isidore before. "yeah, on sundays. the paper is bigger on sundays."

"he asks that all the time. don't you?" ernestine asked isidore good naturedly. ernestine didn't mind people saying the same things over and over. it was what she did herself.

"so what is in the news today?" isidore asked hank.

"iraq is in the news today." hank didn't elaborate on iraq. he continued turning the pages of the paper.

"so what do you think," isidore persisted, "about the current strategy in iraq?"

"let me finish the funnies first."

"they're the comics now, not the funnies," said ernestine. "you got to be the last person in the world that calls them the funnies."

"i heard there is a guy in sacramento who calls them the funnies,"said isidore. "and another one in new zealand. so hank isn't the only one."

ernestine ignored this. neither she nor hank ever pretended to laugh at anything they didn't think was funny. they weren't polite or well bred people.

hank mumbled something unintelligible.
"what was that?" ernestine asked him.

"mutt and jeff aren't in here. or alley oop."

"well, what did i tell you, that's why they're the comics now and not the funnies." ernestine laughed at her own humor.

hank hardly ever laughed at anything except jokes with punch lines. he turned some more pages of the paper. suddenly he reacted to isidore's earlier question.

"the strategy in iraq? i'll tell you the strategy in iraq. just drive on through. drive on through, smash everything that gets in the way, like me and patton did on d-day."

"but they've already done that. and there still seem to be problems."

"then they should do it again. just keep doing it and doing it until they get the message."

isidore was almost enjoying this. "and what message might that be?"

"to leave america alone," hank answered firmly.

isidore spread his arms and made a show of looking around the park with wide eyes. "i don't see any iraqis in the bushes. do you?"

"very funny. what about all these girls disappearing and being kidnapped? you think al qaeda isn't behind that?"

isidore laughed. "that's a novel theory, hank. maybe you should go to the police with it."

"ernestine's the one who should go to the police," hank said. "she saw something last night, didn't you?"

"is that right?" isidore asked her, suddenly interested. unlike hank, with his endless stories about singlehandedly leading general george patton across europe in world war ii, ernestine never seemed to make things up. in fact, she hardly talked about herself at all.

"yeah, i seen something. but i ain't telling the cops nothing."

"you didn't see someone actually being abducted?"

"that's exactly what i did see." ernestine didn't look up as she said this.

"then maybe you should go to the police."

"it's her civic duty," said hank.

"no fucking way."

just then a patrol car came crawling down the cement path of the park. hank waved to it excitedly. it stopped and a young patrolman wearing wraparound shades got out and slowly approached them.

"hank, you mother-fucker. you miserable, miserable motherfucker," ernestine kept her voice just low enough that the policeman couldn't hear her.

the young man's name tag identified him as officer jarowicz. he had had a long night and was in no mood for the homeless.

"can i help you?" he made a pathetic show of barely controlled aggression. the homeless just bored him and he didn't want to get too close to them.

"this young lady has something to tell you," hank told him.

jarowicz almost smiled at ernestine being called a "young lady" but he was too tired to smile. he was too tired to stand up.

"i didn't see anything," ernestine said calmly.

jarowicz had taken a notebook out. "did you see anything or didn't you?"
"no, officer, i didn't. i told my friends i saw something but i was just making it up."
"then i guess that settles that." jarowicz put the notebook back in his pocket. he returned to the patrol car and drove off a little too quickly.

as he rolled around the next curve he wondered if he should have asked the bag lady what it was that she didn't see.

"he should have at least asked you what you didn't see," said isidore when the patrol car was gone.

"yeah," hank agreed.

"maybe both of you assholes should learn to mind your own fucking business."

"i didn't say one word to him," isidore protested.

"that's right, you didn't," ernestine agreed. she turned to look at hank. hank jumped up and started running away across the grass, with his hats bobbing on his head.

ernestine didn't chase him. "that's right, run, hank!" she shouted after him. "you better fucking run!"

"hank has a good heart," said isidore.

"fuck you."

to be continued

Sunday, July 26, 2009

h is for hank

to begin at the beginning click here

for previous episode, click here

it was a nice day, so hank was only wearing two hats and three jackets. he found ernestine in her usual spot at the edge of the park, sitting on the grass just out of the shade of a tree. he went over and flopped down beside her with a grunt.

"don't sit so close to me," ernestine told him without looking at him.

"sure. i'd rather be in the shade anyway."

he moved about three feet over and four feet behind her. this put him in the shade but off the grass and sitting in dirt.

they sat without speaking for about five minutes. ernestine would occasionally squint her eyes down the street as if expecting somebody. hank just stared at the ground.

"did you get the paper yet?" ernestine asked finally.

"do i look like i have the paper?"

"it could be in your pocket. sometimes you have it in your pocket."

"not on a hot day! not on a hot day like today! on a cold day i put it in my shirt. not on a hot day like today!"

"yeah, well i didn't know that."

"i told you plenty of times before."

"i guess i forgot."

"you can't be too bright, forgetting something i told you a million times."

"fuck you."

they were silent again.

ernestine finally spoke. she was usually the first to speak. hank hardly ever spoke unless spoken to although he could be very voluble once he got started.

"why don't you go get the paper?" she asked him.

"i'll get it." hank didn't get up. he kept staring at the ground.


"when what?"


"what do you care?" hank looked up, perplexed. "i'm the one who reads the paper."

this was true. hank was one of the last great newspaper readers. usually the first thing he did in the morning was panhandle the price of a newspaper. then he would read the whole paper from front to back, every word, except the legal notices but only because the print was so small. he would finish by doing the crossword and any other puzzles with a pencil he kept in his pocket along with a little pencil sharpener. one of his fellow derelicts, tony, used to harass him by telling him that pencils were going to become obsolete, but he hadn't seen tony for a while and had forgotten him and his prediction.

"so what's the big deal with the paper this morning?"

"i just want to see something."


"just something."

hank still didn't get up from his seat under the tree.

"are you all right?" ernestine finally asked.

"yeah, i feel great. peachy. thanks for asking."

"then get up and go get the fucking newspaper. the one morning i want to read the paper is the one morning you just sit there like you're dead."

"don't talk that way."

"i'll talk any way i goddamn please."

a couple of teenage girls walked by and laughed at them.

"i like your hat," one of them said to hank.

"zz" added the other one. they passed on, making exaggerated suppressed laughter sounds and holding their stomachs.

ernestine and hank both pretended to ignore them.

"come on,' said hank. "why so hot to read the paper this morning?"

ernestine stared at him. "promise you won't tell."

"i never tell."

"what! you're the biggest blabbermouth in the park. you're worse than any woman."

"don't tell me then. and i'll get the paper when i feel like it."

"if you don't get the paper they might run out."

"they never run out. this is the city that never sleeps."

"ok, i'll tell you." ernestine leaned toward as if she was going to move closer to him although she didn't actually do so. "i saw something last night."


ernestine lowered her voice. "i saw a girl get kidnapped. just like in the papers. a couple of guys grabbed her and threw her in a van. just like in the papers."

hank didn't seem too impressed. "did you tell the cops?"

"no! that's the whole point, knucklehead! i ain't telling the cops nothing."

"you should report it. you should be a good citizen."

"it's probably in the paper. they probably know about it already."

"it doesn't matter, you might have seen something, something you didn't even know you saw, that might break the case."

"i don't talk to the cops. it's a matter of principle with me."

"if you don't tell them i will."

ernestine stood up. "you said you wouldn't! you promised!"

"this is different. this is america. it's why me and patton drove to berlin."

"you fucking moron! what have the cops ever done for you except beat your brains out? even you might have half a brain cell left if the cops hadn't been pounding on you for the last thirty years!"

"they get a little rough sometimes but they're just doing their jobs."

"jesus h christ! you mongoloid cocksucking motherfucker!" ernestine screamed "what kind of dickheaded shit for brains moron am i dealing with here!"

a couple of financial district types in short sleeved shirts were passing by and cracked up.

"nice talk!" one of them yelled.

"pottymouth with the stars!" shouted the other.

ernestine didn't hear them. she started kicking hank. the two guys in shirts pulled little cameras out of their pockets and ran up with them. they could hardly hold them straight they were laughing so hard. one of them came up and stuck his camera in ernestine's face. she turned and started kicking them and they backed away laughing.

"assholes!" she screamed.

one of them wagged a finger at her. "violence never solved anything."

"your mother choked on a dildo she stuck up an elephant's ass!"

they ran off as best they could, doubling over with laughter.

i is for isidore

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

g is for grover

to begin at the beginning click here

for previous episode, click here

grover was on duty when the call came in about the new report of a possible abduction, and directing him to pick up the witness.

it sounded halfway plausible. he thought one of the reporting officers should have stayed with the witness, but he'd let henderson worry about that.

he called henderson - she wanted to be called immediately on anything connected with the abductions - and was only mildly surprised when she picked up herself - did she ever sleep? she said she would be at headquarters immediately and told him to get going and pick up the witness.

she made it sound like he was dragging his ass - she wanted to be called, didn't she? grover's hatred of henderson was pretty mild - she could have been a lot worse - and it was hard to hate someone so boring - although he saw her almost every day it was hard to remember what she looked like when she wasn't around.

grover wasn't that far away and was the first person to reach frankie. he found frankie right where he was supposed to be. that was something anyway. this good first impression was quickly dissipated when he saw he was dealing with a flaming fruit.

for a moment he was pissed at the reporting officers for not warning him but quickly considered that any description over the air might have caused problems - he would have done the same. faggots were number one on grover's long list of hatreds. not that anything showed on his face. nothing, absolutely nothing ever showed on grover's face.

frankie started venting as soon as grover got out of the car. he didn't ask him to show his i d, but grover took it out and held it up as frankie went through his citizenly paces.

"i was terrified! i still am! i could have had a heart attack!" etc etc. no fear or respect at all. he sounded like he was on some citizens review board.

"i'm sorry, sir," said grover when he could get a word in. "the officers were chasing an almost certainly dangerous suspect or suspects and must have made the decision that maximum force might be needed to apprehend them" maximum force? that sounded kind of dumb even to himself.

"you did tell them that you saw two men, didn't you?" and they were both young and filled with adrenalin and wanted in on the possible kill, but you wouldn't know about that, would you, faggy?

"yes," frankie told him. "two that i saw. there could have more in the van. there could have been a whole gang! they could have split up and sent someone back after me!"

"sir, if you think this situation has been badly handled, you can contact the police review board at this number." grover put his wallet and i d in his jacket pocket and took out a pencil and little notebook and wrote the number down. frankie looked a little mollified when he tore the page out and handed it to him.

"thank you." frankie took the paper and put it in his pocket. at least, thought grover, he didn't say he already knew the number.

"and sir, for the record, you did see my i d, didn't you?"

"i didn't really get a good look at it."

without batting an eye, grover took his i d back out of his pocket and showed it to frankie.
"thank you," said frankie. this cop didn't really seem like such a bad guy.

"now," said grover. "you told the officers you might have known the victim?"

"well, i wasn't that close, but it looked like a woman from the meeting i just attended. i mean, who else would it have been? we just got out of the meeting and there aren't that many people out at this time of night."

"and this woman's name? "

"i just know her first name - brenda."

at this point another squad car pulled up.

"excuse me," said grover and went over to talk to the occupants. they muttered a little bit and then grover came back to frankie with his notebook.

"all right, this meeting was what exactly?"

"apprehension anonymous." grover wrote it down.

"a twelve step organization or something like that?"

"it's a twelve step organization."

"those are fine people in the twelve steps," grover said with a straight face. a little too straight a face for frankie. maybe he wasn't such a good guy after all.

"do you have a phone number?"

frankie had it memorized and gave it to him.

"thank you. now can you show me exactly where the incident took place?"

"right by that alley up there."

they walked up to it. a couple of other police cars arrived.

ernestine was long gone.

h is for hank

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

f is for frankie

to begin at the beginning click here

for previous episode, click here

most of the participants in apprehension anonymous took the subway, and a few walked, because the only parking was so far away from the site and so expensive. but not frankie. frankie was a good american in this regard at least, that he was terrified of the subway, which he had hardly ever taken in his life, and he never walked anywhere. if he had to walk a mile and a half to a parking lot or garage, that was still driving and not walking.

he had stopped at a convenience store to buy a bottle of water and some candy bars, so he was still wheezing up the street when he saw the two fat men pull the young woman - brenda? - into the van.

he was flabbergasted and terrified. the van was pointed right in his direction, only a little more than a block away. where could he go? he would have to try to squeeze into a doorway! then it was over before he had a chance to grasp what was happening and be really frightened. the van accelerated into a screeching hard left down the street in front of him and to his right and was gone. he collapsed against the wall of an office building, his heart pounding.

when he caught his breath his hand reached automatically for his cell phone, then stopped. he had already recovered enough from his fright to start to be pissed off about the whole affair. didn't he have enough problems, without having to deal with a lot of questions from the stupid police? if they caught the guys - he now sincerely hoped they didn't - he would be a witness. the trial might take years! and what idiots those guys were! it was late at night and not "broad daylight" but it might as well have been for all the precautions they seemed too be taking. maybe they were being pulled over right now - he hoped so, then they wouldn't need him to testify.

on the other hand, if he didn't call, he would be consumed by guilt. frankie hated guilt more than anything, and attended his guilt anonymous sessions most assiduously of all his meetings. he punched 911 and put the phone to his face. it didn't work! it must be the tall buildings. ha, ha! he could just go on his way with no guilt. he had tried hadn't he - that was all anybody could ask!

but maybe he should look for a pay phone. didn't he see something in the sunday paper that they were making a comeback? and he would have to call anyway when he got home or even before, if he could make a connection. frustration washed over him. he finally started walking again toward the parking garage.

wait. why hadn't he thought of it before? maybe those guys were just making a movie. of course! the "director" - the "auteur" - was probably in the back of the van with a camcorder making his piece of doodoo that he would put on youtube and become the new scorsese or luis bunuel. the woman looked like brenda but there a million women with those kinds of looks in the city. that was it! he'd call the police just in case but they would agree with him. no trial! he started to feel much better.

but his thoughts were interrupted by a police car coming down the street toward him. automatically, like the good citizen he was, he waved it down.

the two cops in the car were young, mean looking, and male - how frankie would have preferred at least one female! the driver was black, the other asian (vietnamese?) the asian one looked at him, politely enough.

"yes, sir?"

frankie told them his story, emphasizing that his cell phone didn't work. so far from giving him any kind of hard time, they were both so excited by his account they could hardly sit still in the car.

"you say he went down that way, just a couple of minutes ago?" the black cop asked frankie.


"did you get a license number?"

frankie felt like an idiot. "no."

" just stay right there, sir, someone will come by to pick you up."

they took a left and roared off in the direction the van had taken. frankie was left alone on the empty street.

he started to feel afraid. just stay there? for the first time it occurred to him, what if the van came back? maybe they had seen him and had been arguing this whole time about whether to go back after him - and now they were circling back to get him!

just stay there?

g is for grover

Monday, July 6, 2009

e is for ernestine

to begin at the beginning click here

for previous episode, click here

ernestine hated the police, and had vowed long ago never to help them in any way shape or form under any circumstances whatever. so when she saw, from the vantage point of her alley, the good looking young dark haired woman being grabbed by two men and shoved into a van, she felt sorry for her, but continued sitting in her alley. if the police ever questioned her - an unlikely prospect - she would deny seeing anything.

ernestine's motives in avoiding the police were not completely based on principle. on being released from prison in a western state five years earlier she had reported immediately to her parole officer and then used the scrap of money she had earned in prison to buy a bus ticket to take her as far away as she could go, and had been a bag lady ever since. so, she was a parole violator, but refused to believe anyone could actually be looking for her. she had no i d. she had never held a job outside prison for even one day.

"ernestine" was a name she remembered from a book a babysitter had read to her as a child. it was not the name given to her at birth, and had gone to school, been married, and been sentenced to prison with.

ernestine had looked forward all day to spending the night in the homeless shelter run by the albigensian church, the only one she knew of that didn't require i d. but wouldn't you know it, her enemy loudmouth inez had been there, so ernestine had turned right around and gone back to "her" alley.

so there she was, sitting on her box - which she had for eight days now, a record - when the young woman went by the alley the first time, with her nose in the air and her check me out i'm god's gift to his own self look about her. the van had pulled up on the side of the street on the other side of the young woman from ernestine. the driver must have said something to her - ernestine couldn't actually hear him - because the young woman, with a loud piercing voice, let loose with a rush of words too fast to make out clearly - a lot of fuck yous , assholes and morons. nothing very exciting so far. but then the fat slob of a driver got out and starting chasing her, away from the direction the van was pointing.

ernestine got off her box and went up to the mouth of the alley to watch. just as she expected, the young woman, who was not wearing heels, easily outdistanced the fat driver. she stood on the corner of the next block and shouted back at him.

"hey, go home and fuck your goldfish - and be gentle with her, fat boy!"

the driver got back in the van, backed up a little, and then turned left and accelerated down the alley! ernestine was able to jump aside but if she hadn't been at the mouth of the alley she would have been smushed! the van hit her box and knocked it all the way down the other end of the alley. then it hit it again and knocked it who knows where. the van turned left at the end of the alley, back in the general direction of the young woman. ernestine followed, to look for her box.

she found it on the other side of the street, a little splintered but still ok to sit on.

she knew how to pick a box! she was carrying it back into the alley when she heard shouting and screeching tires. she looked up and saw the young woman running back towards her with arms pumping, and the van, which had completed its reversal, racing after her. she wasn't screaming, concentrating her energy on running.

the van just stopped just past the alley. the back doors opened and another, even bigger fat guy jumped out. the young woman stopped but tripped and fell when she tried to reverse direction. she started to scream but the two of them were all over her now and, as ernestine retreated quietly back down the alley, they got her into the van and drove off.

well, that was halfway exciting. not exactly the worst thing ernestine had ever seen, but it would have made a good story if she had anyone to tell it to. maybe she'd tell it to hank, if he was around and he behaved himself.

f is for frankie

Thursday, July 2, 2009

d is for dave

to begin at the beginning click here

for previous episode, click here

the meeting was over. dave was left alone with his lonely miserable thoughts.

he had thought before the meeting of offering to walk some of the women back to the subway because of the abduction scare but after annabelle's and brenda's declarations of empowerment he lost his nerve. linda, who sometimes hung around to talk, had left in a hurry. at least frankie had also left quickly.

his thoughts returned to the abductions. he had read everything he could about them in the newspapers although he was careful never to read about such things online.

how we wished he could offer his services to the police as an expert!

dave had a secret, one he wasn't about to "share" at any anonymous or twelve step meeting. about fifteen years ago when he had a job as a sociology instructor at a junior college in michigan, he had murdered five young women over a period of eleven months. he thought of himself as a "former" serial killer but realized the concept would be lost on the police. after his fifth victim had turned out not to be a prostitute but a girl from a moderately wealthy home, he had become terrified but not so panicked as to leave the area immediately or otherwise call attention to himself.

although he was tempted, he knew from his reading that the absolute worst thing he could do would be to show any interest or try to be "helpful" to the police. over the years he had remained super careful , never looking up anything related to the case, or any similar case, on line. he didn't buy or read books about serial killers, not even the serial killer novels that half the people on the subway read. his appearance had changed. his insatiable lust for pepperoni pizzas and meatball subs had added over a hundred pounds to his medium size frame. he lost a lot of hair. and he grew his big beard, which he was fully aware most people, especially women, found ridiculous.

so after fifteen years who would look at fat, balding, bushy bearded dave and shout: "that's him! the guy outside morty's cafe that night!"

he thought about it all the time and realized he always would. he would probably start babbling about it in a nursing home (not that he had anybody to put him in one) and the attendants would just ignore him. most of the time he wished it had never happened so that he wouldn't have to think about it all the time. at other times he felt proud, like a soldier back from a war. he'd been to the mountain and seen and done things too terrible to tell. these morons going to the office every morning with their laptops, what did they know about anything?

and these stupid bitches and faggots at the meetings ... most of the time dave sincerely wanted the people at the meetings to like him. and at other times... well, he had his moods. he had to admit linda was nice. if only she was twenty-five years younger and sixty pounds lighter - but then she probably wouldn't be so nice, would she?

suddenly bitchy, foxy, totally superhot brenda jumped back into his thoughts like a wolf jumping off a rock on to a passing cowboy. oh, brenda, brenda, couldn't you look at me just once with real ... something, just for one millisecond out of all the trillions of seconds in the universe ...

he needed a pill. and the pills were home in his medicine cabinet. a cleaning woman came into the classroom. she was short and had big boobs and what dave thought of as the "easy, natural" sexiness of latin women.

he got up to leave. he would pick up a couple of meatball subs at an all night place, go home, take a pill and a shower, fantasize about brenda and pull his pumpkin.

he'd feel better in the morning.

e is for ernestine

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

c is for corinne

to begin at the beginning click here

for previous episode, click here

it was after midnight but corinne had already decided to call in sick in the morning.

life wasn't half bad. she was lying back on her waterbed reading "passion in the wind" by jennifer broughton. a tape of an american idol show was playing softly on the tube and she had her remote ready to turn it up when someone cute started to sing. and her roommate brenda wasn't back yet from her meeting so corinne had the apartment to herself.

then the phone rang. a glance at the caller id confirmed her worst fears. she picked up anyway.


"corinne, it's georgette."

"i know, they invented caller id a hundred years ago."

"corinne, how are you?"

"great until you came along."

"i was thinking about us."


"why are talking like that? is brenda there?"

"brenda isn't here even when she's here."

"but is she there right now?"

"no. listen, do you have anything new to add to your usual pitiful snivelling? because i'm busy." corinne turned a page of "passion in the wind."

"how can you stay with someone like brenda? she's the most awful person i ever met."

"how many times do i have to tell you i am not "staying with" brenda. brenda is not my girl friend. she just lets me have sex with her when i get bored. she doesn't even like it."

"that's not love!"

"who said it was? i'm getting all the love i need from jennifer broughton."

"jennifer! who's jennifer?"

"jennifer broughton is the author of this excellent romance novel i was enjoying immensely when i was so rudely interrupted."

"can't we get together again?'"

"no." corinne lay back flat on the waterbed and closed her eyes.

"why? "

"why?because you're a fat possessive dyke who sweats like a rhinoceros and doesn't know how to dress or act in public."

"you used to like me."

"if you don't stop calling me i'm going to report you for harassment. this is your last warning. it's after midnight! i could have been asleep."

georgette sounded like she was starting to cry. "oh right , you're going to report me. you forget i know a few things about you!"

"what! what! you moron, how many times do i have to explain it was legal in nevada and still is, l-e-g-a-l, legal. as legal as being a waitress or working at walmart."
"prostitution is a great evil."

"great, go testify at the u n. and leave me alone."

georgette was definitely crying. "corinne, you know you don't care about being seen in public with me. you don't care about stuff like that, that's why i fell in love with you. you're a force of nature, you're the wind and the stars - "

corinne hung up. she rolled off the bed and stood up. bummer! could she actually call the police about georgette? talk about a hassle with a thousand capital h's. why couldn't people just leave her alone?

to calm herself she thought about her dream man. although she had hardly ever had sex with men except for money, corinne didn't think of herself as a dyke because she had her dream man. her dream man was about eighteen, really cute, with at least a billion dollars and loved only her, but left her by herself when she wanted to be alone which was almost always. guys like that might not grow between the cracks in the sidewalk but you never know.

she opened her eyes. it was almost one o'clock.

where was that dumb bitch brenda?

d is for dave

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

b is for brenda

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after the group had had a good laugh at his expense, dave pushed on as he always did.

this took more effort than usual because brenda had instigated the laughter, and he was hopelessly in love with brenda in spite of or because of her bitchiness, bad temper and all-around bad personness.

he only continued to lead the group, or to participate in it at all, because it gave him the opportunity to be in her presence for a few hours a week.

brenda was a fox. dave spent long hours wondering why she associated at all with a bunch of losers like himself, and he came to each meeting dreading that she would have given up on the group and himself.

brenda wondered that a lot herself, both at the meetings and away from them. but the answer was simple. despite her rotten personality, brenda was one of those people who was afraid to be alone - ever, for one minute of the day or night. and going to meetings was better than going to bars because she was afraid of alcohol and its effect on her looks, and although three analysts had diagnosed her as a "sex addict" she loathed men and didn't much like sex.

> fear. brenda knew fear. fear was a black toadstool ready to sprout in her brain at a moments notice and smother and devour her.

and these morons - in addition to everything else wrong with them, did any of them really know fear? not likely. what a crew - dopey dewy-eyed dave, who probably whacked his doodle every night dreaming about her - awful annabelle with her fat red boozers face and her sagging butt- linda the lollipop with her unbroken string of bringing up global warming at every meeting. was the meeting about global warming? no!

brenda's mind wandered. she had read a story in the paper that morning about boy soldiers in africa. it sounded like a pretty good life. always in a group, no real work, nice and hot (she hated cold), taking out your frustrations shooting people - but what did they eat? she read the story through a second time but there was nothing about what they got to eat. mangoes and bananas and stuff like that? anyway, she wasn't black, she wasn't a boy, and she didn't have the plane fare to africa.

goofy annabelle was telling a dumb story about how she wasn't afraid of the abductors in the paper. it didn't make a lot of sense and wasn't pushing anybody's buttons. so she told it again and when she said something about adrenaline - bingo - this time brenda could actually relate.

"that's right - when the mugger stuck his gun in my face i actually lost all fear while it was happening - " she noticed linda and frankie the fat flaming queen were rolling their eyes like she was milking the story about "the" mugger - brenda had actually been held up five times although only one had actually stuck a gun right in her face - and chased down the street twice by guys she was sure were serial killers - so go ahead and laugh, you dopey sluts -

"i almost felt ... empowered." brenda would see or hear words that didn't make much sense and they would roll around in her brain for weeks and suddenly pop out of her mouth.

brenda was contributing! and she was agreeing with annabelle who she always treated like dog poop on her shoe. dave looked like a fish trying to jump out of a boat.

"oh brenda, you're so butch," said frankie. "what are you doing here with the rest of us scaredy cats? you should be out walking the dark streets karate chopping rapists and hit men."

"for exactly how long did you feel empowered?" asked linda with her always obvious sarcasm.

dave tried to rescue the conversation. "yes brenda" he started to drone... " for exactly how long did you feel empowered?" he had repeated linda's exact words but "nicer".

annabelle felt like she had been hit by lightning. brenda had agreed with her! she actually said the words "that's right". or did she?

c is for corinne

Sunday, June 28, 2009

a is for annabelle

annabelle was walking home from the bus stop at three o'clock in the morning after attending an apprehension anonymous meeting over on the south side.

as she came to the last block before her apartment she suddenly remembered seeing a story on the news the morning before about a series of abductions of young women and an occasional young man on the north side. a story? the news had been about nothing else for two weeks.

i must really be wrapped up in my own problems to have something like that slip my mind, annabelle mused as she picked up her pace. it's lucky i only have a block to go.

just then she sensed a car pulling up beside her. it was a police car.

the policeman behind the wheel looked up at her. "are you all right, miss? are you aware of the abductions in this area?" he's not bad looking, thought annabelle, but he looks a little gay.

"thank you officer, but i live in that apartment right there." she pointed to it.

there was also a policewoman in the police car. she leaned down and spoke to annabelle across the driver. "we can drive you the one block." annabelle thought, she looks like she should be home with nine kids cooking pasta all day.

"no thank you, i'm fine."

"ok. but we'll sit here and watch you."

"thank you."

when annabelle went to her next meeting three nights later, the abductor or abductors had still not been caught, and the story had become national news.

annabelle couldn't wait to share her story. she was proud of herself. not only had she felt no fear or apprehension but she had had a mild adrenaline buzz.

> the group was a little smaller than usual. twelve people instead of the usual fifteen or sixteen. the usual moderator, dave - dull dave, annabelle thought of him, with his awful bushy beard - was there and mentioned the abductions.

"this is in many ways a good opportunity for us," said dave. "if we can confront our fears about this - a real tangible fear - maybe some of our self-generated fears will become a little more manageable."

"that's very nice, dave," said liberal linda (annabelle had a tag for almost everybody) "but let's not forget that real people are being kidnapped and terrorized here. i'm not sure they be thrilled to find their purpose in life is to give meaning to ours." linda could always be counted on to ladle out some lukewarm pc dogma on any topic. annabelle was a big fan of bill o'reilly and ann coulter, but she usually held her tongue when linda spouted off.

"that's very true," dave agreed hastily. "linda makes an excellent point. but if you think about it " - if you think about it was one of dave's favorite phrases - "her point is the same as mine. the people being kidnapped are facing primal fears - the fears of our ancestors in the jungle and the savanna - and our fears are the usually more nebulous ones of the megalopolis."

> oh dave, annabelle thought, dave, dave, dave, dave. she hated it when he started running on about the savanna (wherever that was) and the megalopolis and the zeitgeist (whatever that was). she wanted to hear real stories about real people.

"a mugger stuck a gun in my face," said annabelle's archenemy, bitchy brenda. "it wasn't very nebulous."

"i said usually, brenda."

"you usually say usually."

this got a good laugh from the group. annabelle was often surprised at what people laughed at. back in the days when she went to movie theaters she would be sitting in the dark theater with a silent invisible audience and then a little kid or dog would run across the screen and everybody would laugh. weird.

b is for brenda