Saturday, December 31, 2016

1013. RV is short for recreational vehicle

The place where I grew up is hardscrabble and beautiful as an old photo of a coal miner.
I was thinking this driving down a divided highway with divided attention.
Then there was the RV pulling a late-model coupe.
When I came to, the car was upside down, rocking back and forth.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

1012. Van Morrison's Domino

You see some strange things, driving a big rig across this big ol' country.
Like this guy, right here, drumming away at his steering wheel.
It looks he's really going at one of those big imaginary drumkits - the full deal.
I think he's working on Van Morrison's "Domino".

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

1011. Strange agriculture

In Washington State, there is an automobile farm.
No one quite gets it how they do it.
There they are, year after year, growing Honda Civics and Volkswagen Cabriolets.
It's the damnedest thing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

1010. Describing the flavour of a mango

And so it came to pass that I was eating a mango in December.
The whole world is in that last sentence.
There is so very much economics and politics and farming and science in it.
But the mango was very sweet and tart so I didn't care so much.

Monday, December 19, 2016

1,009. Dewey decimal system

One day, all the books she'd ever loaned out and never got back began to call to her.
Her brain was lit up like a war room map, pinpointing each location.
The very next Thursday she shouldered an empty duffel bag and walked onto the side of the highway.
The books were calling.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

1,008. Buried treasure

"You'd be surprised how much Nazi gold is hidden in the United States."
With that, he unfolded a well-creased map and placed it on the table.
It was one of those novelty truck stop maps that showed you where to find the World's Largest Lint Ball and other such oddities.
It was permanently tattooed with hand-drawn "X"s.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

1,007. Limited time offer

Yeah, guy out back wants to talk to you.
Says he's got a good deal on weapons-grade uranium.
Maybe, he said plutonium.
Anyway, he said he'd be at the Denny's until 10:00 p.m.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

1,006. The retired barber of A Coruña

There is a retired barber who lives near A Coruña in Spain.
He makes toys for the children and revenge plots for their parents.
He wraps them both - the toys and the plots - in brown paper.
His fat fingers tie up the packages with string.

Monday, December 12, 2016

1,005. Stephen King is pretty normal, actually

I was splitting a pie with Stephen King.
We were chatting about this and that.
It was all rather normal.
Then one of the diner stools swallowed up a waitress, dragging her down to a dark dimension lit only by the eyes of demons.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

1,004. Combustible materials

Pumping gas as I was, the smell of cigarette smoke unsettled me.
The idea of fire and gas and my personal doom sparked in my head.
But I was pumping gas.
So I stood there, pumping gas in the cold, worrying about explosions.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

1,003. RICO

I was laying in bed reading a pamphlet from 1970 on the RICO Act.
My feet were sticking out of the blankets at the bottom of the bed.
There was a cut on my left foot that looked like a red smile.
I wondered, looking at the pamphlet and the cut on my foot, if there was a "bad guy" in me, waiting to get out.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

1,002. Melba toast years

The doorjamb was the size and consistency of Melba toast.
It was, in fact, Melba toast.
Imagine us, us fat cats, using foodstuffs for non-nutritive ends.
Those were warm, full years of plenty.

Monday, December 5, 2016

1,001. He/she

The letter was persuasive.
He was obviously a gifted writer.
Except he was actually a she.
And, she was actually four smarter-than-average badgers.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

1,000. Private meetings

Cheryl didn't know - or didn't care - the difference between a private meeting and a not-private meeting.
She would memorize things people said long enough to get back to her typewriter.
Cigarette burning low in the ashtray beside her, she'd type people's words on index cards then affix them to the lamp post in front of the office using tape from the supply closet.
This was a long time before the Internet.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

999. Fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth horsemen of the apocalypse

Cobras.
Trump, obviously.
Giant comet.
Cecil.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

998. Hotel of Horror: 3.5 Stars

Why are all the bathtubs in our hotel coffin-shaped?
Because it's a spooooky hotel, I'll tell you.
I'm kidding.
There was an eight percent discount on them from our fixture supplier.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

997. Game changer

"This new deep fryer is going to be a game changer," she said.
She was leaning in to whisper at her colleagues in the matching polos.
Her eyes had the look of someone gripped with a fever.
"A game changer," she said again, to no one in particular.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

996. Not Ralph

An electric tea kettle is not Ralph.
Neither Bactrian nor dromedary camels are Ralph.
The several stools at your local diner are not Ralph.
Only Ralph is Ralph, and he knows this.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

995. The woman who watches

In a building across from the pink-lit room, Paula watched her husband Paul.
He did not know this.
She watched him for years to see if he'd changed.
She watched for so long she no longer knew what she was watching for.

Monday, September 26, 2016

994. What goes on in the pink-lit room

They speculated often about the pink-lit apartment across the way.
They were always wrong, of course.
Paul kept the apartment lit in his wife Paula's favourite colour, hoping she'd change her mind and come back to him.
It was a lighthouse in a sea of condominium buildings trying vainly to call her home.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

993. Crumbs

It all began with the two humans who lived in the apartment.
The ate all their meals on the sofa because they had no use for the dining room.
The crumbs they dropped weren't many, but they were enough.
They were enough for the tiny people who lived in the sofa to build their pyramid.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

992. Conversations I've had with a brown paper bag

Algae makes me anxious.
The kind of people David Remnick meets at parties make me anxious.
These are the things I worry about in the shower, traffic, and the dead of night in my two-bedroom apartment.
What is algae up to?

Friday, September 16, 2016

991. With coffee, all things are possible

"More coffee, dear?"
"Sure, you talked me into it."
"Sounds like it's pretty easy to talk you into things."
And that's the story of how I ended up robbing a bank.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

990. We need to talk about the volcano

It isn't even the lava, Brett.
It's - and I'm being honest here - the neighbours.
The lava melted their Buick.
I'd say we don't have much more than a day or two before their house is toast.

Monday, September 12, 2016

989. Show me what the locals love

She'd seen all the big ones.
She wanted the real deal now; the stuff the locals loved.
So they led her down one side street and another and another - ad labyrinthus ad infinitum.
She never found her way out.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

988. The spoon ritual

The river cut through the town in a child's lazy "S".
It was an old-fashioned town that punished sinners according to the old customs.
The town would set sinners' houses on fire and bring out the ceremonial spoons from their walnut case.
Each sinner would take a spoon and run pell mell for the river.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

987. Nesting behaviour

Anne reached up with one cupped hand to place the starling back in its nest.
She froze.
Scores of children had come sprinting around the corner.
She stood there for the whole day, a temporary addition to the exhibit, smiling while she held a fake starling in one cupped hand.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

986. The city fathers

There were city mothers too, but the name was a tradition.
They meet based on an arcane formula - though always on a Tuesday.
Their decisions were final.
Chiefly, they were interested in the production levels of various pies and tarts.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

985. New shoes

Most men's rooms are wretched places.
It is because we men are casual, lazy, and oft messy.
That's why their surfaces discourage much scrutiny.
So no, dude, don't waltz out of the john and ask me if I want to "check out" your new shoes.

Friday, September 2, 2016

984. And the waves

Sam and Patrick sat on the old folding chairs from under the deck.
They were taking turns striking Red Bird matches against the box then flipping them into the ocean.
Somewhere beneath the waves, beneath the remnants of a castle they'd built on the third sandbar, was Patrick's wedding ring.
Between them on the beach was a metal detector, still tightly shrink-wrapped.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

983. Articles of Impeachment

If you ever leave me - and I hope you don't - I'll have written the articles of my own impeachment.
I carry them around in my pocket like a crumpled piece of paper.
Sometimes I improve - for awhile.
At this point though, I don't even bother crossing anything off the list.

Monday, August 29, 2016

982. Kachow

Kachow.
Kachow, kachow, kachow.
You ain't got nothing on me, Mirror Andy.
No, you put on a bathrobe.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

981. Pen pals

Patricia's blog was short.
Her pen pal had grown increasingly erratic in recent days and Patricia was begging for help.
She was hoping someone who lived near B3TTY63 could check in on her.
What Patricia could not know was that her pen pal had been replaced by a penguin for mysterious and sinister reasons.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

980. The horse trailers

They were as pristine as they would ever be.
The three of them bumped along, mostly secured to a trailer towed by a mammoth truck.
Some day soon, they would ferry horses down highways and other minor country roads.
Some day soon, the smells of manure and straw and beast would descend upon them forever.

Monday, August 22, 2016

979. The cool cool

These cool cool evenings don't come often to the city.
They always remind me of our cottage by the shore.
We'd listen in the cool cool dark as the sandbars gave up their gains back to the ocean.
We don't own that cottage anymore because my mother couldn't abide the thought of my grandmother's ghost judging all the renovations.

Friday, August 19, 2016

978. The likeliest truth

"It's the likeliest truth."
That's what she said to me.

We were lobbing Molotov cocktails onto the putting green of the municipal course - cheap booze and the Mayor's annual newsletter for a wick.
Everyone was saying the Mayor was a racist.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

977. Last of the red hot dynastic struggles

My parents' was a petty civil war.
She would win this, that, or the other.
In response, he would immediately craft up some emotional counterinsurgency.
If I remember correctly, the last contested territory of their divorce was the dishes from her aunt they both hated.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

976. Bedtime stories for grownups

We all tell our children stories.
Lately, the ones we tell our son have become, to be quite forthright, awkward.
He's become quite interested in stories of a sexual nature.
But, we owe our thirty-two-year-old son quite a lot of money, so I guess he's the boss.

Monday, August 15, 2016

975. The narwhal problem

What are we going to do about all these narwhals?
What do you mean, "cockroaches"?
You mean I've been calling them the wrong thing - for years?
Right, ok.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

974. Expatriate Version II

He walked to the bathroom on protestant knees, kneading the doughy frame his past self had begrudged his present and bequeathed his future.
He considered, as he did with regularity, his station as a man, an expatriate from the life he deserved.
Fairly, one might ask how he could claim allegiance to a homeland that was never his.
He searched for his running shoes which were quite old.

Friday, August 12, 2016

973. Virginia is for lovers

Is Virginia still for lovers?
This current postal district sure ain't.
I've tried as hard as I think I can to find some lover here.
Do you think someone will love me in Virginia?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

972. Reprobate Zoology

It was lagers then pale ales, or maybe the reverse.
Whatever the order of pints poured, what was the scientific value of this exercise?
Were these boys even Zoology majors?
The Dean, the Dean wanted answers.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

971. No cash on board

"No cash on board," the decal on the van read.
To my eye though, the driver seemed the comfortably-employed sort that'd have a least a few singles in his wallet.
Why then, did his employers feel the need to belittle his economic standing?
I considered this peculiar act of employer-employee relations as gasoline cascaded down my Dodge Stratus.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

970. Legacy systems

There are days when I make quite a serious fuss about finding and drinking an orange soda (Crush, naturally).
I prefer it from the can - but I cannot say whether that's part of the pathology.
My mother has this same feeling, from time to time, she says.
She said it was worst when she was pregnant.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

969. In among the dillweeds

After so long, the garden had swallowed up the yard, creeping eventually to the tiny strip of grass on the other side of the sidewalk.
This created a vague notion of a miniature jungle smelling of a spice cupboard.
It gave the abandoned thises and thats in the yard a real Hollywood-end-of-the world feel.
Near the carport, tendrils snaking out from some kind of squash quietly choked a hobby horse.

Monday, July 25, 2016

968. Picks

The little river that flowed through our little city was running slower than normal.
Its laziness anticipated a languid summer afternoon that was already coming to form.
As I walked, I passed a septet of cyclists on one of those seven-person bicycles.
The last cyclist made no attempt at cycling, picking instead at a Sabbath song on an old banjo.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

967. The Egg Man

It was a tidy little shelf - like a spice rack.
The man had sprinkled each level with bits of hay for warmth and cushioning.
In each small receptacle he had placed an egg.
The beam of his flashlight illuminated the life growing inside: chicken, chicken, peacock, flamingo, pterodactyl. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

966. Under Arm

Just a reminder: all of our all-natural deodorants come with a "best before" date of two years from the day they were packaged.
That's because, after two years, the mind-controlling slugs - which we add to give you that tingly-clean feeling - begin to wake up.
Next thing you know, it's war, and dystopia, and OH THE HUMANITY!
Thanks friends, for visiting www.TheAllNaturalDefinitelyCompletelySafeDeodorantCo.com

Monday, July 4, 2016

965. The radio stations in our teeth

Siddhartha Freed craned his neck to search for the radio stations that played in his teeth.
He thrust his jaw forward, trying to get better reception.
His faced scrunched and bunched this way and that trying to get at that station that played all those Gotye songs.
On the balance, it was strange goings on for a Wendy's in Middle America.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

964. Lyricism

It was the singy-songy way she said it.
Tribal tattoos and carpenter jeans, she said.
Over and over she said/sang it.
You could tell the man hated it, self-consciously.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

963. A face for radio

I have a face for radio.
I have a face for radio.
I'm not even sure what that means.
Feeling pretty good about the range of technologies I can use to describe my faults these days.

Friday, May 27, 2016

962. Alternate realities

I heard somewhere the prison system does a rigorous trade in audio cassettes.
And, did you know, someone donates those "Superbowl Champion" t-shirts of the Superbowl losers to be worn in Africa?
Somewhere, Nirvana plays on and the Buffalo Bills are an extraordinary franchise.
Alternate realities are available at all price points.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

961. Wattage

I'm the Number 1 disc jockey in a ghost town.
I tried to warn them with the radio when the wolves and the tornadoes and the pestilence and the plagues came but I failed.
Now my failures are piled up around me like sedimentary layers of shale in strata of regret.
Well, anyways, here's Blues Traveler for your lunchtime throwback.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

960. Spice Run

They made Juarez around 4:00 a.m., like Charles Portis chasing the real Mexico southward.
They wanted to see it made.
They wanted Tabasco as fresh as it came - straight from the man at the factory store.
But Tabasco comes from Louisiana, you damned fools.

Monday, May 9, 2016

959. Reckoning

I am constantly at war with my own deficiencies. 
Take my thumb, for example.
Stubby, shark-headed, it rubs against my index finger like it could erase my very fingerprint.
Even subconsciously, I am trying to avoid justice for my crimes against myself.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

958. Westerly approach

The plane lined up for a westerly approach to Runway 3.
As it descended, he could see Ski-Doo tracks melting in the snow like sweaty Nazca lines, soon to be forgotten to history.
Beyond them, all the fast food restaurants were cosied up to the highway, like young bucks showing their neon antlers to attract the passing cars.
He didn't know how to feel about any of it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

957. The Chairman

In the whole history of the company, no one had ever seen The Chairman.
They received his missives, carefully typed and tucked into manila envelopes.
The company prospered, so the arrangement went largely unquestioned.
The widow, the cat, and the pet psychic thought of themselves as the brain trust. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

956. Like dogs

My mother had seven brothers who were quite beastly to her.
When she died, they all fought with me about her will, but I stood my ground.
In November, we had a meal of pot roast and pie to settle our differences.
Little by little, I spooned mama's ashes into their meals, which they lapped up like dogs.

Monday, April 11, 2016

955. Due North

I walked North, as far as I could go.
I walked until the cold made my breath come in ragged sheets.
That was sixty-two days ago.
You'll never find me because I've got friends here.

Friday, April 8, 2016

954. Grandma called

Grandma called.
She can't remember where she left her nunchuks.
It's Friday night, silly.
That's when her knitting group always doles out justice.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

953. The urban pole vault league

They came with makeshift poles - including the dude with the broomstick.
The group met under a street lamp.
A brick wall - old, but tall and sturdy - stood in front of them.
Their treasures were on the other side.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

952. Slow descent into madness

"Pocket square, pocket squares, pocket squares," he rattled on.
He was sprinting through the warehouse with scissors.
Stopping here and there, he cut squares from the suit coats he found.
He'd been trapped in the warehouse for quite some time.

Monday, April 4, 2016

951. Saying Grace

Grace.
Grace!
GRACE!
Grace, dinner.

Friday, April 1, 2016

950. April Fool's

Someone let loose a long sigh down at the end of the table.
It was a synergistic sigh, at least.
They'd been working on a clever corporate April Fool's Day for the last six hours.
The whole time, Terry'd been outside the boardroom laying banana peels.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

949. of Ohio

Tell me something about Ohio, would you?
I don't know anything about it.
Someday, it may be important that I do.
You never know when you could have a boss or a seditious in-law from Ohio.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

948. Three-by-five index cards

He did not speak.
Each response was carefully typed on a three-by-five index card.
Interlocutors were shown the response to their question only once.
The cards were then burned and scattered in the garden.

Monday, March 28, 2016

947. Altius

I live in the ruins of an Olympic Village - I can't tell you which one.
They had big plans for its life after The Games.
It all unraveled rather spectacularly - as these things do.
They said it would last forever, an enduring symbol of something or other. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

946. Piccadilly Circus

The picture is of one of those double-decker buses from their trip to England.
Behind the photo is a safe.
Inside the safe is a memory stick with the files.
Get it for me.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

945. Distractions

Edith could hear one of the cats in the litter box.
Pre- or post-shit, she couldn't tell.
It was a distraction from the eulogy she was trying to write.
But, they weren't paying her for nothing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

944. Census

He took out a pen and a cheap notebook and wrote down the names of everyone he could remember from high school.
Some of their fates were known to him, so he wrote those down next to their names: teacher, teacher, accountant, teacher.
The rest he made up.
He kept the torn page in his pocket during the reunion.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

943. You just missed the inspiring speech

Having said her piece, she unshouldered the pickaxe and returned to digging.
It rang over and over against the boulder.
With a great heaving gasp, a crack split the length of the rock.
She thought she caught a whiff of fresh air.

Monday, March 21, 2016

942. It's whatever bomb you decide it is

Tick.
Tick.
Tick.
Boom.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

941. This is a teen dystopian drama story

This is a teen dystopian drama story.
There are rigid castes but someday, special people will break from those castes, changing everything.
You are not one of them.
You have been assigned to the sanitation class.

Friday, March 18, 2016

940. Action

A man walks away from a fire in slow motion.
He never looks back.
Everyone else moves at normal speed.
It's all quite weird.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

939. A note from the campaign staff

Sir, we should talk about Cedric.
It's just, how do I put this?
The staff are concerned about the voters.
People aren't comfortable speaking to a puppet.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

938. Richard Bolles Nightmare Scenario

A woman wakes wearing a backpack.
Her name is Meredith and she is a Project Manager.
The backpack is a parachute and she is falling.
We all have enemies, I guess.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

937. My Promoted Tweet is a cry for help

I have valuable insights to offer you.
That's not accurate.
I'm very alone.
Why won't you love me?

Monday, March 14, 2016

936. The Sin Number

The supplicant waited.
Saint Peter dropped brass token after brass token on the scale.
It tilted.
"It's purgatory yet for you, my boy," sighed Saint Peter as he looked past the supplicant down the endless line of sinners.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

935. More than 300 Sharpies

Artistic one-upmanship was Teddy's game.
Making pictures from Google Maps and bicycles was rank amateur shit.
Teddy spent three years dragging Sharpie after Sharpie across American highways.
He was drawing new borders.

Friday, March 11, 2016

934. 300 Sharpies

Used up Sharpies and their packaging were all over the floor.
Things had gone okay - up to the belly button.
He was swinging back and forth - marker in each hand - trying to catch the uncooperative spots on his back.
You can't make your own cat burglar costume folks, you just can't.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

933. You're supposed to be a professional

"You're supposed to be a professional," she said.
He was hanging upside down from some wiring.
His laser pistol was malfunctioning, zapping bolts in all directions.
One of the wayward blasts short circuited the display panel, securing their release.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

932. Skill testing question

It was in the news.
You may recall reading about it.
An elderly baroness bought a coffee shop chain and began giving away rare and valuable prizes.
I heard someone won the Hope Diamond.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

931. Banished, not dead

The island freezes in the Winter, and blisters in the Summer.
The only things to eat are coconuts and the turtles with their sharp beaks.
I hate it here more than I can bear.
How did your parents teach you your lessons?

Monday, March 7, 2016

930. Old books

"It smells like old books," said the voice over the loud speaker.
It sounded tinny, like a boy using a soup can to play at being a robot.
The audience murmured as the lead scientist probed the electrified brain.
He would keep searching until he found the brain cells that held the treasure's location.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

929. For the following reasons

1. You are inconsistent with the part of your hair.
2. You've twice mixed up Frank and Joe Hardy (henceforth, The Hardy Boys).
3. I'm incapable of dealing with my shit in an adult fashion.
4. You ordered vegan tacos and diet iced tea at that Barbecue place on my birthday.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

928. Thirty-second out of...

You know that ranking system you're working on?
I support it.
It's good to have a definitive understanding of where your friends fall in your personal hierarchy - for dinner parties and the like.
Feel free to move me down a couple of notches, in case you meet some exciting new people.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

927. Co-pay Cabana

They found a dentist - finally - who'd entertain the sheer weirdness of it.
The teeth had burst through everywhere about six months ago.
That was alarming to be sure, but things had gotten worse.
The teeth had developed into fully-realized mouths, mouths that loved Barry Manilow.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

926. Ocelots

"What the fuck is an ocelot?" he screamed into the darkened parking lot.
"ANSWER ME!"
But it's 2016, he realized, as he took out his phone to Google.
"I love you an ocelot," the card read.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

925. Christ in the highballs

They named the bar, "The Garden at Gethsemane" - those smug pricks.
It was a place fully of the moment, according to its owners.

Someone had misspelled "SALVATION WITHIN" with white paint above the walk-in coolers.
To show they were in on the whole thing, the owners would drink themselves sick most nights.

Friday, February 12, 2016

924. Other Danny

The thing about Other Danny, is he's got it way more together.
I'm sure he never fell off the stage with his school-issued trombone.
And, I'm sure he's never been caught walk dancing on the treadmill.
He probably smokes cigarettes.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

923. Heat

He stared at the blank document and stared and stared and stared.
His fingers pecked out words of discouragement - mainly criticisms of himself.
Sighing, he held the Backspace key until everything had been obliterated.
If you're so desperate to be a martyr, you can at least let someone else find you the flames.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

922. Mustard

The mustard stain on my shirt is dry now.
It flakes under a fingernail, redrawing its filthy geography.
My eyes are drawn to it like I expect it to deal with itself.
But it doesn't and I am a mess.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

921. First world problems

"More than most" is a phrase I'm chewing on.
I'm working it around like shoe leather steak trying to make it make sense.
I know it applies to me.
But, I don't want to try and believe it.