Sunday, June 25, 2017

1104. But also profit

I am compiling a thin volume of historical wisdom; tips for living you might say.
This is an important job.
I hope that it will make me a bit of money.
This volume should be quite popular among several folks - not only rubes and saps.

Friday, June 23, 2017

1103. Can we please talk about our demands now?

If you want even one single hostage to walk out of this building, we want a helicopter.
And, world peace.
Wait, Dave has some pretty strong concerns vis-a-vis a one-world-government scenario, so we'll hold on the world peace.
But, the helicopter, the helicopter is a must.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

1102. Selected chapter titles from my forthcoming book on newborn branding

1. Talent acquisition: better babies, better brands
2. Nativity narratives that move consumer preferences
5. Data-driven decisions on diapers for selfies
8. Segmenting your market: Are you ready for baby number 2?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

1101. The bird

The bird was a boat-tailed grackle.
He knew all the tunes: mating and danger, call and response.
This was his yard now; his yard in the morning.
They would listen to his tunes because he wasn't going anywhere.

Monday, June 19, 2017

1100. Honey

She flicked a dab of honey idly from her index finger as she surveyed the carnage and loose bank notes.
"Now that's a robbery," she observed.
She took a swig of what, from my vantage point, appeared to be gen-u-ine Kentucky bourbon.

With a sharp tug of the same finger, she fired another shotgun round into the bank's plaster ceiling.

Friday, June 16, 2017

1099. ampm

A silly thing some people do is to try and "wipe the sleep from their eyes".
This is an expression and does not work.
As if removing the dried rheum from your eyes could make up for failing to adhere to a responsible sleep regiment.
Do you think you're fooling anyone, Fred?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

1098. Miniature things

A tiny rainstorm in a bell jar.
Scientists shrunk to the size of a pinhead through their own hubris.
The impact zone of an earthquake on a planet orbiting a sun in a universe contained in a grain of sand.
My own feelings of adequacy.

Friday, June 9, 2017

1097. Mother's blessing

"Ransack the universe." his mother wrote on the card.
It was taped to a packaged wrapped in brown butcher's paper.
She threw the package, arcing the box so it landed in the boat as it drifted away from shore.
He struggled against his bonds, wondering what was inside.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

1096. Westbound lanes

The thing she remembered most about the drive was the rain; crackling against the windshield like the sound of fire.
They drove west, murderers committing major crimes and minor ones.
Their destination was Wyoming or maybe Oregon: places where you could still get lost.
They made it as far as the compound and were never heard from again.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

1095. A whip and a chair, I guess

I am training a bear to do office tasks.
It's not going great.
He's eaten several of my fingers.
I don't think he likes the fax machine.

Friday, June 2, 2017

1094. Consequences

The Buick was parked in a very clearly demarcated "No Parking" zone.
It was clearly demarcated.
We live in a society of rules; rules with consequences.
That's why I dropped the wrecking ball on it, your honour.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

1093. Office pets

There is a tiny spider in my office that I have not killed.
I can't tell you why (I haven't).
He is interesting to me because he is a jumper.
I'm not sure how I'll feel when he dies of natural causes or moves down the hall to another office.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

1092. Ankles

My ankle socks went quite well with my new dress shoes, thanks.
I have nice ankles.
My ankles (and my wrists) were shackled.
I was being carried along by rough men.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

1091. HB2

She smoked the end of her pencil like a cigarette.
She had seen this in movies.
Depending on the movie, this made it seem to her like she was either quite glamorous or the villain.
She was making an enemies list.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

1090. A chorus of owls

Behold an owl choir; a choir of owls.
I have trained them for two years.
They do not take requests.
They do not sing.

Monday, May 15, 2017

1089. Beep

Beep beep...beep beep.
Beep beep...beep beep.
Beep beep...beep beep.
The garbage truck inched backward through the neighbourhood, its driver trying desperately to pry his way back inside.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

1088. Stretch

These garbage bags contained patented "stretch-o-flex" technology.
They were a premium product always placed at eye level in better grocery stores.
Laboratory testing suggested they'd never break under most conditions.
The stranded climbers didn't know about the laboratory testing as they watched the plastic continue to stretch.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

1087. Client!

Thank you, cherished client, for your continued patronage.
We put your organs in some salvaged jam jars and placed them on a shelf next to the rest.
So, never mess with us.
And, thanks again, for your patronage.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

1086. Wood pulp

The veneer of the table was peeling at the corners.
Books were piled, pyramid-style, in the centre.
They - the books - were bloated beyond use from weeks of rain.
According to the sign, they were still free.

Monday, May 1, 2017

1085. Founding mythology

Inez stopped her bus one day, and refused to ever move it again.
The stop became a snarl.
One day, the snarl grew to a city.
Welcome to Boise, Idaho, my friends. 

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

1084. Above all, manners

Entering the club, the two men hung their fedoras on the claw-footed rack.
Each of them paused to dust the road from their shoes.
They pulled guns, politely.
And they took every dollar and diamond in the place; quietly, brutally, but politely.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

1083. The growth of technology

A woman in Kansas City lovingly cultivates a garden of abandoned things.
Over there, in the corner, is a Telex machine.
It mostly receives messages from the plants in the garden.
Every other Thursday, it's wholly given over to manifestos from disgruntled Cypriot astronauts.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

1082. The Kennedy Cha Cha

My parents hosted the best dinner parties in the sixties.
People - real grownups - would crowd the recessed living room, dancing and smoking.
We'd listen at the top of the stairs where even dropped glasses had the tenor of music.
I think that's where we first heard them float the divorce.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

1081. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

The cat lay lazily like a Roman emperor waiting on whatever passed for grapes - to him.
I sketched him quietly in charcoal.
"Brenda," I imagined him saying.
"There's a lot of pornography on the Internet."

Monday, April 17, 2017

1080. Rules for training homing pigeons

First, we must give the fowl a sense of advanced engineering, the combustion engine, and interstate commerce.
They must then be made to understand the working of wings and feathers as human hands.
The next thing is a training regiment suitable for the procurement of a valid driver's permit. 
Finally, they shall be taught the appropriate disdain for their fellow motorists.   

Sunday, April 16, 2017

1079. Of course it's a dolphin

There are rules.
We never look at the tattoo.
Yes, I can clearly see what the dolphin is doing; very detailed.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

1078. Nothing much to show for it

Mad scientists lead a dangerous life.
Tony was the inventor of disappearometer.
Unfortunately, he became infested with disappearion particles.
Slowly slowly everything in his life began to disappear.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

1077. Limbs

The three-legged dog bounced into the surf.
His strange gait carried him after a ball which he fetched and brought back to his master.
The three-legged man considered the ball for a moment - a red rubber thing - and then hucked it back into the ocean.
They did this for an hour or so then disappeared down the beach.

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

1076. Intent

"What is your intent in asking these questions? 
I hear them.
You are asking about my past.
What is it to you, the how and why of my lost leg and the wheel that replaced it?"

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

1075. The smell of memories

I was breathing deeply of the air in my water bottle.
This is not weird.
The hint of city-mandated chlorine cast my mind back to my youth and summer swimming at the municipal pool.
I found myself curled up on the floor, remembering a time when I nearly drowned.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

1074. Those first few rays of dawn

"Walk until dawn," the voice said.
"Walk until dawn," the voice said, "or we'll kill you."
So he walked, blistering his feet and bending his back.
The sweet relief he thought he'd found was just a Home Depot, its digital clock blinking 2:15 a.m.

Monday, April 3, 2017

1073. Bertha and the Eleven Twelfths

Bertha was the headliner of a band, The Eleven Twelfths.
Except she wasn't.
She knew that there was no band named The Eleven Twelfths.
But, believing it was so made her happy - especially the guys and girls in the horn section.

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Saturday, April 1, 2017

1072. Tumble dry, high heat

I was trying to finish a load of whites.
The house was on fire.
A piece of the burning roof landed in the laundry room.
I still needed whites.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

1071. The Giver

I've started to feel like every part of my life wants something from me.
It's like there's a bucket I can't fill for trying.
My neighbour Patricia, a world-class astrophysicist, says this is because I have a microscopic, hyper-localized black hole orbiting around me at all times.
She says this is quite peculiar.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

1070. Xeroxed

As an artist, Betty wasn't a world beater.
All her sketches were crude things done in charcoal.
The old copier in the basement that brought them to life didn't care.
Her creations - crude charcoal things - would putter around doing little things to draw her attention.

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Friday, March 24, 2017

1069. Time traveler

"It will be better when you're gone," someone shouted at the old man.
What could he do?
He was a boy when the old regime came to power.
Now he was a last, broken down partisan crying in front of a broken statue.

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

1068. Lurid taxonomy

He scratched the fifth name off the list.
Burying his head in his hands, he allowed himself to weep for two minutes.
Even his beloved mahogany-lined study offered him no comfort.
He would never be a proper pornographer with names like these.

If you're curious, I wrote five names. If you highlight the numbers below, you can read 'em.

1. Lord Reginald Bottomsly
2. Llewellyn Longfellow 
3. Peter Petersmith
4. The First Earl of Henley on Balls
5. Cecil Sexworth

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

1067. Hungry eyes

They bought a house.
Inside was a black market audio cassette recording of the "Dirty Dancing" soundtrack.
It was a trap.
They were never seen again.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

1066. Slightly chapped

For the purposes of this story, please assume the world is down to its last ChapStick (cherry).
Further, please allow that this occurred due to a complex interplay of societal and economic conditions.
In this scenario, world leaders and billionaires haggle over who would own this ChapStick and how.
Bart - a security guard - renders this discussion moot after using the aforementioned salve on his lips after a day in the dry air of the vault.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

1065. Post-industrial production methods

The cardboard cube was waiting on her step when she got home.
Opening it, she paused to pop, pop, pop some of the layered bubble wrapping.
She breathed deep, savouring the contents - ethically-sourced, small batch hope.
Closing the box to trap the remaining sentiment, she wondered if she'd be able to afford market rate for hope once her free trial ended.

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

1064. Healthy living

How fragile is this thing called health.
He realized that now.
Each moment was a new anguish that felt like it would last forever.
And that - shhh - was the end of the first day.

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Friday, March 17, 2017

1063. Name, rank, serial number

"Sir, I'm Special Agent Johnson and I need to ask you some questions."
"I'll show you a special agent john-"
"Sir, I've heard that one before."
The scene ends with the sound of closing handcuffs.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

1062. Marmaduke

It was the Marmaduke sweater.
It was the vital clue.
It was the key to all things.
It was the Marmaduke sweater.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

1061. Ned

Ned's face was hot under the mask.
Sweat was beading and sliding down his neck.
What was this protest even about?
Was this even a movement?

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

1060. Famous yet

The World Famous Actor was 78, which she thought of as old but not dead.
Her appearance in The Academy's annual "Those we've lost" tribute segment came as quite a surprise - a shock even.
But, The Academy refused to admit their mistake, so she was dead.
Eventually, everyone came to believe it was so, so it was so.

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Friday, March 10, 2017

1059. Famous last

"The debit machine didn't even have tap," he whispered through his death rattle.
"What'd he say?" the lawyer asked?
"Rosebud," said the dead man's mother.
"He said, 'Rosebud'."

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

1058. Checking out

It was an old fashioned time clock; punch in, punch out.
She took the paper slip with her name on it and punched once.
The hole that appeared in the floor took her quite by surprise.
When next she saw sunlight, she was in a charming A-frame cottage next to a lake she'd never seen before.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

1057. Some things do last forever

Both things were meant to last forever: the cold grey November and the rain that came with it.
That was the way the warlock - Slash - wove his sorcery.
This would be the world now.
This would be Axl Rose's revenge.

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Monday, March 6, 2017

1056. The desert valley

Way out west, there's a stretch of desert where a billionaire will eventually plant a thousand thousand solar panels.
Today, it's just dry, cracked dirt populated by some scattered lizards and scorpions.
Somewhere out there is an old man who lives in cave during the day and only comes out at night.
He scavenges the bleached bones of men and horses for a house he hopes to build.

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

1055. Artificial flavouring

My hand was all pins and needles.
I looked at it like it belonged to someone else as I searched for other repercussions.
When the first hints of feeling returned, I stuck my finger back in the socket.
My tongue was seized with a chemical-burnt reminiscence of too many ketchup chips.
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Saturday, March 4, 2017

1054. Woo hoo

I saw Starship Troopers, shortly after it was released in November 1997, at the movie house in my hometown.
This was before they split the big room into two, bringing the total screens to three.
A girl we knew was devastated that - even though it had played prominently in the trailers - the song, "Song 2" by Blur was not in the movie.
This story is completely true as I remember it.

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

1053. Lucky man

He rubbed the silver coin between his thumb and forefinger.
One of the last of thirty, the man who gave it to him promised it would confer a price.
Running his hand along the wall, he felt a click as a small bag of gems slid out from behind a secret panel.
Another black line appeared on his arm.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

1052. Accent grave

Her voice was sweet and French.
Behind it, the music dashed along uptempo and filled with joy.
He understood not one word she sang but he loved it and he loved her too.
The lyrics - of course - were vicious old screed.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

1051. What my seventy-unit apartment building sounds like

There are 19 children, shouting their games.
Two dogs are barking at one another, either in hate or in heat - I can't tell.
There's a car, honk, honk honk...honking a syncopated rhythm through the neighbourhood.
I'm wearing headphones, trying to ignore it all so I can continue my work on the tiny Walgreens I'm building in this bottle.

Monday, February 27, 2017

1050. With puppets

The puppet wasn't much more than a mitt with fake eyeballs glued to it.
She held it out to the crowd.
"You can't drink and drive, you guys," she said in a high pitched voice, her mouth turned up at the side.
Several people shifted uncomfortably in the front row.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

1049. The smell of lesser treasons

There was roadkill in the neighbourhood.
On the sideroad and the highway, dead skunks too.
We were at war with skunks.
No one knew why.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

1048. Private games

Out there, right about where you'd place the Rover, is a plastic lawn chair.
It's owner is an old man.
At six each morning, he walks to the diamond and sits in the chair.
The games he watches are privy to him alone.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

1047. In the Kingdom of Bhutan

In the Kingdom of Bhutan there is a house out of place.
It looks like a bungalow you might find in 1950s Hamilton or Burlington.
The house is empty save for a Tim Hortons Roll Up the Rim To Win coffee cup.

Monday, February 20, 2017

1046. Law of averages

Am I an average person, or just uninteresting?
I was having this debate while throwing luggage across the department store while Drake played overhead.
Who even is Drake?
I wish I was special.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

1045. The ocean laughs back also

Monique made up her mind to quit believing in the ocean.
She went down to the shore to laugh at it in all its unrealness.
A monster wave knocked her off her feet, spinning and turning her before finally depositing her some twelve miles up the beach.
The ocean, it seems, laughs back also. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

1044. The scrubman

"Soon, Dearest. Soon." he whispered to the toilet brush.
Soon, he'd rule this community college.
He hadn't had much luck with the morning or afternoon maintenance crews, but Brenda from the cafeteria sounded interested.
That just left the details.

Monday, February 13, 2017

1043. The great whale

The great whale circled the deeps of the world's oceans - always moving, never stopping.
It was hunting.
It was hunting for men and women.
It was hunting for men and women to carry inside itself to be complete.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

1042. Six more weeks of winter

It was February.
The countryside was a mix of fallen snow and dead agriculture, like the landscape had hunched up its shoulders and resigned itself to whatever remained of the winter.
Out there among the cornstalks, was a solitary billboard, blank.
A man was there, running up a new advertisement - for hope.

Monday, February 6, 2017

1041. Heat shimmer

I was sitting in the car listening to an audio program about the Cold War.
The window was down, so I could see the shimmering heat escape into the cold as a man on the radio talked about the likelihood we'd all be killed by a nuclear bomb.
I lit a cigarette, smoked it, and tilted my seat back for a nap.
I don't recall the year, but I think it was 1958.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

1040. The lightning

It was dawn, or so.
Anneka and Ted, Kate's friends from college, were asleep.
So was Kate.
Bobby was trying to find his boots and coat so he could replace the toothbrushes he'd wrecked.

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Friday, February 3, 2017

1039. Confession regarding my 1996 perfect attendance award

Fellow members of the Class of 1997, I'm glad we're all gathered here on the occasion of our 20th high school reunion.
I don't want to put a damper on the festivities but I have a confession to make.
Due to a clerical error, several of my absences went uncatalogued by the Main Office.
Deborah, I hope you'll accept this trophy, which has been rightfully yours for twenty years.

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

1038. Aces up his sleeve

He had the poker hand tattooed on the inside of his bicep.
It was, according to his father, the poker hand that led to the dispute that got his grandfather shot and killed.
That was bullshit, of course.
His grandfather had died of consumption after years as an itinerant farmer in one Dakota then the other.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

1037. The power of the water cycle

She typed out, "I'm not good at anything, but I will be next time," on her typewriter.
The typewriter and the sheet of paper went into her car, which she drove out to the dock where she heaved them into the ocean.
She drove home knowing that time and tide and salt water would break the typewriter and the paper into their constituent compounds and spread them throughout the sea.
Then the power of the water cycle and the consumption of sardines would eventually take her message to the world.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

1036. 4/4

He had the monkey, the goshawk, and the vampire bat.
The goshawk had been the most difficult to find.
He had only to find a panther with a heart of gold.
It's hard to ascribe morality to a jungle cat but, if you ask the question, "What do you get for the woman who has everything?" you run a certain set of risks.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

1035. Alt-facts about eagles

After much soul searching, he decided on the call of the mighty eagle for his ringtone.
Each phone call and text felt like it was coming from the beating heart of freedom.
His friends called it "tedious" - him sounding it off at parties and funerals and whatnot.
But, that young man grew up to be Abraham Lincoln, so what do you know about anything, smart guy?

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

1034. Preservatives

The arborist stooped her way across the lawn picking up maple leaves.
When she got home, she carefully laminated each one.
Night by night, she secretly hung one from every traffic light and telephone pole in town.
City destruction edict be damned.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

1033. Sea lion

Nobody thinks about wizards all that much, but they're around.
One turned my uncle into a sea lion.
We're not really sure whether he's really a sea lion, or just my uncle trapped in form.
He still likes "Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen though.

Monday, January 23, 2017

1032. Slower than usual

The molasses protests rocked Hartford that day.
Residents - many thousands - brought pint after pint and dumped it in front of the Connecticut Capitol.
Slowly, every little thing ground to a halt.
And, they vowed they'd keep dumping their molasses until the General Assembly banned haiku.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

1031. Over time

It was the January thaw.
Everywhere the landscape had given up its shades of white for browns and greens.
Over at the pond, a  hockey net was slowly sinking through the slush.
Didn't look like it would survive until after school.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

1030. Binary instructions for robot dating

Within one hundred years, it was just the robots left.
And sure, some of them had evolved into squid robots and others to various flying robots.
But, most of them retained the form of their human oppressors from years gone by.
Their society was a lot like the one they overtook, but the dating - the advances and the rejections - now happened at the quantum level.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

1029. Find the case

Find the case, boys.
Everything depends on that.
It has all the evidence - enough to bury us.
And its got my lunch.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

1028. Fire and water

Sarah and Dale walked from the car in the rain.
Dale pulled the weekly paper from their mailbox and thumbed at it as he finished his cigarette.
And suddenly he was obsessed, standing there smoking and reading.
Sarah found him there an hour later, pawing through wet newsprint, the nub of a cigarette in his knuckles.

Monday, January 16, 2017

1027. Hot tub chronicles

I cut through the parking lot of repair shop on my way home.
It was an elephant's graveyard of late model sedans and obscure European numbers.
There, in the midst of the decaying cars, was a hot tub.
What manner of fondue-fueled, bacteria-veneered adventures brought it to this place, I could not say.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

1026. Majestic majesty

He stood on a mountain that couldn't have been seen by more than a dozen people.
As nature unfolded all around him, a bull moose emerged from the forest, full majesty apparent in every step.
Man and beast were at communion - one - when the moose farted.
He did everything to concentrate on the moose's majesty but, hoo boy, that smell.

Friday, January 13, 2017

1025. What it's like to be The Rock's accountant

You'll understand I can't reveal the personal information of any client.
That being said, being Mr. The Rock's (Dwayne's) accountant has been a delightful experience.
He keeps very detailed records of his yearly receipts.
I'd classify the penmanship on his forms as better than average.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

1024. Morning people

The sun rises.
We know this.
It happens every morning in front of our eyes.
What we don't see, is the two men working against the old block and tackle to drag it up over the horizon.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

1023. Sugar

"Oh sugar, sugar, sugar, shit, sugar."
My Aunt Agnes had hit her thumb with a hammer.
I watched her nurse it for a minute or more.
"Sasha," she said finally, "we must never swear."

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

1022. Brad with the puns

Breaking Brad?
The Good, the Brad, and the Ugly?
Brad Boys II?
Brad, you spent two whole days on this?

Monday, January 9, 2017

1021. Eagles

In those days, town was beset by eagles - flocks of them.
It was all beaks and talons and totalitarian rule.
The people that remained in town walked with downcast eyes.
The eagles' exact political philosophies were unclear, but they ruthlessly enforced.