Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Consummate Politician Apologizes

Hello constituents. It's that time again. Election time. My favorite time. I get to get out of the office and meet and greet with the little people. The salt of the earth. I get to hold babies and kiss them. Sometimes, I even get to grope one of my female staffers, though those times are unfortunately few and far between these days. There are exciting speeches where I reestablish my dominance and intellectual superiority over my opponent. There are the great attack ads where I point out how terrible a person my opponent is. Of course, there are his ads about me. And then there's the media with their goddamn questions. You let me have a script and I'll answer questions all day, long as I know the answers. Nobody likes to be surprised with a question, though.

Usually, when I'm up on this podium, I'm apologizing for sexual misconduct. It's kind of my thing. The constituents love it. They think "thank god our governor is getting some ass." This time, though, it's drug related. It really pains me to admit this, considering how tough I've been on drug offenders during my tenure. But I love cocaine. Absolutely fucking love it. I snort cocaine in the morning. I snort it around lunch. I have some around dinner time. Sometimes I do it before bed. Have you tried cocaine? Shit's amazing. I totally don't blame anyone for doing cocaine now. It's that black tar heroin you have to watch out for. And marijuana. That stuff is a gateway drug. It also makes you like shitty music and turns you queer. Science says so. Go ask a scientist.

I'd like to argue, before I apologize for anything, that all the cool people snort cocaine. Actors, rock stars, professional athletes. Politicians. I was kind of pressured into it by my social stature and my drug dealer, who shall remain anonymous. He's a good guy, an investment banker who deals a lot with the Colombians. He launders money, they give him drugs. It's a fair exchange. It's the capitalist system at work. As an economic conservative, I whole-heartedly support the unrestricted exchange of capital. We don't need the government interfering with such transactions. Do we want to live in an America where you can't conceal the source of illicit funds? How the hell's the Mafia supposed to do business? You know they helped us win World War 2?

You know I never inhaled any of that cocaine? I just sort of let it sit in my nostrils. I never actually sucked it up into my nasal passageways. I just put it in there to look cool. It's part of the job, looking cool. You'd be surprised how many people you can fool just by looking like a boss. And I am a boss. I'm the governor. Everyone tells me so.

Did you know my distinguished opponent is a pederast? He was once found naked in a park during his college days. Oh boy. Is that the sort of person we want running our state? Did you know he has over forty unpaid parking tickets? He breaks the law and then he doesn't even pay for it. There's a pattern here, people, of irresponsible behavior. I heard from a local restaurant that he's a cheap tipper. No one will ever accuse me of being a cheap tipper. I toss out Ben Franklins like I'm Jay Z. He's still cool, right? Jigga's still the man in my book.

So come November, vote for responsibility. Vote for tradition. Vote against pederasty. Vote me, and God bless America.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Free Black Box Promotion

My novel Black Box is free for a limited time! Click to download for kindle, phone, or PC! Here's a synopsis: How does your average twentysomething malcontent convince God to spare the world from certain destruction? Does he drink more? Smoke more? Does he stumble into a rambling, impossible quest conjured from a surrealist's nightmares?

Good questions don't always have easy answers.

Louis Arlington is Vice President of the world's most successful video game company, Huerto, which is located in a dilapidated Indiana village. When he is charged by the Divine to stop the apocalypse, he uncovers a government plot to use Huerto's best-selling video game to brainwash much of the populace. Together with a humorous cast of characters, including a talking sasquatch and a love-crazed doomsday prepper, Louie must try to complete his quest while dealing with insomnia, unceasing hallucinations, and his lust for unavailable women. The ensuing tale is a meditation on modern life, the nature of God, and the role of entertainment in our lives.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hanging with the Goon

Dis here's my cousin playin' tha banjo. I added this apopos of nuttin'.

Read parts one and two of the Goon's tall tale.

So ya'll, I was telling everone bout how we caught a Sasquatch in my Uncle's pleasure hole, and how I wanted it to like us, so I was advising Slack to go get us some pancakes, which he did. He got on his four-wheller an drove half-an hour to Denny's, and when he got back, he had a whole sack of pancakes. We put syrup an butter all over 'em, and then we dangled them above the bigfoot an started hollerin' at 'em that it was time fer breakfast, an he better eat up, since dis Denny's pancakes cost bout all tha money Slack's been savin' up fer that Fleshlight thingy you can put yer wiener in. That bigfoot jumps bout four feet in tha air, an he grab them pancakes wit one hand, an all that shit goes all over him, syrup an buttered cakes, but he don't seem to mind picking up pancakes from da dirrty earth, though I would, knowing what Uncle Thom's done on dat mud. "Well, whaddya know," I say to Slack, "Looks like I was right bout him needing some pancakes." "What else he need, genius?" says Slack. "I think he could use a modern porno," I say, "Considerin' how he was lookin' at all dem old ones." We look around fer Uncle Thom, since he's an old pornographer, havin' filmed some movies of his own in tha back yard. We can't find him anywheres, which is mighty suspicious. Tha bigfoot is moaning now, probably cuz all those pancakes aren't settling in his gut. "Let's go look in Thom's trailer an see what we can find," I say, and dats what Slack and I's do.

So inside Uncle Thom's trailer's like waddin' through a marsh; deres so much shit in yer way, comin' at you from every direction, that you gotta be careful you don't get sucked down. "Can't you find anything?" yells Slack after we's been in dere awhile. "I found nutin' but Dimitri, that old cat Willy used to have," I tell 'em, havin' stumbled upon Dimitri's petrified remains. I see a bottle of Pepto Bismol an I grab it. Somethin's moving in under all da trash; it's making a low-pitched cry, and I'll be damned if I wait around to see what it is. We flee da trailer. Soon as we get out, we heres a bunch of cars comin' up the driveway. "Shit, Uncle Thom's called da media!" says Slack. "Dat ol' fucker," I say, knowin' Uncle Thom's screwed us again. We go to tha hole an look down at the sasquatch. He gives us a look like "Why have you done this?" an my little heart breaks. I reach over an grab tha rope ladder Thom sometimes throws down when his captives have had enough. So he climbs dat ladder and stands over us. Slack is scared; I can tell, cuz he pees his pants. I pee my pants. People are running up through da woods now, we can hear um climb da steep driveway. Bigfoot puts two hands on our shoulders, gives us a what can only be described as a smile (looks like he has bout tha same amount of teeth as I) and takes off inta da woods.

Uncle Thom was pissed, cuz he dragged all these people up here an dere wasn't anything down in his pleasure hole but a bunch of half-eaten pancakes. He ends up gettin' in trouble again, which ain't nuttin' new fere him, but he holds grudges, an unfortunately Slack an I are on his shit list. I wish I could say dere was a morale to dis story. If I had to speculate, I'd say "Be kind to udders, an everone likes pancakes." That's all I have to say bout that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Songs Your Mother Taught Us: Paper Cup

I always thought this was a pretty song.

Excerpts from the Log of the Hillsdale Paranormal Society

Who you gonna call? Gordy Weaver! Yeah, that's right, ghosts. Get all scared and shit.

10-21, 3:00, at the Howard house
Shit's getting cold outside, bros. I get a call right in the middle of playing Destiny with my homeboy Art, and I damn-near don't answer it, 'cause a man needs his gaming time, if you know what I'm saying. Some lady has seen our ad in the paper, and she needs assistance with a spook or specter that keeps her up at night. I wake up Trent, who's sleeping in Art's bed, 'cause he's lazy and basically lives at the Howard house. "Gentlemen," I say, "Let's get the gear together. We got ourselves a case," which got them excited, 'cause we haven't had a case in like two months. "I want to get paid this time," says Art. "I've been living off of nothing but corndogs and baked potatoes." "Well, this lady sounds like she has a ton of cash," I say, just to get their spirits up. That's the job of a leader, you know. Gotta keep morale at a healthy level.

5:30 at the site
It being winter and all, the sky starts getting dark a little earlier than we're used to. We pull up to the place, the Funky Bunch blaring on the stereo, (tried to play a little Hollywood Undead, but Art put an end to that shit) all of us sipping cappuccinos like we're a bunch of frat-boy yuppies about to go on a group date with one chick, if you know what I'm saying. Trent likes his goddamn coffee; he's a little sissy boy, though the dude needs to eat more, he's getting to look like Gollum after a two week heroin binge. The place doesn't look that scary--it's got a white picket fence and dead flowers in the yard, and you can tell that despite its age and enormity, it's been kept up. A black Escalade sits in the drive. We get our gear together and get out.

So we knock on the door, and a middle-aged lady answers, and she's dressed in a black slip that leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination. I take a look at Art, and he gives me a look like "What the fuck?" and we leave it at that. "What can I help you boys with?" she asks. "We're the Hillsdale Paranormal Society," I say, and she says "I'm sure you are. Come on in." She sits us down in the living room, which is nice and decorated with antiques. "Do you want any beer?" she asks us, which isn't a normal question we get from customers. "Uh, yeah," says Art. Trent shakes his head, he being a teetotaler. She gets us two Bud Lights and gives Trent a Red Bull, and sits down across from us, crossing her bare legs, and I can just tell right now that this shit's gonna go down like Basic Instinct. "So tell us about your ghost problem, ma'am," I ask. "I have some coke upstairs. Why don't we go look?" she replies. "Okay," we reply in unison.

We do a thorough check of the upstairs, even though the lady keeps wanting us to look at the bed room. I mean, she's a good-looking chick for her age, but what the hell, I ain't down with an orgy. Trent would do something weird, and Art's damn-near queer, and I really don't know if I can keep a boner with those two jabronis looking at me. We don't find much upstairs besides a sex swing and a leather gimp costume. We all stare at it in terror. "Want to try it on?" asks the lady. Art and I shake our heads vehemently, but lo and behold, Trent wakes from his 24/7 stupor and proceeds to put that shit on. We don't know what to do.

Art and I just watch as the lady beats the hell out of Trent with a black leather whip. Dude just takes it, doesn't even make a sound. "What are we doing here?" mouths Art, and I shrug my shoulders, not knowing what to do. It's pretty obvious that there are no ghosts, and this lady just wanted somebody to sex in her dungeon. We're about to leave Trent to his fate when we hear the door open downstairs. "Shit," says the lady. "You all better hide." She shoves us into the room with the sex swing and locks the door. Trent's still kneeling, panting like a dog, the freaky motherfucker. We look out the window and there's a burly dude yelling from the porch, and soon he's coming up the stairs, his footsteps sounding like the approach of God. "Let's jump out the window," suggests Art, but it's too high. The door swings open. The burly dude has on a pair of overalls and nothing else, and he holds nipple clamps in his hands. "Let's party!" he says. I grab Trent's skinny ass, and push him toward the burly dude, and Art and I tear ass down the stairs. Thankfully, this ain't the script to a horror movie, and the car starts. "We didn't get paid," says Art, as we peel out of the driveway. We haven't seen Trent in a week. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Apophenia: Chapter Seven

I am writing this book at the pace of a snail. It's rather frustrating, since I feel like I wrote Black Box's 135,000 words in about a year, where I'm struggling to get to 50,000 in Apophenia. My work's about to slow down a lot, so hopefully I'll muster up the resolve and finished this novel. If you haven't read them, here are chapters one, two, three, four, five, and six.

Candy's porn is pretty benign, really, which is somehow simultaneously a relief as well as a disappointment. In my room, I watch a couple of her free videos, and as she stated, they are mainly basic food for the male wank bank. Nothing too weird to kill the bland appetite of your average American. She doesn't screw any animals; no scat is involved; blood and torture are absent. She does have a nice body, though her breasts are enhanced, which is a turn off to some. I become vaguely aroused, despite the banality of the material. Maybe it's because I know Candy; maybe it's because she directed me to her site. Does she hope I become a paying customer? Or did she simply consider us professional peers, sharing her videos the way authors trade stories? What does she expect from me, a recording of one of my conversations? I don't know if Candy could make it in gonzo land. The terrain is too harsh and variable, the denizens savage, sad, and difficult to please.
            A side-effect of my job is that I am often compelled to research the dark regions of human sexuality. I watch porn, consuming various genres, in a misguided desire to understand the mind of the phone sex caller. A lot of it is rather humorous. Much of it is gross. Yet, just like an author who reads a wide range of material in order to become a better writer, I have to keep my creative juices flowing by consuming a steady flow of smut. Though I’ll watch just about anything, there are fantasies that I won't indulge; I won't pretend to be a child or somebody's mother, but everything else is fair game. Requests for violent sex are not out of the ordinary, although performing such material over the phone is more like reading a transcript of rape than simulating the actual act, which is, nevertheless, disturbing.
            I turn away from the computer and listen to Mom and Dale conversing in the living room. It’s rather unusual for him to be back so soon after a booty call, and I wonder if he and mother are forming a relationship, the prospect of which, I must admit, frightens me. Will they keep Diesel in a cage so that their sumo wrestling can rampage across the trailer without modesty? And will my room become even more of a prison? I crack the door and peek down the hallway and see the backs of their heads, their attention captivated by flickering TV eye.
            “Baby, give me some more Cheetos,” says Dale, his mullet staining the back of our holey, bottomed out sofa.
            “Here you go, Daddy,” says Mom. I think she’s wearing the same muumuu she wore yesterday and the day before, a pink paisley number, psychedelic and eye-rending.
            “I don’t wanna hear any more bullshit about the presidential election,” says Dale, reacting to a campaign ad. “Choose between a millionaire cripple and a smart nigger. What a choice.”
            “Don’t use that word in this house. Diesel probably can hear you.”
            “Shit, he’ll learn it sooner or later. He ain’t no innocent. How old’s that boy? Fifteen?”
            “Hell, he’ll be eleven next month! He’s just a baby!”
            “You let ‘em run around in his goddamn underwear and he’ll always be one. Who’s his father again?”
            “Ain’t none of your business.”
            “That’s Lester’s kid, ain’t it? I ain’t seen ‘em in a while. Must’ve moved away. Was working at the garage on Walnut. Did work on my truck a couple years back.”
            “Don’t be judging,” says Mother.
            “I ain’t judging. I got a couple little ones I ain’t seen in a while myself. I send ‘em money, though, when I can.”
            “When the government makes you, you mean.”
            “I can’t help what their mothers do with it. Goddamn law don’t got any place in domestic arrangements anyhow. You know, Lucas and I just bought a parcel of land outside of town. Thinking of splitting it and building a cabin. Might have some meetings out there. Government can’t spy on us when we ain’t on the grid.”
            “You be making moonshine and stockpiling weapons is what you’ll do with your drunken friends. On that note, I gotta take a crap.” Mother rises from the couch, complaining about her aching knees. Dale keeps staring at the television, snorting and sipping his beer. His smoky, stale musk carries through my cracked door, and I wrinkle my nose reflexively. His left arm is stretched across the back of the sofa; it is covered in goat-like fur, the skin burned a blackish brown, the color of a week-old rotisserie chicken turned ceaselessly beneath gas station heat lamps. He’s smoking a cigarette, Morleys brand, I’m alarmed to discover. What other similarities do I share with this human being? Perhaps he’s forced to read bad poetry by some invisible overlord; perhaps he’s a sex phone caller. The latter possibility seems likely. At least I’ll know what he likes.
            “Dale?” says my mother from the bathroom.
            “Will you come look at this?”
            “What the hell am I looking at?” asks Dale, showing more wisdom than I would’ve imagined.
            “I think this turd looks like Jesus,” says my mother.
            “Oh Christ, Diane. You’re crazy.”
            “Get in here, Dale! I turned the fan on.”
            Dale gets off the couch, grumbling, taking a long drink of his beer and pinching his nostrils before approaching the bathroom. The door opens, the lights bright and heavenly, and I watch as he squeezes his shoulders through the doorway to stand by my mother and examine the miraculous poo. Seconds pass slowly; I see him bend down for a closer look. A sour smell, methane gas released into the atmosphere by mother, reaches my nose.
            “Lord, Diane,” says Dale. “I think you’re right.”
            “He’s got the hair, the beard,” says Mother. “Looks just like that picture in the living room.”
            “What is that, exactly?” asks Dale.
            “S’ghetti,” replies Mother. “The eyes look like corn.”
            “Ain’t that a miracle,” says Dale.
            “I feel like we should take a picture of it or something,” says Mom.
            “You outta get a priest in here to declare it a work of God.”
            I open the door now, stomping my feet so that they know I’m coming. Dale looks at me as though I’m a three-eyed, ten-limbed alien invader from Alpha Centauri. I approach the bathroom and give my mother an incredulous eyebrow.
            “Let me see it,” I say.
            Our bathroom has peeling pink rose wallpaper decorated with various stains and mildews. The shower stall glass is skuzzy, its drain clogged with a million years worth of hair and filth. The fan stutters and groans, struggling to revolve in its dust-covered encasement. Mother leaves her used towels on the floor to serve as a cushioned walkway, and it is on these that I step, moving toward the well-used toilet. The turd is unusually broad and oval-shaped, more akin to something that would slide out of the ass of a massive ungulate than the rectum of a human being. Its texture is smooth, like a fine complexion. I see the kernel eyes; its nose is a gentle ridge composed of an unidentifiable, indigestible material. The lips seem to be licorice candy—Mother consumes a one-pound bag per day—and the beard is plainly detectable, its follicles about three centimeters in length, pale white in color. I don’t know what to say. It does look remarkably like Jesus.
            “Leona, what do you think?” asks Mom.
            “I think you might have pinworms,” I say, pointing at the beard.
            “Don’t it look like Jesus?”
            “Yes,” I admit. “So what? You have a creative digestive system, Mom. I don’t know if that’s something to be proud of.”
            “You think it’s a miracle?” asks Mother.
            “I think it needs to be flushed,” I say, reaching for the toilet’s handle. Dale’s hand reaches out and grabs mine before I can flush. His hand feels like old leather, worn, cracked, and rough.
            “Dale, don’t touch her,” says Mother.
            “I’m serious, Diane. You should get a priest in here. This could be an opportunity. Miracles don’t happen every day.”
            “No self-respecting priest is going to bless a turd,” I say.
            “There ain’t any self-respecting priests,” says Dale. “They touch little boys.”
            “We ain’t even Catholic,” says Mother.
            “Get the media in here. I’m telling ya, this ain’t something that should be squandered.”
            “We only have one bathroom. What are we supposed to do, construct a shrine around the toilet?” I point out.
            “I’ll get you a Port-A-Potty. My brother rents ‘em,” says Dale.
            “I’m not using a Port-A-Potty,” I reply.
            Mom looks perplexed, which I know to mean she’s divided on the issue. I look at Dale and then her, my brow furrowed, my face showing consternation with every wrinkled line.
            “You think we can make money off of this?” she asks.
            “Yes, with certainty,” replies Dale.
            “Whether you can or not, the question should be ‘why the hell would you want to?’” I say. “Most people will think it’s disgusting. Religious people will call you a blasphemer. And I don’t want to meet the segment of the population that thinks this is interesting. Let’s not forget pride and decency, attributes that will be forever forfeit if you publicize this dump. This is a bad idea, Mom. I don’t want any part of it.”
            “Don’t act all holier-than-thou,” says Mother. “We ain’t exactly livin’ in a palace here.”
            “You can get Diesel some new digs,” says Dale. As if summoned by the mere mentioning of his moniker, my brother appears, his gargoyle head thrust into the bathroom, eager to see what wondrous object holds our collective attention.
            “That’s a big poo in there,” he says, eyes sparkling. “It looks like a hobo face.”
            “Well that just about confirms it,” says Dale. “I’ll get my cousin over here tomorrow, he’s an internet wiz, he’ll know how to publicize this. I’m tellin’ ya’ll, fortunes will be changed. That’s a sign from God sitting in that toilet bowl.”
            “I have to go pee-pee,” says Diesel.
            “Go outside,” says Mom.
            “I have to poop too.”
            Dale hands him the toilet paper. “Go out in the woods,” he says.
            I look down in the toilet bowl and wonder how long this farce will hold together. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Conan Brothers Q&A

Scared&stupid asks "Yo dawgs, what should we do 'bout this ebola outbreak? Do I need to build a bunker and stock up on supplies?"

Arnold: A bunker's never a bad idea. Hell, I sleep in our bunker half of the time. It's roomy, and I don't have to listen to Dave's snoring, which echoes through the house like the roar of a goddamn buffalo.

Dave: Buffalos don't roar, jackass.

Arnold: Bison, right? Did you just say "buffalos?"

Dave: To answer the asshole's question, I wouldn't start panicking about ebola yet. We have little faith in the government's ability to control the disease, yet it's not as contagious as the media would have you believe. Just keep other people's fluids off of you, and stay away from anybody that's been to West Africa.

Arnold: You're gonna have a tough time keeping other people's fluids off of you.

Dave: Everybody should settle down and thank God that this isn't the super-flu, because I really don't want to end up in a Stephen King novel.

Arnold: The Stand is a pretty good one, though.

Dave: That'd be one of the worst to live in. Everyone dies, dude. And there's an evil monster guy in Las Vegas that can transform into a crow. The Walking Dude!

Arnold: Fuck, we could take him. And I've already gotten the flu this year. Bring on the apocalypse!

Dave: That's what you say every night after your bedtime prayers.

Arnold: To Satan. He's a solid bro.

GunzferDaGirls asks "How do I get big arms? I want motherfucking twenty-twos!"

Dave: Steroids.

Arnold: The answer for everything.

Dave: My arms are like sixteen inches, but I'm only five-seven, so I guess they look pretty big.

Arnold: I got an inch on you, brotha!

Dave: I got an inch on you where it counts.

Arnold: Do biceps curls for five sets at least once a week. Do some sort of pressing exercise three times a week for the triceps. I never do anything for my triceps besides pressing. I used to do high rep pulldowns, which helped a little, but made my elbows hurt. Just curl religiously and maybe do some chin ups. You don't need to devote an hour every workout to biceps.

Dave: Gaining weight is probably the best way to get big arms. You have to develop the rest of your body. Now I've seen a few guys who just have big arms and nothing else, and they look stupid, and they're weak. You can do it, is what I'm saying, but having twenty-two inch biceps shouldn't be a priority unless you're a pro bodybuilder.

Arnold: I need to get my pro card, by the way. And gain like thirty pounds.

Dave: You certainly have your priorities in life straight.

SonicIsHot asks "You guys played Alien: Isolation? It's pretty good."

Arnold: Only played about an hour, but I like it so far.

Dave: The alien is actually scary, because you can't kill it. The monster has been so overexposed through all the shitty movies and video games, that this alone is quite a feat. Survival horror is getting to be a big genre.

Arnold: It's funny how different Alien is from Aliens. One's a sci-fi horror movie, ripe with psycho-sexual themes, while the other's a straight up eighties action flick. I love them both, but the original is the deeper film.

Dave: The essence of the horror of the alien is that it's inexplicable. It's been said that the original is the greatest Lovecraft movie ever made. None of the sequels understood this, from Alien vs. Predator to Prometheus.

Arnold: Prometheus is sort of like the Star Wars prequels. It proves that directors age, and lose their knack for making great movies.

Dave: I wouldn't go that far. I don't know if Scott has the protective ego cocoon surrounding him that Lucas did.

Arnold: A protective cocoon made out of money and Star Wars figurines.

Dave: And Ewok hides.

Arnold: And the souls of lost children.

Dave: Okay, that's enough for this week. We got shit to not do.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Diary of Mitch R. Singer

Silently orbiting a dead planetoid
I walk through corridors of padded white walls as though I were trapped in an insane asylum. The lights flicker and swing feebly from their chains, steam pouring out of vents like geysers, while the crew bickers about their shares over reconstituted Chinese food that tastes like Styrofoam. Nothing is free in this place, not even the cardboard food. I take my chair and drink some swill out of a pale mug. The mug says "The Company," in plain bold lettering. "There's always a man," I say. Everyone looks at me silently before returning to their arguments.

In the medical ward
We watch dispassionately as they try to remove the organism from Dallas's face. It has acid for blood, and sort of looks like a cross between a crab and a pair of cancerous testicles. Rupert says it is pumping something down his throat, but we all disagree with this statement. All the men cross their legs when he says this. I take a quarter out of my pocket and go buy a cup of coffee. Every surface around here seems to drip water. I am more worried about water leaks than the Lovecraftian rape monster.

In the lounge
Everyone is terrified and pissed. A little penis monster erupted from Dallas's chest during dinner, covering our twenty-dollar food with blood and gore. "Maybe it wasn't a good idea to skip quarantine," I suggest. Everyone tells me to fuck off. I put my dinner in the trash and go to fetch a net. We have to catch the penis monster, apparently. I don't want anything to do with it, but I don't give the orders around here. I never give the orders anywhere.

Crawling through ventilation shafts
I picked the short straw, and so I am squeezing through our vents, a flamethrower in my right hand, a weak lamp in my left. The penis monster is larger now, somehow quadrupling in size despite not consuming anything but a bit of Dallas's abdominal wall. I have a motion tracker that does nothing but increase my likelihood of cardiovascular failure. In retrospect, having a man craw through a tight ventilation system with a homemade flamethrower in an attempt to drive an eight-foot-tall penis monster into an airlock seems like a terrible idea. If the penis monster is close to me, I'll melt my face off with the flame thrower. There is no room to escape, and the penis monster seems to know the vents better than anyone. So it goes. Once again the little guy gets screwed.

Cornered by the penis monster
The penis monster has cornered me in the pilot's room. I tried to blow the ship up, but somehow the penis monster figured out what was going on. I guess this thing is smarter than we thought. I gesticulate before it, trying to explain that I am not a threat. It hisses, drools, and advances, moving lethargically, like it has been drugged. There seems to be no way out of this one. Figures. I was going to retire after this voyage. "You look like you were dreamed up by an obese, creepy Swedish man with a thing for wieners and vaginas," I tell it as it approaches. It pauses, hanging its phallic head. I think I hurt its feelings.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Apophenia Chapter Six

This book is hard to write. I've been working on it for at least a year, and I think I'm about half-done. I just hope the final work is coherent. Read chapters one, two, three, four, and five.

I get to work thirty minutes early, and Leslie rewards my initiative by having me stock the shelves with the new shipment of vibrators. I don’t know what he does with the old ones; mystery people must rush in as soon as I leave and buy them by the handful. A green cactus toy feels cool and smooth in my hands, like river-worn stone, and I can tell it’s a serious implement built for a serious purpose. It speaks to me, if you know what I’m saying. It whispers platitudes in a strong yet reassuring tone, and I don’t mind listening to the same old things as long as they are murmured with just the right amount of irony. The plastic tag speaks my language; it advertizes long battery life and water compatibility. I’m contemplating stuffing it in my purse when Leslie sees me eying it and suggests that I use my employee discount.
            “I have an employee discount?” I ask.
            “Ten-percent off. Fifteen-percent if you buy fifty dollars worth of merchandise.”
            “Since when?”
            “Since the shipping company fucked up and sent me one-thousand vibrators I didn’t order.”
            “Well they’re not produce,” I point out. “At least they won’t go bad.”
            “Have you seen the stockroom? Christ, you can’t find anything in there. There’s fucking dildos coming out of the vents. I saw one moving the other day and just about had a heart attack. Somehow had turned itself on. It made a moaning sound.”
            The door swings open and a group of teenage boys strut in, buffoonish grins on their three faces. One has acne all over his knobby face; the other two are hefty and brutish, with short, stout appendages. Leslie looks at them like they’re lepers.
            “Let him know if he can help you with anything,” I tell them, moving toward the back room.
            “Yeah,” says pimple boy, picking up a rubber dildo. “What are you supposed to do with this, exactly?”
            “You can shove it up your ass,” says Leslie. “Or your friend’s.”
            “Oh,” says the boy, his buddies snickering behind him. “Thanks for clearing that up.”
            “Did you come in to mess with my merchandise or are you gonna buy anything?” asks Leslie. I shut the door before they answer.
“This is Jasmine speaking. What’ll be your pleasure?”
            “I want you to eat me, lady.”
            “Like, eat your asshole?”
            “I want you to describe eating me. Like a sandwich. I am fitted in-between two toasted pieces of rye bread. I’ve been slathered in mayonnaise, and there’s a tomato bleeding all over my naked body. The cheese is Swiss, and it smells pungently footy. My head is sticking out of the sandwich, and I’m looking up at you. You are gigantic, like eighty feet tall. Your breasts hang like mountains; your hand, so elegant and soft, is reaching toward the sandwich. I look delicious, don’t I?”
            “You look exquisite. I have a bottle of Chianti open, and I’ve just taken a large swig from it, in order to be prepared for my first bite of a man sandwich. You are so small, lying helpless between two burnt pieces of rye. I pick you up and hold you by my mouth, giving you a good look at my teeth, which are square and ivory and dripping with saliva. I’m hungry, you see. I am so hungry for my man sandwich.”
            “Do I look like a man of authority, my limps dangling limply from in-between the two toasted pieces of rye?”
            “Maybe if you weren’t so small, so tiny, so scrumptious. You look like food to me, honestly. You could scream and cry and fight and you wouldn’t be able to escape. I take a bite of your leg. It tastes raw and crunchy, and I get a little splinter of bone in-between my teeth. Your face has taken on an expression of reckless abandon. I think I spy tiny tears running down your cheeks.”
            “You do. Those tears are genuine. They are the tears of a helpless morsel. I am in terrible pain, but it feels so sweet. My erection is trying to poke through the tomato that coats me with its juices. I cry for you to stop, but you can’t understand me. My voice is a pathetic squeak.”
            “Your feeble protests mean nothing to me. I take the top piece of rye and lift it off to get to the tomato. I can’t stand tomatoes. I fling it off of you. You are covered in red slime. Your penis is like a tooth pick, disproportionally large for such a microscopic creature. I touch it with the tip of my tongue. You yell in your Lilliputian language, and I touch it again before biting off your other leg.”
            “I am impatient now. I yearn to be devoured, to cook in your warm stomach juices. It’s like going back to the womb. Kronos consumed his children, fearful that they would overthrow him. I wish to go back to the beginning, to rest, to surrender my burden and perhaps be reborn.”
            “I stuff the rest of the sandwich in my mouth greedily. I barely even chew as I swallow. I feel you going down my throat, sliding into my stomach. It’s so warm there, you’ll be comfortable. It’s dark but warm. I take another drink of Chianti, and the wine’s fine flavor mixes excellently with your savory aftertaste. I go to sleep thinking of you, of how you squealed, of how tiny you were. Warmth spreads from my torso down to my nether regions. I masturbate frantically. After I come, I fall to sleep immediately.”
            “That was pretty good.”
            “You think so? What about my picking off the tomato?”
            “It was realistic. You don’t like tomatoes.”
            “I really don’t. It’s hard to find an eatable one at the supermarket.”
            “You should go to the farmers’ market. I buy great tomatoes there.”
            “Like how many hippies are there, though? I try to stay away from hippies.”
            “There’s a few hippies. But it’s not bad.”
            “Thanks for the recommendation.”
            “Oh no problem.”
            “All right, Donald. What do you want to talk about?”
            “My marriage. It’s in shambles, you know.”
            “I recommended that you call a counselor. A professional, rather than me.”
            “She just went on vacation with her mother. They went to New Zealand to visit one of her college friends. She sent me an email like six days ago. She said there were penguins there and could I believe it? That was the sum of her email. I told her that’s great, but I’m going to work now. I have a life to sleepwalk through. An hour drive through the wastes of never-ending corn and soybean fields, deer leaping out from the shadows, throwing themselves at my vehicle with reckless abandon. They want to die, the goddamn stupid things. I haven’t checked my email in a couple days. Maybe she won’t come back. Would I miss her, after a while? I don’t think so. She’s a negative person, by which I mean that she isn’t a person. There is little substance behind those cow-like eyes.”
            “That’s a pretty terrible thing to say about someone.”
            “You think I want to say these things to a marriage counselor? It’s the truth, though. That’s how I feel, at least after consuming a case of Keystone Light. I suspect I’ll feel worse by the light of day.”
            “Maybe you should tell your wife that it isn’t working.”
            “We have no children, no animals, but we do have a mortgage. That’s something to hold on to, right? A shared burden. I’m not the most attractive man anymore, you know. I’m thirty pounds heavier than I should be. My hair is turning grey. I leer at women like an old pervert, and I’m not yet thirty. I’m spent, that’s what I’m saying, Jasmine. I think I gave up long ago, and now all I do is wallow in my misery. When she speaks to me, I want her to get to the point. There’s no point to her babbling. I don’t care about the people you work with or who pissed you off or what you ate for lunch. Just get to the goddamn point. She doesn’t really like music. Have you ever met someone that doesn’t like music? She doesn’t like to read. Do you think she’s a person? You like music, don’t you? You have interests, no?”
            “Everyone has interests.”
            “Don’t be so sure.”
            I lock up for the night. It is one o’clock a.m., and as I take the key out of the lock, I am greeted by the night song of train tracks and semiautomatic weapon fire. Sound carries in the valley, the noisy clatter of hard-fought lives being lived. The sidewalk is as uneven as a broken back. I fish a cigarette out of my pocket and stop to light it, wondering what lurks ahead on the long road to the bus stop. Every three steps, I find a crack. Maybe there is a code in there, hiding in plain sight, waiting for a real person to decrypt it. The sum of my work conversations weighs heavily in the forefront of my mind. Usually I am able to push out the strange and the unpleasant, or at least file them away for referencing in the clear light of day, but not tonight. Maybe I’m not a person. Well, maybe. If I’m a negative person, I wouldn’t know it.
            Candy the stripper is waiting by the bus stop, arms crossed, a cigarette of her own smoldering in-between her red lips.
            “Hey,” she says.
            “Hello,” I reply.
            “Another crappy night in shit city,” says Candy. She’s wearing a silvery shirt that sparkles in the lamplight like trout scales. I reach out and touch it, and it is cool on my finger tips, like it has spent time beneath a rushing mountain stream. Candy smiles. She’s not wearing as much makeup this time, and she is as beautiful as a model, standing in her heels on a broken street corner, waiting for the city bus and all of its miscellaneous entertainments to arrive.
            “You’re pretty,” I tell her.
            “Thank you,” she says, blowing smoke from her nostrils.
            “So you ride the merry-go-round as well, huh?”
            “What’s that?”
            “The hobo shuttle. The deadbeat carriage. The circular express.”
            “Did you make all of those up?” she asks.
            “I certainly did,” I reply.
            “You’re funny, Leona. Men like funny women.”
            “What do we care what men like?”
            “It makes me money knowing what men like, and you as well.” Her eyes sparkle like gasoline pooling on a wet street. I can't tell what color they are. They seem to be every color.
            “Going home to your loving husband?” I ask.
            “No, more work. The kind you do in front of a web cam.”
            “What do you do in front of a web cam?”
            “Fake masturbate. Moan and grab my breasts. Display my pussy. The usual. I have my own site. Here, I'll write it down for you if you're interested." She takes a pen and a receipt out of her purse and scribbles down a web address. "There are several free videos. The rest is subscription-based.”
            “Are you making money?” I ask.
            “A little bit. There's a lot of free porn available, but there's a market for a more personalized experience. I'm building a following. It's nice, you know, making money for yourself.”
            “I'm sure.” I mull over why this woman wants me to see her naked and come to no satisfactory conclusion.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Internet Ad Bot Presents: Are You Ready for Some Football?

Are you ready for some football? We hope so. We are ready for some revenue. We will provide the large, angry men and the pummeling you desire. Balls will be thrown, some will be caught, others will be kicked. There will be large-breasted cheerleaders on the sidelines for you to gawk at. We don't even pay them minimum wage. They're women. Why would we?

Are you ready for some football? This sport is the last bastion of American male masculinity. The feminists have taken everything away, but they can't touch football. Everybody from your Aunt Janet to your Uncle Muhammad loves them some football. These men are gladiators, fighting for nothing but fame, respect, and a whole lot of money. These men are allowed to beat their wives and kick them unconscious. They beat the hell out of their kids like good fathers. They run dog-fighting rings and place the losers in the ground. They occasionally get away with murder. But these are real men, goddamn it. They are not like you or I. They put their bodies at risk every Sunday for the glory of the sport. What do you do every Sunday, you fat slug? You watch some goddamn football.

Don't you love it when a penalty is called? That means we can break for a commercial, and I hope you like watching commercials, because there are a whole lot of them during a football game. We got to get that ad money, you see. There are pockets to be padded. Perhaps you need Viagra or Depends. Maybe you need a Mercedes Benz. You are only a shadow silhouette compared to the real men out there playing America's game. You will watch our commercials which seek to undermine your masculinity because you love this game. You will eat what we feed you.

Our cities let their education funding disappear in order to build another stadium for millionaires. We have our priorities straight, you see. There is football to be played, football to be watched. We want our children to become football players. We want their brains to melt out of their ears. Real men can take concussions, after all. You can't even get a boner without Cialis. Who are you to dictate morality to real men? I'll tell you who you are. You are nothing. You are a watcher, and we are players.

Are you ready for some football? Christ, I hope so. The NFL might be an evil organization, but, shit, it gives us football. I will watch. You will watch. Everyone will watch. No one will be unhappy but the pussies.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Esteemed Critic's Multiple-Sentence Reviews

Ah, here he is, the self-professed Dean of Rock critics. This blog post is for you.

Greetings, readers and troglodytes. I have been on sabbatical for a while, adventuring in the African savanna, sleeping with the lions and dealing with the bushmen, though the recent Ebola outbreak has sent me scurrying home like a frightened nyala antelope. During my time in the bush, there have been many new releases in music and cinema, and I know my loyal audience would not consume any piece of art without my approval. So let's get this over with. I know you all are eager to throw your money away on mass-manufactured products constructed to appeal to your lesser faculties, so here you go, cretins. Read away. None of this stuff is worth more than a sentence, as Robert Christgau would say, so excuse my brevity. I have better things to do with my time. Let the skewering begin.

Weezer--Everything Will Be Alright in the End. Everything is not alright; could it be that Rivers Cuomo was only capable of one good album, and everything he has released since Pinkerton has been objectively terrible? Wait, wait, I'm not done, the kebab needs more roasting. Rivers Cuomo was born in a dumpster, having been aborted by the ghost of Buddy Holly after he was taken outback by Elvis Costello and given a good fucking. To escape the details of his creation, he surrounded himself with Cheap Trick albums and a notebook, but like any monstrosity, he could do nothing but ape his primitive influences. I Want You to Want Me was the blueprint--he added some distortion copped from Nirvana as well as some adolescent whine--but years later, after some stumbling success, he knows not what to do, for there are only so many variations of Cheap Trick songs one can cobble together. This album is a plea to fans that no longer exist. The world you knew no longer exists, Cuomo. You are nothing but demon spawn. Elvis should've worn a condom.

Minnie Driver--Ask Me to Dance. How do you like them apples? I like them not.

Tinashe--Aquarius. Yet another model/actress pushed into the music industry so that we don't run out of pretty girls who cannot sing without the aid of a roomful of electronic pitch-correcting machinery.

Johnny Marr--Playland. An overrated guitarist for an overrated band releases a solo album that no one asked for. There is not enough jangling.

Movies. Let us review them now.

Gone Girl. Did you know Ben Affleck is Batman? Why do people care? Do they believe Ben Affleck is a bad actor? He's not. Do they think the role of Batman is equivalent to Hamlet? It's not. Is he not buff enough for you, Internet? Why don't you find something better to do with your time, like watching this movie. Pull yourselves away from the porn and deviancy and go outside. Yes, that bright light is the sun. No, it will not harm you.

Left Behind. Nicholas Cage is crazy. Christian fundamentalists are crazy. Therefore, there is a certain logic in this pairing. Left Behind is a terrible movie, however. You'd have more fun shoplifting a copy of the novel. Don't read it, though. The fun will cease.

Dolphin Tale 2. Greatest film since Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito teamed up in the cinematic masterpiece Twins.

This is Where I Leave You. Jason Bateman, we are tired of your face. Do something about it. Anything. Something drastic. You will not be mourned.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Short Story: Abducted

 This asshole isn't in my story, but I share his ridiculous visage, nevertheless.
I’m sitting in the dark, cross-legged, watching glowing shapes move like giant fireflies across a star-dotted screen. Next to me, a woman pants like a dog, her rhythmic breathing setting a pulse for the rest of us as we stare at our illuminated captors, trying to discern the slightest hint of their form or purpose. Bob, an executive at a leading healthcare conglomerate, screams "What the hell do you want from us?" for about the thousandth time, and his question goes unanswered, just like every other. Some of the other captives tell Bob to shut up. "Can’t you see we’re fucked?" says Armando, an Italian fellow who speaks excellent English. Not everyone here does. Most of them are Americans, though we get a lot of Russians, for whatever reason. There’s a ritual when a new person arrives. We do our best to calm them down, to tell them that they’re with other human beings. The darkness is not very reassuring and usually the initial concern. We tell them the darkness is welcome to the bright white lights that randomly flash and reveal our surroundings. Every time they flicker on we’re in a new environment. We’ve floated on an island in a sea of green, orange vapors rising up from the writhing waters. We’ve been in a cloud crawling through an alien atmosphere, the fog thick, no solid ground beneath us. We’ve sunk beneath the earth, stalactites dripping ooze above us as we slide down the throat of the world. It’s an illusion, the others have theorized, though I am not so sure. My sense of reality has dissipated into the air, which seems thinner than I remember, a strange burnt odor clinging to my nostrils.
            The important thing about the ritual is to go over the abduction event. Everyone has a story. There are various scenarios that are repeated like themes in a symphony. You were driving on a rural road late at night and a bright light appeared. You were alone in a cabin in the woods and stepped outside for a cigarette. Your car broke down on the side of a New Mexican interstate, and the heavens came to you. In all of my indeterminable time here, I think I’ve had one city visitor, the aforementioned Bob, the big shot executive. They must have plans for Bob, for he’s been here nearly as long as me.
            The woman who was panting starts crying now, sobbing loudly into her arms. I've seen her once when the lights turned on. That time, we were hovering above pools of rainbow colors, smoke drifting around us toward a purple sky, each cloud traveling in a spiral shape, corkscrews obeying strange laws of physics. The new visitors are always amazed at the alien environments, but I take the time to look at the people to try to put their faces in my memory. They don't last long, besides Bob, and as soon as they are removed, they tend to fade, their voices and faces melting into a nebulous chronology I cannot account for. The woman is young with auburn hair and a pretty face, dressed in a baggy college sweater and jeans. Her name might be Margaret; I can't remember. Like I said, it's hard to remember.
            The others do nothing to console her, most of them having taken their turns with grief. If you've been here awhile, you don't need consoling. If you're not new, it just makes it worse. Is one arm different from the next? I would like to approach the young woman and tell her everything is going to be okay. It's difficult to lie, though. You just can't tell them the truth. Bob never tells them anything. He screams his question and then begins muttering to himself. The others always think he's crazy. I'm not sure. Bob and I don't share much besides some indeterminable quality that keeps us in the void. Maybe we're each other's conscience. I don't think we're each other's hope.
            The woman was studying geology at an Ivy League college. She went on spring vacation with a couple friends to the Appalachian Mountains. There was a bonfire, and lights in the sky, and something invisible crashing through the woods. To me, it sounded like a bad paranormal story, the kind of thing someone would fabricate to get on a television program. I used to watch a lot of stuff like that, mostly just to laugh at the stories, how they defied logical behavior as well as science. Maybe she made it up. Maybe she just woke up, and she was here, without a story. You have to have a story. No one is going to write one for you.
            Bob approached me once, the last time they were all removed. We can't see a damned thing in here, but somehow he got ahold of me, his thick hands wrapping around my shirt collar, his body odor pungent, cutting through the burnt recycled air. "I don't think they're real," he said, the madness in his eyes almost perceptible in the total blackness. "Either that, or there's something wrong with us. Maybe we're bad. Maybe we're impure."
            "I don't know about that, Bob," I told him.
            "I did plenty of bad things," he says. "Maybe this is purgatory. Maybe we have to atone."
            "There's nothing to do but talk to people, Bob," I say. "How are we supposed to atone?"
            "What the hell do you want with us?" he says to the shapeless lights which hover in the distance.
            I lived a normal life. I had a kid, a wife, a dog, a comfortable job in retail. I sold people shoes, nice, comfortable shoes for an affordable price. I was good to my wife. I tried to teach my child well. The dog I took on walks almost every day. Still, I get what Bob is saying. There is an indefinable guilt which resides in my heart, causing me to think of every miniscule sin, every moment I gave less than I should have. When the hand comes down and people are collected like ants scurrying from a hive, I think of what I've done to not merit being collected. Bob says that it's a hand, but I think of it as more of a claw. Its outline is faint, barely perceptible, a groping collection of tendrils. Everyone is pulled up into the dark, and we never see them again.
            I've never told anyone my abduction story. I've listened to thousands, but no one has ever asked, I being the oldest, along with Bob. I don't know Bob's story, either. I decided to take a walk one night. My wife had come home in a bad mood, her temper flaring, and complained about the house. I let the kid play video games too long, she said. His grades are lacking, and he should be studying. I can't make him study, I told her. That wasn't the right thing to say, and instead of arguing, I took a walk. You argue so much when you are married. The problems and stresses of life are projected onto your partner. You say things you shouldn't. Maybe I said something before I took that walk. I don't remember. I just recall the sidewalk and the rows of identical houses spread out like models, looking unreal, looking like they'd tip over if you gave them a good push. The sky was vacant besides the moon, which was pregnant and full with the reflected light of the sun. I hadn't looked at the moon in forever; I hadn't stared at it, treated it like a god. As I walked the sidewalk seemed to spread itself out in a straight path, carrying my feet like it was automated, like I had somewhere to go, something to do. I wanted to keep walking. I never wanted to stop.
            The woman, a girl really, keeps crying, and some of the others are agitated. They ask Bob questions, and he responds with his sole question, and my presence is sort of forgotten, since you can't see a damned thing, like I said. I navigate by the sound of her crying. She stops when I touch her shoulder.
            "I want to go home," she says. "I don't want the lights to turn on."
            "Maybe we're in purgatory," I say, Bob's words coming out of my mouth.  
            "I'm not Catholic," she says.
            "Neither am I," I respond. "I meant it figuratively."
            "What's going to happen to us?" she asks.
            I look into the void. Directions have no meaning in this place. You can feel something solid beneath your feet, and if you move away from the group, you always come back to them, no matter how far you seemingly walk.
            "When you say us, do you mean you?" I ask.
            "I don't know," she says. Her voice is throaty. In different circumstances, I'd say it was sexy.
            "That's a good answer," I tell her. I look and there's the claw, its white tendrils a faint suggestion in the darkness. None of the others have seen it yet.
            "I think everything is going to be okay," I say.
            "That's a bunch of bullshit," she says. The others are whispering now, the claw's outline clear, its nebulous shape similar to a deep-sea creature, a monster with enormous eyes and fangs.
            "Do you forgive me?" I ask.
            "For what?" she says.
            "Just forgive me, and I'll forgive you." People are leaving us, the arms of the claw entwined around them, their shouts and screams reverberating in the void.
            "You are forgiven," she says, as the tendrils wrap around her waist.
            "Thank you," I say. I watch as she is pulled up into nothingness. I am left alone with Bob, my conscience, my question, my absence of memory. He asks his question, but I am content with waiting. Maybe I will wait forever.