Monday, October 30, 2006

Softer Than a Mammary

It's odd, but according to the historian named Google, in the history of the internet only one person has ever sequentially typed the words: "Softer than a mammary." And it just so happens that person is I.

I take no great pride in this achievement--the phrase feels as natural as breathing. I've been using it for years. Frankly I'm shocked I'm the only one.

From the archives - March 2, 2006:

Softer Than a Mammary

They speak to me, the angels behind the Starbucks counter.
"What's your order sir?" They say with a voice that seems as gentle as a kitten's dream and softer than a mammary.

And every morning I tell myself that this morning, for once, I'm going to force myself to smile politely and tell her my drink order like a rational member of a civilized society. And not lunge over the counter, screaming my love in grunts as I try to lick her neck.

And every morning I fail.

There are a number of subtle signals the cute barista at your local Starbucks will give if it turns out she has absolutely zero interest in having her neck licked by a frantically grunting customer. I've had my nose broken by the removable metal housing on the cappuccino machine so many times now that it sounds like an orchestra tuning up every time I go to sneeze.

I've become a wound collector, that's what I've become. Every evening I put on a little cap and that long magnifying eyepiece thingy and appraise my wounds with a professional's critical gaze. Figuratively speaking of course... well except for the little cap and magnifying eyepiece thingy--I do have those. And I do sometimes wear them when I'm appraising my wounds. But other than that it's figurative.

(Chest to chest is passionate but our hearts are on different sides. Let me press upon your back and our ventricles will align.

Cute Starbucks baristas don't ever seem to be in the mood to hear that from a sweating, grunting customer either.)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Kid Relish Paradox

So the other day my relatively trusty sidekick, Kid Relish, decided he wanted to have a paradox named after him.

"It is a very sexy and mysterious thing Latty," he explained. "To have a paradox named after you."

"Really Kid?" I sighed, cracking another beer, silently praying this wouldn't take all night.

"Oh absolutely." He set his feet up on the coffee table and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and his chin on his fists.
"It impresses the hell out of people, especially smart gals with button noses, freckles and glasses."
He glanced around conspiratorially. I saw the flash of a chemical fire in his wide, staring eyes.
"If you have a paradox named after you," He whispered. "Then the smart gals with button noses, freckles and glasses practically line up to sleep with you."

"You don't say?" I wearily replied, trying to decide if it was too early in the evening to feign a seizure.

"I do say." He chortled. "And if you tell 'em you're a Professor they let you keep your shoes on and make wolf sounds the whole time, 'cause everyone knows how eccentric professors are."

"Fascinating." I mumbled and half-considered tossing a shinny object to the far side of the room to see if it would distract him. "So," I said, 'cause he seemed to expect me to continue. "What's the paradox then?"

"Pardon?" Said The Kid.

"Your paradox." I repeated. "If you're going to have a paradox named after you, you kinda need to come up with a paradox first."

"Ohhhh, right, the paradox." Kid Relish consulted his notepad. "Okay, here's what I've got so far." He looked up to make sure I was listening. I was... sorta.
"Here's how it goes." He explained. "The first part is me holding a pipe wrench and then I ask you a question, and how you answer the question is what determines if I bludgeon you with the pipe wrench or not."

He had my attention.

"Okay Kid." I folded up my paper and put my reading glasses away. "So you ask the person a question and how they respond determines whether or not you smack them with the pipe wrench?"

"Exactly!" He replied. "And hopefully I do get to hit them with the pipe wrench, 'cause hitting people with pipe wrenches is really a lot of fun."

"Well don't get ahead of yourself Kid." I noted. "Where's the paradox?"

He didn't even have to think about it. "The paradox is in the question of course."

I have to admit I was intrigued. I'd never known Kid Relish to be so well prepared.
"So, what's the question?" I asked.

"I don't quite know yet." He admitted.

"Well, what have you got so far?"

"So far all I've got is: 'yes or no... do you want me to bludgeon you with this pipe wrench?'"

We both knew it wasn't very good. He kept his gaze down and wouldn't meet my eyes.

"Not much of a paradox is it Kid?"

"No." He sullenly replied.

"You kinda just have to answer 'no' in order to not be smacked with the pipe wrench." I pointed out.

"Yeah," he admitted. "It's kind of a flawed paradox right now."

I patted him on the head and stood to leave.
"Well Kid," I said. "At least you tried. Coming up with paradoxes isn't easy."

"Yeah." He mumbled. "I guess."

I crossed to the door. "Good-night Kid."
I opened the door and was about to take my leave when he suddenly called out for me to wait.

"What do you want Kid?" I asked.

"Answer truthfully, yes or no." He said. "Or else I'm going to bludgeon you with this pipe wrench... will the next word you say be 'no'?"


Why that magnificent bastard, he'd found a paradox after all. When I refused to answer, he came at me with the pipe wrench.

"Hey, friends don't hit each other with pipe wrenches!" I snarled, and met his charge with a flying kick to the face.

He crawled around the living room, wheezing and bleeding on stuff.

"Oh yeah?" He moaned after a bit. "Well friends don't launch flying kicks to each other's faces either."

He had a point there. I sat down on the rug and contemplated that, staring into the fireplace. He took the opportunity to bash me in the kidney with the pipe wrench.

I pissed blood for a month. Kid Relish made me lemon tea every night 'cause he'd read somewhere that it would help sooth the pain.

He's a good friend, that Kid Relish. Except when he isn't.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Those Plastic Pseudo Pistoleros

People say to me, they say: “Latigo--for a man who claims to be the quickest quickdraw the world has ever known, you sure don’t talk about gunslinging much anymore.”

I don’t reply. No need really. Men like me were born in stoic silence in the days of blood and scorpions. Our calculated fury is as cold as the pistols we refrigerate.

(Wait, that that last part didn’t make any sense.)

Never mind. Point is, I simply squint my steely eyes and wait for the offender to soil him or herself. Sometimes I roll a cigarette and strike a match on my propped up boot heel. Often a faraway bell will toll as a hawk screams in a cloudless sky.

But I admit there’s something to be said for not forgetting where you’ve been. And though I’ve spoken of the following before, it bears repeating again.

(Um, there’s something odd about “repeating again”. It would seem to imply this is the third or perhaps even fourth time one has said a thing.

Fuck you. It needed the “again” to rhyme.)


From the archives - March 23, 2005:

Those Plastic Pseudo Pistoleros

It was high time we paid 'em another visit. So yesterday found Latigo Flint and his relatively trusty sidekick, Kid Relish, striding squinty-eyed and dangerous through the Ghost Town/Calico Square section of that there Southern California amusement park.

I have no idea who at the corporate office is responsible for checking the quickdraw qualifications of those silly pseudo-gunslingers they hire to stroll around, posing for pictures, but whoever it is ought to be fired right along with every single one of those pretend pistolaros.

An uneasy crowd massed next to the Churro stand to watch me square off against the last one.
"Alright tinhorn,” I snarled. “The next child to drop their Churro is gonna be our signal to reach."
He scuffled his plastic boots and looked around for his boss. "Uh look sir, I'm pretty sure this isn't--that is to say I... SECURITY!!!"

How pathetic. I started to wonder if he was even worth beating to the draw, but then a chubby Asian child in a Snoopy t-shirt dropped his greasy Churro and gunslinger instinct took over. Before that wretched tinhorn could even think about twitching a finger, my blurred hands slapped thigh and shucked my authentic replica Colt Peacemaker revolvers from their hand-tooled elk hide holsters and cylinder-twirled both to empty in a rolling, continuous snap.

"Damn that's fast!" Even my relatively trusty sidekick, Kid Relish, was impressed. Kid stared at the stunned tinhorn.
"Hey puto, what's your name?"
"Tyler." Came the sullen reply.
"Damn but that was fast wasn't it Tyler?"
"Umm, I guess so."

An angry young woman shoved her way through the crowd and approached The Kid and I.
"Well congratulations.” She sneered. “You two are just about the biggest losers I've ever seen. What, so you're dangerous men 'cause you sit in your parents' basement all day playing with cap guns?"

Kid Relish was reaching across himself, gearing up for one of his monster backhands, but I quickly stepped between them.
"Listen Ma’am,” I explained. “Tyler over there receives money from this amusement park to personify a sacred way of life-"
A small child trotted up and pulled once on my shirtsleeve. I tried to ignore him.
"- sacred Ma'am. He's paid to represent an ideal."
The child continued to tug at my sleeve.
"Umm, an ideal... and it's an ideal ideal, and that tinhorn, Tyler, does a grievous dishonor to the memory of noble gunsling-"
The child started hopping up and down and humming while urgently tugging on my shirtsleeve.

"By the waxed handlebar of Earp, WHAT DO YOU WANT!!!???"

The child looked up and me and pointed. "You come and take picture with me and daddy?"
I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
"Damnit, that's what I'm trying to explain--gunslingers don't go around posing for pictures."
The child frowned at me suspiciously.
"That one over there did." He pointed to Tyler. I blinked back angry tears.
"Sweet Calamity Jane am I talking to myself? He's not a real gunslinger!!!"
The cruel young woman sensed an advantage.
"Oh, and YOU are? How many people have YOU shot?"

Kid Relish, bless him, came to my aid at that point.
"That's a trap question Latty, and you know it. Lemme backhand the shit outta these people and then we’ll go and try to drink ourselves to death."

So I let Kid Relish backhand the shit out them. What other choice did I have? The Churro Lady held him off for a while with her flailing frozen Churros. But eventually she too tasted his knuckles of wrath.

And so it turns out I didn’t have to shoot anyone that day, and that’s good, ‘cause shootin’ a man ain’t no small thing. You’re boxing up his memories and puttin’ ‘em in public storage. You’re takin’ all his future joy, mashing it in a ball, coating it with honey and rammin’ it down a hungry badger’s den.

It’s a cruel, haunted life we lead, we of the gun-stained leather. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. And it’s not our fault dangerous men are dead sexy.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Mill Pond Whore (and other old sayings)

There's an old saying that goes: You can teach an old dog a new trick with a hammer and a blowtorch but you can't get him to do it twice.

I really don't know what it means. I'm often confused by old sayings.

The one about the Mill Pond Whore for instance. That one's just baffling. How does it go?
You can't screw the mill pond whore if she knows the ducks are watching.

Wait, that doesn't sound right.

Maybe it's: You can lead the mill pond whore to ducks but you can't make her feed them bread crumbs if she's afraid they're going to bite.

Dern it, that's not it either.

Is it: You can spank the mill pond whore with duck but only after two PM and if you lick her bottom it's extra.

No, no. That doesn't sound right at all. It's not even a saying; it's more like a posted sign or something.

Wait, are there even any sayings about the mill pond whore?

What am I saying--of course there are. Everyone's heard the one that goes:
A wise man counts his pennies after sleeping with the mill pond whore, especially if ducks are around 'cause those little bastards like to eat pennies and then shit 'em where no one can find 'em.

I'm messing this up. Stop judging me. Old sayings are really hard to remember. Old sayings are like a mill pond whore--you can rub them down with linseed oil but they won't dance with you if you smack them with a stewpot.

Okay, I'm not going to try to remember any more old sayings about mill pond whores 'cause I just keep getting them wrong, and frankly it's embarrassing.

I'm serious now. No more mill pond whore sayings for me. For instance, you could walk up to me and say:
"Hey, what's the one about how kissing a mill pond whore feels great until she beats you to death with a duck when your eyes are closed."

And I'd reply: "Nope, nope--don't know what you're talking about. You're making about as much sense as a mill pond whore on payday who spends it all on granola and then pretends she doesn't know why the ducks are chasing her."

(Life is like a mill pond whore--it keeps you warm if you pay enough but laughs when the paddle wheel snags your arm and flings it to the hungry ducks.)

Monday, October 23, 2006

That's Where the Eel Man Lives

Old Charlie Turkwood finally got fed up with the neighborhood children hopping the fence and swimming in his backyard pool every afternoon when he and Maude went to the picture show. So one night he snorkeled down and screwed a submarine hatch cover into the plaster at the bottom of the deep end.

Then over the next few days he let it be known around town that people needed to be very careful when entering his yard, especially near the pool, 'cause that's where the eel man lives.

And that did the trick. The children stayed away. Most children have highly attuned monster sensory mechanisms. They don't know what an Eel Man is and don't think to question if such a thing even exists. Because, see, they know what it could be, and that you sure as heck wouldn't want to swim with it.

Old Charlie pulled his easy chair up to the sliding patio door and spent the next two weeks peeking through the blinds and giving Maude up-to-the-minute updates. He was continually pleased to report that the level of unauthorized activity in the general pool area remained at zero and holding.


"I think I found you a home."

Little Christie stood on the shore of an industrial pond, pinching her nose against the smell. Her wide blue eyes scanned the sludgy surface, watching for the ripples.

"It's two towns over."

The sun broke free of the clouds for a moment and set rainbows alive in the patches of oily slick that dotted the festering water. The swirling colors caught Christie's eye, and made her heart catch at their beauty. But it's an uneasy heart that beholds such beauty because there's also a darkness to the shimmer. And such a vibrant display isn't natural, not on the surface of clean water.

"Gray Boy?" Christie called. "Gray Boy did you hear me? Apparently a man named Turkwood has built you a wonderful home."

The eyes that slowly surfaced two feet in front of the underwater tire pile were human eyes--logical and alert.

"There you are Gray Boy." Christie smiled and knelt on the shore, absolutely ruining the hem of her pretty dress.
"Don't be afraid--I'll help you get there."

And to accurately describe the face and body that followed those eyes, up and out of the water, would take much more time than you and I can spare tonight, what with tomorrow being a work day and all. Let's just say it was the Eel Man and leave it at that.


One minute the backyard was empty and Old Charlie Turkwood swiveled in his easy chair, chortling glee to his wife. When he looked out again, he beheld a little blond girl sitting cross-legged on his diving board.

"Great Eisenhower's Ghost!" Charlie exclaimed and bumped the reclining lever by accident. His feet shot up in the air. One slipper smacked the ceiling. The other one knocked over a vase.

"What was that dear?" Maude inquired from the kitchen.

"Interlopers!" Charlie bellowed and stormed out into the yard.


Every pool owner has a certain expectation of the sort of thing he's likely to find drifting in his backyard pool. Leafs. Leafs probably top the list. Next come assorted debris. Pools are good at collecting assorted debris. The carcass of a rodent. Yeah, sure, from time to time.

Well, Old Charlie Turkwood looked down into the waters of his tiled reservoir and saw an abomination of evolution: Eight and a half feet of gray, undulating flesh with intelligent eyes at one end. Old Charlie Turkwood stared into those eyes and could practically hear the crunch of a grave robber’s spade splitting his skull in two.

"That hatch doesn't go anywhere, it's just bolted to the plaster."

The little blond girl was speaking to him but Charlie didn't know how to look at her. He was so horribly transfixed by the coiled thing at the bottom of his pool that it felt like if his head were to turn away, his eyes would be torn from their sockets.

"You said you built him a home." Christie continued with the cold fury of one who doesn't yet understand what betrayal is and is struggling to come to grips with the emotion it invokes.

"We crossed four highways to get here. He nearly died out in the sands."

The thing in the pool opened its mouth, showing its teeth and Old Charlie responded with a less-than-eloquent series of babbling groans.

"I had to bring him water in a Dixie cup. Dogs torn one of his flippers off."

Christie stretched out flat on the diving board and dangled her hands in the water. The thing in the pool swam up and nuzzled her fingers with its snout. She smiled and scratched its chin and then stared at Charlie with such an innocent determination that something inside him toppled over and the regret of a childless life threatened to tear him apart.

"You're going to build a cavern beneath this pool and make that a two-way hatch. You're going to breed salmon in the jacuzzi and stop using chlorine to keep the water clean."

Christie rolled off the diving board and splashed gently into the water. The thing looped itself around her and they touched noses underwater. Then she swam back to the surface and spoke to Charlie again.

"And I get to visit whenever I like. And if I'm ever not here when the sun goes down, you have to read him a story."

Christie pulled herself out of the water.
"That's all Mister. You start tomorrow."

Christie and the thing in the pool stared at Old Charlie Turkwood, waiting for his response.

Seconds ticked by. They turned into minutes.

"Does he have a name?" Old Charlie finally rasped.

"I call him Gray Boy." Little Christie replied.

"Where did he come from?"

"I don't know. But this is his home now."

And the next morning Charlie rented scuba gear and jackhammer and started excavating a cavern beneath his pool.

When he needed to rest he surfaced and held on to Christie’s air mattress and she shared her lemonade with him. And for the first few weeks he fully expected to be messily disemboweled in the very next instant. But as time passed and his intestines stayed where they belonged, Old Charlie Turkwood came to enjoy the eel man’s company.

And the years went by and Christie grew into a young lady, complete with all the distractions that come with that. And she no longer visited as often. And more and more Charlie found he was the one reading the bedtime story by the pool to the eel man as the sun went down. And then he had a stroke and shortly thereafter his wife Maude died and his friends all told him to sell the house and move somewhere more comfortable. But Charlie Turkwood didn’t sell.

“I’ll never sell this house.” Old Charlie slurred, through a mouth half-paralyzed. “Christie is coming to visit today and this is where the eel man lives.”

They chalked it up to dementia and called the mental health professionals. But Old Charlie drove them back with a broom. Well, that and the fact that several of them saw an unholy shadow in the pool behind Charlie. Something that couldn’t possibly be. Something with human eyes but way too many razor teeth. They left screaming and Charlie laughed as they ran, even as his heart failed in his chest.

And he was nearly dead when Christie found him, stretched out beside the pool. The eel man sat coiled in at the bottom, writhing with grief for his friend.

“Oh Charlie.” Christie whispered and knelt at the side of the dying old man.

“Oh Christie.” Charlie replied. “I’m so afraid for the eel man--where is he gonna live now?”

“Don’t you worry Charlie Turkwood.” Christie leaned over and kissed Charlie on the cheek. “I’ll find him a place and help him get there. Thanks for letting us use your pool.”

“Where did he come from Christie?” It was the last thought Charlie ever had. A moment later Old Charlie Turkwood died in Christie’s arms.

Christie struggled to speak through the tears.
"Good-bye Charlie."

She turned to the pool.
“Come on Gray Boy.” She whispered.

Human eyes broke the surface.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Spider Moon

The bar was nearly empty, only the dedicated drinkers remained. A few broken men, a few depleted women. All of us too lonely to go home, too weary to hit on each other.

Then the old Indian in the corner started speaking. We hadn't even noticed him there. He spoke of his childhood on the banks of Black Rock Creek and everyone ignored him. Then he spoke of the Spider Moon and it made our blood run cold.

According to legend, the Spider Moon comes in the last wanes of what was the Harvest Moon. All the crops are in, the first snow is still a few weeks away. The buck deer battle in the browning forest and brother squirrel guards his nut house. And (and this is the chilling part by the way) it doesn't matter where you go, it doesn't matter how you sleep. Before the night is over, a spider is going to crawl on your genitals.

"Oh god." We involuntarily groaned. Somehow... somehow we'd always suspected. Those mornings that just don't feel right--when something hangs in the air like an interrupted omen. The feeling you're forgetting something but if you remember it'll drive you insane. So we lock that unease away with all the other things we'd rather not consider--like: has my face ever been cross-haired in a sniper's scope? Do healthy cells scream when the cancer cells invade them?

It took hearing it out loud to match the dread with its cause. There is a Spider Moon. It's the night a spider crawls on your genitals.

"You aren't suggesting that..." The quaver in Gus the Bartender's voice was unmistakable. The old Indian met his stare with a terrible look in his eyes.
"I mean, okay." Gus continued. "M-maybe it happens every once in a while--law of averages says it's gonna I guess. But not for sure tonight right? There’s no such thing as a Spider Moon… is there?"

And in the half-light of a neon sign that proclaimed Budweiser the King of Beers, the old Indian finished his drink and set the empty glass on the bar. We hadn't noticed he was carrying a pistol, but we sure couldn't miss it when he raised it to his temple.

"No more Spider Moons for me." He whispered. "Eighty-two is plenty."


And then later that night the spiders came and they crawled up our legs as we slept. And you can't help but scream once you know what the memory of a tickle means.

And I wish like hell I'd never heard of the Spider Moon. I could have very happily lived out the rest of my days not once considering the fact that there have and will come nights when a spider crawls on my genitals.

But try as I might I can't forget it. And I scream every morning out of habit now.

So add it to the list of things that haunt me. Somewhere below the thought of dying alone. And somewhere above a fancy restaurant sneezing fit with a bloody nose.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Of Pioneers and Snarls

9 out of 10 great-grandchildren of pioneers agree: Ol' Pappy would have hated reading this account of pioneers and snarls. It prods way too many painful scars with a rusty knife of truth and historical accuracy.

From the archives - February 27, 2006:

Of Pioneers and Snarls

The trouble with being a hardy pioneer on the savage edge of the American Frontier was that every time your pigs screamed in the night you were obligated to go out to see what was bothering them... and more times than not, whatever it was had claws.

You'd walk out on the porch and then turn to face your wife.
"How old is our eldest son?" You'd ask, shivering a bit at the mortal chill that just blew up on the wings of a fanged snarl.
"He's six." She'd reply.
"Never too young to become a man." You'd mumble under your breath.
"What?!!!" Your wife would demand.
"Nothing." You'd sigh. "Hand me my rifle please."
"Powder and lead costs money." She'd say and hand you your pitchfork instead. You'd stare at the pitchfork with much dismay.
"A pitchfork?!!!" You'd exclaim. "But listen to that snarl. Do you have any idea what that snarl is saying?"
"Well go on and tell me, you're planning to anyway." Your wife would reply.

"Damn right I'll tell you--that snarl, that particular snarl, just happens to be saying:
'Hello, I'm a slavering beast that is easily two and a half to three times too large, quick and fierce to be dispatched with anything short of a goddamn cannon. A rifle might give me pause, but I am definitely eating the face off any man who comes at me with a spindly pitchfork.'"

"You can tell all that from just a snarl?"

"Hell yeah I can woman! Shit, you stand out here in butt-flap pajamas with nothing between you and a snarling death but a pitchfork and the balls the good lord dangled and then tell me you wouldn't want a rifle."

"Tell you what." Your wife would say with a calm that means she's about to be fair and just. (Even though that's a lie if ever there was.) "How 'bout we stop buying a six-pack of ale every night of the week and twice on Friday? That should probably leave us just enough money for powder and lead to shoot at every single creature that happens to snarl in the night."

"Well, hold on a minute now."

"No, no Dear, give me back the pitchfork and let me fetch your rifle. You go down and shoot whatever that is and when you get back I'll have a nice pot of willow bark tea waiting."


And moments later you'd be trudging down to the livestock pens, scratching your butt through the open flap on your pajamas, grumbling at your pitchfork and hoping like hell it's not a grizzly bear tonight.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Please Don't Crap in My Mittens

First there was nothing but the bleak expanse of space. Then there was a big bang. And then later Latigo Flint was born, and then a bit after that he wrote a poem titled: Please Don't Crap in My Mittens, I Have to Wear Them if it Gets Cold.

That's the chronology that I've decided truly matters to me.

Most people are surprised to hear there exists a poem titled: Please Don't Crap in My Mittens, I Have to Wear Them if it Gets Cold.

"Really?" They say, already starting to burn with an urgent desire to read it.

"Yes, really." Comes the reply.

"Well, that is a poem I would very much like to read."

But Latigo Flint doesn't let anyone read Please Don't Crap in My Mittens, I Have to Wear Them if it Gets Cold.

You see, Please Don't Crap in My Mittens, I Have to Wear Them if it Gets Cold, is a poem Latigo Flint wrote just for himself.

And some things must be this way. Some hurts are not for display.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Frozen Brains for Breakfast

On a whim I put an orange in the freezer. Two nights later I took it out. It looked pretty much the same. I decided to hit it with a hammer for a while. It came apart in chunks of pulpy slush, but didn't shatter like I hoped it would.

"Well, that's that." I thought to myself and started to get ready for bed. But I didn't even make it out of my pants.

Now it's a week later and I still haven't slept. To find my kitchen floor you’d have to dig a foot and a half through a rotting layer of fruits and vegetables, first frozen and then smashed. But I haven't been in there for a while. By day four I'd completely ceded the kitchen to the insects and the rodents.

The living room is where I've been spending my time lately--except when I run to the 24-hour store to purchase solid blocks of ice.

You see, my latest project involves carving an ice sculpture bust of George Clooney and then coating it with silicone putty and painting on his facial features. Next I put the rubber ice statue in front of the heater for about an hour. Lastly I pierce it with a metal straw and drink his liquefied brains.

"I'm drinking your brains George Clooney!" I shriek, slurping water from the life-like mold.

When the rubber face crumples in on itself and no longer resembles George Clooney, I run out and buy another ice block and do the whole thing over again.

At some point I decided to change it up and did one of Scarlett Johansson instead. But halfway through I could no longer control my grief and my shame.

"Oh God, I'm sorry Scarlett!" I screamed, and tried to reassemble the mold.

"No more." I solemnly promised myself. "No more drinking the liquefied brains from the rubber heads of actresses I adore."

I broke that promise a few hours later when the metal straw pierced the Keira Knightley sculpture’s eye.


Today the landlord stopped by--something to do with a complaint or two from the other tenants about the incessant pounding of chisels and unusual smells and vermin emanating from my tiny apartment.

He had the police with him--something to with hysterical death threats the first four times he knocked on my door.

I tried to explain to everyone that I was engaged in performance art. That it was a shrewd commentary on our tendency to worship our celebrities and yet at the same time crave to drink their liquefied brains.

They weren't buying it.

"But I have a grant pending from the National Endowment of the Arts!" I hollered, diving into the kitchen and burying myself in the warm layer of filth that covered the linoleum floor.

The cops argued with each other for a while about whose job it was to go in there and pull me out. In the end the rookie lost and he took his rage out on me.

"I am not resisting you!" I screamed as I smacked him in the eye with a rotten melon rind.

Then he played a game called "Let's Break Bones" with a black-wrapped stick that felt like dying when it struck.

(And I don’t know why all this happened and I don’t know what it was for. I only know I’m broken now, and the flat, rubber heads of perfect people litter my living room floor.)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Girl and Boy

Girl and Boy

(A short one-act play. Author unknown.)

What I needed was to not catch my heart in an avalanche.


It's as if my heart is a lonely sherpa and you're the furious landslide.

A lonely what?!

Please don't make me ask you again if you'll go to the dance with me.

I'm sorry, do I know you?

I'm prepared to love you forever.

Listen, whoever you are--you really need to pull your pants back up; people are starting to stare.

Radio base camp. Tell them my heart's been swept away.

Get the hell away from me.

Climber to base camp. Heart down. Jagged ravine. Can't talk now--wolves closing in.

I'm not kidding; you need to leave.

We broke camp at dawn, my heart and me. We planned to summit that day or die.

I'm pressing charges if you don't leave right now.

We packed our bags, pre-flight. I'm going to give you a back rub with warm oils and cheese if you don't mind.

I don't know what yet, I'm going to let my lawyer advise--but rest assured, you will be charged with something.

With weeping hearts and stoic faces we pushed ever westward, deep into that savage land of death and dogwood blossoms.

They're gonna lock you up so long you'll be calling the guards "sonny-boy" by the time they let you out.

We got off on the wrong foot. Let me start over. May I have the pleasure of escorting you to the Fall dance?

No you may not. But thank you; I'm very flattered you asked.

You're welcome.

Well all right then.

How about now? Will you go to the dance with me now?

Answer's still the same.

I'm picturing you naked and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

See, it's that sort of thing right there that makes it impossible to trust you.

In my dream your nipples are blue and taste like candy and raindrops.

I get that a lot.

I'm prepared to love you forever you know.

I know.

Lights fade out

Friday, October 06, 2006

Elk: Nature's Perfect Killer

And I heard as it were the sound of thunder, one of the four beasts saying come and see. And I saw and behold, a pale elk, and his name that sat upon him was Deathhorn Goresalot, and hell followed with him.
--Old Sioux Campfire Song

From the archives - December 16, 2005:

Elk: Nature's Perfect Killer

Latigo Flint knows there are plenty of reasons not to trust an elk. Elk were born to trample and gore. It's what they were born to do. Elk attack from ambush and have been known to eat human babies.

But what else would you expect from the closest living descendant of dragons?

Most people don't know that elk are directly descended from dragons. It's one of those facts that time seems to have swallowed. But get your Grandpa good and drunk and then ask him about elk; he'll likely tell you stories that'll make your blood run cold.

Many historians now agree that the lost colonists of Roanoke were probably devoured by elk.

Peter Benchley's first draft of Jaws was actually set in northern Montana and told of the relentless terror inflicted on a small logging community by a giant, man-eating elk. It was based on true events. It drove early readers insane with fear and Peter decided to revise it to feature a big shark instead.

Elk have hunted Sasquatch to the brink of extinction. When Sasquatch is gone, who do you think is next?

By the way, try not to ponder that for very long if you don't happen to be extraordinarily brave.

(P.S. It's us you fool, run for your life!!!)

The Lewis and Clark expedition was actually the twenty-seventh such overland expedition commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson. The previous twenty-six were all eaten by elk.

Recent advances in crime scene investigation techniques have shed new light on Los Angeles' infamous Black Dahlia murder of 1947. Elizabeth Short's mysterious assailant is now widely believed to have been an elk.

Today, public officials are quick to caution against blaming every single disappearance and unexplained murder on elk. They note that while elk are the likely cause of 85% to 90% of all disappearances and unexplained murders, investigators must be careful not to become so complacent that they fail to duly interrogate street performers and minorities.

(Most minorities used to be in the majority... but then too many of them were eaten by elk.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Night Barry Took the Field

The stadium lights were dark when Barry took the field. From the stands we all could sense something moving down there in the gloom. We guessed it was a marching band, or maybe dancers or a float. It had better be something good, we mused, we'd been promised a halftime show.

"Ladies and gentlemen," the announcer crooned. "Boys and girls and popcorn vendors too. You should probably bolt your minds to the thick part of your skull. And you're gonna wanna torque it tight and fill the seams with glue."

"Well," someone whispered from a seat near the top of the stadium. "This could be something different."

"You better bet your freaking souls this is something different!" The announcer roared as if he'd heard the man. The speakers trembled on their posts as if Lucifer himself was behind that microphone.

"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, beer vendors and ticket takers in curls..."

The announcer let out the rest of the breath with a rumbling moan that even the parking attendants felt as vibration in their bones. Then he filled his lungs again with such a ragged gasp, that the flags that rimmed the stadium were torn from their masts.

"It's a hurricane walking with a butterfly! It's a tidal forces belly rind!"

Most of us couldn't even hear right by now--half of us were crying.

"It's the next best thing to savage cheese. It's a cataclysm of the mind!"

It was now or never for that unseen announcer. Too much more of this rampage of buildup and he'd find himself overlooking a stadium of corpses. He seemed to know it was time.

"I..." The stadium trembled to its foundation.
"Give..." The blimp crashed into a cliff.
"You..." Pigeons dropped dead a mile away.
"BARRY!!!" Eardrums ruptured in shocking sprays of yellow fluid.

"Yes, Barry!" The announcer reiterated.
"I give you Barry!!!"

Someone lit a fuse and then a thousand pounds of fireworks holocausted into the sky.

When we could see again, those of us that still could see, we all beheld Barry. He stood alone at center field.

There he was.


He didn't seem to be doing much.

"That's right!" The announcer shrieked. "It's Barry!!!"

Barry gave us all a little wave.

"Barry's here!!!"

In the stab of an angled spotlight, Barry's shadow stretched for yards. Barry slowly raised his arms and the dark giant at his feet mimicked the motion.

"That's right folks, Barry!!!" The announcer howled, sounding very near an aneurysm.
"I present Barry, and his shadow puppets of unicorns fucking!!!"

And then I'll be eternally damned if Barry didn't proceed to make shadow puppets on the shimmering grass that looked exactly like two unicorns fucking.

And I don't know if it was the blood in my ears--or the corneal damage to my eyes--or the way my organs kept on sloshing against my twisted spine--or the spider fangs of agony that pierced my shuddering brain... but with reckless mercy as my witness, it was the most beautiful thing on God's dark earth that I had ever seen.

And now I don't even know how the game ended, and I don't even know where I am. I only know I'd cut chunks from myself to watch Barry's shadow puppets of unicorns… watch them fucking again.

The End

(Note to self: Yikes. Just yikes.

Don't ever, ever let anybody read this.)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Lonesome Rodeo

Read and be redeemed, for the Lonesome Rodeo is all about redemption.
(Oh yeah, and also exposing yourself to cute single mothers, but mostly it's about redemption.)

From the archives - November 28, 2005:

The Lonesome Rodeo

Heaven would be a pretty lonesome place to hold a rodeo because horses--no matter what gentle lies are told to sobbing young girls--don't get to go to heaven.

However, short of heaven's hypothetical rodeo, the next most lonesome one would have to have been the one thrown last Sunday by Latigo Flint and his relatively trusty sidekick, Kid Relish... in front of the local supermarket... next to the coin-operated stallion.

There weren't any barrel races at our rodeo and no calves were roped. Not a single bull was rode and nary a steer was thrown.

No, our rodeo consisted of exactly one event: Lounging against the coin-operated stallion in front of the local supermarket, drinking heavily and exposing ourselves to every cute single mother who happened to venture too close. If she stared for eight seconds, then the "ride" counted. Point deductions were incurred if her children happened to see, 'cause even drunk, you know that's just wrong.

We were well into our rodeo when we suddenly realized we didn't have rodeo-appropriate names. Latigo Flint and Kid Relish are splendid gunslinger names to be sure, but rodeo is a whole 'nother game.

"Buck!!!" Kid bellowed. "Buck is a great rodeo name, what with the awesome double meaning and all."

He was absolutely right. I had to concur.
"Very well Kid, Buck it is--and your last name?"

He thought about it for a while, pausing only to expose himself to a cute single mother who had ventured too near.

"Latner." He finally replied. "My rodeo name is going to be Buck Latner."

I nodded my admiration. "Buck Latner is a mighty fine rodeo name Kid."
I exposed myself to a cute single mother who thought that the shopping carts were kept over this way.
"Yep, a mighty fine rodeo name indeed."

"Thanks Latty. Hey, what's your rodeo name going to be?"

I thought for a moment. "Alexis." I replied. "My rodeo name is going to be Alexis Lacebreeze."

The Kid did a double take. "Alexis Lacebreeze?!!! Your rodeo name is going to be Alexis Lacebreeze?!!!"

I tilted my head back and squinted into the noonday sun. Somewhere a faraway hawk screamed wild fury on the wind.
"It's the perfect rodeo name Kid."
We both paused to expose ourselves to a cute single mother.
"Come on Kid, think about how cast-iron-tough a rodeo man would have to be with a name like Alexis Lacebreeze."

Kid Relish stroked his chin in appreciation. "Damn good point Latigo--I mean Alexis. All right then, Buck Latner and Alexis Lacebreeze it is."

A cute single mother walked toward the newspaper stand and we promptly exposed ourselves to her.

"Was that eight seconds Alexis?"

"Pretty damn close Buck."

"What say we call it eight seconds Alexis?"

"Well then Buck, I reckon it was."

We each opened a fresh bottle and reveled in the sun-swept freedom known only by rodeo men and alcoholic nudists.

(And by happening to be both on that particular day, the glory was in fact doubly ours.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Granger Lamperton's Last Stand

The entire town turned out on Sunday to watch Granger Lamperton go insane. He'd lashed himself to a raft made of cactus and sloshed around in the town square fountain, weeping and calling her name.

"What's all this then Granger?" The marshal asked in his best authoritative voice.

"Oh, hello Marshal." Granger tried to sit up and wave at him but the cactus raft tipped over and Granger bonked his head on an iron spigot.

The town nurse stepped forward to help but shots and oaths rang out underwater and the doctor held her back. On his own, Granger righted his raft and continued paddling around the fountain, glaring at the iron spigot every time he drifted past.

"What's the matter Granger?" The Marshal asked more gently this time.

Everyone knew what the matter was. For three weeks they'd had front row seats for the tragedy that was poor Granger's love for a traveling performer named Elizabeth Night. But they all recognized the marshal's wisdom in trying to get Granger to talk about it.

"Talk to me Granger." The marshal's voice was kind. "Tell me what troubles you."

"Oh Marshal." Granger sighed. "It's nothing but love and stuff I guess." Granger kicked his raft another lap around the fountain. The water began to turn crimson.
"You see, the rats are behind my eyes again Marshal and Elizabeth has hidden the cheese."

"My goodness Granger..." The marshal struggled to find the right comforting words.

"Wrong Marshal, it isn't good--it's very, very bad." Granger beached his raft on the stone ledge at the center of the fountain. He fixed the marshal with a corpse-like stare, his eyes as empty as bottle caps.
"She came to town with the circus." Granger moaned. "And ripped out my heart with a glittering hand. She left town with the circus and forgot to give it back."

"Oh Granger." The marshal whispered, with the compassion every good marshal feels for the dying town drunk, drowning in sorrow after lashing himself to a cactus raft in the town square fountain.
"Please let me cut you from your cactus raft."

Granger gave the marshal a tiny grin that turned sad even as it began.

"You can cut me from my cactus raft when I'm stiff and cold." Granger said. "But not before unless for some reason you don't want to grow old." And the pistol in his hand was a warning.

It took Granger six hours to bleed to death. The somber townspeople wished they had brought a lunch.

He spoke just once more before he died, the marshal was the only one who heard.

"The rats are behind my eyes again Marshal and Elizabeth has hidden the cheese."

"Find your peace Granger." The marshal sobbed and cut him from his cactus raft.

The End