Overshooting Insanity

Posted: December 11, 2013 in Fiction
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There comes a point, he realizes, during castigation such as this, when the mind begins to wander. The torrent of meaningless verbal abuse rings hollow after a time. There are no fine points of critique, which may have been valuable. The sole purpose of this exercise is humiliation. His brain’s capacity to endure mental excoriation is limited. It can only take so much before its neurons begin to slow their firings until all that is left is the dim pulse of a distant, dying star.

The Derbyshire walls and oak paneling begin to fade into a mossy gray fog, the sharp edges become smooth, and the framed print of Koester ducks, becomes his focal point, the place where his attention seeks escape.

The words “disappointment” and “incompetence” echo faintly somewhere in the back of skull.  They no doubt had entered through his auditory canal, but were then immediately rebounded, by the pinball flippers of self-preservation, away from any cognitive process that might make sense of them. Instead, the thought of ducks had taken root in his mind, and he imagined himself reclining on a grassy back, admiring the tranquility of waterfowl.

And he thought of unspeakable violence.

He doesn’t remember leaving the high-rise office suite or the commute home; he has no recollection of the hours that have passed since 11:30 am. And for a moment, a wave of fear and nausea grip him, because he is unable to discern whether the bloody images that seem to be emblazoned on his retinas are real or the fantasy of a disturbed mind.

Stars twinkle brightly in the cold night sky, and it occurs to him that there is supposed to be a comet – Comet Ison – somewhere in all that vast loneliness. Leaving his courier’s bag on the door step, he walks around to the backyard and drops heavily into a worn Adirondack chair, ready to witness the glory of the heavens.

He casually slides through screens on his phone, searching for information as to where in the sky the spectacle will appear. And he grimaces, close to tears upon learning that it has been declared dead. Presumably consumed by the sun, it will not rise from the flames. Always once removed from greatness, he summoned the courage to make peace with obscurity.



Posted: December 1, 2013 in Fiction
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“That’s to go”

“Turkey Club, walking,” the woman barked over her shoulder. Turning back, but never raising her eyes from the salt shakers she was filling, she asked, “You want anything with that? Fries? A soda?”

“I’m good.” Dawna pushed the crumpled ten across the counter and held out an upturned palm for her change.

The woman, sighed, noticeably annoyed, and began punching buttons on the register, still refusing to acknowledge her customer with as much as a glance.

Bitch, Dawna thought. You with your broken veins all over your ugly face and your rolls of fat hanging over your apron. You, working the graveyard shift at a greasy diner in the middle of Butt-Fuck, Minnesota and you’re too good to look at me? It would have been satisfying to have said it out loud, but some attitudes were too big to change with a razor-sharp tongue. Bitch probably went home and couldn’t raise her little pig eyes to see herself in the mirror, either. Bitch could live with that shit.

The sandwich was for Moon, named after Keith Moon by a father who worshipped the Wild Man of Rock and Roll, a father who was angry and bitter because he could never party as hard nor die as young. Moon’s mother had died when he was still a baby, discovered in her bed with a needle in one arm, and her infant son in the other. The boy lived in the apartment across the hall, and they had become friends of sorts – the type of friends that nodded to each other in the hallway and never mentioned the violent noises that emanated from behind closed doors.

Moon was only seven, old enough to suspect he’d been dealt a shit hand right out of the starting gate, but still too young to understand what a bitch that was. Yesterday had been Thanksgiving. According to the boy, he had celebrated by watching his father watch football, drink beer, and occasionally talk on phone – monosyllabic bits of grunting conversation with the word “muthafucker” popping up for color on a regular basis. There was also a cake with a turkey iced onto the top, picked up from the grocery, the only hint that this Thursday was different from any other day.

Dawna wanted him to have a turkey sandwich. She couldn’t explain why; she rarely understood most of what she did or had done throughout the course of her life. What she did know was that at 32, she was almost used up – used up by alcohol, and drugs, and men who wielded their cocks as brutally as they did their fists. The extra shifts at the factory, the place where the ache of her bones and the sweat that soaked her uniform were transubstantiated into loaves of bread, provided her enough income to carry on – to carry and occasionally buy Moon a turkey sandwich.

Humble Pie

Posted: November 30, 2013 in glimpses of real life
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I’ve already mentioned the pumpkin pie stupor that prompted me to start a blog. Of all Thanksgiving traditions, easy access to homemade pie is probably my favorite. With one exception – which I’ll write about in a bit – I’ve never met I pie I didn’t like.

Humble pie is far less sweet and has the distinction of being readily available all year long. A large, warm slice can be served up at the drop of a faux pas – any time of day or night – dollop of whipped cream optional.  And while nowhere near as decadent as a velvety, bourbon pecan, it can be just as satisfying.

One Thanksgiving past, I’d gotten it into my head that in addition to the apple pies I was making to bring to the family gathering, I would make a special lemon meringue pie for Uncle Mac. Uncle Mac was the nicest man in the universe. He was renowned for helping anyone and everyone in need, and he had natural sense of humor that made him a joy to be around. When he found out he had diabetes, he dutifully followed his new diet with the same good cheer with which he faced all challenges.

But it was Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving without pie, at least in my opinion, is nothing short of an abomination. So I did my homework, found a recipe and baked the most magnificently health-conscious pie ever. It was beautiful, and I’m sure the angels in heaven smiled down on the perfectly browned mountains of sugar-free meringue. I admit, I was positively bursting with pride as I presented a piece to Uncle Mac, and basked in the praise that followed every bite.

The really interesting part of the story, however, is that my brother-in-law decided to have some of the pie later in the afternoon. He, too, was diabetic, and was ecstatic at prospect of guilt-free pie. His reaction after the first bite, however, was far less complimentary. While rushing for the paper towels (so as not to ruin the linen napkins), he managed to sputter that it was the worst pie he had ever tasted.

Arrogantly thinking something along the lines of casting pearls before epicurean swine, I tried the pie myself and was immediately crestfallen. It tasted as though it had been baked in the forges of hell by Sweeney Todd, himself. I was further humiliated when everyone at the table felt compelled to try the pie and weigh in on its capacity to suck.

Humble pie hadn’t been on the menu that day, but I nevertheless ate my fill of it, and I smiled and enjoyed every bite. After all, I had already been shown how to swallow something unpleasant with good grace by Uncle Mac. It was a lesson in kindness and dignity that I’ll never forget.


Today is the Friday after Thanksgiving. The date explains the pumpkin pie stupor I currently find myself in. The stupor explains my having reached the decision to start a blog . . . or maybe it was the bourbon . . .

Does anyone blog anymore? More importantly, perhaps, do people still read them?

I suppose we shall see, Children . . . we shall see.