From the Cranberry Hollow, right off the Punkin Knob—
We have seen some rough fighting this past few run of days. Stovetop stuffing versus homemade, it got uglier and uglier, the survivors dazed and in need of cheer. We spent the night concocting pumpkin pie bombs, laced with cream cheese and whipped cream. But our hopes all rest with the forty pound turkey brother dragged to our fortress of buttered crescent rolls. May it sustain us through these hard hard times. #WarOnThanksgiving
Just off the coast of Gravy Boat Bay—
it’s quiet tonight. Too quiet. We suspect they are sneaking up to offer us deviled eggs and black olives skewered with tooth picks. To refuse might mean we give away our positions, but to choke down those deviled eggs means a total betrayal of all we believe in and hold dear. The struggle is real. The struggle is real. Do we hold true to who we are? It all seems so much dark meat tonight. Footsteps. I hear the rustle of holiday clothes and the clink of holiday dishes. Send me strength to see this through. #WarOnThansgiving
Somewhere near the Marshmallow Yam Dish battlefield—
We approached the mound cautiously. It quivered. No one would go near it. It looks like something is suspended in the cloudy green interior. The horror we felt did not dissipate for several days. Our commander told us to buck up, it was only a damn Jell-O mold but we noticed our commander did not go near it, nor slice into it. We left it alone. It might be the biggest mistake we’ve made yet, but no one wishes contact with that quivery green horror filled with bits and pieces of God knows what. Someone whispered it was banana and peaches chopped up but surely not. A sinister pall falls over all of us these days. #WarOnThanksgiving
Interior of Turkey Bone Fortress, off Drumstick Circle—
Today we lifted forks. It happened. Small talk nonexistent as we dug in with serious will. Many fell to the wayside after, curiously immobile and moaning while rubbing at bellies. Too much, too much, seemed the weary battle cry this day. #WarOnThanksgiving
The kitten plays. She’s lively, endearing, clearly on stimulants such as crack or triple expressos. Her broken jaw has not held her up much. The stitches were removed, the vet declared Jaws doing well. It’s her nickname. Jaws. Probably, eventually, her name. She enjoys attacking the dog’s tails. We have three dogs, all with long wavy tempting tails. Jaws stalks each one, sneaks up on it, does the wrap all four paws around tail, kick with rhythmic precision until whatever dog has been enduring this decides enough is enough. Jaws like to hide beneath the loveseat, bat at the nearest dog waiting for food to fall into his or her mouth from the indulgent humans nearby.
The kitten also wakes up in the middle of the night. Wet cat nose. Murder mittens about my foot. Plaintive meows. Are you up yet, giant inept cat? I read where cats regard humans as other giant ‘very bad at being cats’ cat. It’s why they bring us gifts of dead mice or a dead bird, often not so dead. Our pet cats are trying to feed us.
So, the state of American politics at present. I feel like pouring a giant glass of whiskey, with some Coke thrown in it, and watching it all burn to the ground. Maybe that would finally satisfy everyone. We can all enjoy the flames, roast some marshmallows, blame it all on the DNC, Nancy Pelosi, millennials and those who lack civility.
People will vote straight R because the ‘other side’ uses curse words. Okay, sure.
I also notice that the Dems do not play offense. Ever. It’s always a bewildered ‘here are the facts, why don’t you get it?’ blinky sort of ingrained trained door mat niceness.
As the Republican PR propaganda machine churns out 24/7, every minute, whatever reality they wish pushed and believed.
Ukraine interfered in our elections in 2016! Investigate the Bidens! Hillary sold uranium! The polls are rising in favor of Trump!
And so many more, over and over and over, repeated, over and over and over, repeated, over and over and over. Relentless.
There does not seem to be a counter to that, other than a timid ‘that’s not true, here’s the truth, m’kay, you guys.’ Any actual fiery response or push back seemingly gets shot down. By the other Democrats.
Calm down. Calm down, be polite, don’t upset the apple cart, take the high road.
Until that one actually fighting back gets silenced or even shoved out. It doesn’t seem a coincidence that the fighters and loud mouths all seem absent, missing or gone altogether. Or those speaking out don’t get supported or defended that much as the right, with a gleeful savagery, goes after that person with lies, more lies and damn lies. Hello, AOC.
Adam Schiff practically has to be a robot, speaking without much passion or anger. Pelosi has to remain preternaturally calm in the face of rabid hyenas snapping their foamy jaws in her face.
Any show of anger or outrage from the left gets met with how nuts they are, how ANGRY all the time, how they hate America and Americans, how…oh sure. Until the Dems get so trained to be calm apologists you tend to…ignore whatever they might say. Which is the whole fucking point of training them so.
And I find myself wishing a Dem would snap, and just go to town on the R’s. That other Dems start repeating talking points in counter to the talking points we always hear–
That Dems are weak on family values. That Dems are into spending. That Dems are blah blah blah.
Boil down a few very simple talking points that counter the message that Dems are unAmerican fringe weirdos intent on turning everyone gay after handing out free abortions to middle schoolers.
Dems fix the economy after Republicans wreck it. Dems stand for human rights when Republicans don’t. Dems want immigration reformed, not some free for all whoever wants to enter can bullshit. That fucking wall needs to be shoved up the nearest MAGA asshole sans lubricant. Protect the environment. Wrecking the land, water and air will not make America great. It will just make America uninhabitable.
Just some thoughts.
The kitten has slipped off somewhere. She likes to look out the windows. I need to get her fixed before she can return outside a bit. I have made myself her caretaker and servant. I have no wish to lose her as she seeks out mates or take care of more cats as she churns out unwanted kittens.
I give up. I’ve been trying to place this story and it’s been a thousand percent ‘oh hell no’ from every avenue. Got the latest one today: We’re sorry but our editors would rather cut their own heads off than accept this in any capacity! Good luck with all your future endeavors. Please send us money and hey, get our endless email blitzes about all the writers that are not you! Hugs and smooches!
So. Three rejections today. Must buck up and carry on. Stiff upper lip. This day, too, shall end.
A note– this story arrived from some strange misty corner of my head. It offers no hope for humankind. Adult themes. About 3100 words.
865741, Cell Block D, observed something new. Through the shimmering electrical promise of death, she observed a rabbit munching the rank grass of the tiny field that nestled against the barrier of the prison fence. Sunlight turned the long ears pink as the insides of seashells, when the rabbit stopped, froze, sat up, then went back to feeding. 865741, also known as Silent Rag, ignored everything else happening in the small exercise yard and delighted in that lone bunny, eating lunch. Shadows filled the sky above as yet another thunderstorm drifted in from the east, off the nearly dead ocean. Silent Rag did not tell any of the other women or draw attention to that feeding wild animal, who fled for no reason at all that Silent Rag could discern.
But she had learned to be careful, and then learned to be as silent as everyone wanted her to be. She turned her left forearm up, examined the still-healing deep scratches placed there by Homestead Bon, the toughest bitch in Cell Block D, as Homestead Bon informed one and all from her six feet one inches and her gigantic hole of a mouth. It seemed important or something to be the toughest. Axegirl made a fuss to her small group of worshipers, and Homestead Bon made it clear Axegirl should keep that talk to herself. Tough and nasty, who was toughest and nastiest. As if that changed anything or made life a bowl of cupcakes and freedom pies. Silent Rag had the rest of her life to watch tough bitches come and go. She had been caught sticking a knitting needle up her works and the law said no, women were to have kids no matter what and you’re unnatural and bad. Goodbye! Silent Rag tried to remember her actual name. It had been something like Lana or Lucy. Something sweet and feminine and sweet. The field through the electrified fence had gone empty of rabbits. Beyond it lay dry dusty hills and people wary of women in bright green jumpsuits.
Why had Homestead Bon scratched her? Silent Rag stared at the asphalt, rather than be caught, even accidentally, looking at the wrong woman or even one of the guards. Everyone here seemed full of angry wasps. That anger never died. Why had Homestead Bon dug her fingernails into the soft, sagging meat of Silent Rag’s arm? What ya thinking in there? What ya thinkin’? That giant’s bellow of a voice, that powerful hand. No reason, there had been no reason at all. An act of some merciless God. Silent Rag heard an argument nearby. She heard the whispered plans of escapers. She heard the cries of birds. The crackle of guard radios. In ten minutes, those slated for exercise hour would be lined up and marched back in. Back to their cells or back to their chores. Silent Rag would go to laundry after this. Wash sheets. Dry them. Over and over. Wash sheet. Dry them. Over and over.
Something smacked the side of her head. She cowered down. A guard, the mean one. Carrie or Candace. “Time to go, retard,” Carrie or Candace said. Silent Rag stood, not making eye contact, to go take her place in the lines. Paired up. She stood beside Flight, a ragged-faced murderer, who had once tried to fly over the walls of Imptown. What the correctional facility, oh wasn’t that funny, was actually called no one called it that. It had become Imptown, so named, goes Imptown folklore, by one of the more famous inhabitants, who claimed she was a servant of Satan. Story goes this servant of Satan had been freed by imps sent by her master, who had done so during one of the worst riots to ever develop. Over bread so moldy no one could eat it. During a stormy night, of course. Which had knocked out the power, of course. It was even further said that during this long night of rioting and imps sent in to save the devil’s favorite servant, that the devil himself showed up. And fought the warden. Or had been the warden. The story had several versions, all of them vague and often bloody. “Silent Rag!” Another harder slam to her head. “What are you standing here for? Let’s go!”
Silent Rag had been standing still instead of moving along with everyone else. Everyone else turned to stare at her, mark her, note her hurt arm, note her now bruising face. The laws no longer seemed to care what happened to prisoners. The laws no longer came to help. Parole hearings and parole boards had become the stuff of legends, same as that night the imps had come to free the devil’s favorite. Silent Rag got into step beside Flight, who muttered and snorted and smelled like piss. Fly me to the moon, Flight repeated over and over and over. Fly me to the moon.
The steam rose. The smell of harsh detergent. The tired rounded backs of women taking wet loads from the giant washers to shove them into the giant dryers. The sheets stained with blood and shit. No matter the bleach used, those stains from the holes of human bodies never faded enough. Silent Rag worked, her mind filling over and over with that lone rabbit eating rank grass, the sun turning those long ears into seashell pink. Her hands filled the washers, dumped in the prescribed measure of soap, put the bleach in if the load had been marked for bleach, folded or swept the floor if there was nothing to put in or take out. “Hey, you really don’t talk? You got a tongue and you still don’t talk?”
Newbie. 991209 it read on the breast of her bright green jumpsuit. Bright malicious eyes in her moon face. Young. Like a puppy with rabies before the rabies has kicked in. Silent Rag moved away, sweeping the cement floor. Unlike that rabbit, she could not flash away and hide herself. She could only wait to see what this newbie would do to her. Fighting back was reserved only if it looked like death would arrive soon. And even then. Maybe death would be better than this. Except the preacher man said death was worse, far worse, than this. Which confused Silent Rag and kept her from sawing her wrist back and forth over the sharp edge of the screw on the underside of her cot.
“Okay. I like doing laundry. I don’t mind it. My hands get red but it’s better than stirring slop all day. They had me in the kitchens and I burned that stew they have in the big cans. I let it burn, you know? I ain’t never cooked in my life, so how did I know to keep the heat low and shit? I’m J-Snatch, we’re in the same block. Shit, mama, you’re old. You ever getting out of Imptown or what?” J-Snatch folded jumpsuits and towels. “Well, my real name is Rosarita, but K-Tell says I need an Imptown name, so she started calling me J-Snatch. I’m a thief, I used to steal purses. You’re famous. Been here near thirty years, they say. Thirty years, I say. No shit, I say. I can’t even imagine that. Is it true? Everybody lies in here. Even me. I used to be so honest, except for the stealing. Now I just lie and lie. You know?” J-Snatch looked over at the guards, who were watching the laundry room hungering to hurt someone, to put someone in their place. “I hear if you let the guards do stuff to ya, you still get treated like shit. It’s a tough old world. They weren’t wrong about that, whoever said that.”
Silent Rag could hardly breathe. What was this? Why was this newbie being friendly? It wasn’t natural. J-Snatch kept yakking away. Until it was time to stop doing laundry and go back to the cells. Four hours of laundry, two hours of the cell, the meal half an hour, then back to D Block, where the cell remained open for two hours and the women could come and go as they pleased. Then lights out. Until morning arrived at five. Always at five. The unholy buzz of morning’s warning. Ten minutes to stand in front of the cell you called home so you could be checked off the Who’s Still Alive list.
Silent Rag lay on her cot, in the dark, with her arm itching. She had not been offered medical assistance, as those in charge decided she needed to be taught a lesson. You’re in here to be punished, this is nothing compared to what your baby had to go through. Silent Rag had accepted that and tried to keep her festering arm clean and dry. But working in a laundry did not help that at all. She let her fingers run along the parallel scratches and it did not seem they were healing all that quick. That lone rabbit feeding free as it pleased. That rabbit showed up in her dreams and turned into some creature with long naked wings. And it flew away over the walls of Imptown and flew into the moon. Silent Rag sat up right before the morning warning sounded. She emptied her bladder and her cellmate called out to Jesus, still asleep somehow. Ratti, however, spoke of nothing but Jesus all day so it made sense she’d call out for her boyfriend all night. Ratti spoke of Jesus as one might speak of a husband, but many women in here did.
“Good morning, Rag!” This drifted down from several cells up. J-Snatch. And then Homestead Bon spoke as well.
“Shut your hole.”
“I got a right to tell someone good morning, you fucking cow,” J-Snatch called back and laughter colored the air like a rancid coating of mist.
Today, there were two rabbits. Silent Rag watched them from the corner of her eye, sitting hunched up near the death fence. That death fence beckoned the gals to try it, just try it. How many had been scooped up with a shovel and slid into a bucket after trying that fence? How many? But the two rabbits hopped and fed, hopped and fed, in the shadow of the junky trees, filling their bellies on the rank long grass. Hop, feed, look around. Hop, feed, look around. The scuffle of a fight, the guards yelling. J-Snatch and Homestead Bon, of course. That had been building for days now. J-Snatch a smart-mouthed bright soon to be rabid puppy facing off against the rabid dog that actually ran this shitter. Sorry, puppy, thought Silent Rag. Sorry. She watched, while appearing not to watch at all, as they all did. She watched Homestead Bon bang J-Snatch’s head against the asphalt. As the guard hovered nearby, waiting for Homestead Bon to kill her so Homestead Bon could go to solitary and J-Snatch could go in the incinerator. As prisoners who died got cremated, their ashes thrown away. No lawyers showed up to ask why they had died. Or who had killed them. No anymore. That had ended twenty some years ago, longer. Memory had become a sheet too ripped up and full of holes to be used anymore. Homestead Bon got admired and praised by the guards for being strong and not succumbing to the prison blues, as the inevitable crush and grinding got called. The guards admired the prisoners who could keep the others in line and rewarded them for doing so.
“That’s enough,” said Carrie or Candace or Pauline or Penny. Homestead Bon got marched to solitary, grinning, her big hands dripping with J-Snatch’s drying blood. J-Snatch still twitched now and then, her head a new shape. Her face seemed missing. She still twitched. The rabbits hopped and fed and sat up. Silent Rag caught a glimpse of other guards arriving to drag J-Snatch to the infirmary. J-Snatch twitched and sent out cries that sounded like a crow. The end of exercise time sounded, early today. Silent Rag lined up beside Flight, who muttered about flying to the moon.
The giant dryer sent up smoke right before it died for good. The guard came over and cursed, then told Silent Rag to put the wet stuff in another dryer, but there were none open. The dryer, dead as J-Snatch, would sit there waiting for repair or replacement. For years perhaps. And yet the same amount of laundry would be expected to be done. Or there would be consequences. No money in the budge, it was claimed, to fix anything yet all the money in the world to punish. No money in the budge, ever, to improve Imptown in any way. No money in the budge, ladies! Rabbits with seashell pink ears, munchingrank grass in the sometimes sunshine. Soon it would turn hot and dry and the rains would not show up again until the fall, if they showed up at all. Rain had become a rare thing here at Imptown and the lands around it. A slap. The guards on the other side of the big dank room. “I know you was friends with that commie bitch,” Homestead Bon said. She had an odd streak of absolute patriotism and long eyelashes stuck around her wolverine eyes. She grabbed Silent Rag’s left arm, then laughed. “Looks like I marked you as mine, honey. I branded your ass!” And everyone nearby laughed as well, like well trained seals at the zoo. Silent Rag had gone to one once. Those animals in pretty cages. Those animals in such pretty cages.
Homestead Bon turned to go back to folding sheets nearby. Silent Rag saw the gleam of metal in the lumpy wetness of the undried sheets. A spoon shaped into a crude little weapon. Her hand closed over it but she slipped it into her jumpsuit, down between her sagging breasts. What are you going to do with that, she asked herself. What are you going to do with that?
Her heart beat in secret little pumps and bursts. Don’t know yet. Don’t know.
Silent Rag waited now every day for her glimpse of those rabbits. Sometimes they remained absent. Sometimes just one, sometimes both. Her arm festered, then slowlybegan to heal but she was not so young anymore. Her bones ached and her back seized up now and then trying to move wet stuff into the dryers. Newbies came and went. The old timers got older. Some even managed to finish their sentences and were let go. Only to return not that much later. Once a captive of Imptown, it seemed, you remained one all your life. Learning your lesson never took hold here. Nobody ever learned anything but how to line up and keep their eyes slid away just enough. Just enough. Jesus shook a finger and yelled a lot during Sunday yellings from various preacher men. Always men. No woman ever showed her face during Sunday to lecture other women on getting right with God. It would have caused riots. It had caused riots. Women found being told they were sinful nothings by another woman intolerable and an excuse to go crazy and try to kill everything nearby. Silent Rag felt that, too. Women telling other women they were damned, no sir. Men could say it because men lied all the time. Women meant it and that could not be borne.
A man with a shovel stood on the other side of the death fence today. A baseball cap shielded his face somewhat from the sun. Homestead Bon wandered over as Silent Rag forgot to pretend she wasn’t watching anything at all but her own big feet, in cheap canvas slip-ons. “We got pests around here. Gonna be some dead bunnies, yessirree.” All one word, yessirree. Silent Rag kept her head turned toward that man, with the slight belly, sliding that shovel’s end into the untilled earth, then shaking something from a tin can down into that wound he had made. “Poison. It’s poison. Gophers, rabbits, squirrels. All dead. All dead, Rag. All dead.” Laughing as little creatures died. Laughing. No. No, that was not what Homestead Bon’s laughter sounded like. Homestead Bon honked and oinked her laughter. This sounded…like fingernails scraped along a scarred gray wall in solitary. “Fucking shits,” Homestead Bon whispered in such honest disgust that Silent Rag met the wolverine eyes and they were the eyes of some woman so lost, so insufferably damned, it blinded her for a bit. And then it was just Homestead Bon lurching away, her big hard body giving tiny shudders, her fists perhaps never to become hands again.
That night, Silent Rag sat on her cot, holding that bit of metal, turning it over and over. The pulse in her wrist throbbed. She heard sobbings in the dark and the grunts of women finding solace and the sighs of ghosts. Night sounds never changed, nothing changed and perhaps she had just imagined Homestead Bon with her hidden little soft spot toward some stupid wildlife far too stupid not to try living right up against the death fence of Imptown. Nothing changed in the day time, but Silent Rag noted that Homestead Bon sometimes looked at that little patch beyond the fences humming with devil juice. Asif looking for wild rabbits with seashell pink to their ears. With her wolverine eyes as soft as the down on an inner thigh.
Years pass like the snap of bones. Silent Rag sat watching, yet not watching, that field on the other side of the death fence. No rabbits. No rabbits for years now. They had cut the old trees down, leaving raw stumps, as if to make that sad view as sad as possible. The sun hit her face and burned her skin. There. The seashell pink of an ear. Had she seen that with her fading eyes? Her eyesight seemed worse lately. Her head ached and the world seemed dimmer, indistinct. Yes. A single small rabbit, in the shadow of one of the stumps, wandered in off the sagebrush dirt hills. Axegirl beat Homestead Bon to death nearby as the guards waited for the right moment to step in. That rabbit began to feed on the long rank grass. Silent Rag stood. She had that bit of shaped metal spoon weapon in her right hand. She sank all six inches of it into the back of Axegirl’s neck, with everyone growing still at this third entering the known world of Who’s Queen Bitch of Imptown showdown that had been brewing for days now. Homestead Bon lay quivering and twitching, the guards began to yell and beat at Silent Rag, who withdrew that makeshift blade from downed Axegirl. “For the rabbits,” Silent Rag said to Homestead Bon, who twitched and bled all over the exercise yard’s cracked surface. She jammed that makeshift knife into her own throat. It went easy as pie, just as easy as pie. 865741 smiled up at the sky, hoping she got made into a story, hoping she got remembered. She felt nothing at all after her small wish.
I looked at that picture and went, whale clouds. I saw clouds full of whales above a landscape I’d seen since a child. Dust and yellow fields of wheat and duty stones and houses full of dull good people living dull good lives. I’ve been trying to write something poetical and deep. It comes across as trite and laughable so I will just write this. Poetry is honest little nibbles, yes? Or it’s supposed to be. I should hope that someone reads this and wants to quote it or make a poster around it to tell them something they wish to hear or that sparked some ‘ah, there it is!’ moment. Is that not a moment, to see a whale in those careful or careless cloud smears? Or do I see what I want? And before I can descend into something depressingly precious I’ll end this little shriek with something about hawks and panting coyotes and a black fence that seems quite aggressively divisive and old man ‘keep off my lawn’. Probably just me. Probably just me.
Howdy. So a stray kitten showed up the day before Halloween. She is about a month and a half old, a tabby-calico-ginger short coat and the sweetest personality. Just purrs! Very clingy and needy, wants to be held. She seems more like a puppy than a kitten.
So. She has a gash that’s mostly healed atop her little head. And there seems to be something truly funky about her mouth. Her lower jaw seems split. A birth defect? Or it’s, gulp, broken. She also has diarrhea. I mean DIARRHEA. There’s a bit of pus or matter about her nose and at times seem in her mouth, so I rinsed her mouth out with a mild saline solution– warm water and salt.
Long story short, with gory details left out about constant kitten watery glops of liquid poo…took her to the vet today as the diarrhea is not clearing up. I’ve had her on rice and watered down wet cat food for days, no milk, lots of water to keep her hydrated.
The vet takes one look at her, announces broken jaw. We can perform surgery, wire her jaw shut, or you can have her put down. As just leaving her to sink or swim would mean she’d have trouble eating the rest of her life, as well as other major problems. The kitten, just called Kitty as I’ve had her maybe four days, looks up at me, freaked out a bit about being in a new place but otherwise wanting to explore the exam room. See things and sniff and find out what’s what. She’s lively, eyes clear, exuding energy and will.
This is not a terminally ill kitten that’s suffering…except for the diarrhea. Her little bottom is quite sore. I put salve on it.
Do I coldly have the vet end her life or…deplete my tiny store of cash?
Yeah, I opt for the surgery.
So, I set up a GoFundMe. It’s set at 300 bucks or so. I expect nothing to come of it but people over on FB did ask if I was taking donations. I am, frankly. For that little three pound bag of gingery bones, you bet your bottom I’ll pass the hat.
note– this is hard for me to do. But. I can ask for help for a cat. She’s worth it. Thank you all even for reading this.
note 2– so, Crystal, possibly Lola [name? neither seems quite right…] is back home and miserable. Might need a cone. Ever tried to get meds in a cat that’s had jaw surgery? Fun! But hey, I have a cat now.