Let’s get some bidnez out of the way first, m’kay?
BUY MY BOOKS. There. We all feel better now? I do!
House on Clark Boulevard, in case you didn’t see that title SPLASHED ALL OVER THIS SITE and of course, the lovely and talentedOREGON GOTHICfeaturing short stories no self-respecting cat hoarder would ever be without.
I do actually have a topic. Patience, grasshoppers. Patience.
Me, myself and I have restarted, from scratch, my novel about old ladies V. cannibal bikers in the small town of Fallon, Nevada. Oh my, I can hear the intake of shocked breaths from HERE.
The Remarkable Women of Brokenheart Lane.
Now, the previous and finished product held elements of gut-wrenching horror and gut-churning forays into the heart of darkness. And my publisher dude just went…fuck this, what the hell is wrong with you. No doubt in a veddy posh British accent.
Posh Spice snorting about bloody Americans as they sip their tenth cup of Earl Gray for the day. Yep!
I was understandably X. [I can’t write, wah!] I went extreme! I let people see how extreme I went! [Believe me, kiddos, there’s a whole flipping ocean beneath my extreme, don’t even worry.]
“Never go full extreme!” seemed to be the lesson here…or at least, shop your extreme stuff to those in the extreme bidnez. Don’t be an Albert Fish in a world of Dr. Seussian polite murder mysteries and sweet little ghost tales. Lesson learned!
The street in that title, THE REMARKABLE WOMEN OF BROKENHEART LANE, by the way, is an actual street name I saw in Nevada. There’s also a Chicken Dinner Lane [it might even be road] in Caldwell, Idaho. I love those wacky street names. They ‘inspire’ me.
A year or more goes by.
Imagine that flippy calendar visual. Got it? Okay! We’re hopping from a June of perhaps over a year ago to–
It’s December of 2017.
I think, ah, I need a new project. Candy Crush cannot become my new project, even though HOW THE FUCK DO YOU GET PAST LEVEL &&$. Yes, I am a bit hooked on a damn game, and it’s sad and silly. It’s sild. Slad? I’ll work on combining those two words into one awesome one. New goal for today! Where was I?
Oh. New project. Christmas time.
Lurking in my muzzy, wuzzy head is the idea that Remarkable Women needs a REWRITE. Because, allegedly, that’s what writers do. Take out something laid aside and torture it into new, probably sleazy, crackwhore-ish shapes. All to make a buck eventually somewhere in the land of the not really free and the home of the sneeringly can’t be bothered. Most of whom don’t even know the words to their own National Anthem yet have strokes over how patriotic they are. Amen, Baby Jesus. And the socket’s red blare, the fights bursting in fair! Gave proof to the lie that our frogs were still hair!
What’s YOUR NOVEL about, you ask. Thank you for asking!
Oh these three elderly sisters have survived some sort of world-ending event. They live in a falling down house and try to avoid starving to death, when they’re not trying to avoid the gangs of human monsters roaming about through the Nevada wastelands.
See why I went all dark and Cormac MacCarthy? Yeah, me either. Because that premise just screams for a lighthearted romp with zingers, witty observations about modern manners and a sneer sent toward Millenials, because…that’s what everyone else is doing.
The seed of Remarkable Women was actually three sisters going to visit their childhood home to visit the grave of their childhood dog. Which I did actually write and send off somewhere to get SOUNDLY REJECTED.
But then another moldy seed split from my original kitchen sink reality seed…cannibals, bikers, Mad Max-like scenarios, old ladies.
I mixed Doomsday, the Road Warrior and those movies featuring women far past their prime [ anything over fifteen years old, amirite, gentlemen??]. Those movies usually starring Judi Dench, Helen Miren and Maggie Smith. Actual Dames! Kind of like those movies starring a raft of ancient creaky actors still creaking around, usually studded with Morgan Freeman or Michael Caine.
Who doesn’t combine a bunch of rando thoughts into one big whirling shitball and then make ART from it? Everyone does it. Everyone.
This outing, this new rising from the dead ashes of another book, [not dead, just resting. Just resting!]
–this time taking on that dusty world of death, destruction and impossibly narrow escapes…
I find the story wishes to float along in a truly breezy, just write the damn words sorta way. I also find the story wishes to be told from two POV’s– those of the sisters and those of the bikers. I’m giggling rather foully to myself as I write so that’s a good sign. For me, at least. I’m having fun! Writing is fun! Look at me! FUN FUN FUN.
It’s foggy here so I can’t go outside. It’s also non-snowy so my rage at the lack of snowiness rages.
Candy Crush and total ass out, balls to the wall rewrite in the works. I’m not consulting the finished draft I already wrote ages ago. I reason I can make up silly post-Apocalypse names without having to copy my own silly made up post-Apocalypse names, as that just seems like cheating.
Lily, Violet and Laura, hello again! It seems like we’re old friends and you all have a fresh tale to shout in my ear. A sort of dark-ish fairy tale about ogres and witches and my own version of a Valentine to Nevada, that Silver State that oftentimes leaves a bit of shiny fake gold in my noggin. Let’s raise our typing fingers to THE REMARKABLE WOMEN OF BROKENHEART LANE. Long may she languish in don’t wanna touch that publishing purgatory!*
*If I say something like that, the only place I have to go is up. I’ve read the inspirational quotes, for the love of fucks and money. Start low and go high! You can’t start on the high road without wading through the cow pond, my dears. A bit of homespun Oreeegun wizdum. Wheeee.
Oh it’s January. Again. It’s very early in the morn. My face is swollen from some infected tooth or perhaps evil spirits sent by Satan. Yes, America is indeed trying, as hard as possible, to return to such times as those. When unseen spirits caused problems and witches sent storms and turned the milk sour. Where church and state were one and the same and the lives of peasants were owned by the nobility…No safety nets, no medical care, no hope at all, really, of anything but hard work and a harder death.
What a sour thought so early in the morn.
Fie upon me for being so overly cynical. And simplistic about the Middle Ages. Fie upon me indeed! For being so overly pessimistic.
It’s by-God and Sunshine-y Jesus and Exploding-Papyrus Osiris– 20- flipping 18. Wheeeee! Unloose the mad dogs of exploding stuff!
It’s also, I understand and gather and so forth, Year of the Dog. Dogs rule and cats drool. Aye, make it so, captain.
I watched some of the Twilight Zone marathon, as you do, when you’re a near shut-in and the thought of OTHERS causes you actual bodily harm. [My face swollen. People did that. That’s how my reasoning works these days.] I had no wish to pour myself into ten year old party clothes [a shirt, some pants] and slither off to a bar. Or slink into some party, with my hair sprayed into place and my smile lopsided. Because my face is swollen and I look like something out of a sideshow right now. Not exactly at my best.
I saw the Invaders, where Samantha’s mom battles tiny aliens. Bewitched, darlings. Endora took on tiny mean aliens! I saw a woman devil, played by Catwoman’s Julie Newmar, with the cutest little horns glued to her head or however hair and makeup did it. Cute little horns!
Oh and the ever-popular one with Captain Kirk and the guy in the gorilla suit. Where the guy in the gorilla suit [a gremlin!] fucks with the airplane wing and Captain Kirk, losing his shit because no one can see this but him, steals a gun, then proceeds to cowboy up and take that gorilla-suited gremlin down town. There is a scary actual moment in that one…when Cap’n K slowly pulls that curtain back from his window and the gremlin is RIGHT FREAKING THERE. We expect it. We jump anyway. Every. Single. Time. Richard Matheson wrote this episode– Fear at Twenty Thousand Feet.
Also, note. You could both smoke on a plane and choose your own comfy-looking seat! Wah! I blame Satan. Satan turned airplane travel into a Medieval torture gauntlet. Satan!
Well, at least if you’re in peasant class. The nobles up front seem to have it made. Ah, if only my parents had been born into the aristocracy! Curse them for their low-class farm genes! I blame Satan. And witches. And Social Justice Warriors. And commies. And liberal judges.
Who are all controlled by Satan.
I also saw the one with the creepy dummy, called, I do so believe, the Dummy. Yes, still on Twilight Zone. Skip this if you’re not a Twilighter. My actual urge toward those wooden things is to beat them to death with an airplane. Then burn whatever’s left because fire kills evil things. Those awful puppet thingies and clowns…here I thought a new year would magically rid me of my not-rational reaction to ventriloquist’s dummies and clowns. Oops. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer also had a dummy episode, in its first season. And aye, mateys, just as damn creepy as the Twilight Zone ep.
I also saw the one [repeat phrasing– I blame Satan] where the nasty family had to put on masks for Mardi Gras. That one. With those rather awful masks and…if you’re even a faint Twilighter, you know this one. I don’t need to do a plot massacre. [Where I badly explain whatever I think happened and then add some nonsense atop that.]
And the overly sweet robot granny one– where she goes back to the granny robot factory when the three kids waltz off to college. I Sing the Body Electric, for those steaming at home because I didn’t name the title yet. Feel better??
Machine Grandmother admits she’ll probably be dismantled for parts…so that’s, um, good, I guess. Ahem. I Sing the Body Electric or something airy-airy in that vein for a title. [I named it twice, grumblers. Take that!] Serling did admit a lot of the eps were crap on toast. Not that one, as granny robot going back to the granny factory still makes me gulp and get uncomfortable notions about just when the toaster will admit it’s conscious and that it has some life advice for yours truly.
Now of course, I didn’t get to watch my all-time fave one, with Talky Tina. Living Doll is the name of that one. Again, if you’re puzzled and making frowny faces– Talking Tina?? What is that??– then you need to stop watching Masterbate Theatre and take in some ‘murican old stuff. Satan probably has you in his thrall, dear.
But I did get to see a rather accurate portrayal of a god– the one where the six year old boy holds everyone around in a sort of terrorized obedience to his every last little whim. Or he’ll punish them if they don’t please him. [What the heck is this broad spluttering on about? It’s still Twilight Zone. I know.]
I also took a lot of over the counter pain killer.
And I might visit the local granny woman for a remedy against the bad spirits living like kings in my face. Hello, 2018.
No resolutions. Nary a one. Why? I’m not going to change. I’m not magically going to turn into some Blazing Supernova who needs an hour of sleep and accomplishes more in her first give minutes than most accomplish ever in the history of ever.
The end of 2018– if I make it that far– will have me more than likely slumped on a couch, in ancient clothes that were never in style, sleep-watching the Twilight Zone marathon on SyFy. Waking up during robot granny hugging the children and assuring them it’s time she goes to a new family. Or that she’ll be sorted for spare parts for other granny robots. Mm. My illusions seem to be slowly wearing away, leaving me a slumped bit of sad bread dough clinging to life’s bowl.
I wrote the following SHORT STORY on Christmas Day, 2017.
Snow showed up Christmas Eve and turned the local roads into skating rinks, so we stayed home instead of venturing forth for roast beast and mulled Keystone Light. I had read an account of a man who saved a mouse on some Animals-R-Grrrreat site. [Dodo? Dog Heirs? ???] The following slipped forth. There are no ghosts or goblins or zombies. It’s just a tale of a lonely man and a hurt mouse.
A TINY TALE
The mouse sits in the middle of the floor, a dejected little creature. I catch my breath, understandably startled. Mice tend to rush off and hide, not sit and wait for whatever end I might decide for them. I approach, wondering about poison. A poisoned mouse would be so caught up in dying, it would not mind someone nearby watching. I notice the mouse has a twisted, bloody back leg as I look down at it. Gray fur, a white bib, large ears and suffering black eyes. My kitchen linoleum seems a killing floor and the mouse has come here to surrender. It just waits for the killing blow to the head, the jolt of electricity, the bolt into the brain. I have traps set out. I always hope they kill instantly. They don’t. Sometimes a mouse is caught by a small arm or by the tail. And if I do not remember to check, they languish for hours until they die of fright or pain. Or perhaps they just give up. Once I found half a tail still caught in a trap’s metal frame.
The mouse shivers but does not run off as I bend to get a closer look in the hard dawn light. Light in winter hurts my eyes, light in summer welcomes me. The light changes in winter, that’s what I know. Snow arrived yesterday in time for Christmas Eve. The world around me, familiar roads and dirty sidewalks and filthy alleys, rests beneath a layer of snowflakes. It seems somehow so fitting to have snow at Christmas. Even though the origins of this holiday came from the desert lands of the Middle East. As far as I know, Jesus never threw snowballs or went sledding. I look at the box yet on the table, that held small gifts from indifferent relatives mailed to me because of obligation. Generic gift boxes of spiced sausages and tiny blocks of smoked gouda or bacon-infused cheddar. Do I not have some smaller box I could line with something soft? The mouse does not move. Quick small breaths in and out, in and out.
Though I am careful, the mouse clearly experiences pain. The small face twitches, the eyes close shut. The mouse I set down in the small box, full of ripped up toilet paper. It sits there, wondering why I am prolonging its life. I get a cotton swab, dip it into some hydrogen peroxide, apply this to the mangled leg. Foam. The mouse actually drags itself into the torn paper. I try not to touch it, thinking my presence just stresses the creature out even more. A drink, a bit of something to nibble as it rests or as it dies anyway. I have an eye dropper, perhaps a bit of cracker. I brush the end of the dropper against the mouse’s tiny mouth. After a bit, it swallows. Heat spreads itself in my chest, relief and resignation that I am now committed to saving this one mouse’s life.
I put the lid on the box, with holes punched in that lid by a butter knife. I have no vet training and don’t know what to do for such a messed up limb as that. Would it be kinder to just kill the little thing? But somehow, I cannot bring myself to execute the dainty, gray and white, little beast just yet. The rest of it seems fine; it’s just that bad leg. A cat? A trap? An owl? Except. How can a three-legged mouse survive a world of human traps and predators? There are three-legged pets the world over. But a damaged little prey animal would quickly succumb to something. I begin the coffee and contemplate that small box, full of a suffering little thing. If it dies, then it will die with its thirst quenched, in the warm soft dark of a box.
My immediate family has long been gone and perhaps that is why I am reacting so strongly to a common pest like this. A longing for something I never really had? Perhaps or just my natural kindness. My Midwest fabled politeness? I have long grown used to my solitary life, to the roughness of my hands and the roughness of my life. I work in a slaughterhouse and I cut up livestock. They come to me already dead but even I wonder if whatever animated them watches us cut their bodies into steaks and chops and briskets and roasts. If there is a God, God does not live in a slaughterhouse. That much I know to be true. I hope the God everyone argues over so viciously does not live in the slaughterhouses of the world. I hope that with real hope. I hope God is not looking out of those wide dark eyes or trapped behind the dead glazed pupils, asking us to see Him finally. Where do such thoughts come from. The coffee perks away.
I make my breakfast, oatmeal with bananas cooked into it. I make toast. I drink coffee. I check on the mouse, who huddles down but does not try to escape. I give it some more water, being patient. It does not know I am trying to help it. It only knows I scooped it up, hurt it further by pouring something painful on its leg and then trapped it in a box full of strange paper. It swallows, I see it. The cracker is yet untouched. As long as it drinks, I think. I remember having one of those watering deals for my one and only pet, a guinea pig. A metal spout they could lick to get a drink, attached to a plastic bottle. My guinea pig, named Ralph, lived almost a month. It got sick, and then I found it dead in its cage. My mother threw the stiff red and white body away. We lived in Omaha, in a tiny apartment and there was nowhere to bury it. No yard or soft grassy green place. Just tossed in with the coffee grinds, the potato peelings and the overdue bill notices. It will stink, John, she told me as she yanked the trash bag up and had me take it out to join the rest in the dumpster behind the ratty apartment building we used to live in. She had been a harsh, hard woman, German on both sides. She had no time for feelings or not doing what needed to be done. Her hands, I remember, were rougher than mine are now. They cracked and had little red fissures. She covered them with cold cream and tried not to show how they hurt her. She got the flu, it turned into some kind of awful pneumonia and then days later she died. I was fifteen and became a ward of the state of Nebraska. No one wanted me, my distant relatives never responded to the state’s pleas to come get me, and I went to work as soon as I turned eighteen. The same story of a lot of kids.
I give the mouse another drink and leave a small bottle cap full of water for it. I had agreed to a Christmas Day shift so that Todd, who had a family, could drink whiskey sours and eat turkey with his in-laws. Others who didn’t care about Christmas or didn’t really have families also took shifts today. The work would be light and yet drag. Work dragged on any holiday when the place stayed open to process carcasses. Maybe I should take the mouse with me. And what? Keep checking on it to see if it had died yet? How could I explain the small forlorn mouse I had adopted? I find I don’t want to be stared at or noticed by others. I find I hate such attention, that I’m not brave or bold. I am a sheep being led to some slaughter, and maybe I’ll protest a bit before they put a bolt in my sheep head.
It’s a mouse, I argue with myself. Why do my eyes sting?
I returned home ten hours later. I smelled of blood. My hands ached. My back ached, my spine had an ache deep in the heart of it. How much longer could I do this awful work? I am not a young man anymore. The roads proved an icy nightmare and I had slid about to and fro from work. My apartment smells of fried potatoes. I had made myself an entire panful Christmas Eve, with onions and some of that mail cheese. My tiny fake tree sits in the far corner of my living room. The picture of my mother watches me from the wall.
The mouse had curled itself up in a corner of that box. The water looked lower and the cracker had been nibbled. It goes very still, its respiration very swift. The leg looks mangled and torn, twisted strangely, both gnawed and broken, perhaps. Had I expected it to be magically healed by the application of peroxide? Maybe some antibiotic cream. I had some. It could be smeared on with a cotton swab. More peroxide to keep the leg from getting infected. Why are you doing this, something in me had to ask. Because it’s the right thing to do, I answered back.
I doctor that leg as best I can, trying to be gentle. Me, a big, rambling bear of a man, trying to be gentle with a tiny morsel of life. A foaming, the peroxide biting deep. Then I attempt to get some antibiotic ointment on that leg as the mouse clearly wishes I’d just go away and leave it alone. Why does it seem the mouse is letting me help it, though? The tiny black eyes blink carefully, the ears swivel, the little whiskers move and shiver. I try not to move or handle that leg, that tiny tiny leg.
I take a shower and wash off the day’s horrors from me. The endless coming of dead bodies to be chopped and sawed and pried apart. I have never had another job. I know of no other way to earn enough to pay my rent and pay my bills. I was never good in school and have no real talents. I cannot sing or draw. I am not that good with numbers. I can wield a bone saw and I can carve up a steer and I can cook eggs. My list of accomplishments is very small. I developed a drinking problem but I gave it up three years ago, when I hit my fiftieth birthday. Being a fifty year old drunk did not appeal to me. My last steady girl seems ages ago. Claire, who had a tattoo of a heart right above her heart. She moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to be closer to her sister who had leukemia. She stopped calling me, and I don’t know if her sister survived or not.
I change the toilet paper. I get the mouse another cracker and a bit of banana. Do mice eat bananas?
If I need the internet and I never do, I go to the local library. I have a cell phone but hardly anyone but work calls me. I need something like an old-fashioned set of encyclopedias. What do mice eat? I don’t know. I wonder if any vets are working today. I have no numbers to call. It’s not like the old days, when you had a phone book. I miss phone books. I am rather behind on technology and all that. I miss phone books.
I go to bed early, after another check on my little hurt guest. I also spring all my traps. I find a dead mouse in one and the stiff body seems an actual mocking of my attempts to save the mouse I placed in that tiny box. I take the dead out to the garbage bin everyone uses. We pile our garbage bags and refuse inside and the garbage men arrive once a week to collect it, for which we all pay a small collective fee. The wind kicks up, more snow arriving. I sleep and have my usual dreams of imagining I am part of some giant family and it’s summer. It’s always summer in my dreams. That warm, gentle light of summer.
The mouse has survived the night.
It drags itself into the little cave it made in the toilet paper. I doctor the leg again, being ever so careful. I change the toilet paper. Maybe that stuff they use in teddy bears? What is that called? I eat scrambled eggs, with a bit of the extra fancy smoked gouda sprinkled on it, drink my black coffee and feel something like peace. I hear little movements from that box today. I even hear that cracker being munched a bit. There are no other sounds except the usual creaks of my apartment, the rising and falling whine of the wind full of snow and sleet, and the nibbling of that hurt mouse. Todd has a dog. He would have a vet’s number. I have the swing shift today.
“Todd? Yeah, it’s John. Hey, weird question. Do you have a vet?”
“Hey, John. Merry Christmas, you sumbitch. A what?”
“A vet. Thanks. Merry Christmas,” I say back, my face hot. Was I asking about a vet for a mouse? Was I?
“You need a vet? Uh…yeah. We go to the vet clinic.” Todd rattles off a number and I hastily recorded it on the back of my electric bill. “You get a dog?”
“No. I found a…a wild animal and maybe the vet can help.”
“Just kill it. It’s probably suffering.” Todd offers.
“Yeah.” We exchange some words, mostly him speaking of how dry the turkey was. He loves wet turkey. Dripping with turkey juice and butter. I hate turkey so I mostly ignore the turkey grumbling.
A woman’s bright, sweet voice answers when I try that number. I explain my problem. “A mouse, you said? A wild mouse? Um, well, you can bring it in, of course. But maybe you should try a wildlife rescue. Just a long shot. They take in injured wildlife, after all.”
I had not thought of that. “Thank you. The back leg is crunched or something. It let me pick it up and I have it in a box.”
“Like I said, we can take a look at it, sir. But I’d suggest a wildlife place. I have a number if you want to try them. There’s one nearby. They’re small but they might be able to do something.”
“Okay. Thanks.” I take the number and end the call. I check in the box, the mouse peers back at me, from its cave, before carefully trying to hide itself completely from me. I call the wildlife place and it goes to message. To the vet, then.
My sweet-voiced angel turns out to be a giant, ugly woman with grizzled fake red hair and the loveliest smile. She looks into the box and then nods at me. A man sits on one of the old worn yellow chairs, with a cocker spaniel held on his lap. “It’ll be a bit, We have a cat with a broken leg to see to and then Mr. Thorndyce here and Bandit. You tried the wildlife place?” Her nametag spells out Juli. The air stinks of sharp, bitter medicine and cinnamon air spray. Pictures of animals hang on the walls. A poster about the care of a new puppy. A bulletin board for community animal needs and wants and people looking for lost dogs or cats or people trying to give away unwanted this or that.
“Yes, I did. I just got an answering machine. I’ll try them again.” I catch a glimpse of a big shaggy black dog being led to a cage, wearing a cast on a front leg. It tries to lick the person trying to get it into the cage. The person pets it, bends low to say something to the wiggling friendly dog and then puts the dog behind bars to await the owner coming to pick it up.
“They’re probably busy doing rounds. Feeding, cleaning, you know. Yeah, try again. Dr. Calvin will take a looksee. Oh yeah…look at that leg. Poor thing. Just have a seat.” She smiles that lovely smile, her teeth yellow and homely. Juli probably had kids at home and lots of dogs, that was the impression I got from her. Those ugly farm women types someone marries because they probably got her pregnant. She even wears a red and green sweater beneath her white coat.
Bandit, the spaniel, squirms and then hops down and emits a giant pile of diarrhea. Juli gets the cleaning supplies out, after taking the pair back behind the swinging doors. “I’m sorry, he musta got into somethin’,” the man says. Don’t you worry, Juli is overheard saying. She comes back out, gives me an apologetic smile, then cleans up the mess as a young mother, holding a tiny child to her hip, comes in leading a German Shepherd, with its back leg dangling.
“He was like this this morning,” the young mother says, in tears. “I think he got hit by a car!”
So, it takes a while for Dr. Calvin to peer into the box at the thoroughly confused mouse. “Well, I can try to clean it and bandage it a bit, that’s about all I can do. You sure you want a bill for a wild mouse?”
“Yeah, I do. He lived through the night. I been putting peroxide on it and some antibiotic stuff. He’s been drinking water and took some cracker. I…I have to try, right?”
The vet, an older woman with short crisp iron gray hair and steel-blue eyes behind smeary glasses, takes a long look at me then nods. Clearly, she’s seen other nuts bringing in boxes of broken little lives and hoping for miracles or whatever is hoped for. Is a vet not in the business of miracles? Perhaps I am nuts. Perhaps I am.
I take the mouse home, over fifty dollars poorer. I got charged an office visit, basically. But that mangled leg is now encased in soft white bandaging with the warning that the mouse will probably chew that off almost immediately. I was also given a sample size of antibiotic cream meant for animals. It won’t sting, the vet assured me. She also looked up, on her computer, what mice could eat. I went to the local pet store to get some mouse pellets and also, while there, bought a small habitat, as it was called. I got a waterer, rather like the one that had watered long-dead Ralph. There’s after-Christmas sales galore but I only had my temporary guest to see to, not some coddled pup or arrogant, fluffy cat. I walk by cages of small rodents. Mice, even. Hamsters and gerbils and a rabbit or two. Fish. A wall of fish, waiting to go home and die and be flushed down a toilet. Or perhaps live for years in some quiet aquarium. I watch two angel fish float in their watery domain, black and white creatures from other worlds I will never know. Goggle-eyed goldfish and darting schools of minnows. Those beautiful betas in their small sad cups. The limp fins moving now and then, deep reds to navy blues to royal purples. I pay for my mouse supplies and head home on treacherous roads, but I am used to such conditions. The wind rocks my small truck about, but I am in four-wheel drive, which is a necessity on the plains.
I transfer Mouse to his new house and then smile over my rhyming. I bought bedding material, wood shavings with no smell. I set up the waterer. I put the habitat next to my heating duct so Mouse stays warm. I go off to my afternoon shift and come home late at night. I check on my patient who is still alive. The water seems a bit lower, the mouse seems a bit more lively and there are mouse food pellets scattered about as if the mouse has been sampling them. There are even tiny mouse droppings. Happiness. Happiness over a dime a dozen rodent still alive in its twenty five dollar and then some mouse mansion. But. I have no kids. I don’t go out that much, if ever. I don’t even drink anymore. What’s a bit of a splurge on a damn hurt mouse anyway? My mother’s flat eyes watch me and cannot tell me if I am doing right or being a foolish aging man.
I tell no one of my house guest. I cannot think of that wild thing as a pet; it’s not a pet. It never warms to me. I never try to pick it up. I only handle it to apply that cream to its healing leg. That leg gets dragged behind it as it scuttles about. I notice the mouse licking at it. The bandages indeed gnawed off, as the vet predicted. But it licks that leg. Rather like a dog would do. I notice the mouse has made itself a small nest in the very back corner of the habitat, as if to hide from me as much as possible. I respect that. It has no wish to deal with me. Very well.
I will see this through, no matter what happens. If the mouse heals, I will let it go. If it dies, I will throw away the little body, wrapped in toilet paper as a sort of shroud. I might even look into getting a dog or perhaps a cat, since I am gone so many hours for my job. Perhaps I am a bit lonelier than I knew. I doze on my couch and the mouse moves about in the plastic mansion. The snow comes down outside, in the days after Christmas.
Oh, hi. I just wrote a mostly focused blog post on musicals. I should go rest on my laurels until well after Hellmas is over and done with for another hell-stained year.
I have to drive to Boise today for X. I will not bore you with this one. But a trip, nonetheless I shall be making. Over several rivers and through no woods I go. The Malheur, the Snake, the Boise, in case someone at home is about to write me a long comment about how there are no rivers in Eastern Oregon/Western Idaho and how dare I say otherwise. I imagine imaginary commenters. Because no one comments here, I have to make up scenarios in my head where people comment and get bothered enough to fling some words in my general direction.
I am not bitter.
Yes. Yes, I am.
Now. Boise. It’s a maze of one-way streets downtown. It’s not as bad as, say, Portland or Eugene for trying to get from point A to point 7, but it’s close. It’s getting there! The city of Boise is trying to beautify, rebuild and otherwise make it look pretty so people will go there and buy stuff and enjoy organic greens, at the cozy, spendy eateries, greens that are grown in Boise neighborhood gardens. Or something like that. Make Idaho Great Again. MIGA!
I’d like to stay home and write. Or play Candy Crush, which after YEARS of not letting me advance, has suddenly let me advance to new levels again. I know! Candy Crush, you moan to yourself. Oh Annie! No, resist! Don’t call me Annie. Don’t.
I should be submitting to contests, festivals and literary journals. Polishing my words into brilliant diamonds of truth and beauty! And then sending them off with all the other brilliant diamonds! All those other brilliant diamonds of others that get sent in, so that we all sit there in a shiny to-read pile! Wheeeee!
The Last Jedi is also in my seen-that list. I saw it. I wuvved it! What’s with the grumbling?? Is it all the actual women in leadership roles? Stuff doesn’t blow up enough? I bet it’s that stuff doesn’t explode enough, right? And how cute were those bird things? Cute! I now want one. Marketing works! [Porgs. Those bird things are called porgs. Now. Where can I get one?]
Boise, that’s where this ode to vagueness began and where it shall end! Boise, city of trees. Tree City! I shall come back from my X mission and drink some tequila. I have a feeling…no, mustn’t jinx it. The gods laugh. Jinxed already, hon! Tee heee hee, goes Odin as Jesus slips a whoopee cushion under Allah’s saddle. And then everyone laughs at the long farting noise. What did you think would happen?
PS– as this pertains to the Last Jedi and my Boise trip…
There I sat, with my cup of spendy joe and my trashy fluff-bit of a novel, when I overheard the whine of an insectile voice. It rose and fell on the horrors of the Last Jedi and that this insect-voiced male would not ever!! consider it part of the real Star Wars oeuvre. I shifted about, mostly because the chair I sat in proved not that welcoming and due, also, to my almost-need to go argue merits of that film with the whine-voiced sort. I did not wish to cause a fistfight, not so close to Christmas!
There was a diss about how Luke had been ruined and some smack talk about Rey. The running time got compared to Blade Runner. The new one, the old one? Oh the questions that festered in my listening heart! Whatever else got spewed out I’ve chosen to block out, obviously.
And then…ah, eeeh, this loud and belligerent wasp– I did not actually do a casual looksee about the coffee shop/cafeteria to get a gander at this noble and loud being–went onward to extol the virtues of the Transformers movies. Not all of them were worthy of his seldom-given praise, but still, he was quite effulgent and moist-voiced on that first Transformers movie. I snickered at the hubris of others and returned to the adventures of a very privileged gal having mild adventures in Manhattan. I also patted myself on the back for minding my own beeswax and liking coffee. Well done, you, I told myself. Well done!
Oh dear. Oh dear! I had low expectations for the live musical version of A Christmas Story. I did. I went in expecting not that much. Some bland songs, some cynical dance numbers. The grown ups would shine, the kids would suck eggs.
I noticed, right away, how diverse the cast was. And since I’ve read the source material and seen the actual A Christmas Story– a million billion times because it’s one of my fave Xmas movies. And they run a marathon of it over on one of those T networks– I was like, well, okay. Good choice. It’s 2017, we’re aware and woke! However…! It was jarring as I wondered why the United Colors of Benetton had suddenly shown up in Indiana in the late forties. And then had some internal back and forth about if entertainment should try to show what things were actually like during a time period or if painting past periods with the happy brush of now where everyone’s all equal and shit is what we need to do to all literature, all plays, all books…yeah. Do you fix racism by ignoring it? I was having those thoughts instead of actually watching that annoying child they’d chosen for Ralphie do his thang.
I squirmed and gulped and flailed through a good half an hour or so. I don’t even think I made it that long.
So, the Ralphie kid.
Oh. Granted, I’m all WHO TURNED MY RALPHIE INTO A WHINY LITTLE AAAAARHG. There’s cuss words and since it’s nearly one of the major sacred days of heavy drinking, chips and dip and ‘family time’, I’ll refrain from flinging profanity about like sparkly razor blades. He had the glasses, sure. They got that right. I’m blaming the writers for this one. Ralphie’s song/s. Generic is the kindest description. He had a fantasy session about, yes, the Red Ryder BB gun and saving his teacher, played by the wonderful Jane Krakowski, and someone forgot to include the RED RYDER BB GUN in this sequence. I. I just can’t.
Oooooh. Where our first intro to Sexy Teacher is that she’s OCD…my soul just flew away like a startled little sparrow. Nope! Don’t add! DON’T ADD. Wait. Why is the teacher played so sexy? What the…??
Oh and Matthew Broderick. As the narrator. I was both annoyed by this and yet liking how he popped up and wove himself in and out of the story he was narrating about his own life. Ferris Buehler meets Christmas schlock.
It was like watching an ‘edgy’ experimental piece written by that woman in your writing class who wears all-black all the time, chain smokes ironically and tells everyone that her yeast infections are caused by society’s rage against feminism.
I kept expecting…something. I wondered. There’s three hours of this. Is he going to do this FOR THREE HOURS? Oh my blessed ovaries! How much are ciggies these days?? Vodka now!
The parents, played by Chris with some long Greek name, and oh Maya Rudolph, just seemed to be imitating Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon. Who played the dad and mom in the, um, actual movie. And held their own and then some against some cute, pretty realistic little tots. I was not drawn in. I was not charmed. I did not want to see their journey toward some sort of Christmas orgasm. I noticed how abusive dad was…I noticed. Uh oh.
So, I checked what was on the other channels. Hallmark spitting out their cookie cutter Christmas fare, yay. The Christmas Love Cottage Santa Express Plastic People Getting Happy Endings Every Time movie was on. Tempting! Lifetime, also runs Xmas fare. Oh there’s sometimes the old-timey holiday fare over on TMC and AMC. I then noticed, yes, it was Sound of Music night.
Not that ghastly attempt at a live musical version with Carrie Underwood, who looks like she stepped out of a Hallmark holiday confection, but the actual movie. With Julie the Goddess Andrews. And Christopher Sexy Beast Plummer. Yes, yours truly has a serious crush on the Captain. Is it just me??? And such a beautiful movie. The backdrops of Austria. Oh wow. I’d get all scholarly and movie film critic-esque but I don’t wish this here blog post to run into overtime.
And if you’ve never seen Sound of Music, even ironically, then…you’re probably an agent of Satan. And I just can’t deal with you right now.
I showed up right as Maria shows up late for that dinner. She’s spunky! And sweet. And oh, the familiar rhythms of this film just soothe this savage beast!
However, my least fave bit of SOM approaches.
That ode to ‘you’re not old enough yet but hey it’s just around the corner’ sung by the eldest daughter and the Nazi boy. If you’re suddenly jarred and wondering why I’m watching a film with singing Nazis…ugh, you really need to get out more and watch something other than youtube odes to why Bigfoot is real.
I switch back to, yes, Christmas Sorry. They are at the lamp bit! And singing about the prize dad wins. And there’s this actually well done on-screen quick change. And then the dad continues to sing and wave a lamp-shaped trophy about. I nod over that bit of clever prop-placement and then head back to see if the horny Nazi and the horny Liesel are done dancing and singing in the rain. Again, if that flies over your head, put Sound of Music on your Netflix will probably never watch this but it’s on my list list. You can mute the musical numbers. But I suggest you don’t. Most of them are pretty spiffy. Spiffy!
I mean, that horny teenybopper scene is well done. Their song and dance in that glass-covered gazebo has a gorgeous intimacy to it. I find my attention wandering during it. I wonder if there’s any cheese left. Did someone eat all the cheese? So switching back to a Christmas Sorry seems a must. I must give it another chance. I’m being nit-picky and elitist! And also a few other things, prolly. I mustn’t let my Christmas Story movie purist ideals guide me here!
Nope! Maya slamming the oven shut and singing about how…I don’t know. Let’s go watch the Buy Women Jewelry Get Laid ads in between slices of Austrian-flavored movie pastry.
Wait, she’s watching actual television??? Yes. Yes, I am. I’m not viewing all this on some phone or one of those awkwardly large ipad thingies. I’m stuck in a bygone era. Stuck!
I’ll wrap this up by confessing Sound of Music sent me off into sleepland and I woke up near the end where the Sexy Beast Captain and his band of backup singers AKA ‘the children’, along with New Wife Nun Maria, are hiding from, yes, the Nazis. Molly the Lab snoozed as well and even the house mice seemed quiet, not rattling about and having mouse fist fights.
I live in something called the ‘country’ so that means lots of mice. And it snowed, so the mice take that as a signal they all need to move into the house. This is useless information that has nothing to do with ACSL or SOM. You can skip the rando mouse blargle and it won’t mar your otherwise pleasant reading experience.
Oh, I did keep checking to see how ACSL was going. I saw, online, that the production ‘fixed’ that rather troubling end scene from the movie.
If you don’t know what that is, I might have to give you an actual glare and mutter WTF is wrong with you if we meet in real life. Who hasn’t seen this damn movie? Hands? Hands???
That there was some line flub that was covered beautifully. That Jane and Ana Gasteyer killed it. That Santa was played by David Alan Grier and that the dad killed the entire family with a butcher knife after the neighbor dogs stole the Christmas turkey off the table…and sang the best song of the whole three hours while doing that. Strangely, I can’t find that on youtube. Man, I love when family musicals channel some inner Sweeny Todd!
That’s it. I’ll stop there. I meant to keep this super-short and on point. Bye!
I am having some feels. Mostly in the negative column. The sky hangs outside in a gloomy sackcloth and ashes sort of way and I hope they just end all our pain; nuke the world already. Just fucking do it. Why play with all of us like this, tRump [Rapey McPussyhands!] and company of Rapture-billies?
Haven’t we humans earned that right to go off to hell in a blaze of incredibly silly mushroom cloud glory?
Humans have hated each other since…well, it depends on if you’re a Young Earth Creationist or an Old Earth Creationist or not a creationist at all, because it’s a post-fact world!
Not everyone is equal but everyone’s opinions are equal, as long as you’re not one of them funny folks. Your opinions, as long as you’re one of the good sorts, should be treated as tenderly as tender little newborns, because that’s the First Amendment!! [It’s not, I’m being, like, totally sarcastic, in case some of you are repulsed or nodding, yeah yeah, she’s got it!] I’ll treat you to some Second Amendment if you disagree with me. [Or the charming and lovely threat of going 2A on someone’s ass. Charming. Lovely.] FAKE NEWS is everything but what I like! Up is down! Cats are now dogs!
Let’s just call it a day, shall we? Goodbye, planet earth and all who dwell here! Is it over yet?
Oh why so gloomy, it’s almost Christmas!
Shut up, brain worm!
Why don’t you make some cinnamon rolls?
Oooh! Ah…all that work and they’re gone in about five seconds.
Make two batches, you dippy broad.
How very patriarchal of you.
CINNAMON ROLLS. CINNAMON ROLLS NOW.
Shut up, Norma Rae brain worm!
Nobody’s gonna get that reference.
Sure they will. Norma Rae is a symbol of the strength of the worker uniting against…oh. You’re right. Norma Rae and her ilk are as dead as we all will be as soon as someone presses that button. Dead dead dead. Dead!
I didn’t ask for some commie liberal bullshit, did I? Cinnamon rolls are good. They contain forgetting powers.
Cinnamon rolls are Jesus. They will save you! Jesus rose from the dead, cinnamon rolls rise, um, and there’s yeast. Yeah.
Are you insane? Brain worm, are you…insane? Can’t you, um, hit me with some giant idea, something that will occupy me for a couple days and maybe even turn into a novel?
Why? No one’s reading your shit or buying it. Why bother? There. I can be gloomy, too. Now go wait for the end as those rolls bake. Or you can buy them in a tube at the Canned Food Store. Ooooh, yum! Canned cinnamon rolls, tasty! You’re right. Why make them from scratch and then post pictures on social media? Buy a tube of em, and post that on social media.
Why are we having this conversation?
Because you’ve fallen between the cracks and it’s only amusing and horrible to you. Also, you’re the one typing, not me. I have no fingers. I am a worm. I’m an imaginary worm that lives in your brain. This is all you, baby.
Is this what it feels like right before insanity wipes your sanity away?
What? Uh. Sure. Why not. Cinnamon rolls now?
You’re a simple creature.
Well, yeah. I’m a worm. Oh hey, why not write about current events? How the UN plot to rule the world is finally coming true…
Fuck off. I’m not one of those people.
You could be. Wanna try it? Go on! Accept that the UN is a powerfully evil, yet horribly inept super-group poised to rule the world via depopulating the earth via vaccines and birth control and feminists. Oh and that those black helicopters. And HER EMAILS. And how the moon landing was faked by the UN to fund raise.
I’m not quite there yet. It sounds great, don’t get me wrong. Giving myself over to total nonsense sounds oh so glorious right now. To just let go and swim in those waters! I bet my bank account would start bulging in the right direction. I could write about…oh. Stop it, you fucking worm!
Tee hee!! I’ll be here all your life! Try the veal!
You do know what veal is?
Cute baby cows cut up into cutlets?
Cinnamon rolls now? You’ve been watching those Great British Baking Show shows. You know you want to plunge your lady hands into sticky dough and create baked goods, create a product somebody actually wants. You also have a bit of crush on that grumpy…
Wow. You’re a mean worm.
I really am. Thanks for noticing. Now go buy some tubed rolls! Stop being such a Millennial fussbottom. You’re old now. Old. Ohhhhhh-ld.
My hair is still wet. I was told not to go outside if my hair was wet, especially in winter. We’re the same age. Did you forget that?
Are we still talking? I thought you were done pretending some brain worm pretended to hold a conversation with you that you wrote out for others to not read. Is that even close to being correct grammatically? Asking for a friend.
Fine. Celery and tepid water it is.
Are you a gloomy little muffin still? Are you all better now??
I thought we were done talking, brain worm.
I have a name.
I’d have to look through my earlier posts to find it. How about Ratface Barfwoozle?
Um, no. Why don’t you spend the afternoon reading up on the UN…and I’ll take a nap. Maybe cue something up on Netflix. I hear good things about Stranger Things. Maybe catch up on my Game of Thrones. Didn’t Jon Snow sleep with his aunt or something?? I’m tingling!
You don’t have Netflix.
No. You don’t have Netflix. I’m a brain worm. I’m a limitless being. Bye!
I wrote the following after receiving a rejection.
Then moi conceived a magnificent plan.
Here’s my ‘brilliant’ plan!!
I’ll write some stream of consciousness, totally woke prosepoemsmear and submit that to X submission opportunity! It will be lacking in actual grammar, structure and paternal literary merits! It will have no merit. None. Not a whiff of merit. I stayed highly aware of my own wokeness the entire time I typed that below. Did North Korea just flippin’ BOMB US?? Where is the vodka?
If I consider ‘murica right now…I’ll start eating my bad hair. I won’t bother with a mustard chaser this time.
Flapdoodle sexbugs of Ganderv55
CarLISLE gives nothing and I rot like a dream as we rut in the leaves beneath the tree of his mother. She brings us old toast and new coffee her hair on fire from daddysexjuice and we smell her burning but she pours us coffee and scolds us about jesus who is meek and mild and full of corn. mother moother you are old news and mother directs us like traffic cones into the river of my lovers who slap me with morality. i screamed could not find my way but my carLISLE advised me to take three aspirin and stuff them in my sexbug and oooooh i discovered the sands of my own breasts and i wept because i am not awake.
we went on the sidewalk found a cup and a dead idea, took both back in our backpack and put them in a cage because it’s all we know of high heels. dream on screamed moother and we dreamed on
until father gave us gum that smelled like cinnamon whores at low tide which created ghosts in our intestines that we farted out as ironic statements of purpose for ivy schools that never considered us contenders. I WORE A YELLOW FLAPDOODLE and nobody told me I WORE A YELLOW FLAPDOODLE and I wondered why no one told me because i posted the bread pictures and everyone hit the yes button and told me yes yes yes and squirted yes juice into my burning eyes. I tire to be brilliant but the diamonds turn to rodents in my kneecaps where slime shops for canned meat and mark down cancer drugs. WHY WON’T U SLAP MEE mmmooother asked as she sliced smelly lettuce for the eternal meal
and sister, my sister is dead yet sits on my right hand better than god or allah because she gives me pink gummy bears for my sexbug slit and doesn’t need them back to glue in her scrapbook where she once glued a live frog that begged her to traditional marry it and she told it no, it wasn’t fresh and that she wanted a turtle to lay eggs in her vast pulsing worldwomb. My sister puts her hair out to be sliced and my mother slices it slices and my sister marries the frog and glues herself in the scrapbook that’s how she died and yet how she lives because i can cut her shape from the pages and stick them to my eyes so she stares at me as i paddle over the rainbutt and into the dirk
but CarLISLE won’t say. Theres nothing there and I MADE HIM UP because father asked me to and we all obey we all obey
except the cat but the cat lives on some other plane thats not here at all poor cat.
77 oh 5 hump my leg like naughty poodles of elves left in the jupitor rain and all the numbers confuse me with yearning
so i dig up the cat and the cat doesnt scratch me because mooother
cut off its soul and used it for a suncatcher but the sun stays captured in my father who hangs strips of his love on the wall like narrow rewards won at turkey shoots.
run brother run
u hav no bro says car and i curl up and shud at it all but the Ganderv55 invasive me so i sigh thru the orgi and use vanilla soap and my cookie smell sells stocks so great men can shit with ease