Tuesday, January 30, 2007

From Across the Bar

"You're a handsome gentleman," she cooed to me from across the corner of the dim smoky bar. "What's your name?"

"Mary," I replied. She had long dark hair and was wearing a sleeveless black dress.

"Oh," she said and stirred her drink, looking away toward the pool tables. The hypotenuse between us wisped away with the smoke, no longer a solid line connecting our two points with side A and side B of the wooden bar triangle. She wasn't down with dykes.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Fake Origins of Comic Writers: Tony Millionaire

"Where's my laptop?" asked Sheila. Her eyes darted side to side, surveying her desk top.

"I dunno," Tony said, pushing his chair back from his desk.

"Well it was here - I left it here. I left it there," she said pointing to a blank, rectangular space on the wooden desk, surrounded by ruffled papers.

Tony stood up, peered over his desk, which sat back to back from Sheila's, and saw the same blank space. Then he bent over at the waist, and tilted his head so he could upside-down check underneath both desks.

"No laptop down here," he said.

"I NEED. I NEED THAT LAPTOP," Sheila barked. She smacked her open palm down onto a mess of papers on the desk, then swept them from right to left, knocking everything off the desk - including a stapler, a cellular phone, and the empty end of a laptop power cord that was dangling where it should have been plugged into the now missing laptop. The tiled floor of the little room was covered with paper.

"Roll up your sleeves and get down on your knees and look for it," Sheila stated calmly. She eerily seemed to have calmed down.

"Why do I have to?" Tony whined.

"Because I can' t do it in this dress!" Sheila shrieked, her face all screwed up. In fact, Sheila was wearing a very elegant black formal gown, complete with those elbow gloves and one of those wrappy-thingies that you hold on your arms but goes around your back to make you look fancy.
"All right," Tony moaned, and he rolled up the sleeves of a very sharp looking blue and green and white striped dress shirt. He also loosened his red tie, his power tie, because he figured if he was going to roll up his sleeves, he might as well loosen his tie and unbutton his collar to complete the look. To complete the image for you, he was wearing a handsome set of grey woolen trousers and black wingtip shoes, as well as a black belt and watchband and undershirt, becuase Tony always thought that black underneath goes well as long as you match it to everything, because if you didn't, then you looked sort of off with just a black undershirt and not a black belt but if you did match them all together the overall look was just -

"Well, get on with it!" Sheila commanded, cutting off Tony's thought process. Her blonde hair was pulled up into a braided bun and she was wearing a little diamond tiara just above her crown.

Tony bent down and pushed the scattered pieces of paper and the staple and the laptop's power cord around, but to be honest, the little room was quite fairly very little, and there was barely enough room for the two desks - you see, if you were looking down into the room at sort of a diagonal birdseye view from just behind Tony's desk, you'd see that both desks were shoved against each other and pushed up against the white brick of the left wall, and that there was barely even a walkway between the desks and the wall of two-way mirrors on the right. Through the two-way mirrors one could see that currently there was quite the fancy to-do going on outside of this little room in the main ballroom of the mansion. This is where Sheila held her parties for all the foreign emissaries to come to, so she could get them to drink champaign and tell them their countries secrets, which she documented on the laptop in the little room. Outside at the fancy ball, people were bustling about on the fancy marble floors wearing tuxedos and black gowns.

"If I don't get that laptop, I'm ruined," Sheila said, huffing back the sobs with tears forming in her eyes.

Tony shuffled through all the same papers, like he had done four times before, but he didn't really care if he found the laptop or not. He was just mad because he was Indian and that he had to help this stupid rich American with her stupid parties in the middle of France somewhere just because he was an immigrant with an IT degree from Bangalore and Sheila needed someone to wire the house on a network. In fact, he'd even seen the man who came through and stole the laptop. When the man came in, Tony had his feet up on the desk and was reading a naughty magazine featuring females, even though Tony was sure that he was more attracted to men anyway. The man slipped into the room through the door that looks like wood paneling out in the hallway, grabbed the laptop, then put his finger to his lips telling Tony to be quiet. Tony let out a guffaw, then rolled up the un-arousing magazine and leaned forward in his chair.

"She pays me a lot to keep track of this stuff," Tony said.

"Here then," the man said with a Texan accent, tossing Tony a manila envelope over Sheila's desk. It fluttered into Tony's hands. "It's a real passport with your name on it, and your place of birth - The United Fucking States of Kick Ass. Also, a million bucks. Straight cash. American. Deal?"

"You bet your sweet bippy," Tony replied nodding. Then he un-rolled the skin mag and stuck the envelope inside it.

Tony was still brushing the papers around when Sheila and Tony heard a knock on the two-way mirror wall. They both looked over, Sheila standing, but Tony from his hands and knees. It was the Texan in the tuxedo. He pulled the laptop out of his tuxedo coat and waved it to them. Behind him people bustled about in fancy clothes.

"That bastard!" Sheila screamed, but Tony just laughed.

"What are you laughing at?" Sheila shouted.

"Oh nothing," Tony said chuckling. "But I quit. Oops! Can't forget my porno."

Tony grabbed his nudie pages and walked out the fake panel door.

Epilogue:

Sheila was hung for betraying her country. And then hung again for each consecutive country that she betrayed, in that country. She was hung thirty-two times. She was dead for at least thirty of them.

Tony, after receiving the million dollars, became Tony Millionaire and now draws comics in the United States, unaware that he ever was an Indian from Bangalore with an IT degree.

And the Texan? Why, he became president after he succeeded in stealing the laptop to fulfill the Skull and Bones society prank which let him graduate from Yale.


The End.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ex-Girlfriend

So I was working at Starbucks the other night, and it was a late shift so I was getting pretty hungry since I'm usually in bed by ten. There was no one around, so behind the counter it was just me and Jonathon, this super hip overnighter who shaves his head and has really sharp cheekbones and has "Eloi" tattooed on his left bicep and wears tight corduroys and army boots and a t-shirt under his green apron and is super skinny. I was talking about how I was so hungry, but how I couldn't eat anything 'cause eating at night gives me bad dreams.

"Really?"

"Yeah, man," I said. "Like all that digesting and shit, just doesn't sit well. Gives me crazy dreams."

"Like what?"

So I thought of the last dream I can remember.

"Well, like, I'm lying in this big bed, and I'm fully clothed, right? But I've got my arms out - and like a Playboy spread or something, lying under each arm like a centerfold are my old ex-girlfriend from ninth grade and her best friend. Which is weird, because they're both really thin but kind of lumpy and they both have ugly faces with big foreheads and my ex has fisheyes and her best friend has kinky hair and a witch nose. So I'm lying there, and they're both all over me like I'm some, I dunno, some King or something, and they're my sex slaves. I dunno, it was weird, I didn't like it."

Jonathon started laughing, but when he laughs, it sounds like a donkey is choking and honking at the same time.

But then I got to thinking, I really did like that dream. It made me feel powerful, potent, sexually dominant. And then I started thinking too much.

"The REALLY weird part about this dream is that I dated this girl on and off since like seventh grade, but in ninth grade she went on this church trip and had sex with this guy in a hotel bathroom."

"Dude, that's fucked up," Jonathon said, leaning back against the counter. I looked out into the cafe, but no one came in. Just a few people sitting at those shitty round tables we have. Stupid college kids, you know? But my story wasn't finished, so I kept going.

"It was really fucked up! The farthest I had gone was to get my hand down her pants, and she hadn't even touched my penis before. Yeah, and I was totally stupid, I thought we were in loved and tried to keep the relationship going, but she dumped me so she could start dating my best friend at the time."

"Damn."

"Yeah. But it doesn't end there. I started going out with this other girl after that, and then ended up cheating on HER with the girl that cheated on ME!"

Jonathon honked.

Then some stupid sorority girl walked up to the counter wearing her white Greek sweatshirt and black leggins and big sunglasses and stupid suede boots. She had a huge weird looking nose and was kind of fat.

"Double venti super twisty vanilla latte-cino." Or some shit like that.

So I wrote it on the cup and passed it to Jonathon, who started making the drink at the espresso bar, and then I took her credit card and swiped it through the computer, running up another six dollar drink on a card that was probably her daddy's.

But it started to make me mad. I was obviously still bothered by this event. You know? Six years later and four addresses and two state lines later, I was still bothered by the fact that my ninth grade girlfriend cheated on me and then dumped me. Was I sad about the commitment issue? Or was I just jealous that she didn't fuck me instead? I guess my dream could be interpreted like that or something. Like I was trying to compensate for something. You know? Like, in the end this bitch AND her best friend REALLY wanted to have sex with me.

The main thing that pissed me off was that I had already graduated from college with a degree in writing, and had met the girl of my dreams and got engaged to her and moved in with her, and I couldn't have been any happier. She wanted to do graduate school at Indiana University, so I followed her there down to Bloomington from Chicago, where I finished my degree. I graduated about a year early too, so meanwhile, this ex from ninth grade (who totally became a loser stoner bitch who always wore horrible tye-dye shirts after we broke up) is probably in her fourth year of community college back in Minnesota, and I've already got a job as a secretary at the University for a dorm, pulling in a real salary. I just work at Starbucks for the free pound of coffee they give me every week.

But the shit hit the fan when I started thinking about college. You see, I went to undergrad for Fiction Writing, because I knew my Bachelor's was going to be useless anyway, and I wanted a degree in something I liked. But I thought back to the very first story that I ever wrote that was good. You know, the first one your teacher picks to read aloud in class? You know what it was about?
It was a fictional account of a fifteen year old kid having sex with this stuck up bitch at her parent's house over the summer while her parents were at work. They were both virgins, and it was about how it was all awkward and jaded and how the kid felt like he was used, but when I wrote it, in my head I pictured Kelly's bedroom at her parent's house, and the girl character was modeled after her, and the guy character, like all my male characters, was modeled after me. And the situation of how it went down was the same as when Kelly came over to the apartment we were living in while our new house was being built and gave me my first blow job in exchange for me eating her out. You know, when I cheated on Megan, the summer before tenth grade. It put me in a real fucked up mood. Six fucking years, and I haven't gotten over my first girlfriend and all the soap opera shit we went through.

Greg, the overnight shift manager came out of the back then, and he's kinda short with dark short hair and glasses, kind of looks like a gay indie rock muppet. He told a story about a dream he keeps having about an ex-boyfriend of his where he steals all of the guy's DVDs, but this boyfriend is from 2001 when DVDs were still pretty rad and cost a lot of money.

I didn't care, but Jonathon honked like a donkey again.

It wasn't until after my shift when I checked my messages on my cell phone that I started to feel better. There was one on there from a cop, and I remembered that when my fiancee was driving me to work, we called the cops on this asshole law student who lives upstairs from us and always makes a lot of noise and always parks his car over the handicapped ramp. Not in the handicapped spot, but OVER THE FUCKING HANDICAPPED RAMP, WHERE IT'S GOT THOSE BLUE DIAGONAL LINES OVER THE SPACE THAT SAY "DON'T FUCKING PARK HERE, ASSHOLE."

The message said, "Uh, hi Jesse, this is Officer, uh, Paul Warren from the Bloomington Police Department. I just wanted you to know that I responded to your call about the parking violation, and uh, it's one of my pet peeves, so you can be sure that he got a ticket. Also, I'd like to know what his apartment number is so I can, uh, hand deliver his ticket next time. Thank you very much, and I hope you have a good evening."

I just started laughing in the back room, and then I pulled on my big black military surplus coat, and pulled my fur lined hood over my head and walked out into the cold, midnight air and drove home so I could crawl in bed with the woman of my dreams, not the bitch that invades them.

The Slow Crushing Weight of In-Laws, A Story of Trite Banality

Oh man, there's nothing worse than your in-laws visiting. Seriously. I mean, I've been married to the same woman for like, twenty years now, and I've always dreaded her parents coming into town for a visit. It's like, they're always judging me? Oh man, there's some kooky business when the in-laws come to visit. Always a wacky scheme.

Oh, and I hate Mondays too. They like, suck? 'Cause it's not the weekend anymore? And I hate my job because I settled for a soul crushing position in middle management at some local manufacturing and shipping corporation? Also, I hate my boss 'cause he's dumb and smells bad.

Do you know what else sucked? When I used to get busted in college by the dean for drinking and having bad grades. College is a party man! Like, that's the point of college! Paying lots of money to sit in a dorm room, get drunk, and totally not study for the test!

What's even worse is that my son is probably going to grow up to be gay, and we are parents are going to have a hard time adjusting to this new crazy change, but in the end we'll learn to accept him for who he is and how he wants to live his life, even if we go through some kooky, kooky montages where we try to make him watch football and bring him to a titty bar in order to "straightenize" him. Oh man, what a laugh riot that will be, hunh? It'll all end up with a mis-guided hunting trip where my best buddy will be shot in the buttocks by our other buddy, who's sort of the comic foil in this picture, I mean, is kind of our goofy sidekick. Then we'll realize that none of us really know what we're doing and that it's okay for my son to be gay.

A Way Out

So she came up t' me ya know? She was like, "I peed on the stick and it's blue."

OH man! You have no idea how excited I was to be a dad! Yeah, I know tha' I don't have a job yet, but ya know I'm still in high school an' my ma will totally be stoked to help out for the time being, ya know? I'm pretty good with cars and I can get a job at a garage probbly when I graduate.

But then she said like, a day later "I'm not sure if it's true, I don't trust the stick."

SO she don't have insurance, ya know? So we go to the clinic over in the next town. I drive her over there in my Pontiac.

WE get there, right? An' there's a huge crowd of people wi' signs an' ev'rything. Shit that says "Sinner" and "Abortion is Murder," I dunno, bullshit like that. And they're lined up outside the door and are shoutin' at evvryone who goes in there.

SO we start walking up the sidewalk to th' front door, right? An' Becky says to me, she say, "Roland, I'm scared." An' I say, "Don' be, they jes' don't have anything good t'do with their lives."

An' we make it halfway down the walk an' they're shoutin' "Murderer!"

An' one ol' lady comes up to me and says, "I hope you go to hell, sinner!"

An' I shout back, "Look lady, we're keepin' th' baby! We're jes' getting a check-up!!"

"Abortion is murder!" she shouted, an' "Think of baby Jesus!"

SO I punched her. Hard. In the nose. It broke an' started sprayin' blood evvrywhere. Everyone was yellin' "Oh my God! Oh my God! You hit her!" An' she was grabbin' at her nose an bleedin' all over her winter coat.

SO they started swarmin' me, but they're all bored housewives and their children, so I end up breakin' like seven noses and givin' a lot of black eyes, an' I think I broke an arm.

THE cop came out 'cause there's always a cop at these places to make sure no one bombs it or anything, and he took me down pretty quick. They filed a police report, an' all those ladies pressed charges, assault and battery or something, so they took me to court and since I had some stealing charges from when I was younger, they put me away for a year.

MY son was born a few weeks ago, and I'm lookin' at parole soon for good behavior, but nothin's the same. Becky broke up with me, and I barely get to see my baby, and it'll be harder once I'm out. She's got paperwork filed for sole custody. Which I guess is what I have to look forward to once I'm outta this place.

Commentary:


Though Raub's intent is blurred, the reader can easily try to take a few things from this story, even though it's written in a flawed dialect. The first, pro-lifers suck. Second, Planned Parenthood offers way more services than just abortions (and most don't even perform abortions). And third, don't punch middle aged housewives in the face because they believe that they are entitled to everything just because they bend over and grab their ankles three times a week for their husbands. They are bored, they will take it personally, and they will do everything they can to bust your ass.

The Magician

Marcos the Magnificent was the best magician there ever was. There was no trick he could not master. Rabbits, milk, scarves - there was nothing that Marcos couldn't pull out of a hat, er, that may be a double negative. His best trick ever was sawing a lady in half. Moooooving along, one day he lost his magical powers. He tried to pull a rabbit out of a hat and only got the hat lining. He poured milk into the hat and it filled up and poured over, ruining his best silk scarves.

"Gosh darnit!" scowled Marcos, twisting the ends of his mustache.

He lined himself up for his big trick, and his beautiful wife and assistant Rebecca reluctantly locked herself into the box.

"Marcos," she whispered, "I thought you lost your powers."

"I can do this woman!" he hissed.

It was out of love for Marcos that she locked herself into her box, knowing full well that when he began sawing through the wood the individual tines would eventually cut and rip into her own belly flesh. But rather than humiliate him in front of his audience (currently, the President King of France) she let one single tear drop from her cheek as she fastened the MasterLock tightly through the clasps.

"Behold!" Marcos shouted, and in two quick motions, back and forth, he sawed straight through the box, and straight through his wife. She didn't scream or even cry out. You see, she died from a broken heart before the saw tines even nicked her.

Marcos, blinded by his own anger and pride, knew exactly what would happen, and so did Rebecca, but it was out of love for Marcos that she sacrificed herself and it was out of pride that Marcos killed her.

Commentary:

The short story "A Bloody Day for Marcos," written by Jesse Raub, is an interesting piece to examine philosophically. Easily, the point of the story is that Marcos' wife, Rebecca, was being selfless when she allowed herself to be sawed in half, for she loved Marcos so much that she could not bring shame to him by refusing to lock herself into the box. Marcos, in turn, was being selfish in his pride, knowing full well that he had lost his powers (see: rabbit trick, milk trick) and yet still continuing with the act, like nothing is wrong.


But that's just the surface. In this view, the reader is assuming that Raub is being truthful in his description of Rebecca. He stated that she loved him and could not bring him shame - yet, by allowing herself to be sawed in half, she shamed him more than he ever could be. Marcos' powers had gone - regardless of whether or not Rebecca allowed herself to be sawed in half. If she had refused, Marcos would have the shame of having a disobedient wife and assistant. However, by allowing herself to be sawed in half, she demonstrated to the President King of France that Marcos indeed had lost his powers.

I would even be so bold as to say that Rebecca herself could not live with having a shamed husband, so she allowed herself to be killed. Though she shamed him even more by showing his powers were gone, at least she wouldn't be alive to bear half of the shame.

Perhaps this was even the ultimate revenge. At the end of the story, Marcos is ruined as a magician, and also he had lost his wife. All because of pride. But Raub doesn't allow the reader that much insight. Instead, we - as the readers - must use our own wits of interpretation to discover the true meaning behind this story.