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That Dream When I Was A Friend

A few nights ago I woke up from a dream.  In the dream I was a Friend.  I was on the Friends sitcom and my brain was writing an episode for me.  This is what I remember from it.

Rachel was complaining about how every time she goes out to eat at a restaurant, the experience sucks.  Her food is never prepared right, the service is bad, everything.  Phoebe, Chandler, and I decide to go to a meal with her to see this first-hand.  At the restaurant, I notice that Rachel is getting some covert attention from the men and I suggest to her that maybe people are just intimidated by her looks.  She says she doesn’t get it.  I say, "maybe you’re too attractive for the public good."  Chandler of course takes the opposing viewpoint with sarcastic comments and Phoebe makes a non-sensical comment.  So far, my brain isn’t working all that hard at developing a script.  This is the standard Friends formula.

The waiter takes our orders.  Phoebe, then me, then Chandler, and as Rachel starts her order, the waiter starts collecting our menus and only partially paying attention to her.  When she is done, the waiter takes off without even acknowledging her order.  Rachel makes a "see?!" motion and we all mutter in agreement.  So it turns out that attractiveness is not Rachel’s problem.  We determine it’s that she’s just too particular about her order and the staff can tell she’ll be a high-maintenance customer and tune out.

Towards the end of meal, Rachel brings up the point about her attractiveness and her intimidation factor and gets an idea.  When the waiter comes back over for refills and is helping everyone else and ignoring her, she demands his attention. 

"Hey, what’s your name?"

"Matt," the waiter replies.

"Matt, I’m Rachel.  Would you like to go out on a date tonight?"

The waiter is startled and embarrassed, but sheepishly agrees.  Rachel writes her phone number on a napkin and says, "Call me after your shift."  The waiter takes the napkin and immediately refills her water and leaves.  Rachel motions to the water glass and to the waiter with a "See?" expression.  More muttered agreement.

The next day it is learned that Rachel and the waiter did go on a date and hooked up.  Rachel makes a cringey comment about "service."  Rachel, Joey and Chandler decide to go to the restaurant the next day, assuming the service will be good.  At the restaurant, Matt is not working.  However, Rachel is getting excessive service from all the male staff – bread, water refills, "everything ok?" checks.  And everyone that stops by to help her is sure to mention their name clearly.  It’s clear that Matt has spread the word to everyone how he hooked up with her.  Rachel is enjoying the attention, oblivious as to why, but Chandler is being very suspicious and is especially wary about the head waiter in particular who he describes as "Stalker-pro".  Chandler makes his point in Chandler fashion by reiterating his observations five different ways.

Rachel gets up to go to the restroom and stalker pro comes over to the table.  He strikes up a fake conversation and casually asks what Rachel’s name is.  Joey answers, "Rachel" and Chandler gives him a fierce look.  Stalker pro is called away by another waiter and Chandler hisses at him that this guy is definitely stalking Rachel and don’t give him any more information.  Stalker pro comes back and apologizes.  He clarifies her name is Rachel and asks what her last name is.  Joey starts to say, "Gree" and Chandler kicks him under the table.  Joey pivots and finishes with "Greetings".

"Her name is Rachel Greetings?", Stalker pro asks.

Chandler and Joey both confirm it, to stalker’s confusion.  Just then Rachel returns from the bathroom and stalker welcomes her.  "Hello, miss… greetings."

Rachel looks a little confused and replies, "Greetings." and Joey and Chandler both exclaim, "Greetings!"  Stalker is as confused as ever and leaves.

At the end of the meal, Rachel is thrilled by how everything has been perfect and how much attention she has gotten.  When the check comes, delivered by stalker, she offers to pay.  "I’ll just put it on my card."

Stalker looks a little victorious and says, "May I see your ID?"  As Rachel starts to instinctively look for her ID, Chandler interrupts, "No, we can’t let you pay for this meal!" And what follows is formula Friends – Joey and Chandler making up a reason why Rachel can’t pay for the meal that of course makes no sense.

And that’s when the dream started to fall apart.  Probably due to the lack of anything interesting coming out of my brain.  This stuff sort of writes itself.

…As Long As You Both Shall Live

Bruce Dickinson is the lead singer for Iron Maiden and has also done a number of solo albums.  On one of his later albums, The Chemical Wedding, the title track, Chemical Wedding, has always had a particular interest to me.  On occasion, I am able to “visualize” a song, which is pretty much like viewing a music video in my head.  If I had cinematic talent, equipment, locations, and personnel, I think I would be able to make a compelling music video for this song.  Alas, I have none of those things.  I considered maybe writing a screenplay for my video, but concluded that wouldn’t really be an interesting read.  So I decided I would try and turn the video plotline into a short story, which might result in having the song appear to be influenced by the story, even though it happened the other way around.

The car pulled away and left me alone in the beach parking lot.  I stayed put and watched the car turn onto the roadway and drive away.  The transaction went smoother than I expected.  In my hand was a small bag and within that bag, a small vial of Demerol.  It’s something I’d been reading up on and from the sound of it, Demerol was going to be much more effective than the Oxy I’d been taking.

I have to admit, the only positive thing to come out of my parents’ move to this crappy harbor town is how easy it is to get high.  With as many people that come to vacation here, the dealers are plentiful and easy-going.  Back where we used to live, pot was pretty much the best we had access to, but this place is like rich-ville.  They have everything and people are able to pay for it.  My dad changed jobs and all of a sudden, we’re like, upper-middle-class or something, complete with beachfront house and disposable income for me.

My friends were bummed I had to move away, especially since we were just getting into senior year, where school is a blow-off and we’d be partying like, every night.  I would invite them out here and we could really get lit, but damn, it’s like nine hours each way.  You couldn’t even really manage that in a weekend.

I never really made any friends here, although I did make some solid connections with some dope suppliers.  So, having so much free time alone by myself allowed me to do some experimentation.  I found out I didn’t really like uppers and speed; I preferred to chill out and relax.  So after working my way through pot, I eventually ended up loving Oxycodone and Codeine.  But then I learned about Demerol.  It was supposedly like heroin, but was medically kosher.  That’s perfect, because the one thing I’m not is a junkie.

I walked out of the parking lot down to the beach.  A half moon shone through the fog, which illuminated everything in a sort of off-white glow.  A little spooky, but actually the perfect atmosphere for chilling out.  The large rocks at the shoreline are a perfect place to sit and take in the sights and sounds of nature and since it’s late at night, no one would be bothering me.

As I carefully climb over the mound of boulders to find a nice sitting place that’s not within sight from the parking lot or houses, I glance back to my parents’ house.  I don’t want to be too far or too close.  I’ll make my way back once the high settles in and can sleep it off in bed.  This spot here looks almost perfect.  It’s almost like a throne and it has a nice flat ledge to hold my supplies.

I settle down in the chair-like cluster of rocks and open my latest purchase.  Inside the bag is a small glass vial, just like you see at the doctor’s offices, and two small syringes.  That was nice of him, to give me a spare.  The glass vial has a label with Demerol printed in a simple, light green, sans-serif font.  A lot of other small type was on the bottle as well.  It looked so professional.  I felt like a professional.

Considering it was the first time I had ever considered using a drug with a syringe, I was surprised how calmly I was handling all of this.  It just seemed to be natural and normal.  Pills suddenly seemed so pedestrian.  Anyone could toss a pill in their mouth and swallow it.  This was serious business and required skill and knowledge.  You could kill yourself by injecting air into yourself, so you need to be good.

And I was good.  I took the time to prep everything well.  I had brought a tissue to cover the injection site and stop any minor bleeding.  I made sure I had a nice clean draw, and I held the syringe up to the moonlight.  The liquid was clear and pure, just like water – no bubbles at all.  The waves were crashing all around me.  And in that moment, as I stared at the fluid and listened to the hissing of the sea foam in the rocks around me, I almost felt like I didn’t need this.  It was like the anger of the waves was trying to tell me to stop.  But that’s just silly.  Being around the ocean was great when I was high, but I wasn’t high yet.

I settled back into the stone throne and stretched out my left arm.  I pumped my hand a few times to get my veins up and even in the mild moonlight, I could see the shadows on my forearm – my targets.  I chose one of the smaller veins, since I had no idea what would happen when I poked one.  Keeping my eye on the vein, I lowered the syringe to my forearm.  My right hand was steady and I carefully angled the needle in line with the target.  I had a brief moment of doubt where I thought maybe I should have someone else do my first injection, but I shook it off and pushed the needle into the skin.

There was a small pinch and I assumed I was in.  I slowly started pushing the plunger and immediately there was a wash of fatigue all through my body.  Everything wanted to relax instantly.  That sensation spooked me and I got worried about two things.  One is that I wouldn’t get the full dose, so I pushed the plunger harder.  This caused a slight burning in my arm and increased my second fear – that I would pass out with the needle still in my arm.  I’m no junkie.  That’s not going to happen.

I swiftly pulled the empty syringe from my forearm and struggled to get the tissue onto the injection site.  Everything was fading out.  The yellow-white glow of the moon took on a bluish tone.  It’s like when you see those color temperature comparisons with light bulbs.  The world went from warm white to cool white.  I felt like I was sinking into the rocks, sliding between them like melted wax, like my body was becoming a liquid.  Maybe I would just become part of the ocean.  But I wasn’t afraid, this was something I wanted.

I don’t know how much time passed there at the shoreline, but I do remember the zombie time.  In a trance, I gathered up all my stuff:  the vial, the syringes, the bloody tissue paper.  I had it all in the bag and began my walk back to the house.  The house wasn’t far, and the trip was absolutely heavenly.  I came down from the rocks as if I knew exactly where every stone was.  I didn’t slip once.  It felt like I was walking on air the whole way home.  I didn’t feel a single thing, like I weighed nothing and my feet weren’t even supporting any weight at all.

My parents were already asleep when I got in.  I floated to my room and sat down on the bed.  In a daze, I emptied the bag onto my nightstand and stared at it all with curiosity.  I just used that, I thought to myself, and I smiled.  It was a great success.  I was a professional.  I could be a doctor.  Maybe I should top myself off and get a great sleep.  I wonder how the sinking feeling would feel in bed instead of hard rocks.  It should be amazing.

Like everything I did in the zombie state, I prepped a new shot with incredible smoothness.  My motions were so fluid, it was like I wasn’t even in control, like something else was managing my movements.  The needle went in with no pain whatsoever and the push was steady.  It felt like a giant foam mattress was pushing itself against me, pushing me down into the bed.  Every inch of my body felt a wonderful calming pressure, like I was sinking into Jell-O.

Then, everything became light.  The pressure and weight pulled away and I felt like I was weightless, floating, but still lying on the bed.  I sat up and turned to my bedroom window.  There was a light outside, like the moon had gone from half-full to full.  I stood up and went to the window.  The fog had disappeared and the sky was completely clear.  A single light shown in the sky, shining directly on me.  The light split into three, then seven, then a dozen.  The light kept splitting over and over.  Every beam was focused on me and even as the number of lights grew by the hundreds, they all remained within my vision.

Then, the lights made a small pulse and rapidly started combining again, collapsing in to the center light and as they did so, the beam got larger and stronger.  The focused beam became more white and more pure as each outer light combined with it.  The light began pulling me.  With the weightlessness I had, it was impossible to resist the traction of the light.  The lights were converging together and the pull continued to grow.  The beam was captivating and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.  I thought I would be blinded from the brilliance, but it was only pure white, not anything artificial or generated.  At first, I was afraid at being pulled away, but that fear faded as the beam grew larger and larger.  The strength of the light was comforting.  As I felt the pull lift my feet from the ground, I took a look back into my bedroom.  My body was still lying on the bed.  And with that image fresh in my mind, the light quickly pulled me away.

The next morning, from where I was, I saw my mom discover my body lying in bed, with a syringe hanging out of my arm and the bottle of Demerol on the nightstand.  911 was frantically called and the paramedics arrived only to say there was absolutely nothing that could be done.  There was a lot of hysteria and my dad tried to comfort my mom as best he could while the medical examiner came and collected my body.  Then the white light surrounded me again and that’s all I could see.

When the light faded, like coming out of a fog, I was looking down at a casket at a graveyard – apparently my interment. There was a surprising number of mourners present.  Obviously my parents were there, but my grandparents and aunts and uncles, and also many people from my old school.  They all travelled the nine hours to be here for me.  Some people from my new school were there as well.  I never even really considered any of them friends, and here they were.  I was able to see each and every person clearly.  I could see their grief and sorrow in excruciating detail.

Where I’m at, I feel.  The pain of everyone at my funeral is felt by me.  At one point during the ceremony, a funny memory of me was brought up and I could feel the sensation of laughter shoot through me, and then just as quickly, the sadness was back.  I had no way of telling them I was ok now.  I couldn’t will them to move on without me.

The ceremony ended and the despair grew in a crescendo, overwhelming my spirit.  The white light returned and I was left alone with my feelings, which weren’t my feelings anymore.  The only feelings I had were the ones others held for me.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCtD6-57IEk] Chemical Wedding
Bruce Dickenson

How happy is the human soul
Not enslaved by dull control
Left to dream and roam and play
Shed the guilt of former days

Walking on the foggy shore
Watch the waves come roaring home
Through the veil of pale moonlight
My shadow stretches out its hand

And so we lay, we lay in the same grave
Our chemical wedding day

Floating in the endless blue
My seed of doubt I leave to you
Let it wither on the ground
Treat it like a plague you found

All my dreams that were outside
In living colour, now alive
And all the lighthouses
Their beams converge to guide me home

And so we lay, we lay in the same grave
Our chemical wedding day

Anyway, Here’s The (Wonder)Wall

When I went to bed last night, the word counts for my NaNoWriMo buddies were 539, 447, and 0 (granted, he’s west-coast, so I may not know).  Me? All of 78 words added.  Beginning week 3, Sustain week, the grind.  And judging from all our performances, it’s the wall.

Speaking on my own experience, I opened up the document, looked at the outline, which ended with “Chapter 33 – Lin And Steven Negotiate”, typed “Chapter 34 – ” and stopped.  I had no idea what the next chapter was going to be.  No idea whose perspective it was from or any sort of plot.  After a couple minutes of staring blankly, I walked away from my computer.

It’s not like I couldn’t write.  I was inspired to do a blog entry that day, when I was expecting to go dry for a while.  And I’m writing this blog entry now.  I’m doing all of this instead of working on my novel.  Recently, I commented on how writing the novel wasn’t really fun anymore.  And I gave that emotion some thought and had another realization.

My NaNoWriMo profile identifies me as a “Pantser”: writing with no planning and flying by the seat of my pants.  And that has worked out very well for me.  I am always excited to see where my characters want to go.  I only have detail in my head for one future scene and how to get there, and I have various long-range events that may or may not ever come to fruition.  They all depend on how the short-term scenes play out.

However, lately, something has changed.  In prior weeks, I would always be thinking about the story and what was coming up next.  These last couple days, I haven’t given a single thought to the story.  Yesterday, I only had my thoughts about the upcoming scenes from a few days ago.  Today, I sat down and I had nothing.

So, how did I get over that?  I chose to do some editing.  I jumped back three chapters and read what I had written.  In the process of doing that, I learned that my story isn’t actual shit, which I was increasingly convincing myself it was.  I fixed some basic typos, changed some phrasing, and ended up with an additional 78 words for the day.  More than that, I encouraged myself that this is a story and the story isn’t over yet.  These characters still have things to do.

Today will be a long day at work, but when I get home, hopefully I will have the refreshed energy to take on another two chapters.  Verbum Vomite!

Halloween Scenes – Peep Show

Larry the Rat was just finishing up his dinner when he heard a knock on the front door of his home.  Who would be visiting him now?  Maybe it was a package.  But it was late for package delivery.  Larry was suspicious.

He’d only moved into this house recently.  It was a long move from his hometown, but sometimes long moves are needed.  Long moves can be good.  A new start, right?  He didn’t want to be called Larry the Rat anymore.  Just Larry would be fine.  And when he started making some new friends, that’s who he would be.  Just Larry.

When Larry was back in his hometown, he had what a lot of people would consider a thankless job.  It wasn’t a good job or a bad job, and by that I mean, he didn’t work specifically for the good guys or the bad guys.  He worked for both.  He was a rat.  Larry the Rat worked his way up the chain.  You wouldn’t think a rat could get away with the same trick twice, but the good guys did enough to keep the bad guys guessing and Larry was never the one to blame.

But, Larry the Rat didn’t feel he was compensated well enough for the amount of risk he was taking.  He was in the system pretty deep.  Both systems, in fact.  Larry had a special gift for living two lives.  And this last summer, he determined he was going to live one life for the rest of his life.  No more helping anyone.  A free agent with a clean record.  The good guys told him it was a smart career move and provided some excellent record cleaning assistance.

As you would expect for a professional like Larry, he told no one where he was going.  Not the good guys, and certainly not the bad guys.  He bought a typical house on a typical street in a typical neighborhood in Nowhereville.  The perfect place to ditch his rat surname.

But the preparations didn’t end there.  He built a panic room in his new house – completely impenetrable.  And although it wasn’t obvious from the outside, all the windows of the house were reinforced.  It would take a very large-caliber rifle to blast through on a first shot.  Any other attack would require multiple shots, which no one would risk that kind of exposure in a neighborhood like this one.  At the sound of the first gunshot, Larry would be squirreled away in his panic room, calling the good guys for a quick favor.

Not only the house windows, but the doors were completely reinforced, too.  No shooting through them, no way.  He’d also seen enough drug raids to know how battering rams worked and what was effective in slowing them down.  Again, just more time to get to the panic room.

Tonight, the massively-reinforced front door was being knocked upon.  And Larry the Rat was suspicious about that.

Walking silently, out of the view of the reinforced windows, he came up to the front door.  Larry listened closely for any indication of who it could be, friend or foe.  The heavy door gave no clues who was on the other side.  Larry looked through the security peephole in the door.  It was black.  Larry saw nothing.

The knock came again and Larry started, jumping in place.  “Damn it.” he cursed himself.  Did he make any noise?  If he did, should he just man up and ask who’s there?  Should he turn on the outside light so he could see who was out there first?  Either one would expose his location.  Larry looked back to where the panic room was.  How many windows were between the front door and the panic room?

Larry calmed his mind for a moment.  What a crazy vision.  The whole mafia lined up at each window, blasting away fruitlessly at the thick glass while he dashed down the hall.  His house was more secure than most any bank.  He had time to live.

His calm was immediately broken by a sheet of paper slid partially under the door.  He pulled it through.  Legal-sized paper?  The paper had an advertisement on it.  In big, bold letters at the top: PEST REMOVAL.  The logo was an upside-down rat in a cage.  Larry dropped the paper without seeing anything else.  He didn’t want to see.  But curiosity got the better of him.

Larry moved back to the peephole.  Still black.

Without warning, although the delivered flyer should have been sufficient warning, Larry’s eye was pierced.  A long, thin, metal rod fired through the peephole, into his eye and with enough force to spear his brain and exit dramatically through the back of his head.  Larry’s shock denied him a scream of acknowledgement that his assailant had hit his mark.

The man outside was quite aware of his success as he watched his end of the rod shudder and then incline as the section inside the house was pulled down from an unseen weight – the weight of Larry the exterminated rat.

Inside, Larry was trying to bargain his way out of his imminent death.  “Next time, reinforced peep hole.  No, external cameras.  Yeah.  With night vision.  And maybe… maybe… hmmm.”

Halloween Scenes – Lesson Of A Lifetime

Another workday for Randy.  He gathered up his racks of snacks and drinks and cheerily set out on his daily route.  He did love his job.  He loved meeting all the people, people busy doing their own jobs.  And he was glad he could provide them with a little daily happiness.  Maybe the happiness was coming from his cans of Coke and Pepsi and bags of Doritos, but Randy liked to think they enjoyed his friendly banter each day.

“Having fun yet?” Randy queried the first person he met in the office.

“Every day,” the random person replied.  Randy didn’t need to know the details.  He just wanted to show he cared enough to ask.  Another person was up ahead.  Randy prepared his next witticism.

“Working hard?”

“Hardly working, Randy.” Aw, that guy got him good.  It’s almost like he was ready for it.  Randy chuckled to himself and entered the break room where his machines were.  Without any care, he replenished each machine in turn.  He did this every day, the process was quite routine for him.  He liked filling the machines, but the machines didn’t have that same interactive quality he got from people.

Randy reloaded his truck and went on to the next stop.  Another office building – he liked the people there.  “Hey, working hard?”  “Having fun yet?”  And more machines.  More change in his large canvas bag.  Boy, the banks were annoyed when Randy showed up.  He was either asking for a bunch of change or was giving them a bunch of change.  Always such a hassle.  “Working hard?”  Absolutely, Randy.  You make us work very hard.

Heading home from another productive day, Randy found himself in a bad situation on the interstate.  A semi truck had swerved to avoid a reckless car cutting in front of it.  The semi weaved back and forth, then began to topple over, right onto Randy’s truck.  The accident was over in a flash.

The next morning, Randy woke up in his bed, ready for work.  It was another workday for Randy.  He had people to meet and machines to fill.  He arrived at his first stop on his route and went to the break room.  A man was sitting in the corner at a small round table.

“Hey!  Having fun yet?”  Randy announced his arrival to the man.  No response.  Oh well, Randy thought, not everyone is as happy at their job as me.  He went to the machines, but they weren’t his.  Well, they looked just like his, but his key didn’t work.  He looked them over and determined they seemed stocked well enough for another day.  He’d bring backup keys tomorrow.

Randy went to the next office on his route and engaged the first person in the hall he saw. “Working hard?”  Again, no response.  Geez, must be a Monday, thought Randy as he continued on.  But just like the last place, his keys wouldn’t turn in the machines’ locks.  Randy thought something was very strange about all this.  Had he been replaced?  Was there another Randy on his route, filling his machines and cheering up all the workers?

Randy ventured out of the break room and into the office halls.  Everyone he met had no response for his witty queries.  “Having fun yet?”  “Working hard?”  “Having fun yet?”  All met with silence.  Most just kept right on walking.  Was this a prank?  A conspiracy?  Randy got more agitated with the workers.  “Working hard?”  “Hey!  Working HARD?”  “Having FUN yet?”

Finally, Randy had enough.  He stood firmly in front of a man walking in the hall, blocking his path. Pointing accusingly, he demanded, “You!  Having fun yet?”  The man paid him no mind and walked right through Randy.  Randy’s eyes grew wide.  His memory slowly began filling in.  The drive home on the highway.  The truck.  Then waking up in his bed again.  The reality dawning on him brought a sadness.  The thought crystallized that this was all he knew in life and he had taken it to the afterlife.  It was his afterlife, forever.

Randy woke up the next morning in his bed.  He wasn’t excited to do his route today.  He grudgingly arrived at his first stop and trudged his way to the break room.  “Having fun yet?”  “Working hard?”  No response.  Randy was learning a thing or two about working hard and having fun yet.  And his lesson would go on and on.

Halloween Scenes – Desiccation

Terrence was having a pretty good day. Today was sunny and bright, but not uncomfortably hot. He moved along slowly in the grassy park. After all, he was not really in a hurry. After all, he was a slug.

But a slug still had things to do and places to be. Terrence was no different in that regard. He knew where he was going: to the other side of the park, where he knew he could have a great meal. Slugs aren’t too particular about where they eat, unlike some people who demand that everything be organic. Organic is everything in a slug’s life. Terrence didn’t know there was such a thing otherwise and didn’t even know anything about people to know otherwise either.

Terrence arrived at the edge of the flat-park. Sometimes, the flat-park was very hot and he would have a difficult time crossing it to get to the grass on the other side. Sometimes it was cool, which was nice. He’d even crossed the flat-park once when it was wet. Not wet like his track – smoother, softer. That was the best. He liked wet a lot. Today his body told him the flat-park was warm and dry. Not the best, but not really bad, either. He made his way, post-haste. But for a slug, post-haste is… I’m sure you understand.

His senses told him he was more than halfway across the flat-park, almost there to the grass. But then, the hail started. Terrence’s day was suddenly not as good. He didn’t detect there would be any bad weather soon. And he could still feel the sun, so Terrence was mightily confused. But the hail kept on falling.

This was no usual hail. This hail stuck to him, instead of bouncing off. And it burned. It burned badly. Terrence wrapped himself around, trying to wipe off the hail stuck to his body. His efforts were only partially effective. Where the hail had landed, it still hurt. The mysterious hail had sucked the life out of him, it seemed.

As the hail continued to fall, Terrence was torn between trying to make it to the grass – and hopefully safety – or to fight out here in the open to clean his sluggy body. His pitiful brain became overwhelmed with the fight or flight decision and his body started thrashing around on its own. Terrence was becoming scared. If this hail kept falling, he wouldn’t get to the other side and he wouldn’t be having the meal he had been looking forward to.

But the hail did keep falling and falling. Terrence’s body was becoming covered in the white flecks of hail, and it hurt so very much. He felt himself getting tighter, losing his sluggish mobility. His thrashing slowed down and Terrence grew tired as the burning covered his entire body. His senses were useless to tell him anything other than he was stuck. He could no longer move.

As Terrence felt the weight of more and more hail on his body, and the pain screaming over his entire paralyzed length, he wondered if there was a god. Slugs don’t pray for success or pray to be saved, but Terrence, in his final moments before he expired, attempted a simple communication with whatever power was above him, raining death down on him on this wonderful day. “Why?”

A small, round-faced lad hovered over the scene on the sidewalk, his tight, curly, red hair framing his face like a simmering fire. The lad grinned as he sprinkled Terrence’s doom upon him. The young boy could never had heard a slug ask him for his motivation, but with improbable and impeccable timing, he chuckled and said, “Salt life, bitch.”

Halloween Scenes – Everybody Loves You Now

Monica sighed in the bathroom mirror.  “Why doesn’t everyone like me?  I’m not that bad of a person.”  She had just started at her new job and for reasons she couldn’t explain, people just weren’t warming up to her.  It’s almost as if someone had come in before her and spread all kinds of untruths about her.  Monica sighed again.  “Okay, let’s get on with it.”

She flung her towel against the far wall of the bathroom where it hit with a dull thump and fell mostly onto the towel rack in a clumsy heap.  Keeping it off the floor was considered a win in Monica’s book.  Jumbled or not, it was hanging.

In her bedroom, Monica chose an outfit quickly.  As she mindlessly grabbed a top and skirt from the closet, she had a passing thought that maybe it was her choice of clothes that turned people off.  Maybe they were too plain?  Too predictable?  “It’s business-smart.  I’m smart and in business.” she justified to herself.  But in the back of her mind, she scheduled a wardrobe refresh to happen soon.

Out the door and off to work, she walked briskly to the bus stop, where Stan met her.  Stan was all-business, all the time.  They worked at different companies, but shared the same bus.

“Morning, Monica.  You settling in at Adams?  Third day’s the charm.” All-business-all-the-time chirped.

“I’m breaking through.  Everyone loves me.” Monica returned the fake cheer on the same level as Stan.

“You go, girl.”  Stan closed the conversation with an equally ridiculous finger-gun gesture.  Monica rolled her eyes inside.

Monica had the same day as the previous two.  People uninterested in her or what she had to offer or say.  But they didn’t seem to want to get rid of her, either.  They just wanted her to… exist.  Back at home after the parade of monotony, she dejectedly looked into her bathroom mirror again and asked the same question, “Why doesn’t everyone like me?”

The mirror suddenly appeared to extend into an infinite tunnel, black and hollow.  Monica jumped back, shocked and afraid at this sudden change.  A voice came from the deep void. “You want love?”  The voice was feminine – thin, not husky; unthreatening, yet dispassionate.  When Monica didn’t respond, it repeated, slightly more enticingly, “You want love?”

“Ummm.  I don’t exactly want love, but I want to be loved.”  Monica spoke carefully, then quickly added, “Does that make sense?”

“Unreturned love becomes resentment.  You want?” The voice sounded suddenly pandering.

Slightly offended by the misunderstanding, Monica clarified herself. “Oh, I love everyone who loves me.  That’s not a problem.  So, yeah, I want.”

“Everybody loves you now.” And the mirror flashed back to its reflective self, showing Monica staring agape.

The next day, Monica noticed a radical change in Mr. Stan, the all-business man.  He looked at her; engaged with her; listened to her.  They had a real conversation.  “This is love?” thought Monica.  “It’s weird.”

Everyone at her workplace had similar transformations.  Her ideas were listened to.  She was invited to lunch by multiple groups of people.  She never had a lack of conversation or need for any extra assistance.  It was all there.  At the end of the day, as she readied for bed, she faced herself in her bathroom mirror and offered her thanks.  The mirror did not respond, so Monica answered herself.  “I love you, Monica.”

The mirror did its stretching thing again, into the infinite tunnel.  Monica thought it seemed different this time.  Darker, scarier?  She dismissed her concerns as just getting used to the tunnel after seeing it once before.  She was going to express her thanks again, but the feminine voice came first.  “I can do more.”

“What is more?” asked a skeptical Monica.  Her mind began to fill with ideas.  What’s more than everyone loving me?  Is there more than love?  Is there a more than everyone?  An everything?

As her mind landed on the word “everything”, the voice spoke her thought, “Everything.”  Monica puzzled over this.  “You want?”, queried the voice, sounding a bit like an excited child, wanting a specific answer.  When Monica continued to ponder what everything meant as opposed to everyone, the voice repeated its earlier warning, the one that spurred Monica to act initially.  “Unreturned love becomes resentment.”

“Yeah, yeah.  Trust me, I’ve been loving all the loving I’ve been getting.  No shortage here.”

“You want?”

“Sure, why not.” Monica replied dismissively.  She still didn’t understand the difference and what could it matter?

“Now everything loves you.  Now.” And the mirror suddenly wore Monica’s confused expression.

Monica went to bed and slept incredibly well.  When she woke up and reflected on the best sleep of her life, she had the weirdest expression in her head, “the bed and blankets hugged me all night.”  She took her morning shower and dried herself.  She looked in the mirror and proclaimed, “I love everything and everything loves ME!”  And with that, she spun and threw her towel at the wall over the towel rod.  As the towel hit the wall, Monica heard a faint cry.  Her eyes grew wide and watered up slightly.  She did not just hear a cry.  It had to have been an animal outside or something.

To satisfy herself, she rushed to the bedroom window and peeked outside.  Her back yard was teeming with animals, all staring at her window.  When they saw her face, they rose up.  Some waved, some shook their heads, some seemed to smile.  Monica slammed the curtains closed in absolute shock. “No. No. No.  That cannot be what I’ve done.”

She peeked outside again and the animals were all still there looking back at her.  Monica suddenly felt warm all over.  “Oh my god.  I’m a fucking Disney princess now!”  The thought of that filled her with even more love for everything.  It began to make sense.  Her bed, her blankets, the towel, oh no, the towel!  She rushed back to the bathroom and stroked the towel gently, arranging it carefully on the rack.  “I know now,” she explained comfortingly.

Getting dressed was rather more difficult this morning.  All her outfits wanted her to wear them.  When she would pick one, the others would express disappointment.  Monica had to console all of the left-behind outfits and get on with her day.  She promised they would all get a chance.  She did not know that promise would go unfulfilled.  She did not know it was her last day.

Monica went out to her back yard and expressed her love for all the cute creatures that came out to see her and told them she’d be back later.  And then, Monica felt something crawling up her leg.  It was a large spider.

“Oh shit!” Monica swore as she swatted the spider off her leg.  The spider was at first dazed, but then collected itself and moved towards her again.  “Oh no.  I hate spiders.”  The spider paused, looked around, and advanced again.  “Stay back!” Monica warned.  She grabbed a broom that was near her, resting against the wall.

With a shriek of surprise, Monica found the broom was covered with ants.  She shook them off her hand and backed away.  Now the spider and a large collection of ants were advancing on her.  She couldn’t love them.  No way in hell.  She dashed back inside the house and slammed the door behind her.

Monica met her end that day by the ones she could never love:  spiders, ants, cockroaches, bees, and the like.  They all came to see her.  They swarmed her house so she could not leave.  They blotted out the light from all her windows.  Eventually, the unloved creatures found holes and entered the house quickly.  They loved her and yet resented her for not loving them in return.  They made her understand.  They only wanted her to love them, and she would not.  As Monica was slowly and methodically devoured and as she screamed and writhed on the floor of her house, Monica was not missed at her new job at Adams.  As it turned out, her co-workers didn’t even care if she existed.

Halloween Scenes – Bundle Of Joy

America is weird.  Only in America could you swap out one bad thing for another in the name of salvation.  In this case, Steve was approaching surrender on the idea that Halloween should not be about sugar and should instead be about gifts.  Easter had been a trial run of this concept this year and his daughter, Hannah, hadn’t protested at all.  A well-raised consumerist baby, Hannah was.

Steve broached the idea one night with Hannah and asked what gift she would be interested in.  “BabyGoo!” Hannah had enthusiastically replied.  Steve hadn’t even heard of such a thing.  Was it like Slime, which came in an appropriate garbage can?

“Dad, geez.  It’s the best doll ever.  The most realistic baby doll ever made!”  The well-raised consumerist baby was well-versed in the marketing language put forth for the BabyGoo.  Steve said he would look into it, and later that night after Hannah was asleep, he did just that.

Steve learned that BabyGoo might be the most realistic doll ever, but was probably the most expensive doll ever, as well.  But he couldn’t argue with the customer reviews.  They were pretty much unanimous in their praise.  Most everyone commented on the realism, some saying the doll was almost too real.  There was a close-to-even split between people who said the weight of the doll was too heavy and those that said the weight was the most realistic part.  Some reviewers said the doll was too floppy, while some people refuted them by saying their dolls were stiff.  Someone was trying to organize the data and determine who had floppy dolls and who had firm dolls.  Maybe there was a pattern.

The doll itself was being touted by its maker as the greatest thing ever.  “The most realistic baby doll ever!”  He’d heard that somewhere before.  “Anatomically correct”  Steve rolled his eyes.  “Made with the most realistic materials available”  There’s that word again, realistic.  This company needs better writers.  Regardless, Steve was swayed by the excellent reviews and committed to buy one for Hannah.

At work the next day, Steve showed his coworker, Shawn, the BabyGoo product page.  Shawn didn’t have kids and as you would expect, wasn’t particularly interested in the idea of creepy, realistic dolls.  “Crap,” Steve lamented, “they discontinued the baby girl model.  It was there just last night.  That’s the one I was going to get for Hannah.”  Steve half-turned to Shawn.  “I wonder why it was discontinued.”

“Pedophiles.” Shawn replied flatly.

“Jesus fucking Christ, Shawn!”

“Just sayin’.  I mean, they say right there, anatomically-“  Steve furiously threw up his hand, demanding Shawn to shut the hell up.  Shawn shrugged and took his leave while Steve took a few moments to flush that entire conversation out of his mind.  When Steve had finally calmed down enough to remember that this is something Hannah wanted, he placed his order for a boy doll and returned to work.

Two-day shipping delivered the BabyGoo quickly (in two days, in fact).  Steve opened up the package and startled back from the box.  Inside was the BabyGoo, the most realistic doll ever.  Steve did not disagree with that hyperbole at all.  The BabyGoo was real AF.  Steve felt himself falling down into the Uncanny Valley as the perfectly proportioned face of the BabyGoo stared blankly up at him, not suffocating in its plastic bag.

“Hannah!  It’s here!”  Steve called out uneasily.  Hannah came running and squealed with joy when she saw the lifeless doll sealed in plastic.  Steve didn’t understand this reaction at all.  But Steve wasn’t a young girl, either.  Hannah thanked her father with a huge hug and ran off to her room with BabyGoo.

“Well, good timing anyway since tomorrow’s Halloween,” he thought as he went back to his computer and tried to put those dead, shiny eyes out of his mind.

The next evening, Halloween, Steve and Hannah left their porch light off and settled down to watch classic horror movies.  BabyGoo was Hannah’s guest of honor at the screening.  Not paying a lot of attention to the movies, Hannah talked non-stop about how awesome her doll was.  It turned out to be the floppy version, Steve noticed.  Hannah had to support the doll’s head constantly.  Just like a real baby, Steve thought.  What a teaching aid that could be.

Hannah talked about how real the doll was.  The skin wasn’t like skin, it was a bit more rubbery.  His toes were actual toes, not just a molded foot.  He had a pee-pee.  Hannah thought that was hilarious.  You could move the doll’s eyelids, but they tended to open on their own and stayed open.  Hannah was demonstrating how to close the eyes and was getting slightly frustrated.

“Easy on the doll, Hannah,” Steve coached her. “It wasn’t cheap.”  Hannah paused for a moment, then gave the eyelids one more sharp closing.  Her flingers slipped and her fingernail cut the doll just under the right eye.

“Oh no!”  Hannah cried.  She looked at the damage she’d caused to the dolls face.  It was a significant gash, and a thick liquid was oozing out from it.  “BabyGoo,” thought Steve, absently.

Hannah thrust the floppy doll at Steve, who reluctantly took it.  It was the first time he’d touched a BabyGoo.  It was soft.  It was also surprisingly heavy.  He could imagine the whole doll body filled with the goo that was slowly leaking from Hannah’s inflicted damage.  His mind thought quickly.  Crazy glue and makeup.  BabyGoo was going to have to live with a facial scar.  He took the doll to the kitchen table and inspected the damage.  He pushed on the cut and felt the structure beneath the skin.  A realistic structure, he considered.  Very realistic.  He pulled back the cut and saw the white frame inside.

With a rising feeling of nausea and lightheadedness, his brain quickly identified the secret to the BabyGoo’s realism.  That… is bone.  No doubt.  It is real.  Or it used to be real and it’s just sealed up?  Plasticized?  And the internal goo?  Was it…

Steve ran to the kitchen sink and emptied his guts.  Hannah started screaming and crying.  BabyGoo remained motionless on the counter, leaking thick fluid from its facial wound.

Steve wasted no time bagging, double-bagging, triple-bagging the BabyGoo and threw the abomination in the trash.  Then he reconsidered and threw it in the outdoor trash.  Even that wasn’t enough.  It had to go.  Tomorrow morning, he would take the BabyGoo trash bundle to a random dumpster and get rid of it for good.  But now he had to console Hannah.

After a difficult conversation of obfuscating the truth, Hannah calmed down enough to go to bed.  Steve was still wired up though.  He jumped back on his computer and went immediately to the BabyGoo website.  Unsurprisingly, both girl and boy models were discontinued now.  The reviews had been updated.  Almost unanimously one-star.  The BabyGoo’s product description was also updated with a bold disclaimer at the end: “No product returns will be accepted.”

Get To The Point

It’s somewhat shocking to me to see the way I’ve changed as I’ve aged.  One thing that recently struck me is the way I write.  I wandered onto another person’s blog and this person fancied himself a writer.  Every sentence had a level of pomposity that even the word pomposity doesn’t even express.  By that, I mean his writing was excessively flowery.  I thought, geez, I used to write like that.

I have no idea why I used to do it or why I stopped.  I must assume, like with many things as I got older, the question became, “Who am I trying to impress, here?”  The answer most every time was, it doesn’t matter.

But, I could still write like that if I wanted to.  But when I read stuff like that after writing, it sounds overdone.  If you can’t get the point across in normal language, advanced vocabulary isn’t going to help you.  Maybe it’s because I now write much more factual content and less fiction.  Fiction is a place where descriptive, verbose, and picturesque language should be used – to transport the reader.  When you are writing instructions, you don’t want to transport the reader anywhere. You want to get shit done.

Ah, romance.  That fleeting, etheric sensation that compels a man to remove himself from his left-brained, analytical prison and dash madly to the fountain of life.  To drink deeply of the youth and vigor that had previously been tucked away in the recesses of his being, like a book scorned and discarded as too childish and fantastical for the adult he wished to be.  Unhand that child, villain!

That’s how it reads to me.  A bunch of independent words that each strike an emotional note and end up as a cacophonic disaster.  Sure, some people do it better than others, and some even do it worse than that contrived mish-mash I spit up.

And the reason I wrote this is because I found an old archive disk with documents – old documents – on it and I’m deathly afraid to open them.  On the other hand, maybe writing a story parodying that style would be good for me.  The whole, “so bad, it’s good” could be something I excel at.  I mean, what the hell, Fifty Shades of Grey exists, right?

How To Blog For Tumblr

Two simple rules.  Make it all about yourself and make it emotionally exhausting.  For example:

Yesterday, I was out for a drive and I saw a business that I thought looked interesting.  I went inside and browsed around a little bit.  Some of the items they sold were kind of odd, and I just decided it wasn’t the kind of place for me.  So, when I was leaving, the owner asked me if I found everything ok.  I said that it was an interesting store and left it at that.  I didn’t say what I was really thinking.

Instead, you write:

Now, yesterday, I was outside for the first time in what felt like forever, since I’ve been cooped up in this asylum for what feels like forever.  As I drove along, my senses were exhilarated by the fresh, clean air – despite having that slightly opaque quality of horrible pesticide from the nearby farms.  And in those moments, I was caught between my love for life and the despise of my ego-centric human co-habitors who want nothing more than to make a shifty buck.  And speaking of bucks, here’s a new business that looks interesting.  Maybe I will find some of the things that make me go, hmmm.  That is my forte, you know.  Making people go hmmm.  Upon entering the store, I was completely taken aback by the unnerving and overpowering vibe of… weirdness?  Nay, insanity. My eyes wept for the innocence of a million children that would be subjected to such devious depictions of capitalism, and my mind, in its best attempt to shelter me from further despair, became numb to the entire experience.  When my overloaded, overworked, and overstressed senses could not handle the assault any further, I hastened to the door.  Oh sweet freedom from this agony!  You are only steps away!  But before I could savor the fresh, liberating experience of being unshackled from this oppression, the storeowner – a peddler of the most profane wares in the universe – had the audacity to ask me if I found what I was looking for.  In my mind, I cursed him a thousand ways and considered informing him that the only thing I found was offensive offerings with monetary and aesthetic value so low that I would need to be compensated to even consider purchasing one.  Choking back my words of justice, I politely told him his store was interesting and I left him to ponder the ramifications of such a simple answer to his question.  He should think long and hard on it, for there was a message in my tone of voice that words could not convey.  I pray that no one should have to be subjected to what I had to endure this day, yesterday.

You see, I can write like this, but choose not to.  Thank god.