Archives for May 2015

#164 Art

#163 Art

#163Art

Being alone breeds discontent. If only I could find the right one, my life would be filled with joy. Love has eluded me and slipped away so many times before. Hope had disappeared because I was never smart enough to detect what was required to remain a duo.

I always felt I needed more, more of what I never knew. Then one day while surfing the Internet, Tethy’s helmet came into view. A metal sculpture created by my classmate, Laurie. Its brilliancy filled me with unfamiliar passion. The creator of this piece must have a zeal surpassing even mine, a better mind by many degrees and the ability to create beauty I only daydreamed of.

If I could only be with a genius such as this my need would be filled, and I could love the conceptions inside her head. They’d fulfill my dreams of loving splendor that never aged and never died.

After this, I saw Laurie in a different way. Her soft skin and her eyes, a brilliant blue, sucked me in. She had moist and yummy lips, shapely legs, and a gorgeous body I couldn’t live without. Before I met her, no one woman was ever enough for me to be dedicated to.

But an artist like her had beauty bursting through, and my desire was aroused like never before. I thought we would have been the perfect pair. She’d be my muse and I hers. I wanted to work with her and imagined what we’d create with my industrious work and her creative mind. I visualized statues reaching to the sky, armies of knights wearing helmets like Tethy’s, and of course I’d sculpt her in many forms, so her beauty could be shared with the entire world.

She thought differently than me and didn’t want me in her life. A travesty I thought. All the works building in my mind came crashing down. Rejected and dejected I built a goddess to adore. She stands in front of my house holding a spear and a snake to let everyone know a broken hearted artist lives here.

If Laurie ever drove by and saw the things I had built out of love for her, I wonder if her cold, cold heart would melt and invite me in. Or was she in love with Art and no one else? Would she think me a fool for loving what she can do without knowing who she is? Did it really matter that I had seen so many more years than her?

I dreamed one night that my goddess Boadicea came to life and her heart beat beneath her breasts of stone. Her emotions rose with each beat and her love for, me, her creator grew and grew, until that heart of stone was ready to burst.

When I awoke, I knew I was no longer alone and had found that special one. But a problem arose when I wanted her to come to bed. It was then I knew I could only worship her in my psyche and had to be content with her standing there guarding my front lawn.

Was it weird to adore a woman made of cement, I wondered; until I remembered all those I saw on their knees praying to a stone statue of some long dead saint. My Boadicea was alive in my mind and heart, so if I wanted, I could get on my knees and ask her to be mine. And I did.

Now I wait for night to come when Boadicea joins me in my dreams.

 

 

#162 Help the poor and go to Heaven

#162 Help the poor and go to Heaven

#162 Help the poor and go to Heaven

Goddamn, I needed a drink. My nerves were shot from thinking about going to hell for what I’d done. Reaching under the couch I found a half full bottle of gin, took a long drink and wanted to gag from the burning in my throat, but the pain felt good. It would help me write out exactly what happened. I calmly sat there and wrote.

I can’t remember when I got the idea, but it was there forever it seemed. It haunted all my waking hours. An urge to kill the old man came over me. Though he never wronged or insulted me, I planned his demise. Rumblings from my subconscious told me this predator with the milky blue eye had to die. A ludicrous reason, the color of his one eye, to kill someone I thought, but my deeper mind said that that anybody with an eye color like that was a lycanthrope and had to die.

Why? I shouted to myself, and heard inside my head, “Just do as you’re told.” I thought I was going insane. I couldn’t control my obsession. Guilty about my plans, I treated the old man better than before. I made him happy with deceptive devotion. If he only knew that every night at midnight I’d open his door with a baseball bat in my hand, ready to beat him to death. I’d see him laying there, his teeth in a glass by the bed, his mouth open and drool running down his chin. Sleeping with his eyes closed, and his predatory blue eye out of sight, my rage subsided and I’d gently close the door thankful I didn’t do what I had intended. Night after night I’d open the door with the bat in hand, and see him on his white silk sheets, asleep with his eyes closed.

One night as I opened the door, so slowly time seemed suspended, a feeling of power overcame me. I held his life in my hands and there was nothing he could do about it. He didn’t suspect my plans for one second. A cat meowed outside the window and he stirred. I stood frozen in time and an hour passed as he sat up in bed. He couldn’t see in the dark, so I waited without a move. Then I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was a whimper of terror, not a groan of pain or of grief, but a low stifled sound that rose from the bottom of his soul. I knew the sound well from nights when the entire world slept but me. Terrors in the night distracted me, and I knew that moan well. I knew what the old man felt and pitied him. He had been awake since the cat’s meow, and his imagination had increased his fears a hundred fold. He tried to fluff them off as more frightening noises in the night, maybe a mouse in the wall, or a truck driving by. I’m sure he tried to calm himself with these thoughts, but all for naught because I was in the room, and I held life or death in my hand.

I could have this power as long as he slept, but he suddenly turned on the lamp. I swung with all my might. His pale blue eye opened and the dull blue hue sent a tingling down my spine. No other part of the old man’s face or person was visible, only his cursed eye. The sight of it caused my swing to miss. It would have sent his head to the moon if I had hit. Horrified, I dropped the bat.

He jumped out of bed, grabbed the bat, and beat me on the head until he thought I was dead. He must have known my intentions all along. I pretended to be unconscious and watched him open the leaded glass window. He gazed up at the full moon and howled like a wolf, then, he jumped back into bed, and before he turned off the light I saw a smile on his face.

Cold, callous, and able to sleep after thinking he took a life. He needed to die, and by the grace of God, I would be the one to do it. I crawled across the floor to the bat, got it in my hands and slowly rose to my feet. I stood above his unmoving form, raised the bat above my head and started my downward swing. His eye opened and the dull blue hue wasn’t a surprise this time. The bat smashed into his head again and again, and again, until his head looked like a squashed tomato.

Now I needed to dispose of his body before the domestic help arrived in the early morning. An idea that must have been sent from heaven came. “Help the needy,” it said, and I dragged his body to the kitchen where the old man’s help prepared catered meals. He had purchased a Hobart half horsepower meat grinder for making hamburger. It ground ten pounds a minute, so in a bit over ten minutes he became hamburger and I used his table saw to cut his bones to dog food sized pieces.

I packaged his remains in Saran wrap that weighed ten pounds each, and I put his bones in sacks marked, “Soup Bones” and delivered it to the homeless shelter three blocks away.

“Thank you my friend,” the cook said, “you’ll be rewarded in heaven for giving so much food to the poor.”

After he said that, I needed a drink, but now I think he was right, and I’ll drink to going to heaven for doing a good deed.

#161 Wolves at the Door

#161 Wolves at the Door

Smoke from the snow-covered cabin rose above mountain peaks. It appeared to be a peaceful and quiet night, but the quiet was deceiving. Angelo heard his horse, Gracie nervously kicking in her stall, and grabbed a lantern to light his way to the barn to comfort her. Sliding the heavy door open with one hand, he raised the lantern and saw several pairs of gleaming yellow eyes. A growl from above warned him too late as a wolf leapt onto his back and tried to bite into his shoulder. The thick bearskin pelt he wore for a robe blunted the bite. He shook the animal from his back and raised the flame on the lantern.

Afraid of fire, the wolves snarled and growled in the dark. Angelo tried to edge over to where Gracie trotted back and forth in her stall, but the wolves blocked his way. Their hunger overcame their fear of light, and they wouldn’t let him stop them from eating. A wolf grabbed Gracie by her throat, brought her to her knees, and the five others attacked. Angelo knew it was too late to save Gracie. He ran back to the cabin and barricaded the door.

Hatred filled his heart. Poor Gracie, he wasn’t able to save her, and swore vengeance. His food supply had evaporated, and he had intended to ride Gracie into town to resupply. With her gone, he’d never be able to walk that far in the cold and stay alive.

Angelo heard the wolves calling their brethren to come and join them in a hot meal. He wished he had one himself. Looking in the larder, he saw his last can of beans, opened it and couldn’t wait to eat once the aroma hit, he gulped them down cold. Three days later, he was as hungry as the wolves when he heard a thump, and then scratching at the door.

They were trying to get in he thought and looked through the window. A dozen wolves paced around his cabin. They were still hungry and were waiting, waiting for a chance to make him their next meal. The thought of wolves eating him caused anger to erupt. He’d show them who was going to eat who. Wolf meat would do in a pinch he thought, “I’ll make at least one of them my dinner instead of me being theirs.” He’d have to kill them all he knew, or else they’d eventually get him when he left the cabin for water or food. In anger he grabbed his shells and carbine, then burst through the cabin door before he realized he wasn’t ready to shoot the carnivorous creatures stalking him. He had forgotten to load his gun.

He stood in deep snow and knew every bullet had to count, but in his haste to load his gun he dropped the bullets into the snow. He threw off his gloves and fell to his knees and put his hands into the ice cold snow trying to find the ammo. His hands started to freeze and soon he could no longer feel and had only found two bullets.

While he searched for his lost bullets the wolves surrounded him. He looked and knew with only two bullets he was due to be dinner if he didn’t do something, but what could one man do against a dozen timber wolves. Fire he thought, they were afraid of it, and if he built one, the snow would melt and he’d find his bullets.

Although his hands were numb he loaded the two bullets he had and turned to face the wolves that blocked his return to his cabin. He shot two that stood in his way and ran toward the door. One wolf got its teeth into his ankle. Angelo drew his Bowie knife and stabbed it in the heart, picked up his rifle and clubbed the next wolf to come at him over the head.

Almost at the door two wolves ran at him. He clubbed one, but the other leapt through the air and knocked Angelo off his feet when it hit him on his side and bit into his arm. Angelo used the knife to make the wolf let go. Almost there. As he reached for the cabin door another wolf landed on his back and he felt hot breath on his face as it tried to bite down on his head. Angelo stabbed the wolf in its mouth. He felt the teeth come down on the blade, and the wolf shook its head with such force it ripped the knife from Angelo’s hands.

He scrambled to his feet, shook the wolf off, opened the door, rushed through and slammed it. A feeling of relief overwhelmed him. Safe for now he thought, and once he built a fire to melt the snow he’d find his bullets and kill the rest of them. A smile crossed his face at the thought, but he turned around his smile turned upside down when he saw eight glowing eyes slowly coming toward him. He saw the broken window as the first wolf flew through the air and Angelo became dinner.

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#160 Alto Saxophone

#160 Alto Saxophone

#160 Alto Saxophone

In a little town in Illinois, in a bar near the Wisconsin border, I heard one man blowing his horn with honey-dripping sounds and watched a woman called Brown Sugar dance to the high alto saxophone notes. Her moves were like music itself, the way her body swayed in time with the beat. I imagined blowing notes into her ear.

I crossed the wooden dance floor where she whirled, grabbed her hand and began to spin. Like two notes, one black, one white, we danced all night, and I did get to blow into her ear. I whispered, “Imagine how we’d move in a bed.” Flash Fiction 121

She laughed in a low contralto voice and changed it to a soprano when the high notes flowed. Later when we were in bed and music played on her expensive speakers we continued our sensuous dance. Things couldn’t have been any better until I got knocked out cold.

When I came around I could hardly open my eyes and my head hurt so bad I thought it would explode. Music played, but it was different now. Chanting came from the speakers in a language that I thought was Creole, and I smelled incense burning. My eyes began to focus about the time I realized I was tied spread eagle to her bed wearing nothing at all.

Then I saw the black man from the bar playing his saxophone, filling the room with mellow and foreboding music, as he and six black women danced in a circle around the bed. The women accompanying him were chanting to electronic sounds emanating from the speakers. Flash Fiction 122

“Brown Sugar,” I croaked. I couldn’t speak loud enough to be heard over the chanting. God, I’d give anything for a dozen aspirins to relieve the headache from the blow and all the noise aggravating my headache to a point where it was almost unbearable. What the hell was going on, I wondered, when I saw Brown Sugar pull back a curtain exposing what looked like some sort of altar.

I had only heard about the things I saw before my eyes. The altar stood on four black marble pedestals and was topped with an oblong piece of the same black marble. There was a large crucifix with Jesus on it turned upside down.

I’ve been captured by Satanists, I thought. What were they going to do to me? I struggled to free myself, but I was tied tight and couldn’t move. Maybe they were only going to do a ceremonial ritual, and would set me free when it was over. Flash Fiction 123

The sax player stood to one side of the altar and his instrument emitted a gruesome sound that I never imagined a horn could make. Brown Sugar, wore a blood red robe, and stood in front of the altar. She raised her voice and said, “I hereby invoke the Prince of Darkness. The great Dragon of the bottomless pit who is the Bringer of Light and Lord of the Earth. Hear me, O-Mighty God of Hell! Come forth from the black Abyss,”

The chanting and music drowned out most of her prayer, but I did hear her conclusion,

“My Lord and Master, come forth from Hell, and greet me as Your servant and friend. Join me as I conduct this service in your honor. Out of love and thankfulness for you. Amen!”

She turned with her arms raised and for the first time I saw the gleaming, jeweled dagger she held with two hands. Her eyes lit with passion as she walked toward me, followed by the others who continued with their chanting, causing my head to ache worse. Flash Fiction 124

I started praying. Goodness always overcame evil, so I prayed, “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend me, be my protection against these wicked people and the devil.”

A bright light filled the room. A man dressed in flowing white robes and wielding a shining sword appeared in front of the altar. One swipe of his sword severed the marble base. The altar crumbled to the floor, but not before he grabbed the crucifix, held it in front of him right side up and advanced toward the Satanists. They dropped everything and ran.

I waited for him to release me, but he set his sword and the crucifix on a table and picked up the saxophone thrown aside as the owner ran for the door. He put it to his lips and started to blow into the horn. I expected to hear heavenly music from a horn played by an angel. Instead, the grating notes that rolled out almost pierced my eardrums. Flash Fiction 125

A brighter light filled the room and before me stood Satan himself, dressed in regal red robes. He too carried a saxophone. He stood in front of Saint Michael and said, “I’ll challenge you to a duel. Whoever plays the best gets his soul.” He pointed at me.

“Don’t do it,” I yelled to Saint Michael. “I know you want to save me, but I heard you play.”

“Ye of little faith, don’t you know if God wants your soul, I’ll play better than Satan.”

I didn’t have an answer for that. The devil began to play, and the music warmed my soul until I began to cry. He finished and pointed to Saint Michael and said, “Let’s see you do better than that.” Flash Fiction 126

Michael began to play, ni and I prayed the sound would be better than before. He fidgeted and fussed, put the sax to his lips, took a breath and blew. The music that came out must have been made in hell, and right then I knew the music I’d be hearing for eternity would sound better than his. Flash Fiction 1

#159 Peanut Butter Sandwich

#159 Peanut butter sandwich

#159 Peanut Butter Sandwich

I watched the little kids playing on their swings, jungle gyms, slides and stuff. I’ve always loved the sounds of children playing. Their laughs and giggles brought me back to when I was a child and life was enjoyable. Not like today where I have to work as a maintenance man in a high rise to earn a living.

I sat on a bench about to eat my banana and peanut butter sandwich, just like my mom used to make me when she was alive. Since she passed away, I ate one every day to keep her memory alive. A cop came up to me and said, “Enjoying the kiddies, are ye?”

“Yeah, I come here every day to watch them.”

He squinted and looked me over real good. “Can I see some identification?”

I had changed into my janitor’s uniform and left my wallet in my other clothes, “Sorry, I don’t have any with me.”

The cop grabbed me by the hair, pulled me to my feet, spun me around, “Hands on the tree, spread your legs. You’re under arrest.”

“What, under arrest for what?” I put my hands on rough tree bark, and I was sure to hold onto my sandwich

“Anything you say can be used against you,” he continued with the Miranda Rights.

“I didn’t do anything.”

“Guys like you always say that. I saw how you were ogling the kids.”

“Just a f-ing minute, what do you mean ogling. I just enjoy watching them.”

“Guys like you need to be locked away. Arms behind your back.”

I stuffed the sandwich in my pocket before he put handcuffs on me. Once taken into the police station I went to the booking area. The cop behind the desk asked the arresting one what I was being charged with.

“Molesting kids at the playground,” the arresting officer said.

“I’d never molest a kid. Why are you accusing me?”

“We have an eyewitness that identified you. She saw you hanging around the playground.”

“I go there to eat lunch every day. It’s way better than eating where I work.”

“Who do you think will believe that when our witness says she saw you molesting a little boy?”

They took my handcuffs off to fingerprint me. Then a cop took me to a dirty cell with a shit crusted toilet and an iron bunk in it. No blankets, sheets, or pillow, just plain cold steel. I sat on it, took out my sandwich, dropped it on the dirty floor, and snatched it up before the five second rule kicked in. Does that rule counted for a scuzzy cell floor?  Bits of dirt and stuff stuck to the sandwich, so I pulled it off. On TV it shows how when locked up they only give you a baloney sandwich; and that’s what a cop brought me. As a vegetarian, no matter how hungry I got, I wasn’t about to eat baloney. I opened my mouth, closed my eyes and was about to bite down on the bread I had taken the baloney from. A voice said, “Phallometry.”

A cop stood outside my cell. “Phalla, what?” I said.

“A penis lie detector. It’ll test your manhood and reveal your sexual persuasion,” he said. “We use it for guys charged with diddling with kids.”

“That’s bull-shit, I never molested anybody.”

“Then you’ll volunteer for a Phallometry?”

“I don’t even know what it is, or how it works.”

“It can be proved with the erectometer if you’re one of those who commit sexual crimes against children. By measuring blood-flow in your penis when you’re exposed to photos, movies or audio suggesting sex with children or other men we can tell if you’re Gay, Straight, Pedophile, or all three. You can’t lie about what you like and don’t like because the device detects what arouses your Twinkie.”

“That’s crazy. I’m not taking any test. What if the test showed I got aroused? Would that prove me guilty? I want a lawyer.” Hell, I used to get aroused watching holes being drilled in metal. This test would only prove was that Penis the Menace has a mind of its own that sometimes takes control.

“A lawyer isn’t going to help you. We have an eye witness who can identify you as a molester, so if you don’t take the test, you’ll sit in jail for a long time waiting to go to trial.”

I knew from watching “Law and Order” that the cops could keep me locked up until I went to trial, and that took months. I looked at my dirty peanut butter and banana sandwich and thought of the baloney sandwiches I’d be served during that time. “Okay,” I said, “I’ll take the test.”

I entered a room and met a middle-aged woman. When she got close her perfume was the same as my girlfriend used, and the scent caused me to become aroused.

“Hi, I’m Gloria,” she said, “I’m a certified phallometrician and I’ll be performing our tests today.”

She measured the circumference of my erect penis with a rubber strain gauge, and then she measured the volume of my genitals with an airtight cylinder and inflatable cuff. Her being close to me caused my measurements to exceed their normalcy I’m sure. She attached electrodes to my penis and showed me pictures of nude and semi-clad children and played audio descriptions of forced sexual scenarios and measured my arousal levels.

They were high, but I knew they were because of Gloria, not the movies, pictures, or tapes.

The cop came in the room and said, “Well?”

“He’s off the chart. Oversexed to a point where anything will excite him,” Gloria said.

“Great! With those results, he’ll be behind bars for years.”

Framed. Behind bars for years. I attempted to take a bite from my peanut butter sandwich and the tears falling from my eyes soaked the dried up bread. The sandwich fell apart in my hands. Like my life was about to.

#158 Delusional

158 Delusional

#158 Delusional

I couldn’t believe the application I had to fill out for a minimum wage job. Was I married? No. Did I ever steal from an employer? “No,” like I’d tell them if I did. Then there was a grammar test, and they required me to write an essay about my life. I began, “One score minus three years ago, and nine months, my father and mother, deciding to form a more perfect union, had sex, and that’s about how it all got started with me, so here I am eighteen years later looking for a position with your great company.”

“You’re delusional if you think we’re going to hire you with your sub-par language skills,” the interviewer said, “you failed practically the entire grammar section of our exam. You do know you’re applying for a job where you need to speak clearly so our clients can understand what they’re buying?”

That rigorous test I had to pass to be a counter clerk at Circle K showed my weaknesses. The fact is words never fascinated me. Many of them I can barely pronounce. I never met a rhyme I liked until one day I wrote one of my own and discovered what a thrill it was to put word after word until I delighted at the poem I made. Those words pecked out letter by letter belonged to me and in my mind the word formation was so much better than all the rest I have ever read.

Conceited I knew, but I believed I could have been a poet if I loved language like those who wrote phrases that brought tears when read. I don’t know why I couldn’t enjoy their words more than mine, but that’s the way it was.

It didn’t matter I guessed  because when it came time to read my poems aloud I saw beauty when there was none. Those who listened would agree that the order and music of my words would be the best they had ever heard.

Conceited I knew. If I didn’t believe in myself, no one else would. So I told her, “I’m the best, and I challenge you to a duel.”

“What are you talking about?” she said.

“Words! We’ll see who can write the best phrase.” The look in her eye said she was a sure winner.

“What does the winner get?” she asked.

“One reasonable wish.” I’d wish for the job I applied for.

“Okay, deal,” she said and stuck her hand out to shake on it. When she touched me, I felt her rough skin and thought she must be really old, maybe even forty already.

“You go first,” she said.

“No way, we do it at the same time.” I picked up a pen and paper and waited for her to do the same. Turning my back so she couldn’t see the great phrase I’d come up with; I wrote, “Among the many things that are the result of imperialism racism and kapitalism are standard punktuation grammar and spelling which all serve to make comunikation easy.”

Looking up I saw her staring at me. She had finished long before me.

“Let’s swap papers,” I said, “and we’ll decide who the best is!” She handed me hers and I gave her mine. When I read, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height. My soul can reach when feeling out of sight.”

“I win,” she said with a gleam in her eye.

“What if I disagree?” She did write better than me, but I wasn’t going to concede so easily.

“You’ve misspelled so many words, you’re automatically disqualified,” she said, and pulled out a pocket dictionary to show me words I had written with the wrong letters.

I didn’t have much choice, “Okay, you win, what’s your wish?”

“Marry me.”

I almost fell out of my chair. “I, I can’t,” I said.

“Why not?” She held my application in front of her, so I couldn’t say I was married or would soon die from some disease. So I asked, “Can’t you make another wish?”

“Look, this was your idea. You lost. Now pay up.”

I always kept my word, and I couldn’t make an exception now, so we walked over to City Hall and tied the knot. She didn’t look that bad for being so old, I told myself.

“Now for a wedding present, I’ll give you the job you applied for,” she said, and I thanked God for granting my wish to be hired at Circle K.

#158 Delusional

158 Delusional

#158 Delusional

I couldn’t believe the application I had to fill out for a minimum wage job. Was I married? No. Did I ever steal from an employer? “No,” like I’d tell them if I did. Then there was a grammar test, and they required me to write an essay about my life. I began, “One score minus three years ago, and nine months, my father and mother, deciding to form a more perfect union, had sex, and that’s about how it all got started with me, so here I am eighteen years later looking for a position with your great company.”

“You’re delusional if you think we’re going to hire you with your sub-par language skills,” the interviewer said, “you failed practically the entire grammar section of our exam. You do know you’re applying for a job where you need to speak clearly so our clients can understand what they’re buying?”

That rigorous test I had to pass to be a counter clerk at Circle K showed my weaknesses. The fact is words never fascinated me. Many of them I can barely pronounce. I never met a rhyme I liked until one day I wrote one of my own and discovered what a thrill it was to put word after word until I delighted at the poem I made. Those words pecked out letter by letter belonged to me and in my mind the word formation was so much better than all the rest I have ever read.

Conceited I knew, but I believed I could have been a poet if I loved language like those who wrote phrases that brought tears when read. I don’t know why I couldn’t enjoy their words more than mine, but that’s the way it was.

It didn’t matter I guessed  because when it came time to read my poems aloud I saw beauty when there was none. Those who listened would agree that the order and music of my words would be the best they had ever heard.

Conceited I knew. If I didn’t believe in myself, no one else would. So I told her, “I’m the best, and I challenge you to a duel.”

“What are you talking about?” she said.

“Words! We’ll see who can write the best phrase.” The look in her eye said she was a sure winner.

“What does the winner get?” she asked.

“One reasonable wish.” I’d wish for the job I applied for.

“Okay, deal,” she said and stuck her hand out to shake on it. When she touched me, I felt her rough skin and thought she must be really old, maybe even forty already.

“You go first,” she said.

“No way, we do it at the same time.” I picked up a pen and paper and waited for her to do the same. Turning my back so she couldn’t see the great phrase I’d come up with; I wrote, “Among the many things that are the result of imperialism racism and kapitalism are standard punktuation grammar and spelling which all serve to make comunikation easy.”

Looking up I saw her staring at me. She had finished long before me.

“Let’s swap papers,” I said, “and we’ll decide who the best is!” She handed me hers and I gave her mine. When I read, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height. My soul can reach when feeling out of sight.”

“I win,” she said with a gleam in her eye.

“What if I disagree?” She did write better than me, but I wasn’t going to concede so easily.

“You’ve misspelled so many words, you’re automatically disqualified,” she said, and pulled out a pocket dictionary to show me words I had written with the wrong letters.

I didn’t have much choice, “Okay, you win, what’s your wish?”

“Marry me.”

I almost fell out of my chair. “I, I can’t,” I said.

“Why not?” She held my application in front of her, so I couldn’t say I was married or would soon die from some disease. So I asked, “Can’t you make another wish?”

“Look, this was your idea. You lost. Now pay up.”

I always kept my word, and I couldn’t make an exception now, so we walked over to City Hall and tied the knot. She didn’t look that bad for being so old, I told myself.

“Now for a wedding present, I’ll give you the job you applied for,” she said, and I thanked God for granting my wish to be hired at Circle K.

#157 See You Down Below

#157 See You Down Below#157 See You Down Below

Joe Di Angelo sat in his car on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean while he loaded his Smith & Wesson .38. He’d shoot his wife when she showed up. He’d make it look like a carjacking gone bad. If he hadn’t married her, his life could have been glamorous, exciting, and filled with pleasure. Instead, he married Matilda, a substitute for his true love, Mark, who he dumped because he thought Matilda had plenty of cash.

As he polished his gun, he thought of how clever he had been by inviting John Dreyfisk, his insurance agent, for dinner.

When John finished the meal he said, “Mrs. Di Angelo, if I were to eat here often, I’d weigh 300 pounds in no time,” John put his napkin on the table and opened his briefcase.

Joe figured he couldn’t resist trying to make a sale.

“We have a special today on million dollar life insurance policies. Matilda, is it all right if I call you that Mrs. Di Angelo?”

“Of course.” She smiled at him, “What’s this about a million dollars?”

“If your husband should die, you’ll have a million, and if he dies in an accident or is a crime victim, you’ll get two million.”

Matilda smiled at Joe. “Why, I’d rather have my husband than money any day.”

Joe smiled too, “Likewise, sweetheart.” He ignored the sales spiel and was happy when he heard, “Okay then, both of you sign on the dotted line and you’ll be covered starting at noon tomorrow,” John handed Joe papers.

“Why do we both have to sign?” Matilda wanted to know as she peeked over Joe’s shoulder.

“This policy pays if either of you die, so both of you can rest assured if calamity strikes, the surviving spouse will be well provided for.”

Joe and Matilda both smiled.

*

He heard a sound and looked up; eighteen wheels screeched and smoked as a semi headed straight for his car. He felt the impact before he heard the crash. His 98 Oldsmobile coupe flew through the guardrail like papier-mâché. It sailed through the air as though the updraft would keep it afloat forever. Looking at the water below, he knew this was the end and his mind filled with past happenings.

The wind whistling through the open window took him back to when he had influential friends, and he could call celebrities who always showed interest in his next project. That was before he met her, and his desire for wealth took over his life. Searching for lost treasures, he had lost his strength, his looks, and his friends.

The car spun in mid-air, and through the windshield he saw the cliff and the semi’s cab hung over it. As the driver scrambled to safety, he noticed something familiar about her.

She reminded him of all the beautiful men and women he had known and the adventures he had before he married Matilda.

He prayed to his God and to Jesus to save his life. When they didn’t answer, he prayed to the Devil. The car stopped spinning and dropped straight down. He braced himself for the shock of hitting water and his mind wandered off again. His car landed softly on ocean swells. His prayers were answered; he was alive. As the car sank beneath the waves, he saw a great white shark swimming towards him like it thought the car was something it could eat. When it got close it wasn’t a fish at all – it looked like Satan.

“That’s right. That’s my name, and you owe me big time,” Joe heard him say without his lips moving.

“Why?”

“Did you think life was a free ride? You’ve had a good time. Now you’ll pay the price.”

With Herculean strength, Joe pushed open the door and swam to shore with laughter in his head and fear in his heart, but when he stepped onto dry ground, he knew Satan was just in his head, a vision driving him to save himself from beneath the azure waves.

Joe looked above. The semi driver was aiming a rifle at him. That’s when he knew it was Matilda, and the truck hitting his car wasn’t an accident. He ran with bullets zinging into the surrounding sand until he reached an outcropping of rocks where he hid. The shooting stopped while she climbed down the cliff with the rifle on her shoulder. Joe ran again; felt the weight in his pocket and remembered he too had a gun. He hid behind a rock with gun in hand; waiting as her shadow fell on the sand near him.

“I just want you to know, Joe, that I’ll use some of your insurance money to get the operation, and I’ll be a man, like you always wanted me to be.”

Joe’s heart almost burst with love. He stepped out with his arms raised. “Matilda, if you’d do that for me, I’d be the happiest man on Earth.”

“I’m not doing it for you, fool; I’m doing it for Mark, who you abused.” Joe pointed his gun when she said that, but too late. She pulled the trigger and blew a hole in his stomach. As he lay on the sand bleeding, he saw Mark climbing down the hill. Matilda and Mark each took an arm and dragged Joe to the water, pushed him in, waved goodbye and said, “See you down below sucker.” They gave each other million dollar smiles.

 

#156 Trail 703

#156 Trail 703

#156  Trail 703

71 years old and Joe acted like and thought he was in his 20s. Like a dummy he rolled down a mountain bike trail sprinkled with boulders, water-stops made from trees or rocks at a speedy clip on his hybrid bike. He jumped a log in the middle of the trail and went airborne when the front wheel jammed between two tree roots. His bike wasn’t built to take this punishment, and neither was his aging body, but he didn’t worry about dying. Somebody up there had looked out for him his entire life.

The bike stopped instantly. He didn’t and flew over it. The handlebars caught between his legs as he plunge head first toward a pile of rocks,. He wondered if he’d be saved again. Memories of past saves flowed: The time he was about to chug-a-lug from a Four Roses whiskey bottle he had stolen from a safe, his friend grabbed it and said, “Better check it before drinking.” It was fire extinguisher fluid, an acid that would have melted his throat.

The times the police chased him with guns blazing and bullets hitting so close that spatters of bricks smashed into his face, visions of cars he stole that ended up as mere chunks of metal after he crashed. Yet he always walked away. He recalled how later in life when he worked in construction, ladders fell, stuff exploded, others got killed and hurt, Joe always walked away.

The bike hit, and after a minute of doubt and severe pain, he knew he had been saved once again. He was able to get up, walk and push his bike four miles to his parked car. That night he wondered if it was God keeping him alive to perform some good deed.

The next day, two Jehovah Witnesses knocked on his door and wanted to read scriptures to him.

“Not interested,” he said and slammed the door, but instantly he wondered if he should have listened. Maybe this was how God was going to tell him how to pay him back for all the times he had saved his life. Too late now, he thought. Opened the fridge and took out a Miller Beer, opened it, took a long cold drink. Inside his head he heard a laugh.

He stopped drinking and listened. Must be imagining things. He went online to enjoy a bit of porn. He heard that laugh again and looked around to see if anyone was in his house. He was alone. Then he heard the voice.

“Fun, huh?” it said.

“What the f…,! Am I going nuts?” he said out loud.

“NOOOooo000,” he heard in his head.

Must have banged my head when I took that dive, he thought.

“Do you really think it was God who saved you all those times?”

Joe spun around. There had to be someone hiding in his house and projecting thoughts into his head. He went to the bedroom, got his baseball bat, and searched the entire house with a burning urge to smash in his tormentor’s head.

“Anger! I like that,” the voice said.

“Show your face, I’ll show you some real anger.”

“Love it, love it. No wonder I’ve kept you alive all these years.”

“Holy shit! Are you God?”

More laughter. Joe got angrier and out of frustration hit himself on the head with the bat. “Come on out of there and show your face.”

“Ha,hahaha, want to see what I look like? Go look in the mirror.”

Joe ran to the bathroom and saw his image over the sink. Rage twisted his face and his eyes glowed with evil intent. “You’re in me?”

“Let’s just say, I’m the best part of you.”

“Well, who the hell are you?”

“I’m the one who has kept you alive all these years.”

“You’re not God, so I don’t believe you.”

“Joe, Joe, Joe, don’t you know it’s God who has been trying to kill you? It’s a battle? Good against evil, and with all the stuff you’ve done, you can’t possibly think you’re on the good side.”

“I try to do the right thing all the time,” Joe said.

“Yeah, and when you do, I puke,” the voice said. “You’re not here to be good, you’re on my side.”

“Wait, wait. You’re telling me I’m on the evil side?”

“It’s like a chess game. Once you’re killed, you get to play again in the next game.”

“Hold on. You’re saying I’m on your team, the evil team, and you’re not God, so you must be. . . .”

“That’s right. If you were on the other team you wouldn’t be drinking that beer or watching those girls on your computer, so would you rather switch?”

“I don’t know. Tell me why you’ve saved my life so many times.”

“Oh, I have big plans for you, boy.”

Joe figured that if he killed himself before doing what was planned for him, he’d thwart the Devil, but for committing the sin of suicide, God would send him to hell where the Devil was in charge. He figured he’d stick around to see how bad his evil deed would be before deciding one way or the other. It didn’t seem fair that he could be made to choose. But then he was surprised by an alien voice, “Listen to me, there’s a third choice you can make.”

Joe looked into the 11th dimension of what until now was only theoretical and saw that he had infinite choices in the multi-verse. He laughed, stepped across a line in space-time and upset all of Satan’s carefully laid plans.

#155 Love Doctor

#155 Love Doctor

Love Doctor

Mark went to visit the “Love Doctor,” because he was having problems with, well, the name says it all. He dragged his mate along for an examination.

“Come on, Sweety,” Mark said.

“Yes dear,” his mate said.

“Well she certainly is a fine looking specimen,” the Love Doctor said as though she wasn’t there.

Mark’s face lit up with pride and he said, “I passed up a lot of others before I found this one.” Mark put his arm around his companion and she in turn reciprocated.

“I see you trained her well.”

“Sure have, but it took forever, I couldn’t get it through her head that even though she may be smarter than me, I’m the boss.”

“I appreciate a man like you who can put them in their place. Some men turn into wimps. Just because the lovemaking is so good, they let the leadership roles reverse, and if we want to be real men, we need to let them know who the boss is. By the way what’s her name?” He looked directly at her but asked Mark the question as though she couldn’t answer for herself.

“Misty,”

“Well Misty, are you satisfied with Mark directing your life?”

“Absolutely.”

“Are there any strange thoughts going through your head that may interfere with you loving Mark?”

She looked directly at Mark and said, “No.”

Doctor Love put his hand on her chin and turned it so she looked directly at him, “Are you attracted to him?”

An evasive look crossed her face. “There is no reason I shouldn’t be.”

Doctor Love turned her face to him again and said, “Tell me the truth, are you attracted to him?”

Looking him directly in the eyes she said, “No.”

“Well, there you have it Mark, she doesn’t love you because she isn’t attracted to you.”

“Can you fix her Doc?”

“Sure, it’s just a matter of biology,” he started getting some equipment ready. “I’ll give her an infusion right away.”

“Wow, thanks Doc. I thought I was going to be forced to trade her in for a new model.” Mark took Misty by the hand and led her over to where the doctor was getting ready. “You’ll be good as new, soon as the Doc fixes you up, and tonight will be like the first time.” Mark’s face lit up in anticipation of the pleasure he’d enjoy that night.

“What is it you’re going to give her Doc?”

“I must follow the law, but I can get away with giving her a little extra to bring her emotional and a hormonal climate to normal levels.”

“I don’t understand Doc. Extra what?”

“Some Oxytocin, Dopamine, Seretonin, and a lot of Endorphins.”

“Will hormones make her love me again?” Mark asked a worried expression filled his face.

“They don’t call me the Love Doctor for nothing. I assumed you knew what my specialty was.” The doctor started the fluid dripping into Misty who sat obediently still and silent in a chair.

“All I know is all the guys at the garage rave about you.”

“There’s my diploma. Look at it while I finish up getting Misty hot to trot once again.” The doctor turned his back to Mark while he worked.

Mark turned, looked at the Love Doctor’s diploma and saw his specialty. “Hey Doc,” Mark took the diploma from the wall, carried it over to where the doctor worked on Misty, “Are you human?”

“As long as I can fix Misty up, does it matter?”

Mark saw that his specialty of Lovotics qualified him in directional love between humans and robots. He specialized in realistic biologically-inspired love and helped robots have the ability to love and be loved by humans.

“Guess not Doc, just hurry up. I can’t wait to put her through her paces.”