Archives for August 2015

#272 Diamonds Diamonds Diamonds

#272 Diamonds Diamonds Diamonds

Reverend Paul Munson watched ragged children trudging through mud on their daily diamond searches. He came to Africa to do God’s work. To his surprise, he discovered that the televangelist who sponsored his ministry owned the mines where these kids worked as slave laborers.

His sponsor sent him to Africa as a ruse so he could raise more money by claiming he was helping the children. Those who donated money to his appeals didn’t know that he owned diamond mines that exposed child laborers to hazards and health risks.

One morning he was awoken by a commotion outside his tent. Munson rushed out to see a group of boys attacking a lone boy.

“”Leave him alone,” he shouted while pulling the boys off their victim. “What’s going on?” he asked the boy after the others dispersed.

The boy pointed to his boots. “They want these.” He looked down at the boy’s feet covered by a pair of cowboy boots. “My uncle sent them from America.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t wear them to work,”

“Have to! Somebody will steal them if I don’t.”

“God go with you then.

Munson prayed, “Please God, Send me a way to improve the lives of these wretched children.”

That night the sky lit up and there was a massive explosion that sent a meteor shower consisting of thousands of them flaming toward Earth. Munson watched the meteors speeding over the diamond mines. Several appeared to drop from the sky. Munson went to his tent and slept after the meteors’ stopped lighting the sky.

The next morning, he heard a ruckus outside of his tent. He rushed outside assuming the boys were trying to steal the boots again. Twenty boys wore identical boots and 30 or more stood in line.

“What’s going on?” he asked a boy trying to get his foot into a boot obviously too small for his feet.

“Get in line if you want a pair,” the boy said.

He walked to the front of the line where the boy he helped yesterday stood with a flashlight in his hand and his boots sat atop a rock. Munson watched as he pressed the switch and a beam of bright light came from the end of the flashlight, completely covering the boots. He shut it off and two pair of boots stood atop the rock. The boy at the head of the line rushed to the rock and grabbed a pair.

Munson watched as more than 30 pairs of boots appeared in half an hour.

“God has answered my prayers,” he muttered. “Can I see the flashlight,” he asked the boy.

He handed Munson the object and Munson couldn’t begin to understand how a flashlight could have reproduced fifty or more pairs of boots in one morning. “This is truly a miracle,” he said. “Where did you get this?”

“It fell from there,” The boy looked to the sky. Munson remembered the meteor shower. “Are there more of these?”

“Only that one,” the boy said.

“Can I hold onto this for you?”

“Sure, we’ve all got boots now, so they’ll protect our feet while we search for diamonds.” The boy ran to his fellow workers leaving the flashlight with Munson.

It appeared to be a regular flashlight made from plastic with a on-off switch. There wasn’t a way to open it and Munson couldn’t figure out where it got power from or how it replicated so many pair of boots.

How could he use it to help the children used as slaves? He took the object into his tent and thought for a long time. This object could change the world. But what if it stopped working? He had to figure it out. He began to doubt what he saw was true. He felt in his pocket for the small diamond he carried as a curiosity piece.

Pulling it out he turned it over and wondered why diamonds were so valuable when synthetic ones can be made for industrial use. He set it on top of his bunk, shined the light on it. Turning the light off, he had 2 identical diamonds. He shone the light on the 2and had 4. Shined it on 4 they turned into 8, then 8 turned into 16, and 16 into 32.  Now he knew how to stop the greedy mine owners from exploiting kids.

Two months later the market was flooded with so many diamonds they became almost worthless. All diamond mines shuttered and let their workers go.

Munson thanked God for sending him the means to stop the slavery. What should he do with the device now? He could become wealthy by getting one gold coin and replicating it over and over until he had millions. Greed filled him, but he knew getting rich wasn’t going to help anyone. He thought for another day and imagined what could be accomplished with the device. Replicate air planes, cars, and so many things. “Is that why God sent it?”

As he was thinking a helicopter swooped in and landed in a clearing. His sponsor, the television-evangelist jumped out and ran to where Munson stood on a rock overlooking the Amazon River.

“I know it was you who flooded the world with diamonds, and I’ve been told how you did it. Give me the replicator and I’ll make us both rich.” He held out his hand.

The idea of the evangelist having the device and greedily using it repulsed Munson. “Fuck you!” he said as he threw the flashlight into the Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

#271 Aug. 26, 2032,

#271 Aug. 26, 2032,

 

Bernie gazed at Shelia as she sauntered across the observatory floor. He couldn’t keep his eyes off his beautiful assistant. He tried to make headway with her, but she had said, “Bernie, you’re old enough to be my father.”

That hurt his feelings but didn’t dampen his desire. Though not a religious man, he prayed daily to meet someone just like her who’d overlook their age differences.

The phone rang, and Bernie listened, “There’s something out there. RAO´s (Radio Observatories) like Aricebo have gone online,” his boss at NASA told him. “England is online, South Africa is online, and so is Australia. All are searching for an invisible object. I think they’re looking in the wrong frequency range. You need to search in deep ultraviolet frequency.”

Bernie, an astronomer at NASA said, “Okay changing to ultra violet frequency. Holy shit!” he shouted as he read the data coming in from the probe headed for the sun.

“What?” Shelia, his assistant, asked.

“There’s a giant asteroid heading towards Earth. It’ll hit within hours. This means the end of humanity.” Bernie said. “We should have settled colonists long ago, so humanity wouldn’t have died out.”

“Can’t we stop it? Blow it up or something?” Shelia searched the data base trying to find a remedy.

“Blowing that space rock up, will make it worse.”

“It says here,” Shelia nodded toward the computer screen, “that small changes could be made to its surface to disrupt the forces keeping it together and cause it to break up in outer space.”

“Only if it was further away, with it coming out of the sun, we got no advance warning, so blowing it up or changing anything is out of the question. It’s travelling fast and it’ll hit Earth at 38,000 miles an hour. Impact will have a force of around 44,800 megaton’s of TNT, cause a huge explosion, tsunamis and change the climate of the globe.”

“Isn’t there anything we can do?” Shelia shook from fear.

“Pray,” Bernie said.

Together they recited the Lord’s Prayer as they watched the asteroid speed toward them on the screens arranged around the room that were scanning the night sky, a warning siren went off and a computer spoke, “Four minutes to impact.”

Bernie and Shelia dropped to their knees, “Please God, let us live. Don’t destroy the world,” they repeated in unison.

The computer continued to count down the seconds until impact. The asteroid was so close it filled all screens, “38 seconds, 37, 36,” It suddenly stopped counting. They saw on the screens around the room how the asteroid avoided smashing into Earth by braking with flames that appeared to be rockets firing. The object went into orbit.

“Impossible!” Bernie said. “How the hell did it do that?”

“Maybe our prayers were answered?”

“NO, it must be a space ship?” Bernie aimed the sun probe’s cameras back toward Earth to observe the asteroid from out there. “Holy shit!’ he shouted again. It is, it is.”

“Is what?”

“A fucking huge spaceship.”

The screens around the room showed the same images Bernie was seeing through his computer. They showed a huge ball with lighted portals on all sides. It rotated clockwise as it zipped around Earth every four hours.

“Aliens?” Shelia asked.

“What else?” Bernie saw observatory satellites surrounding the ship. He knew many satellites secretly were carrying destructive weapons in the event war broke out on Earth. He prayed no one would try to blow up the ship until at least communications were intact.

“Oh, oh, the Russians will probably attack,” Bernie shouted. “Fools! Can’t they see whoever is flying that craft has tech far superior to ours?”

Four Russian satellites surrounding the ship fired at it with electromagnetic guns. The waves circled around the strange craft, returned to the satellites that fired them and without a sound disintegrated all four.

The strange craft opened a clam shaped bay giving off a blinding light that disrupted all communications between Earth and satellites. Soon every communication channel became filled with a strange roaring sound that increased in intensity until anyone in hearing range had to cover their ears. Glass broke from sound waves and every satellite camera became inoperable.

“Stupid bastards shouldn’t have fired on it,” Bernie said when the sound quieted enough for them to remove their hands from aching ears.

“What now?” Shelia threw herself onto a chair and closed her eyes.

“Hope no one tries to blast the ship again.”

As the words came from his mouth they saw bright lights far out in space. “They’re using nukes now, hope they do the trick. If not we’re in trouble.”

Instead of a roaring sound, a deep voice filled all communication channels and though the language was strange, everyone understood when they heard, “Imbeciles.”

The space ship split into thousands of pieces and sped toward Earth. Anti-aircraft guns fired at the pieces, but every shell returned to the gun that fired it and exploded inside the barrel. Pieces of the disintegrating spacecraft fell in a wide area. Governments tried to gather them, but citizens got their hands on some.

Bernie ran outside and retrieved one of the containers made of a milky white plastic like substance.  Bernie picked it up and at his touch the container opened,like a clam, revealing a small device that appeared to be a flashlight Holding it in his palm, he pushed the switch and a bright beam flowed from the end of the tube shaped device. Bernie shined the light on a bush to search for other containers, almost instantly another bush grew beside the one the light shone on. Must be an optical illusion. He shone it on Shelia and it amazed him to see her become twins.

“What is it?” both Shelia’s asked.

“Some damn sort of replicator.” Bernie fumbled with the device. “Which one of you is the original?”

“I am,” Both women said.

Bernie doubted his sanity until he shone it on a bench and another instantly appeared. “Do you know what this means?” Bernie aimed the light at Shelia again.

“No what?”

“My prayers are answered.” He pressed the button, and another Shirley appeared, and then another. Four 0f them! “Hey Shelia, combined, you’re old enough to be my mother.”

 

 

 

#270 It’ll Happen Before You Have Time to Think

#270  It’ll Happen Before You Have Time to Think

 

Facing us is the fact that a computer will be able to store your personal thoughts and all things in your brain, including love, hate and all your sins. Nothing will be sacred, nothing will be private. Every thought will be exposed, sexual or  not, showing your infidelity, sexuality, liabilities and don’t even think you won’t agree to have this done, because your mind will be probed and recorded unseen, and unknown to you by those in control.

It’s time you know, this came about, because we allowed cameras to watch how fast we drove our cars, and used the traffic cameras to spy on us, and watch where we went and with who, at what time and what day. After a while they didn’t care how fast we went. The fines for speeding stopped because those in charge now knew better ways to take our dough, and they discovered that by using injected light, our brains would do what they were instructed too, and soon they began recording our entire minds. If we tried to escape, they only had to read what was online, and see where we had gone.

What I’m wondering is, if they have my mind in cyberspace, will it remain after I die, and if it does, am I still alive?

 

 

#268 Bloodless

#268 Bloodless

 

“I had this weird dream last night about Maria,” I told my Suzzy-Q.

“Yeah, how weird?”

It went like this: Maria’s Mom was in the kitchen making tortillas. Ricardo sat on Maria’s living room couch, “Darling, you never have to worry. I’ll always stick by you,” he told Maria.

“You will never sleep with me, you lying sack of shit,” Maria said

“Baby, baby, how can you say that?” Ricardo asked. “I’m in love with you and I’ll do anything you want.”

“Bullshit. If I put out for you, you’d be long gone five minutes after you finished,” she said.

Ricardo walked away shaking his head.

“Why’d you send that handsome boy away so fast?” her mother asked.

“He didn’t care about me.”

“How do ya know?”

“Mom, you know what I can do.”

“Sometimes I forget.”

It turned out that Maria’s talent was for picking people’s thoughts from the air, and it increased daily. Every guy who asked her out had only one thing on his mind, until she met Harry down at the docks. She liked him right away because he didn’t give her any lewd looks like most other guys did. But she had a problem, and it bothered her, so she said, “Harry, I can’t see your thoughts, good or bad.”

“I don’t have any,” he said.

Maria laid her hands on his head as though they’d conduct his thoughts. “This is the first time I couldn’t see what someone is thinking,” Maria said. “What are you thinking about right now?”

“Nothing.” Harry glanced at the text on his phone.

“Come on, you’ve got to be thinking about something.”

“Okay, I’m thinking how great technology is.” He scanned through his email on the phone while talking to Maria.

“Do you ever see me naked in your mind?” Maria didn’t like to have her tuned body with her creamy complexion, and extra large breasts ignored.

“I’ve never imagined you nude. Why would I?” Harry looked past her without staring at her half exposed boobs. In my dream, I salivated at the mouth when she pranced around with her breasts exposed, but not Harry. He didn’t seem to notice anything but the screen on his phone.

She leaned forward to be sure Harry got a good view. “You’re a man and all men love watching these.” She cupped her breasts, and they popped out of her bra. Harry saw it happen, but he acted as though he hadn’t.

“Since I turned fourteen, five years ago, I’ve never met a man who didn’t want to have sex with me. I can’t understand why you aren’t drooling like all the other guys did when they got close to me. Do you like boys better than girls?”

“No.” Harry pulled a game up on his phone and played it.

I was inside her mind and saw that Maria felt there had to be something wrong with Harry for not responding to her advances. All she wanted was to get him to think about sex so she could read his mind and reject him. Since she first bled, her power to read minds of people in proximity grew stronger over the seven years she’s had it.

“Do you think I’m ugly?” Maria pushed her breasts close to Harry and stared into his shining eyes.

“No. Ugliness is relative. I believe all humans are beautiful,” Harry said as he measured the circumference of his iphone.

Maria wrapped her arms around Harry, kissed him on the lips to arouse him

He broke away. “I’d rather you didn’t do that.” He took out a handkerchief and patted his lips dry. “It’s dangerous.”

She couldn’t read his mind, but when he said that, Maria thought; now I’ve got him. “A little danger excites me.”

“You’re very fragile, so you should be careful.” Harry glued his eyes to the screen on his phone.

Maria surveyed the area to see if anyone else was near. They weren’t. She peeled her dress off, dropped it to the ground and said, “Harry, look at me.”

“Oh, I see you’re wearing matching bra and panties. That’s nice.” Harry returned to playing Angry Birds.

Maria stripped off her undergarments. “Look again, Harry.”

He raised his head, glanced at her and said, “You’re violating the law. Put your clothes back on.”

No man had ever turned her down before. “What’s the matter with me? Why don’t you like me?” Maria asked as she dressed.

“I like you as much as I do anyone else.”

“You’re a cold-blooded bastard.”

“You’re wrong; Harry said. “I can’t be cold blooded because robots don’t run on blood.”

“Weird fucking dream,” Suzzy-Q said. “But it’s true, robots don’t run on blood. We all use hydraulic fluids. I wish you’d remember that every time you want to have sex with me.”

 

#269 Glassbreaker.

#269  Glassbreaker.

While growing up, comic books were my life. Superman, Spiderman, Batman, they were the best. I always wanted a power so I could be a crime fighter like them. Every kid had that dream. Mine carried on until I started college. Taking an art class, I made a bird from clay, and before I could fire it, a wing fell off. Seems the clay got much stronger after being fired. I wondered if I built up my tolerance to heat; I’d be able to bake for a while to get toughened up like the clay did. I started by holding the fired sculptures while hot. Then I put my arms in the hot oven. I got blisters at first, but if I left them in long enough for my blood to boil, my arms became much stronger. The first time I stepped completely into the kiln, all my clothes burned away.

I spent two weeks in the hospital, but as soon as I got out, I went and tried it again. This time the heat caused my blood’s chemicals to react, and I became as hard as a ceramic piece. I stepped into a tub of Tomato Red glazing liquid and then stayed in the oven for three hours. When I stepped out, my skin had a great red sheen to it. My muscles all showed, and I could pose as a statue because of my color and sheen.

Becoming a superhero had always been my dream, and now I was on my way. I spent weeks going in and out of ceramic kilns to build up my endurance. Once I did, I’d follow any fire truck that roared by to the blaze and rush into a burning building to save any occupants. After a while I became known as, “Red, The Glassman.” I could endure almost any heat. The mayor, fire chief and city council all honored me for my heroic deeds. Saving people from burning buildings was all right, but I wanted to fight crime too. I patrolled the city during the early morning hours looking for miscreants. I didn’t find any for a week, but one night I came across two burglars breaking into a Denny’s Restaurant. They couldn’t have been very smart because Denny’s is open 24 hours a day.

My hard as glass hand practically gripped them, but they spotted me and ran. Being solid as I was, I could hardly run. Next time I’d be more careful. Three days later a robber had an older gentleman in an alley with a gun pointed at him. I threw a rock, knocked the gun from his hand and took him to jail. After that, I practiced throwing rocks and became a marksman with them. I always carried a pocketful of rocks when I went crime fighting after that. Anyone who tried to flee from me would get a rock to the back of the head. Never failed to stop them in their tracks.

Fan mail came in all the time and some from people who wanted to become like me. I began a training program for those who could take the heat. I foresaw me leading an army of Glass-men on crime fighting sprees. One night I came upon the burglars who were trying to break into Denny’s. I threw a rock, hit one and knocked him down. While fishing for another rock to throw, the other burglar picked up the rock that had hit his partner and threw it with such force that when it hit me, my chest shattered into bits of glass.

I fell to the ground, and both burglars stood over me laughing. “Let’s find a boulder to drop on Glassman,” one of them said.

My arms continued to function, so I threw glass shards that came from my shattered chest at them. Cut up and bleeding, the police took them away. One cop gave me a tube of superglue. “Get yourself together,” he said before driving his prisoners to jail. It took most of the day, but I managed the repair, returned to the glass house where I gave classes. Twenty students waited for me. I emptied all rocks from my pocket.

“Why are you doing that?” one student asked.

“I found out last night that men made of glass shouldn’t throw rocks.”

“Why not?”

I picked up a rock I had emptied from my pocket, threw it at him, and he shattered into a thousand pieces. “That’s why.”

“Is he dead?” another asked.

“Here,” I handed him the tube of superglue I used to rebuild my chest. “He’ll be good as new once you put him together again.” I walked upstairs to go to the lounge and relax, but when I reached the top stair, a girl waited for me.

“That was my boyfriend you just shattered.” She pushed me, and I fell backward down the steep flight of stairs and shattered more than her boyfriend had. “When you finish with the superglue, give it to me,” I told the student I had hit with the rock.”Your girlfriend’s a real glass breaker.”

 

 

 

 

 

How Long Is A Novel? – DailyWritingTips

 

How Long Is A Novel?

Posted: 25 Aug 2015 09:30 PM PDT

Before the advent of ebooks, modern fiction writers concerned themselves chiefly with two lengths: long (novels) and short (short stories).

With the advent of digital publishing, the terms novella and novelette have taken on a new significance.

In the 17th century, the word novel referred to a book-length story shorter than a romance. Indeed, the English word novel derives from an Italian word for a short story: novella, a term Boccaccio used in reference to the short stories collected in the Decameron. At first, novel and novella were used interchangeably in English to describe a short fictitious narrative. Nowadays, a novel is longer than a novella:

novel noun: an invented prose narrative of considerable length and a certain complexity that deals imaginatively with human experience through a connected sequence of events involving a group of persons in a specific setting.

How long is “considerable length”?

On average, a printed novel contains about 80,000 words. For some genres, like mystery, the minimum may go as low as 40,000 in the guidelines for some contests, but 60,000 is probably a more marketable length.

In the old days, writers estimated word count by figuring 250 words per page. According to this way of calculating, a 70,000-word book corresponds to about 175 printed pages; one with 125,000 words, 312 pages. Now, word processors keep a running total for the writer.

NOTE: A printed paperback may have as many as 400 words per page, depending upon font size and book dimensions.

Length matters in a book that has a spine to which pages must be attached. Print publishers rarely accept books that are excessively short or excessively long. Digital publishing, on the other hand, is not constrained by size.

Although popular wisdom suggests that people who read ebooks prefer them short, Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, analyzed a thousand of his best-selling books “across all genres and categories” and discovered that the top fifty sellers published via Smashwords average 106,000 words in length.

Some readers love long novels; others don’t. Novelists who publish digitally can help readers find what they are looking for by categorizing their works according to length:

novel: 60,000 words and above
novella: 20,000 to 50,000 words
novelette: 7,500 to 20,000 words

Here are five recent fiction titles and the number of pages they have in paperback:

Sycamore Row, John Grisham (642 pages)
The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd paperback (384 pages)
Concealed in Death, Nora Roberts/J. D. Robb (384 pages)
Reviva,l Stephen King (416 pages)
The Burning Room, Michael Connelly (400 pages)

#267 To Share or not to Share

#267 To Share or not to Share

#267 To Share or not to Share

 

Jim and I claimed to be studying global warming when we trekked across Antarctica. We used it as an excuse to be alone and away from all who hated the fact we married as soon as same-sex marriages became legal. It had taken six weeks before we returned to McMurdo Station on the southern tip of Ross Island. No one greeted us, and when we went inside any structure, we found nothing but skeletons. All equipment remained intact.

“Must have been an epidemic,” Jim said as he dragged bones from the radio room.

I poured gas into the emergency generator that had run out of it when it kicked in during  the power interruption. I prayed the battery wasn’t dead as I hit start. It turned over slow. I pressed the start button again, and the engine roared to life.

“Good job,” Henry, said. “Now we can tell the world what happened here.”

He tried for two solid weeks without receiving an answer from anywhere in the world. We watched old newscasts still being broadcast from satellites orbiting the Earth and saw the war as it raged. We listened to the commentary and learned that the war started in 2028 because of the Federal mandate that all states must allow same-sex marriages. It was between North and South “The South Rises Again” was the cry that joined Texas and seven Southern states in rebellion against Washington.

 

The newscaster told how Mexico jumped in with the promise of annexing Texas. Russia intervened on the Northern side with the intent to get Alaska returned. Washington never intended to allow that once they won, but it turned out there were no winners. China released a plague designed to kill every human with non-Chinese DNA.

*******************

It worked as expected. Populations around the world began dying, uninfected countries nuked China and every city worldwide in an attempt to stop the plague. It didn’t stop. Governments then nuked their populations until the disease killed those running the government. It mutated and infected Chinese as well as the rest of the world’s population. The last broadcast had an announcer who said, “It’s possible that, I’M THE LAST MAN ALIVE ON THIS PLANET.” He put a gun to his head, pulled the trigger. The picture faded.

“Henry, I love you with all my heart, but I need more,” Jim told me. I can’t believe it’s only you and me that survived. It’s great we’re married, but unfortunately we can’t have kids. Get on the radio. Maybe there’s a woman somewhere that survived,”

“What if there were, Jim? Would you father a child with her?”

“Of course. We have to continue the human race.”

When he said that, rage burned through me. “You’d cheat on me?”

He fell into my arms, “It’s you and me.” He choked out the words, “I’ll never let a woman come between us.”

“Don’t worry Jim, looks like it’s only me and you that inherited the world.”

“Yeah, let’s get off this iceberg and go to a city where we can drive on sidewalks and run red lights all day.”

We flew an LC-130 Hercules to New York.

“Great not having to wait for clearance to land isn’t it?” Jim asked as he guided the huge plane to a long runway.

Inside the terminal, there partially preserved mummy’s filled seats and lay all over the floors

“Let’s get out of here,” Jim said as he barged through a pile of dried out corpses.

A row of cabs sat in front of the terminal. Jim opened the door, dragged a skeleton from behind the wheel, jumped in started the car. “Why aren’t there rats, birds, dogs or cats eating the dead?”

“Plague probably killed them too.” Just then, I spotted a cockroach crawling on the seat. “There’s hope. Something else is alive.” I pointed to the roach. Jim smashed it with his fist.

“Never could stand those fuckers,” he said as he drove toward Manhattan where we decided to spend our days living in a penthouse overlooking Central Park. We’d stroll peacefully through the park hand in hand because there wasn’t any homophobes left to taunt us.

 

Canned food was plentiful along with fuel for running generators if needed, but Niagara Falls continued to supply power to the grid. Elevators in many buildings continued to be serviceable once we emptied them of corpses. We lived happily for four months. Then one day as we strolled through Central Park we stopped in disbelief.

“Am I seeing things?” Jim asked.

“I see a couple walking hand in hand. Is that what you see?”

The couple stopped to stare at us as we did them. Then we ran toward each other, and when we got close, I saw it was two women. Turned out that Eunice and Mary had spent months in a cold war fallout shelter located under Eunice’s grandmothers Minnesota cabin. When they depleted their supplies of food, they came out and drove from Minnesota to New York.

“Did you find any signs of life anywhere?” I asked. “Animals or anything?”

“Nothing,” Eunice said. “We’re probably the last four survivors on Earth.”

“Looks like we don’t have a choice,” Mary said. “I have to get pregnant to save our race from extinction.”

Eunice turned red and tried to object. Before she could, I said, “Do you know how to do it artificially?”

“No, but I’m willing to sleep with you two until I get knocked up.”

Eunice slapped her hard. “You’re never sleeping with a man.”

“Hold on there, Eunice. I believe Mary’s right.” Jim said, ”We need to do this to carry on. I’ll sleep with her.”

 

As soon as the words were out of his mouth I hauled off and punched Jim. Unfortunately, I knocked out his two front teeth, but that’s what he gets for even thinking of playing with the other team. Eunice and I agreed we’d rather let it all end than share our partners.  Next morning we waved goodbye as they drove away

 

#266 Marilyn’s Face

#266 Marilyn’s Face

 

#266 Marilyn’s Face

 

“I know one thing baby.”

“What’s that?”

“You aren’t gonna be around to see Santa Claus this year.”

“How do you know?” Marilyn asked just before I fixed it so she couldn’t say another word. I’m good at shutting up women who get on my nerves. This bitch had the nerve to ask me to cook Christmas dinner. I’d cook dinner all right. Her family would show up on Christmas Day, and I’d have dinner ready for them.

I went shopping for dinner stuff. Got potatoes, green beans, stuffing mix, and plenty of beer. Oh yeah, got plenty of meat tenderizer and seasoning too. I’d bake some meat pies for desert. Marilyn would have been proud of me if she could have seen the sumptuous meal I planned for her family.

Christmas Day came. Marilyn’s Mom, sister, sister’s husband and their three kids showed up for dinner.

“Where’s Marilyn?” her Mom wanted to know.

“Don’t worry, she’s busy cooking, but she’ll be showing her face before dinners over.”

“I sure hope so. I’ve got her present right here.” Her Mom held up an envelope. It would hold a twenty dollar bill. Same present every year since we got married.

I served mashed potatoes, veggies, and set a tray of roasted meat swimming in brown gravy on the table. They all piled their plates high with food and ate. I set some cold beer on the table.

“This meat is delicious,” her sister’s husband said.

“Sure is,” her Mom said. “Marilyn should be here eating this because she’s so skinny.”

“You know the old saying,” I said. “The closer to the bone, the sweeter the meat.”

“It sure is sweet,” Marilyn’s sister said. She chewed on a piece of meat for a minute. “Did you use the same meat in your meat pies?”

“Sure did. Save room because the meat in the pies got  scraped off the bones and is the sweetest you ever tasted.”

I cleared the dishes and brought out two meat pies. Dished out a piece to everyone. The satisfied looks around the table told me it tasted good.

“Can I have another piece?” Joey, Marilyn’s nephew asked. “It’s really good pie.”

“Sure is,” the sister’s husband said. “I’ll take another piece too.”

“I want to know where Marilyn is?” her Mom said. “You said she’d show her face before we finished dinner.”

“She’ll be here soon. Let me set up my camera so I can take a picture of the entire family when she arrives.” I arranged them all on one side of the table so I’d capture their expressions when they saw Marilyn. I set the camera’s timer to go off when they saw her. Rushing into the kitchen, I pulled the last pie out of the refrigerator. The one I had stretched Marilyn’s face across after filling it with her meat.

 

#264 The atheist

crucifixBeing an atheist, I didn’t believe religious bullshit, but I hadn’t eaten in three days, so the thought of bread and wine drove me inside when I spotted the Catholic Church. I entered, washed my face and hands in the fountains of water I found right inside the door.

“What’re you doing washing with holy water?” a woman asked.

“Shit, water’s water,” I told her, scooped a handful to my mouth, gargled and spit it back into the basin. Her look of disgust made me think that maybe I shouldn’t have done that. We both watched people dipping their fingers into the bowl I spit in and touching their foreheads with my holy spit as they blessed themselves.

I pushed through a second set of double doors and saw massive stained glass windows depicting biblical scenes and above the altar a gigantic cross with a crucified Jesus hanging from it. I stopped a priest who walked past me, “I thought Christians weren’t supposed to worship idols?”

“As a Catholic you should know an idol is an image of a false god. A crucifix is an image of the true God, so it isn’t an idol.”

“Okay. I came to receive communion.”

“Bless you. Mass will start in a minute.”

I prayed along with the parishioners all the while thoughts of the bread and wine served for communion rolled through my mind. After standing, kneeling, singing, and praying for what seemed like forever, people lined up to get the blood and body of Christ.

I Knelt in front of the altar with the others until the priest came.

“Stick out your tongue,” he said.

I did, and he placed a thin wafer on it. I spit it out. “Where’s the fucking bread and wine?” I yelled.

The priest dropped to his knees, picked up the glob I had spit out and held it toward heaven as he prayed over it. When he finished praying, he glared at me with hatred in his eyes. “Get out of my church,” he demanded.

“Not until I get the bread and wine I came for.”

The priest grabbed me by the collar and pushed me toward the doors. “Wait a fucking minute,” I said. “This is God’s house. You can’t throw me out.”

“Watch me.” He said as he pushed me through the doors.

I stumbled down the stairs and fell onto the sidewalk. Dazed, I sat up, looked around and saw church was over as people came down the stairs. I stuck my hand out, palm up in the hopes the good Christians would give me money so I could eat. Most walked around me. Two spit into my hand. Before long the area around the church became deserted. The thought of bread and wine had me salivating. I went back inside and found an area where people lit candles for some fucking reason. There was a donation slot that I stuck my finger into and hooked a $20 bill. If I believed, I would have thanked Jesus. Instead, I rushed out the door before that priest found me inside “his church”.

I rushed to the nearest liquor store, got a pint of wine and a bag of chips. As I exited, there was a bum sitting on the curb. He eyed my bag, and I saw the desire for a drink wash across his face. “Come around back where no one can see us. I’ll share my wine and chips”. The poor guy guzzled down the entire bottle of wine, tore open the bag of chips and scoffed everyone down in seconds. He was much hungrier and thirstier than me, so I didn’t get upset.

“Sorry,” he said as he wiped crumbs from around his mouth and then sucked the crumbs from his dirty fingers.

“Wait here, I’ll buy more food and wine.” I returned to the store and lay what I had left from the twenty onto the counter. “Let me know when I reach this much.” I told the cashier as I laid two burritos on the counter. Then a bottle of wine, more chips, three slim Jims. “Do I have enough for cigarettes?”

“Hardly, the clerk said, pulled out his pack of smokes and said, Take one. These damn things are expensive.”

I put it between my lips and struck a match, but before I lit it, I thought of that poor bastard waiting for me. Bet he’d love to have a smoke after eating and drinking. I put the butt in my shirt pocket, picked up my bag and returned to the alley in back where he waited for me. I lay the sandwiches, slim Jims, and wine on the ground. “Help yourself,” I told him.

He pushed a sandwich toward me, then scoffed the other down along with two of the slim gyms, guzzled half the wine before setting the bottle in front of me. I ate mine in a hurry, guzzled the rest of wine, chewed on the slim Jim for a few minutes while I watched a look of satisfaction wash over the face of my compatriot.

“Thanks, thanks a lot,” he said.

“There’s more.” I held out the cigarette. He snatched it from my hand, put it to his wet lips and struck a match. He sucked in so hard I thought he’d swallow the damn thing. “Save me a drag, will you?”

He handed me half a cigarette with spit hanging from the unlit end. I couldn’t get angry because it was obvious this guy was desperate and probably had been hungry far longer than me; and hadn’t had a cigarette for days.

“How come you’re so generous?” he asked.

“Wasn’t my money; I stole it from that fucking church down the street.”

“It was mine, but feel free to take what you need when you need it.” As he spoke he became transparent and within a minute completely disappeared.

#263 A Picture

#263 A Picture 

No one had seen it for over a hundred years until that idiot, my 76th wife, found my baby picture. That meant I’ll be looking for number 77 in the near future. Seventy-Six, I called them by numbers because I couldn’t remember which name went with which wife. I haven’t found a woman that I could stomach for more than a year in the 100 years I’ve been alive.

At 100, my appearance is that of a handsome 20-year-old. That helps when I want to acquire another wife. That and the fortune I’ve acquired. Not through business acumen, but from what I’ve inherited from dead wives. One of the requirements of marrying me is that the women have financial assets.

Because she viewed my baby picture, she had to know I wasn’t like other men. The shape of my head gives my secret away. Although, at first she may think I’m an alien as other past wives had, I believed she’d figure out the truth sooner than later. I couldn’t allow that. It could mean the end of my meal ticket if she did. So tonight I’d eat to my heart’s content.

Dinner time rolled around, and when 76 entered the dining room dressed in a white see through gown, I almost regretted this would be her last meal. She sat at her place. Lifted her head, looked into my eyes and said, “You think I don’t know you’ve been feasting on my blood since the day we got married a year ago? I knew what you were before I married you. Your problem is, you didn’t know what I am.”

Her revelation shocked me. How did she know I was a bloodsucker? “Exactly what are you?”

“Your worst nightmare.” She floated from her chair and hovered over the table.

What was my worst nightmare? I couldn’t imagine what she was. I had to think fast. The only thing I feared was the sun. “Ha, ha,” I laughed. “You floating above the table doesn’t intimidate me one bit.” I too willed myself into the air, and floated beside her.

“I guess you don’t know where your kind emigrated from.”

“Sure I do. Transylvanian. Everyone knows that.”

“No fool. Your ancestors fled our home planet to get away from my kind.”

“They feared no one.”

“Wrong. After being victims for so long, we evolved a defense.”

“I’ve been sucking your blood for a year. What kind of defense could you have?”

“Parasites, like you. In the time you’ve been alive, have you learned about

endoparasites?” She floated over her chair and dropped into it.

I returned to my chair and faced her across the table. The conversation was more interesting than any I ever had with any of my previous wives. I never spent much time educating myself, so I had to ask, “What’s an endoparasite?”

“It’s a defense we developed against your kind. It lives in our blood, and when you drink it, the parasite lives in your body. After hatching, the parasitoid larvae feed on non-vital tissues within your body.   As they grow, their nutritional demands increase until they eventually consume you from the inside.”

So that’s why I’d been having horrible stomach aches. Thought maybe I’d swallowed some bad blood. “If you knew, why’d you bother to search for my picture?”

“I wanted a memento to put with the 77 I have saved from the husbands I’ve killed.”

I didn’t know if I should believe her until I screamed in pain as a giant worm crawled from a hole it had eaten through my stomach. Many more followed it as I lay squirming on the floor while the cursed sun rose and shone onto me.