Archives for August 2015

#252 – The Vote!

#252 – The Vote!      alcatrazrules                                                                             627 words


I voted for Frankie. He voted for me. I’d rather he got the honor of winning this election. I looked into the eyes of all those waiting to vote and saw the hunger there. I had a premonition I’d win this election even though I’d done everything in my power to lose it. Most candidates in a contest want to win, but I’m the exception.

It all started when I was a captain at “The Rock”, you know Alcatraz. The idiots in Washington decided to shut the prison down. That was a big mistake. We knew how to treat hard-cases there. If a year in solitary confinement didn’t straighten them out, I took over. I’d studied medieval tortures, so I knew ways to use them mixed in with modern methods. The old water boarding worked pretty well, but it got boring after a while.

I came up with a fun way to get the prisoners to obey. I’d have them strapped into a restraint chair, then at close range coat their faces with pepper spray. They’d cry, scream, and then beg to be allowed to wash it off. Instead, I had a hood placed over their heads so they’d breathe in the fumes and their pain would intensify. Only a half dozen or so died over the years from this treatment, so it was basically safe.

When they shut down the Rock, the warden put me in charge of moving all the troublemakers. I chose Frank to help me load them on the scow used to transport them to land. It was nothing but an oversized rowboat with a motor. We loaded twenty-one handcuffed and shackled trouble makers wearing life vests into it. Frank sat in the bow cradling a shotgun. I sat in the stern with a 45 caliber pistol in my holster. I cast off after starting the motor and headed for the city lights. We left before dawn so citizens and reporters wouldn’t see the condition of the prisoners when we landed.

The sea was calm when we launched. The motor conked out half way across the bay. There were only two sets of oars. Two prisoners in the bow and two in the rear were made to row. We weren’t making much headway when suddenly the bay turned violent. Waves grew to ten times their previous size. The wind blew with hurricane force. Before I knew it, we were blown out to sea and land was out of sight. We drifted for days. Fortunately, there were three five-gallon buckets of water aboard. Frank and I drank when we got thirsty. The prisoners got enough to keep them alive.

Frank tried to remain vigil with his shotgun at the ready, but he dozed off, and a well-placed oar knocked the gun overboard. Though chained together two prisoners managed to overpower him. I pulled my .45 and shot Curly through the shoulder before I too became overpowered. They drank water and discussed how long they’d survive without food. Curly, the prisoner I shot and had recently treated to a few rounds of pepper spray said, “Let’s eat the screws.”

“Yeah, but one at a time. If we kill them both now, they’ll rot before we can eat their meat. Kill one now and one later.”

The coast guard would be searching for us, and it was only a matter of time before they found us. Frank and I were thinking alike because at the same time we said, “Kill him first,” and pointed at one another.

The prisoners laughed when Curly said, “Let’s take a vote.”


Brain might not stand in the way of free will

Brain might not stand in the way of free will

ADVOCATES of free will can rest easy, for now. A 30-year-old classic experiment that is often used to argue against free will might have been misinterpreted.

In the early 1980s, Benjamin Libet at the University of California in San Francisco, used electroencephalography (EEG) to record the brain activity of volunteers who had been told to make a spontaneous movement. With the help of a precise timer that the volunteers were asked to read at the moment they became aware of the urge to act, Libet found there was a 200 millisecond delay, on average, between this urge and the movement itself.

But the EEG recordings also revealed a signal that appeared in the brain even earlier – 550 milliseconds, on average – before the action. Called the readiness potential, this has been interpreted as a blow to free will, as it suggests that the brain prepares to act well before we are conscious of the urge to move.

This conclusion assumes that the readiness potential is the signature of the brain planning and preparing to move. “Even people who have been critical of Libet’s work, by and large, haven’t challenged that assumption,” says Aaron Schurger of the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Saclay, France.

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One attempt to do so came in 2009. Judy Trevena and Jeff Miller of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, asked volunteers to decide, after hearing a tone, whether or not to tap on a keyboard. The readiness potential was present regardless of their decision, suggesting that it did not represent the brain preparing to move. Exactly what it did mean, though, still wasn’t clear.

Now, Schurger and colleagues have an explanation. They began by posing a question: how does the brain decide to make a spontaneous movement? They looked to other decision-making scenarios for clues. Previous studies have shown that when we have to make a decision based on visual input, assemblies of neurons start accumulating visual evidence in favour of the various possible outcomes. A decision is triggered when the evidence favouring one particular outcome becomes strong enough to tip its associated assembly of neurons across a threshold.

Schurger’s team hypothesised that something similar happens in the brain during the Libet experiment. Volunteers, however, are specifically asked to ignore any external information before they make a spontaneous movement, so the trigger to act must be internal.
The random fluctuations of neural activity in the brain might provide that trigger, encouraging movement when this noise accumulates to a threshold level.

The team constructed a computer model of this neural activity to probe the idea. Each time the neural noise crossed a certain threshold it signified a decision to move. The team found that the pattern of the neural noise leading up to the decision, averaged over multiple trials, looked like a readiness potential.

To test the idea further, the team repeated Libet’s experiment, but this time if, while waiting to act spontaneously, the volunteers heard a click they had to act immediately. The team predicted that the fastest response to the click would be seen in those in whom the accumulation of neural noise had neared the threshold – meaning their brains were about to commit to a movement. This build-up of noise would show up as a readiness potential.

This is exactly what they found. Also, in those with slower responses to the click, the readiness potential was absent in the EEG recordings (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073.pnas.1210467109).

“Libet argued that our brain has already decided to move well before we have a conscious intention to move,” says Schurger. “We have argued that what looks like a pre-conscious decision process may not in fact reflect a decision at all. It only looks that way because of the nature of spontaneous brain activity.”

“What looks like a pre-conscious decision process may not in fact reflect a decision at all”
So what does this say about free will? “If we are correct, then the Libet experiment does not count as evidence against the possibility of conscious will,” says Schurger.

Cognitive neuroscientist Anil Seth of the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK, is impressed by the work, but also circumspect about what it says about free will. “It’s a more satisfying mechanistic explanation of the readiness potential. But it doesn’t bounce conscious free will suddenly back into the picture,” he says. “Showing that one aspect of the Libet experiment can be open to interpretation does not mean that all arguments against conscious free will need to be ejected.”

According to Seth, when the volunteers in Libet’s experiment said they felt an urge to act, that urge is an experience, similar to an experience of smell or taste. The new model is “opening the door towards a richer understanding of the neural basis of the conscious experience of volition”, he says.

#248 Flaming Matilda


#248 Flaming Matilda

I dropped a flaming match into the hay stacked around Matilda. Flames rose; she screamed. My mind jumped back to the beginning of the day.

At work, I couldn’t stop imagining how much fun we’d have together. Thinking about her was the answer to my dreams. She was the one I’d always wanted to hang from the rafters in the barn and do to her what I’d seen done to fair skinned women on TV.

I’d pretend to be an Indian attacking a wagon train and snatch her from under the wagon and take her to the tepee I built in the yard. I’d teach her to love the wild man I’d be and then I’d change into her white-man rescuer and she’d show her appreciation by making passionate love to me.

Next, I’d dress her like a bride and take her to the Baptist Church down the road and make her marry me. Then she’d have my kids and be a mother to them and me. She’d dress me and send me to school with the other kids, but when bedtime came around, she’d remember how well I made love to her.

“Joe, Joe!” my boss yelled, disturbing my rambling thoughts as I daydreamed about Matilda. “How about working instead of zoning out?” He gave me a disgusted look. I began pushing the broom across the floor of the office where she worked as a receptionist. My eyes didn’t leave her for a second. A slight blush spread across her cheeks when I hovered close to her. She must have known.

Should I ask her for a date? Would a beauty like her go out with a retarded janitor? I could read and write my name, so maybe I wasn’t retarded, just a bit slow. I gathered my courage, swallowed, and said, “Matilda, will you go to see the Twilight Movie with me?”

The other two girls in the office laughed. “Go on, Matilda; better grab him while you can.” The other said, “He’s perfect for you.”

Matilda turned toward me with pity in her eyes. “I never go to twilight movies.”

My eyes begin to water. At first I didn’t believe it. She continued speaking and said, “But I’ll make an exception for you, and go to any movie you want.”

I dropped the broom. Maybe my fantasies would become reality. That night I picked her up in a taxi. After the movie, we went to my house that my mom left me when she died. Matilda oohed and aahed when she saw how meticulously kept everything was.

“Would you like to see the barn?” I couldn’t wait to tie her up and play Cowboys and Indians

“Is that where you hid the money?”

“What money?”

She put her arms around me. “Show me where it is.” she whispered into my ear.

“We’ll go to the barn,” I said. “After we play, I’ll show you.”

“How much do you have left? Did you go on a spree after you won the lotto?”


“Susie told me you won the lotto and promised to give her thousands if she’d date you.”

I had lied to Susie, so she’d go out with me. During that time I thought she was the answer to my prayers, but it didn’t work out. The story about me winning the lottery had spread though. Since then, all my co-workers treated me with respect. Some asked me to donate to their charities, some asked for loans. I had thought Matilda didn’t care about money and went out with me to be nice. It didn’t matter what motivated her. Once she entered the barn, my fantasies would become reality.

“That’s true. I told her that.”

Matilda’s eyes grew bright. “Show me the money?”

“Let’s go there and I’ll show you where it is.”

She followed me into the barn. I picked up the rope I had ready in case my fantasy of bringing her here ever came true. I spun around with the rope held ready to wrap around her when I felt a pain in my chest. Next thing I knew I was on the ground convulsing from electricity coursing through my body. It stopped. I lay on the barn floor in a daze.

“Tell me where the money is.” She held a Taser in her hand.

Another jolt of electricity had me dancing on the floor. After a few seconds, the juice turned off, but my muscles continued to twitch.

“You’ll be dancing until you show me.”

She pressed the trigger, and I convulsed until I passed out. I awoke tied to a wooden beam that stabilized the barn roof. It wasn’t right. She was supposed to be the one tied up.

“Tell me.” She touched my neck with the device.

“I never won any lottery. I lied to get a date.”

She kicked me between the legs. “How do I know you’re not lying now?” She opened all the cabinets lining one barn wall. I tried to turn my fantasy around where she’d save me, but my imagination failed.

She emptied every container in the cabinets while I twisted and turned trying to loosen the ropes like I’d seen the guys on TV do. Once I got free, things would be different.

Matilda yanked on a rope attached to a ceiling panel. Greenbacks rained down on her. She raised her hands to a shower of bills. “Yes, yes, you idiot. You did win the lottery.”

As she spoke, I broke free, wrapped the rope around her and tied her to the pole. “I didn’t lie to you.” I pointed to the pile of bills lying on the floor while I tied her to the stake, “That money belonged to my mother.” I piled the $100.bills and enough hay around her feet to burn her crispy, then lit a match . . . .

The End.


#244  Seemed like summer never came.   

#244  Seemed like summer never came.                                        974 words

The daily temperature stayed way below normal. Then November rushed in with frosty cold, killing my crop of soybeans drying in the field.  It may as well have driven nails into my coffin.  I risked every dime on seeds for this crop of super beans. That’s what the seed company’s rep guaranteed. He said, “Super beans will produce bigger, more nutritious and a much, much more profitable crop. The world is hungry for protein.”

“Stupid, stupid,” I said as I whacked my forehead four times with my fist. I should’ve known better than to listen to empty promises. What could I do? My four kids would go hungry, and my wife would probably leave. She warned me not to use all our money for this crop, but I couldn’t help myself. My stubbornness won out, and greed took some responsibility too. I visualized a bumper crop that would pay off all our loans and make our lifes worry free.

Images of farmers in India killing themselves by the thousands because their crops had failed rushed through my brain. Would I do that? My life insurance would feed my kids for a few years and pay off my debt to the seed company.

I searched the barn’s rafters for one strong enough to hold my weight. Spotted one and threw a rope over it. I needed something to stand on while I tightened the noose around my neck. I searched the entire barn. Nothing I saw could be used for my purpose, so I headed for my house to get a kitchen chair. I grabbed the first one I saw, spun around to go back to the barn.

“Where you going with that?” my wife asked.

“Need it to jump off when I hang myself,” I said and hurried out the door. Shouldn’t have told her, but now she wouldn’t be surprised when she found me hanging. An unearthly sound grated on my ears, interrupting my thoughts.

I turned toward the sound and saw my fields covered with black bugs crawling over my dead and dying crop. I had to save what plants remained so my family would have food until they collected my life insurance.

Frantically, I ran around our harvesting machinery attempting to find a something that may disperse the crickets. I came upon the state-of-the-art harvester I had invested in along with the super beans. Constructed to vacuum up the soybeans and grind them to pulp as I harvested. Soybean paste would bring a higher return than regular unprocessed soy, so I thought it a good investment.

I started it up and drove down the first row. It sucked up so many crickets that I had to empty the storage container halfway down the row. As I dumped it onto the compost pile Mr. Anderson, who brought all my crops, drove up in his pickup.

He pushed open the door and jogged over to where I worked. “Mr. Abernathy,” he said with a big grin. He stuck out his hand. “I’m prepared to pay up to $1800 a ton for your soybeans, but. . .”

“What in the hell are you smiling about? You know the frost wiped me out.”

His smile vanished. He pulled back the hand he had extended for a handshake when he perceived my dour mood. “You don’t know, do you?”

“Know what? That the seed company is going to own my farm? That my family is going to end up like the farmers of Dust Bowl Days? That nobody gives a shit how the big seed companies rip off farmers like me?”

“None of that,” he said. “I’m trying to tell . . .”

“I don’t want to hear any of your bullshit. Get in your truck off my property before I run you over.”

“Now, now, Mr. Abernathy. Calm down and listen to me for a minute.”

“I listened to you and bought this harvester from your brother-in- law and all it’s good for is harvesting bugs.”

“GODDAMNIT! Listen to me! I’m trying to tell you I can pay you over “$3000 a ton” for the crickets. They’ve got a lot more protein than soy, and there’s a big demand for cricket flour.”

I hardly heard anything after $3000 a ton passed his lips. I imagined how happy my wife would be when I told her I wouldn’t be hanging myself, and we’d have more than enough money from now on.

I heard five gunshots from the house. Shit, she’s gone and killed the kids and herself because I forgot to tell her she could collect my life insurance money. Mr. Anderson didn’t say a word, but I saw the questions in his eyes. I hung my head in sorrow. Why was it that things always turned out bad? I shuffled to the house knowing I’d see five bodies strewn around with bullet holes, but when I opened the door, the sight that greeted Mr. Anderson and me was breathtaking. Five giant rats with a bullet in each one laid on the floor. My wife, with gun in hand, and a pack of the creatures surrounded our kids on the couch.

“As I drove on your property, I saw thousands and thousands of super-sized rats.” Mr. Anderson said. “They must have been eating your super seeds. Quick, get the harvester.”


I brought a suction hose from the harvester and as the machine ground the last rat from my living room into pulp, I figured maybe the seeds were a good investment after all. Things were finally going my way. Wonder how much a ton I’d get for giant rat meat.



#249 Relinquishing Relationships Formed Over Years

#249 Relinquishing Relationships Formed Over Years


My critique group held its bi weekly meeting and my story was being critiqued by the crone who had a personality resembling vomit. She declared, in her grating voice, which cut through me like a razor cutting through skin that she shouldn’t have to read my hastily put together text.

She said, “I find it such a chore to read your stuff.”

I held my retort, but felt the acidic words burning my throat as I swallowed them with the thought in mind that she was an old and bitter woman who had no one to browbeat, so she chose my writing to demean. But when she said, “Your written stories are nothing but imbecilic thrown together words and are not at all thought out.”

I tried to be civil and told her, “I worked hard and long thinking about my prose and checking it a thousand times before giving it to our group to read and critique.”

She was worked up now. I could see her beady eyes calculating what cutting words she could use next. “It doesn’t matter how long you worked nor how much time you spent. Your story is still all thrown together and makes no sense.”

She irked me so much, thoughts of murder passed through my head. I reluctantly read her Greek odyssey over and over and never said a bad word to her, but now I wanted to tell her how boring I found her tale, but I swallowed those words too. What to do to put her in her place? I knew murder wasn’t the answer even though that was the easy solution. Instead I decided to take text from a bygone masterpiece and submit it as my own. If she disdained that text too, I’d know it was her and not my writing that was flawed.

I hijacked text from Jack London’s, Call of the Wild, and submitted it for our next meeting. When it came time for my story to be critiqued the hag tore into me.

“I told you last time that you didn’t take time to think your stories out. No one is going to believe this story you have submitted, you need to change the entire premise and use a human character instead of an animal. Are you sure you want to be a writer, maybe you’d be better off doing something else?”


When she said those words I thought she never read my stories, but only glanced at them to find something to critique. Murderous thoughts swirled through my brain. I put them away and replaced them with thoughts of vengeance. I wrote a murder mystery for my next story where a woman answers her doorbell and finds a boy holding a bright pink box addressed to her. The woman is pleased that someone sent her a gift. She takes the box and tips the boy five dollars. She opens the pink box only to find a smaller blue box inside. She opens the blue box and finds a smaller black box inside. She opens the black box and sees a tiny colorful frog inside.

“How cute,” she exclaimed, picked the frog up for a closer look and almost immediately she couldn’t breathe and fell to the floor dead.

“So if a boy rings your bell and hands you a box from an anonymous sender, don’t open it or you will die,” was the very last line of my story.

The day after I submitted my story, I flew to Columbia and hired a guide to take me to the jungle in search of a tree frog that could kill by simply touching it. My guide had poisoned his darts from the skin of the world’s most poisonous known creature-the tiny, 1.5-inch, Golden Poison Frog (Phyllobates terribilis).

In the depths of the jungle along a river, it was dark, hot, and dismal. It seemed that dusk never left the day below the tree canopy. Rainwater pooled in huge, still leaves. A heavy atmosphere clung to the earth like a coiling miasma.

My guide sent a poison dart from his blowgun to a monkey on a lower branch of a tree towering a hundred feet above the rain forest floor. The dart penetrated the monkey’s reddish fur; it fell dead to the ground.

I had researched the P- terribilis and read that it contains about one milligram of poison, which is enough to kill 10 to 20 humans. This lethal poison is only found among three poison frogs in Colombia.

My guide captured one of the frogs. I had him store it in the black box I carried into the jungle. I immediately flew home and placed the black box into a larger blue box and put that into a larger pink box. I paid a boy to deliver it to my antagonist’s door. I watched as she took the box from the boy and handed him a bill.

The boy told me she had given him a five dollar tip. Maybe she had read my entire story. I certainly hope so, because tomorrow was our meeting day. If she showed up, I’d know she actually read my story and didn’t open the black box, but if she hadn’t read it, I was sure her curiosity would have gotten the best of her and she would have opened the box containing the frog, and one touch of its skin would be deadly. It was highly unlikely an uninformed person wouldn’t want to hold such a colorful and cute looking creature.

I could hardly wait to see if she showed up for our meeting, but either way, I knew we’d never argue again. .



#250 Script

#250 Script

            Being a frugal man, I went to a thrift store looking for a birthday gift for my girlfriend Misty. I knew she wouldn’t be happy with anything secondhand, so anything I got her would have to look brand new. I browsed through a used dictionary that looked new.  I scanned the printed rows, and it occurred to me that every word had already been used, and my girl would know.

Eureka, I thought, I’d write her a brand new poem, but there wasn’t one unused word I could find. I glanced through all the books and found a very old dictionary with words in it that hadn’t been used in a hundred years or more. Even though they had been used before, they were archaic and could be considered valuable because they were unknown, and that alone made them better than new.

I picked it up and a fan blowing a turbulent breeze, crumbled the used-up English words to a golden dust as the book disintegrated in my hands.

“I want to be compensated for my destroyed treasure,” the owner said.

Displaying modesty and congeniality. I tried to reason with her and used words I wondered if she’d understand, “Imagine the disintegrating words metamorphosing into lexis of their own in a language never before seen. Hybridizing new words and continuing to build solid walls from fragmented script into golden pages of poems, using cellular permutation to assemble a pecuniary wall.”

“If that ever happened, “She replied, “They’d be words printed with gold leaf creating poetry with the pages floating on sunbeams.”

I realized then that she was the woman of my dreams. She didn’t mind secondhand things, and could see the beauty they contained. She was a bit older than I. Maybe by fifty years or so, but that didn’t matter to me. What counted was that she appreciated second hand more than me.

“Would you have dinner with me?” I opened the doggie bag I carried with the remains of my lunch I had saved for dinner and showed her I had half of a 12 inch subway sandwich and a bag of chips.

“Looks yummy.” She got a knife from an old case and severed the bread in two. Then she turned on a heater and made tea. We sat at a dining room table and shared our views on the world, the economy, and the logic of buying second hand. Our conversation turned to relationships and love. I told her how my girl disdained anything used.

“Oh my God,” she said, “What a moron she is. How can a smart man like you be with a girl like that?”

“Well, she’s shapely and good looking, that’s for sure, and sex with her is unparalleled.”

“Young man, I may be older than you, but I’m telling you that even though I’ve been used, once you turn out the lights, you’ll find sex better with me than you ever will with her.”

We went upstairs into a dark room where there was a Queen Ann bed and we undressed in the dark and then made love for over an hour. When we finished I agreed that being with her was better than being with my girl.

I watched the old woman dress and saw the labels still on the clothes she wore. I knew she’d be bringing them back to the store for a refund. She was really my kind of girl. I asked her to marry me then and there.

“Today is my girlfriend’s birthday, so I don’t want to spoil her day by telling her I’ve fallen in love with someone else. I’ll keep my date with her and tomorrow I’ll break her heart.”

“As long as you don’t wait too long. You know I’m always looking for a deal, and a better bargain may come along before we tie the knot.”

I wasn’t worried, No one has married her in all these years, and I didn’t think it likely to happen now. I went out with my girl and had to have sex because it was her birthday. When we finished she said, “Joe, I’ve got to tell you, I’ve met somebody new, and he would never think of giving me a secondhand gift as you have given me.”

“But, but, the gift I gave you is a genuine antique.” I had found a beautiful old lamp in the second hand store and it was a deal I couldn’t resist.

“You know I grew up on hand-me-downs and from now on I want only new.”

She was making it easy for me. “Okay,” I said. “If you feel that way, I’ll find another.”

“I’m so happy you’re not angry.” A month went by and she asked, “Will you come to our wedding?”

My feelings were hurt that she already planned on marrying another, but I knew my life would be better with a woman who was as frugal as I.

I married, Helga, owner of the second hand store. I quit my job and worked there instead. I came to know the frequent customers well. An older man who came to the store often told me he wanted a wedding gift. I showed him used jewelry, used furniture, and even some used sex toys.

Helga and I got along fine until one day I saw her naked body in the light. I closed my eyes and remembered how good she felt lying in bed, but I couldn’t drive the sight of a sagging body from my mind, even when I turned out the lights. Things weren’t going so well when Misty’s wedding day came. When I saw her walking down the aisle I regretted my thrifty ways and wished I would have spent enough to keep her.

When the groom appeared, I immediately recognized the old man who had been searching for a wedding present. I watched as he slipped the reconditioned, second hand wedding band on her finger that he had bought from me the day before.


#247 The Thrill is Gone

#247 The Thrill is Gone

Melissa wrote to her boyfriend, Private Tom Kelly, “It’s gone, gone for good, that feeling I often got looking at you. The kick is gone, and I’m free, free, free, from your exquisite spell. I wish you well on your downward spiral to that horrifying place where only you can go inside your head, where movies of your past slowly play in living color, showing how cruel you’ve treated me.

“Now you know why the joy is gone. Why I no longer want to see a man like you on your way to a place where sun, moon or starry nights will never again brighten your life. You’ll only see a world of regret where you lament and hope to forget.”

Signed, Melissa.

There, I finally did it, wrote that bastard a “Dear John” letter. I can picture him now at mail call. He’ll see the letter is from me and take it to his sandy tent to read it in privacy while he looks at a picture of my pretty face.

Mail Call Kandahar Afghanistan.

Private Tom Kelly got Meliss’s letter. One he had waited for all month with dread. He took it to his tent and before he opened it, he opened his wallet and took out a picture of Melissa, tore it to pieces and threw the pieces into the sand. He dreaded reading it, because he thought she would vow her love would last forever.

It was only fair that he tell her his true feelings. He couldn’t bear to hurt her though and resisted. Before he read her letter he decided to write one to her. It would be easier to do before reading her words of love being true. He began to write.


Dearest Mellissa,

The words you read are coming from my lips. I don’t know why the thrill of the way you spread your wings has become ugly to me. Over here, women know their place and don’t dare to try to control a man. Women have no rights and like it that way. They wouldn’t vote if they could, and when they dress, why, they cover their heads and everything else. Watching the way they live their lives causes me to see that American women like you are spoiled and don’t deserve all the things you get.

So I have to say, “The thrill is gone,” and its not ever coming back. So all I can say is, “Goodbye bitch.”

Signed, Tom Kelly.


He hurried to seal it and get it sent on the daily mail. Then he read the letter he received from her. He couldn’t believe his eyes. She didn’t love him. The letter he sent was a waste. She’d read it and laugh. He couldn’t stand to be laughed at. He had a plan to fix her. Tom Kelly went to town on a quest.


Melissa received Tom’s letter and a smile lit her face as she tore it open. She expected him to beg for her to wait for him. She read his letter and cried. How could he dump her like this? She hurriedly wrote another letter and sent tom the special gift she had made in the lab.

On his quest Tom Kelly found a bomb maker who worked for the enemy. He pulled his gun and put it to the man’s head. “I want one that will explode when this box is opened.” He handed the man an empty heart shaped candy box.

The man worked quickly. “Careful now, as soon as the top is lifted off it will explode.”

Tom Kelly shot him in the head and went to mail the candy box to Melissa. Then he went to see his Afghan girlfriend, Fahima, who wanted to go to America with him. Despite warnings from her family, she took her chance. If she didn’t leave the country with Tom, her life wouldn’t be worth much. He told her about the bomb he had sent to Melissa. She laughed.

“Serves her right for writing you a letter like that when you’re so far from home.”

Melissa was watching TV with her boyfriend who happened to be Ton’s brother, Jim, when the postman rang the bell and handed her the candy box wrapped in brown paper.

“Who’s there,” Jim called from the living room where he lay on the couch.

Melissa tore the paper off the candy box. “That jerk brother of yours sent me a box of candy.” She knew then her letter hadn’t reached him yet.

“So, he’s still alive?” Jim said. “I can’t wait to spend his insurance Money. We’re still going to split it, right?” He looked at the bright red heart shape box and remembered how much he liked chocolates. “Give me a piece of that candy.”

She handed him the box.
Mail call came and Tom got a letter from Melissa. He decided to wait until he was with Fahima so they could both laugh at what she wrote. That night they lay in bed and Tom pulled out the letter he had received that day. He showed it to Fahima.

“So she’s still alive?” A disappointed look crossed her face.

“Not for long, and because she works for a government agency terrorists will be suspected for blowing her up and not me.”

Jim held the box and before he opened it he asked Melissa, “How are you going to kill Tom?

Melissa laughed, “I filled an envelope with Anthrax powder at the lab where I work. It came from a terrorist’s cell, so even if it’s traced, it’ll lead right back to them. Hurry up and open that candy box, I’m dying for a piece of it.”

Fahima grabbed the envelope from Tom’s hand. “I’m going to open it because I’m dying to see what she wrote.



The Thursday Interview

Thursday, 6 August 2015 

Joe DiBuduo.

Today I’d like to welcome Joe DiBuduo, author of “Cryonic Man” to The Thursday Interview. Before we get started, a quick intro!
Like the hero of Cryonic Man, author Joe DiBuduo grew up in Hano, one of the toughest neighborhoods in Boston. He became a writer and an artist, not a prizefighter, but in his rough-and-tumble youth, he never turned away from a street fight. His memoir, Crime A Day: Death by Electric Chair & Other Boyhood Pursuits will be published in Fall 2015 by Jaded Ibis Productions. DiBuduo is also the author of A Penis Manologue: One Man’s Response to The Vagina Monologues, collections of flash fiction and “poetic flash fiction,” and a children’s storybook. He also has poetry and fiction for children and adults published in online journals and in print anthologies, and a second novel in progress.
OK – HERE WE GO !!  
No.1  Would you break the law to save a loved one? .. why?
The question is ambiguous. I’d have to know what I’m saving the loved one from and what law I’d have to break to do it. Normally a loved one would always be more important to me than any law, but if the punishment wasn’t minor and breaking a serious law, like a felony, may not be worth it.
No.2  What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
Being positive about life makes living great, and doing things I love, such as hiking, kayaking, being outdoors, and some risk-taking activities to get my adrenaline flowing makes me feel like I’m living a good life, unlike those who come home from work and watch TV before getting up the next day to do it all over again.
No.3  What motivates you to write?
I wrote a story for my daughter about homosexuals when I was 66. I researched the subject and had my lifelong beliefs turned upside down. I totally changed my negative opinion of homosexuality. The research intrigued me so much that I decided to become a writer so I’d have a reason to do research. Every novel or short story I write now causes me to research subjects I never would have otherwise.
No.4  Why do humans want children?
The question is a bit misleading. Today there are many men and women who don’t want children. Those that do may have inherited the desire from their parents. Not long ago a person’s survival in old age meant having family to care for them. That has changed and children no longer take care of their parents (in the USA, anyway.) I believe it’s like asking why some people want dogs and others don’t. But I have to admit, babies are so darn cute, when I see one, I usually wish I could have one. That alone could be the reason people want kids. Nature instills desire for children into most humans.
No.5  What was the biggest challenge in creating your book ‘Cryonic Man’ ?
Trying to create a story showing how a man would feel with a woman controlling his body. Then in having the man fall in love with the woman who inhabited his body, it was difficult to show how his feelings changed from hatred to desire for her.
No.6  What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
I’ve learned that the quality of one’s life depends on a person’s perception of the world. If a person is pessimistic and sees all the bad things life has dealt them, they are unhappy. On the other hand, a person who is optimistic will see the good things in life and by doing so will be much happier.
No.7  How did you come up with the title ‘Cryonic Man’ ?
Cryonics was an interest of mine and after researching the procedure, I began to wonder what it would be like for a person to come back to life after spending years in cryonic preservation. Jim Jackson, the protagonist in Cryonic Man, was cryonically frozen for fifty years and is the first person ever to be revived, so I thought Cryonic Man a fitting name.
No.8  How do you handle personal criticism?
I believe everyone has an opinion, some right, some wrong, so when someone criticizes me, I figure they must be one of those who have wrong opinions! And those who praise me, of course, have the right opinion.
No.9  Why should people read your book?
The story contains actual historical facts. The antagonist, Countess Erzsébet Báthory, is known as “The most evil woman who ever lived.” She allegedly killed over 600 girls and bathed in their blood to maintain her beauty. The story line is an exciting romance unlike any I’ve ever read.
No.10  Why is there something rather than nothing?
Philosophers have been asking this question for years. There is no conclusive answer, but my opinion is that there’s something because if there wasn’t, who would or could read my books? Actually I believe there’s something only because we perceive existing. If we didn’t, there’d be nothing.
Thank you Joe  🙂
For taking the time to answer my questions 
& the best of luck with your new book! 
Check out ‘Cryonic Man’ on
Bostonian Jim Jackson is just one fight away from winning the 1976 World Heavyweight Championship when he is diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor and seeks relief in a radical medical procedure. But the happy scientific ending goes awry when Jackson regains consciousness to find he shares body and mind with “Blood Countess” Erzsébet Báthory.

#246 The Last Goodbye

#246 The Last Goodbye

The blues were playing over and over in my head. I went into the Beehive Bar and ordered a double shot of Jack Daniels from Red.

“Did somebody die, Joe?” red asked, “You look so sad, the drink is on me.”

That brought a smile to my face. “Give me another and get one for yourself,” I said and drank that one too as soon as he filled my glass.

“I’m here to listen to anything you have to say.” Red poured me another shot.

He was doing his job as bartender by letting me tell him my tale of woe. There’s no better therapy than telling someone about what’s eating at your soul. We sat and talked. I read poems, I had written for and about her when we were one, before she left me for another. I was fine and I read the words, the words of love I never knew I had within, until I read them out loud to her, the inspiring one.

“Our relationship was a thing of the past, I so blatantly thought, but the words, the words that came from my soul changed all that. She had to leave and that was good, I thought. I didn’t know when she did; she’d take part of me with her. The piece she took leaves an empty hole where my soul or maybe my heart used to be. Now I know I should have never let her go.”

Red gave me a look that let me knew he had heard this tale so many times before he thought it asinine. “Tell you what, Joe; grab the first piece of ass that walks through that door.” he pointed to the Beehives front door, “You’ll soon forget all about the one who dumped you.”

Like Red had given her a cue, Cindy walked through the door. She wore a see through blouse, and I could see how tight and firm she was. Her tight shorts gave me a view I’ll never forget. Right then, I decided to take Red’s advice.

“Give Cindy a drink on me,” I said before she found a seat. She came and sat next to me. Red was right, all thoughts of the one who left me vanished as my mind filled with videos of Cindy doing things to me.

“Thanks,” she said and raised her wine glass in salute.

“You’re a lucky woman,” I told her. “I had made up my mind to have sex with the first woman to come through the door, and that’s you.”

“You’re a lucky man,” she said, “I decided I’d marry the first man that brought me a drink today.”

We went to city hall and tied the knot. It would work out I thought as both our desires had been filled. Then we went to a motel and went to bed. It was then I knew I had made a mistake. Cindy had the ugliest vagina I had ever seen. It looked like an alien being with swollen lips.

“I know a doctor that can make your vagina prettier, better proportioned, youthful, and give it that true Playboy aesthetic look.”

She slapped my face. “Labiaplasty is what you’re talking about. They use lasers and scalpels to reduce my lips. The next thing you’ll say is it tastes so bad you can’t go down on me. But that’s no excuse because I use mints to make it taste and smell sweet.”

I didn’t care how sweet it smelled, I wasn’t about to kiss those ugly lips. I went out the next day and purchased some Bleach Babe, a cream to do away with the natural discoloration surrounding the exterior of her vagina. It contains Kojic acid, the same ingredient that keeps salmon meat pink.

After surgery and the use of bleach, her vagina could be the centerfold for any porn publication out there. We had to wait several weeks for her to heal and when she was ready I took off all my clothes.

She looked at my Italian Stallion and said, “You’re not putting that Moby Dick into my beautiful Tunnel of Love unless you go to the doctor for some reconstructive surgery.”

Cindy did it for me, but being a man, I wasn’t about to go under the knife and risk permanent sexual dysfunction. “Because of what you did, I’ll go on an exercise program to make my Dickimus Maximus so it’ll match your Pink Ladies beauty.”

I purchased a penis extender and stretched it daily for 45 minutes at a time. I practiced Jelging every moment I was alone, and walked around with a weight hanging from my Hairy Houdini when I couldn’t perform any other exercise. Weeks went by and I’d measure and massage every day and I couldn’t wait to show Cindy how much Pokey had grown.

“Show me yours and I’ll show you mine,” I finally told Cindy.

She stripped of all her clothes and lay on her back exposing her Tunnel of Love for my inspection. If anything her coloring had become more desirable, a perfect pink peach color that I wanted to taste. I went to plant a kiss.

“Hold on, before you do, I have to see what your Penis the Menace looks like.”

I proudly showed her how much he had grown.

A look of revulsion crossed her face. “What have you done? Your Injection Erection is way too big, and he looks like an Ugly Brother.”

My heart fell to my feet. All my work, wasted. “What should I do?”

“A penis reduction is the only choice.”

When I asked my doctor, he laughed. I drowned it in ice water whenever I could and found chemicals at the drugstore that guaranteed to shrink skin. A week went by and I was the perfect size. I told Cindy to get undressed. She took Droopy in her hand and after one stroke, he broke off at the stem. I said my Last Goodbye as tears rolled from my eyes.


#245 Roberta or is it Robot

#241 Forty Seven


“Transsexual robots are here to stay, so get one on sale today. No matter if you’re straight or gay, Robert or Roberta will fulfill your needs and fantasies,” repeated over and over from the overhead speakers in the subway station. Joe tried to drown it out by plugging his ears with toilet paper. The sound penetrated and he heard, “If you’d like to procreate, there’s a kit with robotic DNA, designed to mix with yours, so you can have offspring of your own.”

He put his hands over his ears. He didn’t want any stinking robot. He wanted Penelope, who he met at the company Christmas party, for his girl. She was dressed as Mrs. Claus. One look at her and Joe was ready to move to the North Pole and start making toys. A train stopped and he boarded it. Joe took his hands from his ears and heard a couple talking.

“If a man or woman chooses a robot to mate with, there’s no one who knows if their offspring will be boy, girl, human, or robot,” the man said.

“What’s it matter? Hybrids are much better than any thoroughbred human, or machine.

They aren’t so frail, and have an on, off switch for so many things,” the woman replied.

“Go ahead, love is just waiting for you to flip that switch, and satisfaction in any matter can be had by simply telling Robo what you want it to do. So if you’d rather have a robot than me, I’ll understand,” the man said, “and if you’re enamored with him or her, marriage is legal in 49 states.”

“Yes it is, and not only that, once Robo says the matrimonial vows, it’ll be loyal, no matter what, and will explode before being untrue. Is it any wonder that soon the entire human race will soon be hybrid, and all the children will be called Robo?”

Joe didn’t believe that for a minute. As long as there were women like Penelope around, a man would have to be crazy to marry a robot. After the party Penelope went home with Joe. She helped him undress and gave him a full body massage before she too undressed. When he saw her naked he could hardly believe God had made such a perfect woman and then let her come home with him. “Thank you God,” he had prayed before he had the best sex ever.

Sated like never before, Joe went to sleep, when he awoke, Penelope was gone. Joe inquired at work and found she had been hired through an agency for the party. No one knew her last name. He went to the agency that sent her. They wouldn’t give him any information. “She’s entitled to her privacy,” the secretary said. Joe tried a bribe and she threatened to call the police.

He was in love. He had to find Penelope no matter the cost. He hired a detective named, Digital Dick. He was a robotic detective of course. Robots deduced things a hundred times faster than any human could, so they soon put human detectives out of business.

“Mr. Digital. . .”

“Please, call me Dick,” the detective said.

“Okay, Dick. Here’s what I need you to do.” Joe told him all about Penelope.

“Can I call you Joe?” the robot said.

“Sure, Dick.”

“Joe, why don’t you simply get the latest model robotic companion? You know they’re better than any human girl.”

Joe punched him in his jaw and broke three fingers.

Dick laughed. “Okay, no insult intended. I only tried to give you some logical advice.”

“I don’t want a robot for a girl, I want Penelope. Now if you want to get paid, find her,” Joe said.

The robot charged a hefty fee for his services, lots of oil, memory chips, and a full service electrical generator. Joe gladly paid. He knew Digital Dick was good at what he did, and if anyone could find Penelope, it was him.

Joe went to a local bar for a drink and to wait for the call from Digital that he had found Penelope. He walked past six good looking women sitting at the bar. Joe figured they were waiting for customers. He thought about buying some time with one and imagining he was with Penelope, but these days he couldn’t tell if they were human or robots until after the act. A robot automatically douched after sex. There was no off switch for that and it gave them away every time, but always too late. Money had already changed hands and the deed had been done. There was nothing left to do but remember what you had done to a machine.

Joe’s stomach turned thinking about that happening. He may be old fashioned, but he was sticking to human women only, no matter what. As he thought this, he received a telepathic call from Digital Dick.

“I found her. She’s working a party over here at the Hilton. I’ve told the doorman to let you in when you get here.”

“Thanks Dick.”

Joe rushed to the Hilton. He wasn’t sure what he’d say. If he asked her to marry him and she agreed, it would be binding for life as divorce was no longer allowed under intergalactic law. “That was what he wanted though, wasn’t it?” He asked himself. Once the doorman showed him in and he saw Penelope wearing that costume his heart leaped. He ran over and asked her to be his wife. She accepted. They were married that night.

On their honeymoon, Joe wanted a lot of sex and he worried if she had brought her supplies with her. They were in the gift shop and Joe saw a douche bag on display. He discreetly asked, “Did you bring yours?”

“Oh no, I’m the latest model. I have an on off switch and only use it when I need to.