Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
stg-roadrunner-gfx
Friday, August 26, 2005

Kaleidoscopic Narcotic

Here's one from my archives. I wrote this on August 16th, 2002. It was my 3rd writing effort. I changed the title and fixed an error or two. It reads sloppy to me, but that's to be expected. This was from before I strayed into fiction.

One of my good friends has the same name as mine, Steve. The two of us decided three weeks ago, on a Saturday night, to go score some weed on the west side. We drove around Augusta and Cicero, which is basically a poor black neighborhood. I should feel guilty for supporting drug dealers in this community, but they provide a valuable service to lowdown degenerates like me. It's cheap, too, which is something the folks with the good stuff downtown cannot claim. I am poor, so my decision is easy.

While you drive slowly down a dimly lit oneway, you'll see hypes trying to get into your car, swaggering gangbangers in tank tops yelling "Smoke! Rocks! Blows!," and huge swarms of teenagers standing in the streets, vying for their peers' attention, trying to talk louder than the next.

We bought a couple dimebags, and then decided to get some heroin to top that off. We went from gas station to station, trying to find a cash machine. At night, these places are locked up tight. Nobody gets inside. All the cigarettes and Pepsi have to go through the sliding bin under the thick, bulletproof glass. Invariably there are a few old men and hobos outside, asking for smokes and change.

When the cops pulled us over, the other Steve put the bags where the sun doesn't shine. The cops didn't like me lying to them. "You're lost? Bullshit. Hands on the hood. Now." After a pat down they put me in the squad car's back seat. My enterprising friend, however, took a more direct approach, telling the officers that the north side is dry, and that we're trying to score some smoke. He also fed them a line about his uncle dying in the line of duty, and dropped a name he picked up off the news last year. It worked. They pulled me out, and the cop said "Get your weed and get out of here without getting shot, alright?"

Okay. You got it, officer.

We finally found a heroin dealer, which took a little while since the cops were thick. We went back to Steve's place, listening to the oldies on the way. Smokey Robinson provided the soundtrack for Steve's finger spelunking. The car smelled like shit when he fished out the dimebags. Thankfully I had napkins. Tears Of A Clown indeed.

Steve has no air conditioning, and it was very hot and humid that night. We had bottled water in the fridge, and we drank lots of it. We stayed up until 5 or 6 in the morning, snorting heroin and smoking weed. Once I couldn't discern the difference between a joint and one of Steve's Top brand menthol homerolleds, I went outside to catch some breeze. Steve was nodding out and breathing raggedly, so I shook him out of it and brought him some water.

I felt very clean the next day. All that sweating had detoxified me. I went home and curled up with a book and watched a baseball game. The Cubs lost.
10:00 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Hiatus



Break time for me. I've been posting stuff here almost every weekday since last December, and I need a break. Writing shorts for daily publication is fun, but it hinders me from developing longer pieces. I want to write a Lovecraftian black magic story set in the Old West with a railroad detective investigating the frequent disappearances of Chinese railroad workers. I intend for it to be novella length or more, so I'm going to slow down on Tinfoil Viking Science for a short while.

I'll try to get something up once or twice a week. I still need this place to vomit up my nasty little ulcers.

Thanks for reading.

-Steve
1:26 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Bear Trap Beatdown Part Four




Wayne waltzed back to Harry, casual as could be, shovel in hand. He eyed the sorry sight before him. Harry was convulsing in the weeds, streaking his formerly immaculate white suit with green and brown. He'd vomited a bubbly mixture of gin and swallowed mouthwash all over his coat, and he was gibbering breathlessly to Wayne.

"Waynewaynewayne help me help me pleeeease. It hurts so bad. I need a drink, I wanna go home, I quit, this is too goddamn much. Oh Christ..."

"Now settle down hoss. I kin see yer in a lotta pain, but ya gotta settle. Lay still now, and I'll have a looksee."

Wayne set the shovel down and knelt in the patch of weeds. He parted the plantlife obscuring his view and took a gander at Harry's mangled arm. The smaller wrist bone, the ulna, stuck out from Harry's wrist just below the metal jaws, stretching ripped skin with its fractured point. Blood splashed from the rent flesh in thick heavy waves, like milk from a jug.

"Lordy, Mr. Salesman, that don't look too pretty. You're goin' empty faster'n one of my beercans. I'll see if Dorothy can muster up some bandages and I'll go down to Elmer's to use the phone. Git you some first aid."

"You... you don't have a phone? I'm gonna die. I'm gonna die in fucking Arkansas in the backyard of a dumb dirty redneck without no goddamn telephone. I shoulda stayed home and drank myself to death. Ow ow ow Shitshitshit. Eeeee. Listen to me, Wayne. Listen! I am not gonna die here with a Hee-Haw motherfucker like you standing over me all googly-eyed looking at me like I'm Jesus reincarnate. Get your fat drunk hick ass moving and do something!"

"Mister, Jesus never cursed like that. You're not such a nice fella after all. I reckon I don't much like you anymore. That's okay. We can do this the hard way, if you like. I'm gonna go grab some tools. You stay put now."

"Uuuuuuuurrrrrgh!"

---

Wayne returned with his daughter. "Now Dorothy, I know this is messy, but you gotta think of it no diff'rent than puttin' down a hog for bacon. You be strong now, girl."

"Yessir, Pop. That poor man."

"Now Harry, we gotta stop yer bleedin before you run drier than a Sunday. I don't know no fancy medicine. Dorothy don't either. I'm gonna use this here torch to burn it shut. It's gonna hurt like the devil, but it's all I got."

"Gimme a tourniquet! Tie me off! I don't wanna lose my hand you scruffy fuck! They can fix it if you tie me off and go get the paramedics!"

"Pop, this fella sure got mean in a hurry."

"Shut up you dirty backwoods cunt! Go get me a bandage. Cloth! Anything! Tie me off!"

"Shut it, hoss. Save yer strength. Yer gonna need it if you don't piss me off enough an' I kill you myself."

Blood continued to spurt in weak little blasts. Harry's breathing grew heavier. Wayne and Dorothy looked at each other. Wayne ignited his blowtorch and hunched down before Harry.

"Now you might have ta hold him still, darlin', but I doubt it. He's a strong critter to last this long, but he's getting weak now. Stay close, though. You never know."

When the cauterizing blue torch flame met Harry's open wrist, Harry finally blacked out.

---

Harry woke to the setting sun and hot pain. Blinking and opening his eyes, he looked up to see several faces peering down at him. He felt like a trapped animal. Probably a bear. He spoke, his voice weak and hoarse.

"I hate you, Wayne. I hate your fat, ugly daughter, I hate your illiterate manner of speech, I hate your beer soaked flannel shirts, I hate your brokedown fucking cars, and most of all, I hate your greasy little shitstain of a town. You people make me sick. No phone. Not a single phone. Why me? I hate this job. I hate that I'm gonna die in fucking Arkansas. Fuck you. Fuck you all to hell. Right in the ass you toothless cornpone filth."

"See what I mean, fellas? I was just givin' this sad sack a chance ta sell me his gadgets. Hell, I was even nice to 'im. Fancypants here says he was gonna find me that huntin' knife I lost. Then he go an' get caught in this rusty old spring here. I offered help an' all he said was nasty things like 'redneck' and 'gutter trash.' He even called little Dorothy a whore. The man's no good. Bleedin' like a stuck pig he was, 'till we torched his arm there. You see the puddle. Oh, and he was sacriligious, too! Cursing Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the Lord Almighty all in the same breath. I'd just as soon kill him than help him now. So whatcha reckon, boys?"

"I think we oughta give 'im last rites. He's nearly dead, Wayne."
"I think we should go play poker. Leave this fella here for the coyotes."
"I say give 'im a shot a whiskey and a shot from my double barrel. Put 'im outta his misery. Be the Christian thing to do."
"What about target practice, Wayne? I reckon this feller's a bigger target than them zippity squirrels you cain't hit worth a damn."

"Don't be smart, Elmer. I was drunk when I was peggin' squirrels."

"Well shit, Wayne, he's yours. Don't be askin' us. You know we'll go along. Why'd you really ask us over here, anyhow?"

"I figgered maybe I could trade ya'll some of his gizmos for a little help puttin' him under. But that car a his? I'm keepin' that."

"You redneck scum. All of you. You call yourself Christians. I'm lyin' here dying, damnit! Where's your sense of mercy?"

"I reckon I'm fresh outta mercy. Your kind ain't welcome in my country, not with your high class snotty attitude. Tryin' to fleece us, too. That thing wasn't clever enough to save you, huh? That toy ain't worth no fifty bucks. You loudmouth shit. I'll show you what toothless really means. Yessir I will. Elmer, hand me that shovel. Thanks for them dandy metal detectors, Mister Salesman."

Harry's eyes opened wide, blazing bright.

CLANK! CLANK! (splash) CLANK!

Then they closed.
3:30 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, August 22, 2005

Bear Trap Beatdown Part Three



Harry returned to Dorothy's ramshackle abode at precisely four in the afternoon. He navigated his way across the dirt driveway past a rusty swingset (Harry thought it odd to put backyard recreation in front) and a ruptured tire to the rickety front porch. He walked up the steps and knocked on the front door.

"Whoizzit?" It was a man's voice. It must be Dorothy's father, Harry's potential sale.

"Harry Lipscomb, sir! I was here earlier, speaking to your daughter."

"Let yerself in! I'm sitting down and I ain't budgin'. Too damn tired. Dorothy, bring me another beer, wouldja hon?"

"Sure, Pop!"

Harry opened the door and entered the sorry dwelling. A man lay tilted back in a recliner, his eyes glued to a television show.

"So you wanna sell me some sorta magic civil war wand?"

"Not exactly, sir." Harry was standing just inside the doorway, looking lost and uncomfortable. "It's a metal detector, actually. I was telling your daughter this morning how I used it to discover antiques at the Chalk Bluff battleground, and how my wife and I have a lucrative hobby business selling used bullets and other Confederate ephemera we dug from the ground. May I ask your name?"

"Yeah. Call me Wayne." Wayne had still not looked up from the television. The corner of his mouth twitched when the laugh track sounded from the weak speaker at the base of the screen. Dorothy walked into the room, delivered a Stroh's to her father, gave Harry the thumbs up, and scampered back whence she came.

"Wayne, I'd like to sell you a metal detector. Dorothy is very enthusiastic about it. Would you like to inspect my demo unit?"

Wayne finally looked up. He took in Harry's immaculate white suit, blotchy nose, and plastic smile. He looked at the metal detector resting across Harry's skyward palms. "We don't get a lot a salesmen 'round these parts, except for assholes telling me to spray shit on my lawn. I don't give a shit in a tin cup how green my grass grows, so why should I pony up for your buzzing golf club? I don't golf. I hate golf. Rich man's sport."

"With all due respect, sir, this is a metal detector. When waved over the ground, it does indeed buzz when it passes over buried metals. As I mentioned, Dorothy is very excited to try it out."

"That so? All right. I guess I can peel myself up for a few minutes. Show me how this gizmo works. Let's go out back."

The backyard was far more decrepit than the front. Sun faded beer cans littered the bare dirt outside the back door. Sparse yellow grass and thick clumps of tall weeds sprouted in different places with no apparent pattern. A rusted 70's model Chevy sat upon cinderblocks, no evidence of labor current. Cracked tree stumps protruded in three places, lightning victims that had fed the firepit. The firepit itself was large, ranging ten feet across. Burning things was obviously a frequent hobby for Wayne.

"Find my huntin' knife, Mr. Salesman. I lost it somewhere out here when I was drunk last month. I think I was chuckin' it at squirrels. Least that's what Elmer says I was doin'. I cain't remember myself."

"Ridding oneself of pests such as squirrels is indeed a noble endeavor, sir, and I shall labor to retrieve your prized possesion presently."

"What?"

"I'll try to find it, Wayne."

"Okay, good. Go fer it."

Harry flicked the power switch on the stem of the Viking detector and stepped out into the lawn, ignoring the strident buzzing caused by the littered beer cans.

"Now wait a second, fella. That thing ain't gonna call down no aliens, izzit? I don't need no little green fuckers comin' 'round in the dark a night tryinna steal my Dorothy."

"Oh no sir, absolutely not. I stopped selling alien telephones over ten years ago."

"That supposed ta be funny?"

"I, uh, no sir. Let's see if I can find that prized blade of yours."

Harry wandered throughout the yard, sweeping the detector in wide arcs over the forlorn lawn. He ignored a few quick tentative bleeps, hoping to zero in on an item with significant metallic composition. The knife. He finally got an angry squawk from the detector when he ranged the unit over a particularly thick and tall clump of weeds at the far back edge of the yard, right at the edge of the forest.

"Wayne, I've got something! Have you got a shovel? There's something in this clump of weeds here, and it's big! Bigger than a knife, I imagine, and buried a foot or two deep!"

"Hold your horses, hoss, I'll be right there! Don't want you staining that lily white suit a yours!"

Harry was intensely curious. He'd never actually dug anything up from the ground before. His stories about civil war battlegrounds were wholly fabricated. Instead of waiting patiently for Wayne to return with the proper tools, Harry reached into the weeds and rooted around with his hand, testing to see if the discovery was above ground. His fingers brushed rusted iron, an arch of metal teeth protruding from the dirt. He grasped it firmly and yanked it loose from the dry dirt. It came up with a modest effort. Free of earthen obstruction, the dormant trap triggered, snapping its jaws shut with the vicious muscle of springloaded tension. It clamped upon Harry's wrist, cracking his bones, mashing his flesh, and tearing open his pasty skin.

"Gaaaaaaaaaahhh! Help! Help! Shit shit shit ohmyfuckinggod that hurts! Wayne! Help! I'm stuck! My arm! Oh my arm!"

Harry Lipscomb writhed and bled, screaming, waiting for Wayne to return and help him free.

This tale is not yet finished. Soon, heathens, soon.
6:00 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Bear Trap Beatdown Part Two




"Good day miss, my name's Harry Lipscomb. Fine day today, is it not?"

A chubby girl stood in the doorway. She wore a cowboy hat, a Green Bay Packers t-shirt, and dull black beetle eyes.

"Yeah, I guess."

"If you have a moment, I'd like to tell you about this metal detector I hold in my hands. May I?"

"Yeah, I guess. C'mon in."

"Thank you, thank you. What's your name, miss?"

"M'name's Dorothy. Take a chair. Ya wanna a beer?"

"Ahem. No, no thank you. I don't drink until dinnertime. A glass of water would be just the thing for me. If it's no trouble that is."

"Sure, sure. Here ya go. So whatcha tryinna sell me?"

"Yes, well. This fine item here is a metal detector. Not the standup variety you see in airports, but rather, a handheld unit for searching under the very surface of the earth. I've sold hundreds already. It seems people all share a dire need to explore the land for treasure. I must confess I share that need, and have myself discovered all manner of historical artifacts during my travels. If you're the type who likes a stroll through the countryside- and you most certainly appear to, fit gal that you are- then this item is just the thing to accompany you. If you carry the Viking detector and a small spade with you, you can find all kinds of metals. Things like coins from centuries past, time capsules laid below the ground by past generations, and in some cases, copper, silver, and even gold. Truly valuable metals that can start you a mighty fine fortune. It's a dandy device, miss."

"I dunno. You said yer name's Harry?"

"Yes, Harry Lipscomb, at your service."

"Harry, my cousin Cleve got a pickup truck a couple years ago. Put it together hisself from spare parts. He goes 'round to construction sites and lifts all kinds a copper and spool wire in the night. Sells it for scrap. Copper don't go for more than ten cents a pound. A whole damn pound. I ain't never gonna find enough copper with that thing to buy even a pouch a chaw."

"Chaw, miss?"

"Spittin' tobacco. An there sure ain't no gold 'round here."

"Let me share a story with you, Dorothy. About a year ago I took one of these metal detectors to an old civil war battleground. Chalk Bluff, right here in Arkansas. It wasn't a very large or famous battle, so the ground stands unspoiled by developers, tourists, and the like. It's still an ignored patch of forest on the bank of the St. Francis. I spent an afternoon waving this very Viking over that battleground, and it chirped like a baby bird all afternoon long. I found bullets, shaving razors, belt buckles, and all manner of finely crafted antique metals. Many were buried quite shallow! I stopped after a few hours, but I could've stayed all week long and kept digging and digging. There was so much to be found. When I got home, I cleaned and polished my findings, and made myself some papers stating where I got them. My wife is still selling them at antique shows today. We charge $20 a bullet, and quite a bit more, sometimes hundreds, for the fancier, rare items. Things like lockets and bayonets. So as you see, it's not just the type of metal you find, but it's the shape and age."

"Well I'll be damned. I gotta say that sounds mighty fine. How much fer one a these detectors?"

"That's the best part. The Viking X-550 only costs $49.95. You make back the cost just by selling three bullets! I happen to know that Confederate bullets fetch a nice dollar hereabouts."

"Dang, I haven't got any money. I promise I ain't wastin' yer time, though, mister. All you gotta do is come back here after four o'clock. My daddy is working over at the auto shop now, but he'll be back about then. I cook him dinner, and he never misses it. I'll tell 'im all about this doohickey a yours and 'splain why we oughta have one. He'll spring for it, I got no doubt about it."

"Wonderful, miss, just wonderful! It has been a great pleasure to make your acquaintance."

Harry gently shook Dorothy's hand. Dorothy wrinkled her nose as Harry's minty breath tickled her nose, and then she led him to the front door.

"Mister, how do you keep that white suit clean with all the dust on these roads? You keep the windows up all the time or sumthin'?"

"That and more, Miss Dorothy. A salesmen of fine wares such as mine must be immaculate in presentation and eloquent in oration to truly wax poetic upon the virtues of his commodities."

"I ain't got a clue what you just said, Mister. See ya at four."

"Until then, miss." With that, Harry bowed and tipped his white bowler hat to his prospective customer. After three days without a sale, Harry was hungry to move some units.

More tomorrow.
1:30 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, August 19, 2005

Bear Trap Beatdown Part One



"You've got two choices, Harry. Bibles or metal detectors. If you can't quote scripture and spit out a convincing 'Praise the Lord,' you better choose the metal detectors."

Harry Lipscomb was a miserable failure. During his tenure on the road, he'd tried selling vacuums, encyclopedias, and detergent. Most folks who answered the door shut him down with a curt "No thank you, I'm not interested, have a nice day." They were always polite. Harry's tendencies to sweat and stammer didn't aid his cause. Like many travelling salesmen before him, Harry was a dedicated alcoholic. Pronounced veins of red and purple crosshatched his nose. A stink of mint Listerine wafted from his mouth in humid gusts each time he spoke.

"Shit, Roy. I guess I'll take the metal detectors. You know I never held no truck with Jesus or his frothing legion. They give me the creeps."

"Tough titty, Harry, 'cause you're going to Arkansas. Lots a thumpers there. Nobody's gonna buy these in the city. You know that. You're takin' the trailer tour. You know the pitch?"

"Yeah, sure I do. Do I look like some kinda nitwit?"

"You sure as shit didn't sell many vacuums, and people need vacuums. That shoulda been easy! So forgive me for expressing a sliver a doubt."

"Those vacuums were crap and you know it. How can I sell a product I wouldn't use myself?"

"You're a salesman! Lie! Jesus Christ! Harry, Harry, Harry. Okay, okay. Spit it out. What're you gonna say? Let's hear your best metal detector spiel."

"Ahem... Okay. Greetings, fine sir, my name is Harry Lipscomb. I'm here today to share my wonderful invention with you. This Viking metal detector is the latest creation from my scientific laboratory. All you gotta do is wave it over the ground and listen for the electronic sensors to squeak! Easy as pie! With this sleek machine you can unearth buried treasures like antiques, old coins, Indian arrowheads, and possibly even silver or gold. You might be walking over a fortune everyday and never know it. This miracle of science will provide you a wonderful new hobby that's both relaxing and lucrative. Have you ever wondered what lies below your own backyard? Now you can find out without tearing up your whole lawn. Here's the best part: It only costs $49.95! They also make great gifts for family members like uncles or grandsons. How many would you like?"

"Harry, you gotta slow down. Rope 'em in a bit. Make a connection with 'em first. Say something nice about their home, or their dog, or whateverthefuck. You need to make 'em like you so they'll feel guilty if they turn you down. The way you approach it, you look sound like a auctioneer who needs to shit real bad. Way too goddamned fast. Look, Harry. This is a waste of my time. I ain't a coach. Take a couple boxes and hit the road. Even you can't fuck this one up. They're easy marks, Harry, easy marks. Don't come back until you sold 'em all."

"You're an asshole, Roy, you know that? I'll sell 'em alright. You'll see."

There's a few directions I can take this. I don't know what happens next (yet) but I might take this story into surreal territory, or I might use it poke fun at rural folk, or I might make it a nasty little horror tale. I guess it depends on my mood when I continue it next Monday. Have a nice weekend. Sorry about the sparse content this week.
12:59 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Malady Calamity



"Conditional Love, Patience speaking, how can I help you today?"

"Hi. I want to sign up."

"Your name, please?"

"Joel Flach."

"Joel, thanks for calling. Here at Conditional Love we match up couples with similar conditions. I have to state up front that we do not guarantee a successful pairing. We'll try our best to set you up with someone who can understand the challenges you face. Somebody who will understand you and support you. Is this your first time with us, Joel?"

"Yes it is."

"Will you please tell me what your affliction is and why you've chosen Conditional Love?"

"I have psoriasis. Bad. I used to be able to date, y'know. It wasn't that bad. But I'm 38 now, and..."

"It's okay Joel, take your time. I'm here to help you."

"This disease... it... my skin is really bad, y'know? Scaly. Dry. I can't stop scratching at it. The doctors give me pills and creams and stuff, and they help in some places, but I still shed this ugly flaky skin dandruff stuff everywhere. Lots from my neck, so it's always on my shirt. Dead dry skin, peeling everywhere. Even on my face sometimes. I look like I got dipped in Elmer's glue and it's all peeling at once. Every day. Where my skin isn't white, it's deep red. Blotchy. My wrists look like I got tumors under my skin, just waiting to pop through. The nails on my hands and feet are yellow and green. I look like I'm rotting from the inside. I can't even look in the mirror some days. I scrub and scrub and take my medicine, but nothing's good enough. I can't go out, I can't meet anybody, y'know? I get so lonely. I get so horny, Jesus, I feel like I'm gonna explode! Sometimes I even gotta take lotion and-"

"Joel! I understand. It's okay, okay? You're not alone. There's thousands of women with psoriasis out there looking for a partner, just like you. We'll find somebody suited to your personality and schedule a meeting. I'll need you to come to our office to fill out a few forms, discuss payment, and film a short video of yourself for prospective dates. Do you know where we're located, Joel?"

"I don't think you understand. My skin, it's gross. Disgusting. I might as well be covered in rattlesnakes. I wake up thinking there's an army of scorpions crawling on me. Don't you get it? I don't want a woman with psoriasis. That's so wrong. It'd be like.... rubbing sandpaper together. I need a blind chick, or maybe somebody with cancer. Somebody desperate like me. Just not a woman with skin like mine. Somebody I can look at."

"...okay. Ummmmm. Excuse me, just a moment. I'm just looking through our calendar to schedule an appointment. Wednesday okay? Can you come in Wednesday at 3pm, Joel?"

"Can I come in sooner? My balls are fucking bursting here."

"I'm sorry, but that's the next opening, I mean the next slot- Shit. Excuse my language. I'm sorry Joel. What I meant to say is that the next appointment available is Wednesday at 11am. That's the best I can do."

"Okay, yeah. I'll be there."

"Excellent. Do you need directions?"

"No, I'll map you on the internet. I got the address. Will I get to meet you on Wednesday, Patience?"

"Yes, I'll be here, Joel. We're a team committed to making sure you feel comfortable. I'll introduce you to everyone else here and we'll get you registered and on the market. You'll be dating in no time."

"Great, thank you! I'll see you then. I feel better already. I think I'll go to the swimming pool this afternoon."
4:20 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Bright Lights Zero

Becky Fuller wanted to wear a sequined headress and kick her legs in the air. She told her parents she was applying at UNLV to become a teacher. They accepted that, relieved Becky was no longer chirping about unlikely dreams like modelling and acting. Becky neglected to disclose that she wanted to go to Vegas to dance, dance, dance. In her mind, she'd audition for every stage show in town, and when each one accepted her, she'd pick her favorite. Success in Las Vegas was a ripened fruit dangling to be plucked.

Had her parents known her true choice of profession, they would've been furious. "Becky! A showgirl? That's a training ground for prostitutes! No way are you getting up on that stage. Those catty stage bitches have no futures. Their looks go and they end up depressed, high on drugs, and dead. You're going to a different college, and you're getting a degree. No daughter of mine is going to waste a bright future chasing after a second-rate showbiz fantasy." But they didn't know.

Becky figured she had until her first dismal report card to set her glittering future in motion. Upon arriving in Nevada, she set herself to research. Textbook money bought tickets for all the major productions. She spent seven nights a week watching the majestic synchronized contortions of successful swans gliding in garish glory.

Becky was a good dancer, but she lacked one crucial attribute: height. At 5'3", Becky was dwarfed by the tall, statuesque women with long legs and long steps. Audition after audition, she was turned away, never allowed a moment on stage to demonstrate her talents. The constant rejection burned. Becky's frustration swelled like a blister. She was about to rupture, her dreams trickling pus dissolving under hot water.

Becky felt bitter. Her dreams were denied due to her genes. Desire and skill had played no part. Becky wondered if there was a stage show somewhere with short girls. Besides the circus. She was in this dejected state of mind, sitting at a bus stop, when a grimy chick in fishnets and smudged mascara sat down beside her.

Tap tap tap. Becky looked over. The woman was tapping a brass pipe with a plastic lighter, peering into the bowl.

"What are you doing? You'll get arrested. Pot's illegal, you know."

The woman looked over at Becky, one eyebrow raised in scorn. "This ain't pot, honey. It's ice. Crystal meth. I love the stuff." The woman lit the pipe and inhaled a could of amphetamines.

"Why do it? It'll just ruin your life, you know. You already look skanky."

"Did I ask your opinion, bitch? For the record, I'm no skank. I'm a dancer. Well, I was anyways, and a damn good one until I broke my leg. Now I'm a fucking waitress. Ice ain't ruining my life, it's already ruined. I took this up cuz it helps me earn tips doing other things besides waitressing. Catch my drift?

The tirade unsettled Becky. "Uh...y..yeah."

"What's with your outfit? Aren't you a little short to be a dancer?"

Becky bit her lip and held back tears. "Yeah. Way too short."

"Hah. Don't get all misty on me, sister. You sound pathetic. There's no sympathy in this town, so buck up or go cry home to mommy."

Becky looked away, feeling homesick and retarded.

"Try this."

"What? No."

"Go ahead. C'mon. It'll cheer you up. Promise. Girl scout's honor."

Becky took the pipe and looked into the bowl. Inside sat a white clump burned brown on one side.

"What the hell. Gimme that lighter."

She lit the ice.

"Hold it. Hold it now."

Becky held it. Chainsaws revved in her brain. Electricity shot down her nerves. Her eyelids fluttered. Her toes twitched. She exhaled. "Ooooh. That's... crazy." Becky rocked back and forth.

"Can't sit still, can you honey? My name's Gina. What's yours?"

"Becky. I'm Becky."

"Welcome to Las Vegas, darlin'."
10:44 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, August 15, 2005

Cornerpiece


August 11, 2005
9:40 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Untitled & Fireplace Cool


January 15, 2005 & January 7, 2005
9:25 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Roadrunner & Bouquet


January 15, 2005 & March 26, 2005
8:19 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, August 12, 2005

Moonshine Rock Zombies Part Two




Ever hear of the proverbial deer in the headlights? I'm not sure if I qualified. I might have been more of a rubbernecker. Instead of scanning for blood and severed limbs while slowly driving past a car accident, I was watching the tectonic destruction of an obscure forest cave by supernatural forces, hoping to catch a glimpse of resurrected gargoyle demons launching from the ground like fireworks: fiery, fierce, and hungry for hot blood. I should've been running scared, but I was hypnotized by the kaleidescope of mutating darkness.

The rumble subsided and the earth stood still. During this brief respite, I hunched over and peered into the shadowed passage. After one silent moment, the silhouettes moved. The stalagtites were marching. The thunder began with one step, a single hard clap of rock on rock. Then came a second, and then a whole host of stomps, perfectly synchronized, a thousand echoing strikes. The lockstep rock army was alive, and it was marching for the stairwell. I continued to stand in awe as the rockfoot percussion rose in tempo and volume.

When the first soldier reached the bottom step, the sunlight over my shoulders illuminated him. Striding towards me was an Indian chief. His face was dark bronze, deeply lined and cracked. His eyes were small, dark, and cold. His mouth, a narrow lipless scowl. His headpiece had long ago lost the down from its feathers, and now they protruded bare, mere sticks of thin translucent bone. His garments were coated with thick dust and mineral stains, their bright natural colors now bleached to drab browns and greys.

I stepped backwards, slowly and carefully. The chief continued his upwards march, leading his tribe from dormant darkness towards the light of life and day. One after another the Indian tribe poured forth, stiff and awkward, filling the forest sinkhole with a hundred silent, stern Indians. They wore jagged faces and cruel eyes. As they emerged in sucession, I backed further away. Soon I stood beside the collapsed moonshine shanty, stuck, afraid to look away for an escape route. Turning my back might be an invitation for a hatchet to the skull.

I stopped and remained still. "Hello. Greetings. Um... how. Howdy." I bowed. Would they communicate? Kill me? Ignore me? They spread out, circling me. I was the monkey in the middle. Any chance of escape had passed. The Indian chief walked forward and stood facing me. He spoke.

"Opponomawa. Chow-doon, stalaga-medoosa."

He bowed and outstretched his hands, palms up. I mimiced him, watching his face. In response, he threw his hands to the sky, brought them back down, and held them out again to me.

"Exal-tribe!"

I heard anger. Not good. Chief Opponomawa wanted something from me, and I had not provided it. Deciphering his request was my only hope of surviving this encounter. After pondering for a nervous moment, I did the only thing sensible: I decided to offer him a gift. As I reached into my bag, threatening murmers crossed the lips of the warriors surrounding me. I moved slowly, careful not to appear aggressive.

From my bag I pulled a bottle of old whiskey. I knelt on the grass and raised the bottle up on open palms, bowed my head, and held forth the bottle on outstretched arms. Keeping my eyes locked on the ground, I said:

"A gift, a tribute, to Chief Opponomawa. Please accept this."

I remained bowed in supplication, not daring to meet the ancient chief's stony gaze.

"Shaddayah, say-ah!"

I felt the bottle leave my palms. He had accepted my dubious tribute. I looked up and saw him uncork the bottle with his teeth. He raised the old booze to his lips and took a swig.

"Gra-dessh! Sa-nee!"

The tribe responded in unison. "Mugwump!" They cheered. I risked a smile. Chief Opponomawa passed the bottle to me, and I took a mighty slam of the searing amber liquid. Heat flooded every cell of my body. Slightly buzzed, I lifted my bag and shook it. Bottles clanked. More cheering. This was going rather well.

I passed out my stash of high proof magic to my new friends. Bottle by bottle, the Indians welcomed my generosity with the accumulated thirst of a thousand dry years. As I shared the liquor and exchanged unintelligible toasts with the suddenly merry tribe, my vision shimmered. I began to hallucinate. Colors brightened, sounds overlapped, and soon I was in a drunken trance, overwhelmed by a cacophony of celebration: native chants and hop-stomp dances.

The Indians began to mutate and change colors. Before my pickled eyes I saw them dance as bears, wolves, hyenas, buffalos, and foxes. Lightning and thunder struck inexplicably from a clear cloudless sky. Gravity went loose and the air grew thick. More oddities birthed from the Indian ceremony: many now wore skin of red, yellow, and purple. Their heads grew snakes and scorpions and beetles. My stomach and the ground lurched, and down I fell. Light and consciousness faded.

I woke under a tapestry of stars. I was alone. The Indians no longer caroused in my forest sinkhole. I scrambled to my feet too quickly, still drunk, and I fell back down, my wobbly legs unready to support me. With no small effort I tried again, this time successfully. I hobbled over to the cave entrance, but in the darkness I could see no further than three feet of the stairwell. Had the Indians returned to the earth? Relieved and exhilarated, I collected the few bottles remaining in the decayed crate and made for the lip of the sinkhole. It was time to head home.

As I pulled myself out of the earthen cavity, a call from above rang down to me. Perched in the trees were a hundred crows, black eyes all trained on me. My Indians. I answered.

"How, Opponomawa. Well met. Mugwump!"

The hundred crows squawked together, their ugly bruised bird voices overlapping. Wings flapped as they took the sky. They circled above me twice, then they flew away into the glowing night sky of a modern age.

9:40 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Moonshine Rock Zombies Part One



I just wanted to be alone. After a rough week of verbal reprimands and car failures, the last things I needed were more faces and voices. I figured I'd try that old bullshit trick of running away from society, going back to nature, back to basics, just the essentials. You know, be one with the earth. Shun society. That's tough to do in this day and age, especially around here, but I'd take a half-hearted stab at it. Why not? I knew I wouldn't really be disappearing. I knew it would be a half-assed fool-myself "let's pretend" effort at ditching my troubles, but if was as decent a notion as any.

Yes indeedy, time to hide away. Time for a hike. I went to Busse Woods, a large forest preserve a few miles east of Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, IL. Busse Woods harbors a series of bicycle trails that weave around Busse Lake, through dense forest and wildflower plains, under highways and over streams. Although riddled by health freak power walkers, ache ass cyclists, and spandex clad rollerbladers, I expected to find there a measure of solitude to quiet my angst. If I could get good and lost in the forest, perhaps my mental exhaustion and stress-induced headaches would dissipate into the humid air like candy wrappers swallowed in a flash flood.

I was lost in contemplation watching the cracked paved path before me when I was struck by a bicycle. Two kids, helmetted, were swerving to and from each other, playfully attempting to knock the other off balance. They weren't looking ahead. I took a tire behind the knee and a handlebar swat to the ass before I skidded to the ground, gashing my arm. The kid flew right over me and bounced on the grass off the edge of the path. His buddy looped back. They apologized. I bade them to continue on their voyage. I wasn't angry, just a little sore. The fallen kid collected his bike. They both zoomed ahead.

I patched up my little arm scrape and told myself to get serious. I told myself to really go into the forest, not just mope along a man-made path like some vacant dolt imagining himself to be a wildlife show host. I turned to face the woods. In I strode, passing two tall trees on either side of me. They provided a gateway to the quiet shade of the forest.

I walked and walked, crossing light and shade, dirt and grass. The further I strayed from the prescribed path, the less I heard the whizzing of spokes, the scrape of rollerblade wheels, and the labored huffing of stiff walkers. After a while, I was alone but for leaves and insects. Occasionally I saw a deer furtively dart away from the sounds of my footfalls. Every once in a while I'd step over a weak little stream.

Overall, though, there just isn't much excitement in this forest. Busse Woods is a boring place as far as nature goes. It's surrounded by streets and commerce and suburban sprawl. It's more of a token forest blemish than anything truly wild or dangerous. My notion of a mental vacation was a sham. I knew better than to think I could find a grand escape here in this pathetic mob of trees.

Feeling defeated and depressed, I sat down against a mossy stump. My feet were taking a pounding from the uneven ground, and mosquitos were needling me. I needed a break. From my travel bag I grabbed a sandwich and a sodapop. I sat, I ate, I drank, and then I coated myself with bitter spray and hoisted myself back upright. Onwards I went, hoping to clear my mind of all the poisonous bullshit polluting my mental waters. I would make the best of this retarded exploration.

Two miles deeper into the weak woodland I came before a deep wide hole in the ground. A sinkhole from years past, now fertile with shrubbery and vines. The foliage looked undisturbed, unmolested by human litter like ice cream wrappers and toilet paper. It was just what I needed: an interesting and unique accident, a forgotten landmark hidden from humanity, but most of all, a place I could claim imaginary ownership over. My own special place. With delicate care I descended. Rings of collapsed earth provided stairs, each level progressively deeper towards the center of the sinkhole. Soon I reached the bottom.

I can't say it was a whole nother world down there. It was pretty much the same stuff I trudged through above, except ringed by dirt walls. Nonetheless, I meandered about the sunken recess looking for signs of the last human presence. I found it.

It reminded me of a glorified lemonade stand cobbled together by children: a rickety little shack, long worn by nature and moisture, decepit, nearly finished with its slow collapse into a pile of rotted wood. Both inside and out lay rusted metal tubs, wooden barrels, and cloudy glass bottles filled with stagnant rainwater. Old liquor bottles. As I sifted through the detritus, I came upon a sealed crate. I managed to wrench the lid open with my bare hands. The nails sealing it shut had long ago lost their grip on the weak mushy wood.

Sealed bottles of gin and whiskey sat within, a treasure trove of potent ancient moonshine. Had these sat here since the prohibition ended? Just afterwards, I decided. This secret operation had closed down as soon as alcohol became legal again, and the last deepwoods batch had been stamped for legal sale before it was abandoned. Not logical necessarily, but possible. Illinois tax stamps were still attached to each bottle. Al Capone's legal liquor.

It would be risky to drink booze fermented and distilled (hopefully) so long ago, but even if the contents were poison, the bottles themselves might fetch a pretty price on the antique circuit. I stashed as many in my bag as I could fit. I truly felt I had discovered something worthwhile.

I stumbled past a skull as I departed. It was human and clean. Perhaps I'd found the reason all this moonshine had been left here. This might be the owner before me, now just gleaming calcium. The rest of his skeleton was mostly buried by decades of dirt, but his arm still still stuck out from the ground. The bone hand was curled into a first apart from one finger. The index bone pointed to a dark wall at the edge of the sinkhole opposite from where I'd descended. Curious, I followed my silent guide. I had finally forgotten my mental whining.

The wall was fractured rock, brown and black. Where it met the dirt, a small opening promised a modest cave. Sunlight trickled down to the opening from above. All I could make out inside appeared to be a short stairway leading down into a rock cavern. My visual impression of the deeper cavern was vague, mere outlines, shadows and hints. My eyes told me of hundreds of stalagtite silhouettes, an army of dormant subterannean spires, soldiers at attention, dead, silent, and ominous.

"Hello?"

I expected no response. My voice echoed back to me, sounding huge. The hollow below was massive, a subterannean secret worthy of exploration and discovery. Right then I decided I would come back, prepared, and climb down for a better look. With flashlights and rope, cameras and film. My sinkhole, my cave, my underground vacation getaway.

Rumbling shook the air. From the gap in the rock came the sounds of pebbles rattling, rocks crashing, and then, a chorus: deep, low, monotone voices moaning from the deep blackness. "Urrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr." As the noise grew louder, the rumble increased until the ground shook. We don't get earthquakes in Illinois. This was nothing natural. It was supernatural. Birds cried and fled. Leaves fluttered from shaken trees. The moonshine shack finally gave in, collapsing into a sodden heap.

I stood peering into the dark gap. Frozen, watching, waiting.

Part Two: The Conclusion

2:09 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Dead Letter Shrapnel - Isabel

Newcomers: A couple months ago I began sending prank letters to friends. All the letters are from dead people. So far I've done Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley, Tupac Shakur, Dale Earnhardt, and Pope John Paul II. Today, it's Isabel "Weezy" Sanford from the Jeffersons. She died about a year ago. I haven't seen the show since I was little, so her voice may be way off in this. I don't care. I just did a snappy black mama with some extra vulgarity tossed in for good measure.

This letter is addressed to a girl I don't know, but who lives nearby. She's a friend of an internet friend. I hope it gets sent.


Return Address:
Isabel Sanford
Heaven

Addressee:
Lindsey ********
*** ******* ***
River Grove, IL *****

Dear Lindsey,

Listen up now child. We gotta straighten a few things out right quick before you wreck yo damn life. I'm Isabel mothafuckin' Sanford. Yes'm you heard that right. The actress. I played Weezy on All In The Family and then on my own damn show, the Jeffersons. Yes, MY show. Not Sherman Helmsley's show. That punk. He got a little dick and a big head. Anyhow. I may be dead, but that don't mean I cain't speak up and holler when you runnin' the train off the track.

Why you? Why not? God is one demanding mofo, and now he got our ass sending out Dear Abby type shit from heaven to persuade all you livin' folk to pony up and act like saints. We know that ain't gonna happen, but I gotta look busy, so that's why you're holdin my letter.

Honey, I was the last of seven children. I'm the only one that lived past 12 months old. So I know what a bad mother is. My momma fed me ant paste and sun-dried grass heaps till I was twelve. That's when I learned to steal milk from the grocery and run like hell. I fed my own damn self and got myself a job and a scholarship and a college education. I put myself on the theatre stage by my own damn self. You got tha nerve to be complainin' 'bout yo mama? Sheeit. Stop yellin' at her and get the woman a box a ice cream and you pipe down. You give the lady respect and you'll get it back. Got it? Good.

Not only is yo mama prolly a pretty decent lady, but she married yo daddy and made you, and together they give you a place to sleep. Go on, take it for granted. I'll bust yo ass for it up and down the block. You got a pool and food and prolly your roof don't leak. Spoiled ass white girl. Just because you got all them new neighbors peekin' and you can't tan with your pussy flappin in the breeze no more don't mean life is rough. Cuz I know rough, and that ain't rough. Though I never had to deal with tan lines. I was black.

You live on the corner. That's where all the folk come to jazz. Enjoy that shit. Be good, girl, or I'll haunt yo spoiled ass.

With love and stern whuppins,

Isabel "Weezy" Sanford
1:40 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Steal At Twice

"Hey! You want a home theater?"

He was hollering at me from the parallel lane on Grand Avenue. We were idling at the red light for Mannheim, a few miles south of O'Hare Airport. He drove a red Blazer and wore a white wifebeater and a backwards baseball cap. He looked like a hockey fan.

"How much?"

"I don't care! I got it from a job today." He looked over at somebody riding shotgun, and then back to me. "I'll take anything, man. We need to offload this shit for titty bar cash. I'm pulling into the Rio Valley shopping center up there. Follow me."

He was undoubtedly referring to All-Stars Gentlemen's Club in Northlake just a few miles west down Grand. In his perfect world, I'd follow him into the strip mall parking lot, fork over $500, then he and his buddy would cruise over to the titty bar in their skidmarked basketball shorts and score a knob rub or two before getting tanked on cheap beer and Jagermeister shots.

I drove into the parking lot and pulled into a spot. I ambled over to the red Blazer and asked for a peep at the goods. He popped the hatch open.

"I'm Eddie, an' that's Sal. Some rich old broad upgraded her shit and doesn't want this anymore. It's ours! But we don't need anymore fucking TVs, man. We work in A/V, you know? We just wanna hock this shit and go see some tight little asses wiggle. Know what I mean?"

He prodded my ribs with his elbow, apparently a signal of comraderie to indicate we're both members of a worldwide titty appreciation club. Which we are. Still, I found the forced friendliness suspicious.

"So what do we got here?"

"This big ass TV, speakers, stereo, pedestal, the works man. Even the wires. Name the price."

"Well, Eddie, I got a problem. See my car? No way can I haul all that. Plus, I live on the third floor. I also got no room for this stuff, even though I want it. And there's no way to test it all out first. You guys don't exactly offer a warranty, am I right?"

"Aw, come on bro, it's good shit. If you live close, we'll bring it there, help you haul it up, and help you check it out before we'll take your money. Square?"

Eddie glanced back at Sal, who was rubbing his fat chin, eyes flitting between me and my car. Sizing me up. Appraising my worth. Guessing how much liquid assets could be lifted from a dude like me. I looked from Sal's dubious facial hair and gold chains back to Eddie, who was clasping his hands and smiling like a used car salesmen.

"Sorry fellas, but it's not worth the trouble to me. Find yourselves somebody in a nicer car than mine. I live in a hot little shitheap with no space and noise sensitive neighbors. This stuff looks great, but it just ain't practical for me. Thanks anyways."

"Your loss, bud."

I left, wondering which elderly woman had been duct taped to a wheelchair while these fuckers stole her appliances, jewelry, and checkbook. I wondered what vacationing couple would return to a ransacked home, furniture torn and strewn. I wondered what gambling addict saved a few broken fingers by handing over his toys to his bookie's thugs.

I love Chicago.
10:27 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, August 08, 2005

Black Oaxaca Blues

I was suffering from severe dehydration and minor brain damage late Saturday morning when I peeled myself off the carpet and limped into the shower. I employed heaping gobs of translucent purple shampoo and hypoallergenic bar soap to powerwash away the encrusted scum coating my body: sweat, smoke, beer, and carpet fuzz. I exited feeling dumb and clean.

Unfed since late Thursday, I drove down to North Avenue and circled the commercial district by the horse track. There I sought sustenance to replenish my depleted vitamin reserves. One must remain stocked with vitamins, minerals, fats, and oils for one's internal energy factory to burn if one wishes to function within acceptable parameters. Realizing this, I eventually deposited myself within an undercrowded restaurant. I ate spinach and corn and bread and cheese. I went home intent upon laziness and labored breathing. I would not participate on Saturday. I would lounge.

My plan was not to be. I took a call midway through my afternoon of nothing. "Answer the phone, Steve. I know you're there. I'm buying grillables. There's a pool. On a roof! We have drugs! Answer the phone."

I'd been thinking negatively about this lifestyle all Saturday afternoon. My friends and I have been abusing substances as a method of making our lives interesting. The truth is, these drugs distract us from the fact that we're doing little and accomplishing nothing. We're just torching our energy, our ambition, our opportunities, and our futures. Our lives. In lieu of focusing individually, imposing self-discipline, setting goals, saving money, and advancing our careers, we're navigating dead ends, resigned to burnout, disappointment, and unfulfilled potential. We gave up. We're losers.

So naturally I accepted the invitation and scooted out to Schaumburg. Today's drug du jour was a perfectly legal substance sold in headshops. Ever since the advent of High Times magazine, enterprising burnouts have been growing fake marijuana and selling it via magazine ads to gullible idiots and young teenagers. Can't find a dealer? Buy Wizard Smoke! Smoke eleven home-rolled cigars and you'll feel mildy light-headed and heavily nauseated! A great buzz!

This dubious industry has evolved over the past several years, and now they're selling strange black chemicals dripped onto shredded kitchen spices. They soak parsley in bathtubs deep in the woods of Indiana, and once they've dried the flaky muck, they use eye droppers to add layers of hallucinogenic stain to the surface of the doomed soup garnish. They sell this stuff for forty bucks a gram. One hit of this oily "plant" and you're in heaven. If you believe that.

I allowed myself to be goaded into testing this crap while I was ensconed in the cramped passenger seat of a Hyundai. My mood shifted from zapped and slaphappy to itchy and annoyed. I wanted to simultaneously strangle everybody else in the car, itch all my skin off my body until my veins were crawling out my flesh, and jump out the car window into oncoming traffic. Then I began to notice I could feel every imperfection of the pavement passing below. I was no longer riding in a car. I was strapped to the inside of a soup can, and a very angry giant was kicking it along the curb. I was going to die.

It was horrible. Normally when the colors go bright and grainy and the air fills with aquatic noises, I'm tripping happily, filled with childlike fascination watching even the simplest things. Not with this stuff. I was hollow, my skin was striking sulphur, and each and every one of my pores opened wide and started squeezing out the slick clear oil of fear.

"What the fuck is this?"

"Salvia Divinorum. Sally D. Oaxacan healers use it for supernatural travel and spirit healing. That was the 20x potency. Very strong. Great stuff."

"It's fucking evil. I feel like somebody scraped me hollow and filled me with pop rocks."

"Really? I love it. Makes me trip for ten or fifteen minutes, real smooth, easy comedown."

"We must have different body chemistries, because it turned me into a dancing skeleton. I'm ready to stab my ears with shish kebab skewers and pop my eyes out with a grapefruit spoon."

"You just need more. Here, burn another one."

"If you say so."

My body caught fire. Red hot irons danced up and down my skin. Nerve endings curled in shock. My feet became inexplicably soaked. The food I'd eaten alchemized into granite, locking my innards tight. I sweated more. I was going to die.

Finally, we arrived at our destination. Sweet sweet relief. I jumped out the damn car. The demons drowned when I finally leapt into the pool. I stayed in the water for an hour. My humanity re-arrived.

To be fair to the drug, it's a lot different if you smoke marijuana first. (Yes I tried it again, in a different setting.) Try it sober, though, and out come the wolves. Brutal.
12:00 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, August 05, 2005

Before My Mastery

"Here. Eat this."

"I hate mushrooms."

"These are special."

"Okay. If you say so. Here goes nothin'."

I ate two handfuls of dry spongy mushrooms. The stems were fuzzy and the caps were tinged with gold. The taste was akin to soggy tree bark. Yes, I've eaten bark. Very earthy and unpleasant. After washing down the nastiness with warm flat beer, I excused myself from the campsite.

"I'm gonna go find a nice place to drop a deuce. I'll be back soon."

"Don't wipe with poison ivy, boy scout!"

Half a mile deep into the woods, I found a stream and followed it. Call me Magellan. Truth is, I always wanted to shit down a waterfall. I would've settled for an overflowed beaver dam. I walked creekside for a while until I found the perfect spot. It was four feet tall, and to my mind, quite a find. Murky brownish water gurgled lazily down the modest incline. I dropped trou and squatted, one boot on the bank and the other on a flat rock protruding from the stream. My ass relaxed and a formidable mixture of liquids and solids escaped in frenzied staccato bursts like a seizure ridden epileptic working a caulking gun.

"Ploonk.... pa-ploonk." The stream swallowed my refuse. I stood halfway up and bent over, looking between my legs, my eyes following a happy floating turd to the edge of the incline, where it fell four feet from grace down to the resumption of the moving waterway.

I wiped with benign foliage and hiked my pants back up to my waist. Zipped, buttoned. Excellent. I turned and walked upstream whence I came. I was halfway back when the shrooms began to tug at my peripheral vision. Pixies, sprites, gnomes, leprechauns, and tribal pygmies darted to and fro at the edges of my sight. They all refused to remain still, and each time I whipped my head about to catch a full glimpse of one, the elusive little creature would dart behind a bush. My neck grew sore with whiplash.

"Alright you fuckers. Daddy's having midget eskimo skewers for dinner tonight! Watch out! I'll pounce upon thee with glorious abandon! Hi-yahhhh!"

Three hours later my friends found me. They'd been searching with flashlights for a long time. They found me covered in mud hopping about like a frog, stabbing holes in the earth.

"I think I got one. Finally!"

"Steve, get up man. Come back to the campfire."

I switched to LSD after that.
12:00 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Creeping Momentum Part Two




I've been staring at this moldy growth for a week now. On and off, you know, when Jeopardy isn't on television. My hand is growing numb in spots. The pads of my fingers, the webbing next to my thumb. The sensitive places. I've considered removing this second skin. I could scrape it off with a razor. I could douse it with alcohol. Even light it on fire. There's probably a thousand remedies for spore growth on human skin. Hell, it might even peel right off. Like Elmer's glue.

Thing is, I really like it. My mold grows very, very slowly. Each day a millimeter here, a millimeter there. It's patient. Lazy. Like me. I think I'll let it continue, even though it might eat me. I'm okay with that.

-----

It's been two weeks since it spread to my elbow. My entire right arm is green now, and the carpet is growing thicker. There's new cities of industrious green sprouting under my toenails, in my ear canal, and at my hairline. It's changing from regular mold to a furry moss. My couch is getting it, too. This stuff will consume this whole room eventually. I'm staying.

-----

It's been three days since I masturbated. I used my right hand. It felt great. So great. My hand was completely numb, and my motor control was poor. It felt like somebody else was jerking me off. Somebody clumsy, with no dexterity and a fuzzy hand. I made a new kind of sex! The moss is soft, but it's alive, too, so the fibrous caresses did more than brush and stimulate. Little fuzzy knobs of moldy moss wriggled into my skin with every stroke, playing each nerve tip like the strings of a harp. It transcended any sex I ever had with my ex-wife. That's for sure. I was stuck in orgasm for three or four minutes. No way am I killing my lovely shell now. My decision is set. I love nature.

-----

It's difficult to move. That's okay, I never liked moving anyways. Soon, I'll be completely still. In joy. My whole body is coated. Different colors now, too. I must look like the most intricate topiary ever sculpted. I can't shut my eyes anymore. The recurring growth on the surface of my left eyeball keeps slipping off when my tear duct squeezes out a few drops. It's making my cheek lumpy. My mouth tastes like old milk and batteries. I can't reach for the gin bottle anymore. I don't really mind. I'm not that thirsty right now. I have a tummyache.

-----

ggggglllll rrrrrrrrssskkkkkkkkzzzzzxx........
12:35 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Creeping Momentum Part One



I've been drinking for a long time now. Whiskey, vodka, gin, rum, you name it. Beer too. Lots and lots. There's not much worth doing when you're drunk and alone. I watch television, mainly. Some days I watch game shows. I can guess the price of most any exotic vacation, decipher "Sacramento" with all the consonants missing, and tell you the names of all of Louis XIII's wives. I could rip serious shit if I were a contestant. Other days, I watch Telemundo. I can't understand what the people are saying, but they all have nice tans and full eyelashes. I kinda like their music too. All those trumpets. Don't tell anyone.

Alcohol inspires my lethargic torpor. Laziness is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, I like to think it takes a special kind of person to truly appreciate the still grace I evoke by refraining from unnecessary movement. I move very, very little. So when, you ask, do I actually deign to engage in movement? On several occasions daily, even I must crack a can, pop a bottle, light a smoke, and twist the flush handle. But even these simple actions I perform with limp resignation. I do not allow my muscles to tense any more than needed. I am the human equivalent of a slug. The very personification of economy of exertion. All my heavy lifting is done in my mind, usually in conversations with myself. Like now.

My beer and booze is delivered weekly. I order takeout when I need to eat, which, in all honesty, is less and less often as time goes by. I'm learning to subsist on drinkables. Potato chips and greasy pizza and slimy kung pao don't sit well in a stomach lubricated by vermouth. I'm slowly losing weight, and I don't mind. I spend less energy moving that way.

I haven't bathed in several months. At first, I felt oily and dirty. I've since grown accustomed. My skin is shiny now. Healthy even, though pale. My robe has undergone a similar transformation. Before it was fuzzy and bright. Now it is smooth, drab, and matted down. By far the most comfortable garment I've ever worn. It's all I wear now. It hangs limp from my relaxed shoulders, a perfect complement to my elegant indolence. I rarely tie the waist.

My home is also tired. I don't waste time by cleaning the walls, vaccuuming the carpet, scrubbing the toilet, or any other such trivial pursuit. The sheer effort required for upkeep is far too daunting to contemplate, and like I told my mother decades ago, it'll just get dirty again. So I let nature intrude. I think it's a more honest way to measure the passage of time than The Price Is Right.

Dark green mold spores have grown on the wall behind my television, fueled by the cold wet air that mopes up the coast from the ocean. Over the past several months I've seen the slow blossomming from freckles to patches to spirals to fractals. Now the wall is mostly covered in mossy stubble. Sometimes I use my fingers to paint landscapes in it. This is one small concession to unnecessary movement that I allow myself. It feels compulsive. I'm not sure why I feel compelled to stand up and trace forgotten scenes into the mold, but it feels right.

Well, I'm growing concerned about it now. I'll admit. It's growing on me now. Not the action of drawing pictures, nor the movement required to create them. I could never grow fond of movement. You can see that. No, what's grown on me is my timekeeping mold. It started on my index finger and spread. Now my entire right hand is coated dark fuzzy green, and it's climbing up my arm. Streaks have appeared on my wrist. They look like water seepage on a basement wall. Smells like it, too.

I'm worried.
12:00 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, August 01, 2005

Volcano Hemorrhage

My world is a little bit off kilter this morning. I feel funny. Not funny in a laughing way, but funny like tall people in small cars, dog poop sprinkled with glitter, or a beautiful woman who smells like urine. Eyebrow-raising slightly disturbing quirky type of funny.

I want to write several stories I thought about this past weekend. One is about using the metal guardrail in the center of the highway to self-administer the Heimlich maneuver after getting a watermelon flavored candy stuck in my throat. Another is about a Mormon with a fondness for heavy metal and public masturbation. Another would be about getting depressed and eating hot sun-melted chocolate bars while taking a dump. Lots of good smellplay to work with in that one.

Maybe tomorrow. I really just want to take a nap right now. I spent my weekend abusing drugs I can't afford. I was wiggling my pinkie in my nose on Saturday night while in the throes of a heavy coke binge, and I sliced open my corroded nasal skin. I let the blood run for five minutes onto my hands and wrists before I cleaned myself off and stuffed my nostril with toilet paper. Fortunately the other side of my nose was still in operating condition. I couldn't feel the beer or the bourbon, but I'm pretty sure they put me to sleep around noon on Sunday.

So my blood is weak and diluted today, my synapses are charred, and I have no energy to accomplish something as simple as bending a paperclip out of shape. In addition to this weakened disposition, I have another problem. I thought freezerburned spicy bean burritos would make a good breakfast. Standing in the gas station this morning, I opened the glass freezer door to inhale some chilled vapory air when I spied the spice-o-meter on the plastic wrapper. The cartoon thermometer was bursting, and a spicy pepper was jumping from the exploding mercury atop the illustration. "WARNING! ULTRA-HOT!" it proclaimed. I should've known better.

So instead of writing a clever little story this morning, I'll just ask you to picture a stewpot filled with my cokey clumpy noseblood and the greasy spicy orange foam that's going to boil out of my ass later today.

Sorry.
9:36 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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stg-shark