Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Crack Funky


"Yo! Yo, dawg! Hold up!"

I slammed my car door and rolled down the window. I'd just left the liquor barn on Irving Park Road and I was gearing up for a big night. It was time to wage a war against depression. My car was about to explode, my finances were fucked, and I'd just bought a massive jug of $8 wine and a bottle of fizzy Mandarin Jarritos to wash down the ephedrine pills that were gathering dust in the armrest.

"What's up?"

"What's that shit you poppin?"

"Trucker speed."

"So that's the shit keep yo blood warm and you like 'yee-yee-yee!'" To accompany his sound effects, he pantomimed a hyperactive beaver gnawing on a log.

"You got it. It's a cheap alternative to real drugs. Perfect for an ugly Tuesday like today."

"Real drugs? Man, I'll git you some real mahfuckin drugs, dawg."

"Yeah?"

"Whatchoo do?"

"Coke, usually."

"You ever smoke them rocks?"

"Not often. I hadn't for... let's see here, three years until last Saturday. I got a bit carried away over the weekend, I guess."

"I got both, my nigga. You got a pen?"

"Yeah, just a sec."

"Naw, forget it, here." He pulled a tiny blue slip of paper from a compartment in his wallet and handed it to me. Scrawled upon it was DAVE 847-(Internet Edit).

"Cool man. You around here or what? I got a dealer by Woodfield and a few in Chicago."

"Right here, dawg, I stay at Marrs Court, right over there." He pointed.

"I'll hit you up."

"What's all that in the backseat- Punisher?"

He was referring to the piles of classified ads, comic books, literary journals, empty antifreeze jugs, wire spools, and a pillow of a rollerskate I made in 7th grade home ec. My car was a mess. Still is.

"Can I see that?"

I handed him a Punisher comic, one I got signed by the writer, Garth Ennis, at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund table a few years back at the Chicago Wizard World show.

"Aw, this ain't the movie. Damn. Got any movies?"

All I had was a copy of Silver City. I gave it to him. "Here, check this out. It's no high powered action thriller like The Punisher, but it's an okay flick. It makes fun of President Bush, so I got a kick out of it. Enjoy."

"I can have this?"

"Yeah. I buy $5 movies on sale all the time. No big deal. Take it."

"Aw cool, thanks! Hit me up dawg!"

"You know I will."

I probably won't. I buy my cocaine from real Mexican drug lords. If I ever need some crack? Maybe.
9:19 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Addiction Fiction Part Four



Since I always believed what evangelists told me, I really expected to see a bright light, followed by either a booming voice inviting me to step forward, or a mangy hippy named Jesus to seize me by the wrist and drag me to the pearly gates.

Those television miracle men are full of shit. Let me be the first to murder your assumptions. Okay, maybe you're smarter than I, and you already figured all that out. Since I choose to consider myself a trailblazer in the realm of spritual discovery, I'm gonna stubbornly insist I'm the first person to return with concrete answers. I'm back to kill speculation with hard fought true death experience.

Something did happen after the rats gnawed me open. I died, of course. You know that. My spirit did not float upwards. I saw no light. There was no heaven. Well, there might be. I chose the first option. Let me explain.

It was like a three card monty game. I had to choose one of three options. The cards (more like cowbells) rung and glimmered on a low resolution Atari screen. I was disembodied, corporeal, a floating notion.

No, not exactly. My existence was... shit, this is tough to describe. I was a ping pong ball in a slingshot, and I got to decide which direction to sling. Bell one, two, or three. A little girl's voice floated to me on a nonexistent breeze. She said:

"One bell will send you back whence you came! One bell will send you to the next place! One bell will wipe you away! Go ring a ding a ling! Tee hee!"

The fucking bells weren't labelled. So I shot for the first one, and I got sent back to earth. How come more people didn't get the resurrection bell? Maybe I was special. Maybe I was Jesus.

Nope.

I woke in the same body I left. I didn't start breathing again. I didn't heal. I just awoke. My flesh was soggy and bloated where it still clung to my bones. My finger meat had been nibbled away by maggots, rats, and possibly homeless children. In the time since my death, my body had drifted from the sewer tunnel down to the bank of the Des Plaines River, where it lodged in the brackish mud. I was half-submerged in greenish muck. It was soft.

I sat up. "Aw fuck, I stink." I tried to say that. What I got was a huge slimy wad of murky water, algae, and necrotized flesh. It wobbled down my disintegrating tongue when I tried to speak and weakly tumbled from my mouth. It landed in my lap with a weak "thoock."

"Damn." I tried to say that, but my jaw unhinged on one side and dangled. I tried to snap it back shut, but before I got the chance, a strong wind blew it off. It sunk in the river. This was not going well. How was I going to murder every rodent on Planet Earth if I kept melting?

I felt a rumble inside. Yes! My renewal must be starting. I would rejuvenate! I would become a normal pink person again! Resurrection time! Good, because K-Mart would never sell me guns and ammunition if I was green, grey, and dead all over.

The gut percolation tickled. It felt nice.Then I felt an itch under my ribcage. Strange, and not pleasant. I poked my stomach with my sharp index fingertip and it went through my belly like a spoon through pudding. Ooo.

My tummy exploded and a horde of baby rats stumbled out, wailing and hairless. Their parents had been fucking and birthing in my ribcage, and my waking had aroused them. That tickle was no cell regeneration like I'd hoped. It was just more goddamn rats. I tried to stand up and do the hokey pokey to shake them all out, but the sodden cartilage gluing my bones together gave way, and I disintegrated into a pile of foul death. Worm food.

How depressing. Then I was back at the bells.

I might write a completely different part four and turn this into a Choose Your Own Adventure story. I might just slog ahead to part five. I have no idea.
3:14 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, November 18, 2005

Fetus Juggling 101

Wriggling sperm salmon their way upstream, and one out of a million gets to fuck its way into the egg and start some serious cell dividing. Nine months later... well, you know the story. (I hope.)

Go ahead, poop out more troublesome brats onto my filthy planet. Let 'em mutate and morph into teenagers, then adults. We need more bipeds clogging the arteries of society like brokedown cars in the center lane. Be my guest. That's how I got here, after all. Go fuck your brains out, I won't take it personally.

Is your weekend a sacred time to revel? Relax and unwind? Is it your own personal time when you get to do absolutely anything you damn well please? It is for me. Until recently.

I live with two people. One is about to start getting mail from the AARP. She just had her second grandchild, and her daughter has taken a weekend night job. How does this impact me? Well, she's the babysitter. For the last three weekends, she's had a newborn infant and a six year old polluting my living space. They arrive at dinnertime on Friday and depart midday on Sunday.

I can't turn up my music. I can't smoke cigarettes in the house. I can't drink and fart and be noisy and happy. I don't feel welcome in my own home during my sacred weekend. It's horrible. So I leave. Just like I will tonight.

Selfish, you say? You betcha. Don't get me wrong. I don't begrudge granny her right to see her kin. That's absolutely fine. Do I wish she could do this at her daughter's house, which is far cleaner, quieter, and a better environment for children? Yes, I do. They warned me the first two weeks this was scheduled to occur. They didn't this time. I got here loaded for bear with two packs of smokes, a 30 pack of Old Style, and a desperate desire to get wrecked.

Cancelled.

Now I have to beg my friends for a crash pad. Now I have to loiter elsewhere as a guest. I love my friends. Love hanging out with them. But I need some solo time. I karaoke alone, read alone, masturbate alone, practice Satanism alone, things like that. I'm going through withdrawal. It wouldn't be so bad if my buddies were the types to chill out at home on a Friday, but they aren't. They go out to nightclubs, bars, loft raves, anywhere they want. I'm stuck with whatever itinerary they have lined up. Considering I have an early phone shift tomorrow, I need to be unconscious by two a.m. The best I can hope for now is sunrise. Oh yeah, that all costs me precious money, too. This is the third weekend I'm a captive of forces outside of my control.

Am I pissed off? Oh yeah. But I know it's my fault I'm in this situation. I realize that. So I'm gonna fix it. Time to move. Soon. Very soon.

City proper, look out, 'cause here I come.

As for kids? Terrible monsters. Until I have some. Then I'll gladly tell you they're God's special little angels, full of light. And I don't even believe in God.

Have a nice weekend. You fuckers.
4:34 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Mugger Anna & The Liquid Pumpkin


Dateline: 1:15 pm. Wednesday, November 16th, 2005 (a true story romance)

"Can I leave early today?"

"Sure, when?"

"Like, now?"

"Yeah, get lost. I've gotta get rid of you early sometime this week anyways. I'm gonna get in trouble for giving you all that overtime last week.

"See you tomorrow."

I sped home with a mission on my mind. I needed things. In order to procure them, I'd need my checkbook. It was the essential tool I required to bounce a check at the supermarket.

The grocery store is sparsely populated in the middle of a weekday afternoon. Blue haired crones wobbled before the dairy selections, clutching their carts for support, squinting at the labels, desperately seeking full cream unpastuerized milk. Sorry Ethel, farmstyle doesn't pass the FDA requirements anymore. Gnaw some butter sticks instead. Your dentures can handle it.

Tired floppyhaired middleaged housewives in sweatpants moped through the potato chip aisle, long ago conditioned to tune out the mewling of their bouncing brats. As they plodded along, fleshy knobs of cellulite jiggled above their knees like fishing lures on a pond. Their slumped shoulders and dead eyes were a dazzling showcase of tired dejected defeat.

Midday is also the designated cleanup time for stockboys. Today's busywork was particularly brutal: Two guys had to move a massive Pepsi display tower to scrape and mop encrusted soda from the tiles beneath. The smell reminded me of a boy scout camp latrine. Somehow that old Pepsi had festered down there until it transformed into putrid brown enamel. One of the stockboys had a paint scraper, the other a mop. They took turns at it: Scrape, mop, scrape, mop, awakening the gunk, unleashing an unappetizing olfactory hazard upon unsuspecting passers by.

The only other odor in the supermarket that came close to being that offensive was the pet supply aisle, which I happened to traverse to reach the checkout lanes. With detergent opposite the cat litter, my nose was severely conflicted. Downy fresh, cat's anus. Tide spring breeze, dog breath. Dear God. I'll never own a pet that lives outside of a glass box.

After I'd purchased (so to speak) my bounty of Triscuits and pizza, I decided to treat myself to an overpriced cup of foamy sludge. Yep, you got it. The Starbucks kiosk by the exit. I justified this to myself by way of the weather: Today is Chicago's first day below freezing, and the gale force winds were stripping skin off my face each time I ventured outdoors. Normally, I prefer the burned black tar they serve at gas stations, not the frou frou psuedo-exotic diaper scoopings Starbucks cheerfully unloads on yuppies.

I ordered a pumpkin spice latte. I wish you could hear the sneer in my voice upon the pronunciation of latte. My sole concession to pride was that I described my desired size as "big-ass," not the silly Italian signifier they put up on the menu. And I'm a liberal!

Standing at the serving counter chatting with the clerk was a pretty blond-haired blue-eyed girl buried under heavy winter garb. She looked vaguely familiar, yet I was sure we'd never met before. Could she be the girl on Myspace.com who lives in my town? The girl I used to message with a few months back? My imaginary sweetheart?

I collected my beverage and turned for another peek, but she was fleeing out the revolving door. Damn. So I went outside to stow my groceries and continue my quest. Second target: Wilco's new live album, Kicking Television. I've been dreaming about it since it hit the shelves last Tuesday. My burning desire. Sad, I know. Shut up.

When I got outside, she was running away across the parking lot. Odd. I set my piping hot pumpkin spice Starbucks sugarbomb atop my car and tossed my groceries into the passenger side footwell. Then I saw her again. She was sprinting back to Dominicks Finer Foods now. Odder yet. I pulled my door shut and reversed out of my spot and drove towards the lane in front of the store to leave. There she was, next to the pop machines, smoking a cigarette. The pop machines sheltered her from the wind, along with her all-black getup, including a black skullcap. She looked like a mugger. A really sweet, angelic, pixie-like mugger, but a mugger nonetheless.

I stared at her as I slowly rolled by. She saw me, I'm sure. There's no way my gawking had passed unnoticed. That's when the coffee drink on top of my car toppled backwards, exploding on the back windshield and the rear passenger window. Glaciers of tan mud began freezing to my car immediately. I was simultaneously mortified and intensely amused. Only me, folks. Had she seen this? I hope so.

I was already cursing myself for not having the guts to approach her and ask: Is that you? Are you Anna? The Anna? In my mind, a repeated litany: "chickenshit chickenshit CHICKENfuckingSHIT!"

Then, an imaginary scenario in my mind: If I'd slowed down, would the drink have nailed her? Or better yet, if I'd gotten out of my idling car to talk to her, would it have landed on my head? That'd be a hell of a romantic was to say hello. First impressions are important, you know. No amount of sexy stubble would've saved me there.

Believe it or not, this event put me in a great mood. Let's face it, it's good material. I never pass on an opportunity to publicly humiliate and self depricate myself. I'm my own best dartboard. I was giddy and smiling the whole time I was in the Best Buy at Harlem Irving Plaza getting my Wilco CD. I even made out with it when I grabbed it off the rack, leaving a sheen of bubbly saliva all over the cellophane. The clerk wiped her hands on her pants after she slipped the slobbery package into the yellow bag. Gave me an odd look, too. I'm getting used to that.

I wonder if maybe-Anna saw my coffee mishap. I wonder if that was her cavorting about the parking lot. If it was? Well...

Anna, my darling, we'll always have Starbucks.
4:49 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, November 14, 2005

Addiction Fiction Part Three



Torrents of rabid rodents overtook me. They didn't pause to notice the latest obstacle before them was moving in the same direction, was breathing, or that it was covered in fecal war paint. They didn't notice, that is, until I freaked out and tried to swipe them off my body.

The effort was futile. For every crimson eyed turd factory I knocked away, seven clawed onto me, using my clothing, hair, and skin for purchase. Rats have claws. Little claws, but claws nonetheless. They slipped through my skin and hooked around capillaries, tugging them out, speckling me with blood welts.

I thought I'd freaked out when they first reached me. As their numbers swelled, I lost my composure even further. I abandoned my quest to leave the tunnel, and to remove them from my blood speckled body, choosing instead to attack as many rodents as possible. I tore one from me and squeezed it until its entrails exploded from its anus. I screamed with feral joy. I smashed another against the concrete, collapsing its fragile skull. It sounded like an egg cracking. I bit another that had the gall to traipse across my lips. It rewarded me with a high quiet tiny little scream. I spat him out and laughed. I have to admit, I was enjoying myself.

I always thought rats were cutthroat vagabond pirates. You know, mammalian mercenaries, with no allegiance to each other. Every rat for itself. Cut granny's throat for a stale anchovy. Mean little bastards.

As it turns out, there exists within rat society the concepts of solidarity, teamwork, and perhaps even love. Maybe it's just some sort of genetic preservation instinct. I don't know. What I can tell you with certainty is this: when threatened, they can and will ally together. In unison they'll assault the threat upon their peers' safety.

That's what they did. They stopped fleeing the rising tide of brackish sewage to nibble me to death. Smart little fuckers went straight for my eyes. Sadly, the thin little membranes known as lids offered little protection from their needletip incisors. I managed to swat them off for a few moments, but once they found their way into my poopy pants, all I could do was whip my head to and fro to protect my eyes. My hands were busy with more important matters: I thrust them into my shorts in an effort to save my flaccid penis and my tender testicles. I was in trouble.

What can I say? They got me. They got me good. Sure, I took a few with me, but that's hardly a consolation. Killing a few rats isn't exactly much to brag about in the afterlife. Like, say, genocide, war crimes, or engineering biological weapons. No trumpeted fanfare awaited me, nor any army of tortured souls crooning with glee at my arrival, all victims fallen at my hands.

Oh yeah, the concrete tunnel. And the rats. Well, there isn't much left to tell about that. Once I lost my eyesight, I know there was a lot of flailing, wailing, and convulsing. Bleeding, too. They took crumb sized pieces of me, one morsel at a time, I suppose, until I died or the stormwater rose too high for them and they were washed away. Hell, maybe the water killed me instead of the rats. I can't say for sure. It's all a blur, and then darkness. The last thing I smelled was shit. I wish it was cocaine. I wonder if they found that.

To be continued. (Yes, really.)
7:25 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, November 11, 2005

Addiction Fiction Part Two



I stomped along the muddy bank of the Des Plaines River until I found the drainpipe. Long before, city workers had barred it shut with an iron grate to keep animals from nesting and retarded children from wandering in to paint the concrete wall with hand-wiped creamy feces. Now it was rusty, and I had no trouble bending it open with a hammer. I clicked on my flashlight and traveled forth, hunching over as the pipe narrowed. Soon I was on my knees.

The gurgling trickles of water amplified within the narrow confines, echoing and percolating. I felt like a lump of milkshake stuck in a straw until I passed underneath the street. There I felt like a battery in a vibrator. Then I reached the other side of street, nearer to my littered stash, away from traffic. Milkshake, vibrator, milkshake, cocaine.

There it was, dry and unmolested. I scooped up the baggie and gave it a little kiss. "Oh my darling! I've come around the mountain!" I untied the little knot and scooped out a grainy pile of powder with my overlong pinky nail. Inhale, up the chute. I licked my pinky and got it all slobbery with saliva before jamming it up my nostril. The spit would help break down the uncrushed boulders velcroed to my nosehairs, allowing them to liquefy and seep into my bloodstream.

People who don't use cocaine are unaware that the first couple lines accelerate the last stop on the digestive train. Moments after my ecstatic exhalation of post snort joy, I felt a familiar rumble and squeak from down below. I had leprechauns with billy clubs pounding away on the inside of my sphincter, desperate to squeeze out and splash into a porcelain basin. Unbeknownst to my insistent little fecal goblins, I was not sitting on a toilet. I was laying on my side in a puddle of mud and leaves underneath the street, doing drugs, listening to the thunder.

Thunder? Was that lightning I just saw flash through the grate? Yes indeed. Water was falling from the sky, and it was puddling on lawns and curbs and idle windshields, washing away the accumulated scum of pollution and erosion. Washing the world and flushing it all into the sewer, where I lay jacked up and desperate to poo.

I quickly began to crab crawl backwards. Time to go wash off, do more coke, slug cheap beer, and karaoke old Wilco songs with prominent banjos. I shimmied and snaked back towards the river, mindful to keep my quivering butthole tightly clenched. Sure, these ratty old duds were already ruined, but they were just dirty on the outside. Splattering my jockeys from the inside would add a whole new level of discomfort to this subterranean expedition.

I wasn't going to make it in time. I realized that sad truth and decided an evasive maneuver was needed. I had enough stretch room in the tunnel to unbuckle my belt, undo my zipper, and shuck my pants off down to the knees. So I did and relaxed my posterior clench. Relief exploded in the form of abstract brown sludge spraying noisily in several directions, a kaleidoscope of wet brown shrapnel speckling the concrete, or splashing into the shallow stream of water, sinking like depth charge duds.

I should've known better than to eat nothing but Spaghetti O's with Taco Bell sauce for two days straight. That's what happens when you budget more for illegal confections than actual sustenance. One day you're in a 7-11 looking for price tags that read 49 cents, and the next day you end up half-naked in the sewer, dripping with spicy shit.

I made a mistake. I should've held that blast inside. I had no way to wipe, and now the mess was in my path. I still had to crawl through my gleaming feces to escape the sewer. I should've done it with my pants still on and endured the rest of my journey with a couple cans worth of moist Purina in my shorts. Now it would be streaked all over me.

I pulled my pants back up to my waist, cringing as my garments smeared my excrement, causing the cloth to stick to me. Poo is glue, I discovered. I reached into my pocket and took the cocaine back out, and I served myself another helping.

The thunder began to crack with increasing frequency, and the rain increased to a torrential downpour. Bad news. Time to flee, and think no more of the bog turtles in my way, those angry sludge turtles I'd evicted from my hiney without proper legal notice.

I got moving. Water poured into the pipe from the storm drain up the line from me. The water level began to rise, and I became nervous. That's when I heard the chittering. Something else was in these sewers, desperate to escape the rising tide just like me. I shone my flashlight and saw them, at least a hundred, scampering towards me with red eyes, mangy brown fur, and chirpy panic. Rats.

Sorry, but this story is not over. Yes, there's more due.
2:36 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Addiction Fiction Part One



"You've gotta cut this shit out, Steve. You're gonna wreck your life."

"Thanks, Mom."

"I'm fuckin serious, man. That shit turns you into a loudmouth asshole, burns up all your money, and you never stop sniffling. People are gonna start thinking you've got mono."

"Look, here's how it is. I do this shit every other weekend, sometimes two weeks in row, but I rarely, if ever, snort two days in row, and I sure as shit never buy it two days in a row. I have it under control. It's strictly recreational. Not a habit."

"Yeah, but it seems like you're doing it more and more. You gotta slow down at least. I'll stage an intervention on your ass if you don't chuck the monkey."

"Aw go fuck yourself. I've laid down rails with you before, so get off the soapbox. You're being an asshole and a hypocrite."

"Well, I have some self-control."

"So do I! I'm not gonna let coke take me over and pull me down. I've used crack and heroin and I'm not a crackhead or a junkie, am I?"

"Yeah Steve, but you didn't like those drugs."

"True. But c'mon. Ease off. Relax."

"Nah. I don't think so. This is gonna piss you off, but I'm doing it for your own good."

Freddie grabbed my little baggy off the coffee table and raced out the front door. I followed him, screaming and furious. He beat me to the storm drain and dropped my fun through the iron grid.

"You... you.. motherfucker!" I slugged him one on the jaw, good and square. He reeled and grabbed a tree branch to keep upright.

"Needed doing, bud. One day you'll thank me." He wiped a trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth.

I looked down the sewer, heartbroken and twitchy. There it was, sitting atop a pile of soggy autumn leaves. Water slipped by calmy, but the leaves were taller than the current and they weren't drifting. I hatched a sad little plan in my mind. I knew how to get down there. I could walk in through the outflow over by the Des Plaines River and follow it under the street back towards my apartment. Eventually I'd have to crawl once the concrete tube narrowed, and I'd likely get slathered in nasty muck, but I wasn't about to let $150 of high grade cocaine wash away because my friend got struck with an sudden case of the goody two shoes.

"Get the fuck out of here, Freddie. Really. I'm serious. Leave. I'm gonna drown my sorrows in whiskey and I don't want your company. Fuck off and join the PTA or something. Leave me alone. Get out of here before I decide to knock your fucking block off."

I stalked inside and slammed the door behind me. Time to find a flashlight and some shitty old clothes.

I'll finish this whenever I fucking feel like it. I'm busier than a dominatrix at a rodeo clown convention. So be patient.
9:30 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, November 07, 2005

Electronic Kleenex



"Dad! Long time no speak. How are you?"

"Well, you know. I'm getting by. Things are loud and crazy here as usual. Bob had another heart attack. I don't think he's coming back. John got nailed for alimony, so he's broke. He might get evicted. You know, the usual stuff."

"Glorious life in a halfway house."

"You got it."

"So how is work?"

"Boring. Really fuckin boring."

"Auto parts aren't as fun as microchips, are they?"

"Not at all. I miss selling all that fancy shit to semiconductor people and pinball manufacturers, but at least I have a clean conscience."

"Clean consciense? What's wrong with microchips? I thought you lost Lockheed as a customer long before the electronics reseller industry collapsed. You told me the whole stealth bomber thing fell apart in like, 1997. I think."

"I'm not talking about the government. I'm talking about private industry. Remember when I told you about the gas station bathrooms?"

"How could I forget? You said your chips would go into air fresheners, and when a detector smelled trucker poo, the chip would tell the thing to wheeze out some noxious flowery mist to mask the olfactory pollution. I think you called it intelligent stinkproofing. As I recall, I disagreed with that name and insisted on 'The Magical Poo Blanket.'"

"Yeah, that sounds more like one of your phrases, but you got the right idea. Hold on, I need to pour myself another.

"Okay, I'm back. I was only joking about a clean conscience. I wouldn't really be bothered by helping technology spread more into household items, but I do think it's creepy to have a chip in a toothbrush."

"Oh yeah! I saw that commercial. The thing has a timer on it. It beeps and makes a little smiley face if you brush for the whole dentist recommended two minutes."

"It's worse than that. It's called the Oral B Triumph. Not only will it time your brushing, but it measures the force with which you brush, and indicates when a new brush tip is needed."

"It measures the force? How the fuck does that work?"

"I'm not sure, Steve. I think it has a pressure sensor of some sort. I'm just wondering if it has a satellite uplink to the dentist. I already thought it was weird getting birthday postcards from the dentist, but what if he called because your toothbrush was only getting used once a day? How would you like that? Maybe he could even do cartoon voices for plaque and cavities and have them whisper things like 'We're digging, we're coring, we're feasting on your enamel!'"

"Jesus, Dad. You're beginning to sound cracked out and crazy like... like... well... me!"

"I'm just waiting for carpet that cries because it hasn't been vacuumed. What'll they think up next?"

"Dad, you'll love this. Garbage cans. There's a McDonalds in Schaumburg that has this garbage can. It's in the kitchen, not the washroom, prolly so it won't freak out the seniors gingerly sipping from their discount coffees. Anyways, this thing has an electronic voice. It says things like 'I am open!' and 'I am almost full!'"

"Bullshit! Now you're just putting me on."

"No, I swear, this fuckin thing is real. It's a compactor, too. When it's compacting it won't open. It says 'I'm not ready.' This thing speaks whenever somebody gets close. It has a proximity sensor on it, Dad. It's sick and wrong. I'm just waiting for it to start screaming things like 'I'm hungry, please feed me.'"

"No shit."

"I know, I know. I think you should hit the job market again, Dad. Fuck selling carburators. You could be hawking microchips for Satanic garden hoses. Just imagine, you could be the founder of a company that makes chips with regional accents. I want my hose to holler and play banjo and sing "Water that dang lawn! Splish splash hoedown, a ding dang doo! Don't ferget that there spot, it's lookin a mite rusty!"

"How are you my son again?"

"I'll get a DNA test to prove it, Dad! I'm all your fault!"

"I'm just givin' you shit. You know that."

"Hey Dad."

"Yeah?"

"You're holding a microchip up to your ear right now."
4:42 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Black And Silver Swoop Part Three


Finally, the sloppily written preposterous conclusion. Big thanks to Jamie for all the great photographs. Visit her: Jamas.Org.

"Him! It's him doing this. Stop him!"

The policeman couldn't hear me. I was hopping up and down, agitated, like a chimp with irritable bowel syndrome. I realized nobody could, or would, help me stop the adorable fan favorite from unleashing further havoc upon the south side faithful.

Southpaw's blank perpetually cheerful furry visage was a blank slate. I wondered who was underneath that costume. Was he the guilty party, or merely an unknowing accomplice of the candy contaminators?

The police were abandoning their posts, scattering like beetles under a flashlight. They ran for the flash fights erupting back down the parade route. The first assault I had witnessed had dispersed, leaving one bleeding cop in the middle of LaSalle Street. The old lady was still there, swearing like a sailor, slapping the crazed little girl across the face repeatedly as the girl kept lunging with her teeth. The teenage boys had moved on. I'd seen them leap into the crowd, tackle random people, and try to skullfuck them.

There were now no cops before me. I had my opening and I took it. I dashed to the last bus and leapt, defying gravity. I grabbed hold and scaled the rest of the way up like a monkey up a tree. There he was, still throwing lollipops, hailing deathcandy into the willing mouths of jubilant revelers.

"You! Drop the candy! Or else!"

Southpaw whipped around and faced me. He spoke: "Judgement is nigh, selfish hedonist, and I am the hammer!" He flicked me off. I was appalled. I'd just been flicked off by a tall green furry thing. This, of course, infuriated me far more than the senseless poisoning of my beloved Chicago brethren. So I tackled the fucker right off the top of the doubledecker bus.

We landed on the tickertape littered street. The lollipops spilled from the pillowcase, bouncing and rolling all over. I tried to disentangle myself so I could continue my assault on Southpaw, but my illness racked me. I was seized by a coughing fit so strong my nose began to bleed. The mean mascot regained his wind and balance. He jumped me.

I took a fuzzy yarnfist in the jaw. It tickled more than it hurt. By now I had regained control of my unhealthy self and I retaliated with righteous fury. First order of business: stripping Southpaw of his protective gear. I kneed him in the stomach. As he keeled forward, I grabbed his headpiece and yanked it off. I recognized the man inside the costume immediately. It was Alan Keyes, Republican candidate for U.S Senate for Illinois. He'd lost to Barack Obama in a landslide defeat last November.

"Alan? Alan Keyes?"

"God will not suffer your unchristian proclivities, young criminal. You have signed your death warrant." He turned to the crowd. "HELP! Somebody, anybody! This vicious young degenerate is trying to kill the White Sox! GET HIM!"

Tadahito Iguchi, the imported Japanese second basemen, was looking on from the bus as it rolled slowly away from my rumble scene. I noticed he was wearing yakuza sunglasses. He mumbled something to A.J. Pierzynski as he shook the catcher's shoulder. A.J. turned around, and when he saw me squaring off against the de-costumed Keyes, his jaw dropped.

"A.J! Dr. Chaos! Yes, you! Help!" He couldn't hear me. I ran closer. Southpaw followed. "A.J, the candy is poisoned! It's making people crazy! Look down there! Tell people NOT to eat the candy!"

Pierzynski raised his eyebrows in disbelief. Then, to my surprise, he shrugged off his skepticism. He raised his bullhorn to his mouth and pressed the button. He spoke.

"Citizens of Chicago! Faithful White Sox fans! Your attention please! Do not eat the candy in the street. Do not eat the candy given out today! I repeat, the candy is not safe!"

That's when Alan tackled me from behind. I went down with a thud. My face bounced off the street. Fortunately, the thick wads of ticker paper padded me a little bit. Still, the impact hurt, and my nose broke. My bleeding increased. I was a facial fountain.

Whenever Chicago is in trouble and needs help, A.J Pierzynski is there to bail us out. I was one such Chicagoan in dire need, and once again, A.J. was clutch. "Jermaine, let's help this guy!"

The catcher and the right fielder leapt from the bus and ran to save me from Alan Keyes, who was still clad in green yarn from the neck down. As he stomped on the back of my head with his furry dinosaur feet, the two baseball players clotheslined him, sprawling him out on the pavement. Keyes howled. "This den of iniquity shall perish in blood and fire! I will not be constrained by your chains, you vile sinful overpaid professional athletes! You all sing the siren song of Satan! I will not be swayed!"

He ran away. A.J. hollered up to Bobby Jenks, he of the 100 mph cannon arm. With obscure finger snapping and chest pats, he signaled to Bobby for a beanball high and inside. Bobby nodded. He scooped up one of the souvenier giveaway balls they'd been lobbing from the bus. He stood up in his windup motion, ready to let one fly. He blazed a fastball at Keyes and nailed him in the back of the head, right at the base of the skull.

"Steee-rike!" Bobby pumped his fist in triumph.

Alan went down, out cold. I hope the crowd ate him alive.

Jermaine helped me back up.

"Thanks, guys. I dunno who Alan is working for, if anybody, but that candy is no good. See all those riots back there?" I pointed. "People are losing their minds, attacking each other. Just totally nuts. I noticed each one of the mad feral types was blowing a sucker. The candy was makin 'em crazy. When I saw Southpaw tossing them into crowd, I figured he was the culprit. Guess I was right. And Alan fucking Keyes, of all people, inside that suit? I can barely believe it."

Jermaine replied. "You know that dude?"

"Not personally. He ran for Senate last year. The Republicans imported him from Maryland when their candidate, Jack Ryan, withdrew from the race after a sex club scandal. He never stood a chance of beating Barack Obama. We worship Obama around here. I still have his sticker on my bumper to this day. Anyway, Keyes is basically a nutjob. When I went to an Obama rally on election eve, Keyes was outside. He had a van driving around downtown with giant pictures of aborted fetuses all over it. And loudspeakers mounted to the top playing a looped message. Something like 'Alan Keyes for US Senate! A vote for Keyes is a vote for the children! Stop the murder now! Keyes is the moral choice! Homosexuality is a crime against god! Stop the sinning!' Stuff like that."

"Weird."

"Yeah. Very weird. Anyways, thanks, guys. You saved my ass there, and you saved a whole lot of other folks, too. I'm grateful."

"My pleasure!" said A.J. "Mine too!" said Jermaine. I saluted. They went back to the safety of the bus. People cheered. At this point they weren't sure what exactly had occurred, or what they were cheering about, but it didn't matter, because they knew one important thing: good guys wear black.

5:02 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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