Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Hold The Ketchup



“Excuse me, can you please warm this for twenty seconds for me?”

“Miss, the microwaves are only for products bought here. Company policy. I’m sorry.”

“So if I buy one of those greasy breakfast biscuits, you can cook these together?”

“What is it, anyways?”

“It’s uh… a breadstick. Yeah. I’m on a starch diet and um… I can only eat a certain amount at a time. I’ll give the sandwich to my boyfriend, I guess. He’s out in the car."

The fidgety girl handed over the paper towel wrapped breadstick to the convenient store clerk, who promptly ushered both items into the microwave. Unlike most microwaves, this one did not allow for custom cooking times. There were only three buttons: 1 minute, 2 minutes, and 5 minutes. The clerk pressed 1.

“That doesn’t smell like bread. What is that?”

“It’s done! I gotta go. Give it over! Hurry up!”

The clerk opened the metal box, interrupting the humming heat. He reached for the sandwich first and placed it on the counter.

“Would you like a bag for these?”

“Yeah, sure, just hurry up, I’m late for work.”

“Easy lady, I’m working on it.”

He reached for the breadstick and removed it from the microwave.

“Ow! Shit! Fuck! That’s hot!”

He dropped it on the counter and the paper towel unraveled. Tumbling out was a steaming penis with heat blisters. It rolled back towards the clerk and fell to the floor behind the counter. A trickle of urine dribbled out on the tiles.

“Oh my GOD! What the hell-?”

“Gimme my dick back. Now, asshole, or I’ll tear your eyes from your head.”

“Step back, you crazy bitch. I’m calling the cops. I don’t know why you cut off somebody’s dick, and I don’t know why you’re microwaving the fucking thing at a 7-11, but you’re going to jail. So fucking gross. I can’t believe this shit!”

According to police reports, the cock in question was a prosthetic device used to deliver OPP (other people’s piss) into the cup during a drug test. Apparently, they also measure urine temperature to make sure it isn’t cold. For obvious reasons. This little scene is sadly based on reality. Hello, Philadelphia, I'm looking at you. Your reputation as a cultural mecca just skyrocketed.

I'm Not Kidding, Read This And Then This.
12:40 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ink Inc. Part Five


alt.title: Pig Out

Terry’s abducted army of tattooed swine was stirring in the back of his little backfiring bread truck. He took a few slugs from the emergency whiskey to calm his nerves, meanwhile glancing at his side mirror to watch for the inevitable police pursuit.

After loading the tender piggies into the nicked vehicle, Terry'd psyched himself up for the final phase of his revenge assault. He’d rammed through the wrought iron back service entrance with the truck, triggering alarms, sending signals to the law that the zoo’s peaceful early morning tranquility had been disturbed, in this case, with gleeful vehicular vandalism.

Now, speeding towards downtown, Terry hoped his goal of creating a shameful spectacle would succeed. Careening recklessly down the road in a shit smelling truck with a severely damaged front grille (that gate had put up a mighty resistance) and a radio blasting easy listening favorites at air raid siren decibels, Terry began to really get into the spirit.

“I am a fucking GOD! Daddy’s gonna be famous! Watch me now, fuckers! Look ma, no hands! HA HA HA!”

Terry drank more whiskey. He was so excited he puked in his mouth a little.

The pigs were waking up, and they were pissed off. Celine Dion or Peabo Bryson or whichever mediocre heel was keening on the radio had made for a rude awakening, one certainly outside of the pigs’ carefully domesticated patterns. They were confused, fearful, and aching from their stylish new tats. They expressed their feelings by crapping all over. A lot. Even on each other. As Terry wheeled sharply around corners, the pigs and poop were shuffled and stirred, creating a nasty tsunami of pigshit gumbo.

Terry couldn’t hear the sirens over the awful noise emanating from the radio, but the blue and red flashes ricocheting from his side mirror caught his attention quickly. Terry put the pedal to the metal.

More and more police joined his rearguard escort. One cop leaned out a squad car passenger window with a bullhorn.

“Pull Over! I repeat, pull over your vehicle! You are breaking the law!”

Terry flipped him the bird. He was almost to his destination. He turned down his radio, opened his cellphone, and dialed information. When he had his info, he placed a call.

“Yeah, Channel Eight News? That you? Good. Hear those sirens? I’m getting chased by police! Got about seven cars after me. Yep. Yeah, for real! Shit man, this ain’t no prank! Look out your window! I’m comin up Sandoval Avenue right now! Yeah! Get your reporters to Inkhead. Better hurry if you wanna beat the morning rush. Traffic’s getting heavy and I’m fuckin it up even worse. I’m fixin up a hell of a lead story for you tonight, my man! Send helicopters, too!”

Inkhead Promotions was located downtown, smack dab across from city hall. Minutes later, flanked by police at both sides and copters above, Terry wheeled right up the steps at city hall. He made it about halfway up before the stone steps caused him to lose control. He crashed into a handrail.

Realizing the cops would be upon him in seconds, he shook off the impact shock and scrambled into the back of the truck.

“Hey there, ya little bastards! Time to frolic!”

Terry climbed over the pigs. The combination of the ascent angle and the bouncing caused by the steps had slammed all the pigs against the back doors of the truck. Terry pushed his hands through the pigwad and shoved them aside. They were bleating with terror. Terry reached the handle and turned it.

Outside the cops had reached the truck. They were surrounding it, guns drawn, approaching cautiously as they tried to discern the condition of the reckless driver. Terry had cranked the Jon Secada back up to full volume after hanging up with Channel Eight, and none of the police were at all prepared for the pink and brown deluge when Terry opened the truck doors. There’d been no time for them to stop and think about the zoo connection. Pigs came tumbling like cereal from a box, their weight slamming the doors wide. Terry fell with them, unable to grab anything that wasn’t slimed over in slippery pig feces.

One cop lost his composure and began to fire, leading others to follow. One pig took a bullet in the McDonald’s golden arches. Another took one in the head. Yet another bullet missed live flesh entirely, pinging off metal inside the truck.

“Cease fire! Cease fire, goddamnit!”

Terry sat up, bruised and dazed. Frenzied swine were fleeing in panic in all directions. Up the steps to city hall, towards the street, down the sidewalk. They were everywhere. Terry was joyous.

“I did it! Hey! I give up! I win! I surrender!”

Still sitting, Terry threw his arms in the air.

“I feel sorry for whichever one of you fellas has to put me in the back of his cruiser! I smell like high heaven!”

None of the cops knew whether to tackle pigs, shoot them, or go for Terry. Chaos was unleashed, and there was no simple off switch. Terry had made one hell of a mess.

Early arrivals for work were watching the scene instead of entering Inkhead, City Hall, or any of the other nearby establishments. Hell, a show like this one didn’t come along very often. It wouldn’t do to miss it. They stayed. They watched. They dodged angry swine.

“Attention citizens! I have tattooed two dozen pigs with logos! This is an official protest action! These logos are the same icons of commercialism that sponsor Inkhead Productions’ annual forehead lottery! This lottery is disgusting and depraved! I demand this immoral practice cease immediately! I demand that Inkhead close their doors forever and let us keep our foreheads clean! No more debasing of human flesh to sell lawnmowers! Plus, they turned me down! What the fuck, right? My name is Terry Sobaski, and I have spoken!”

The End(s)

4:52 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ink Inc. Part Four



Two weeks later Terry was up to his elbows in pig shit. Terry’s enthusiasm, generated by his lust for revenge, had an unplanned effect. His cheerful energy had actually landed him an interview, and subsequently, a shovel job. Terry had intended to be an annoying stalker wannabe who failed to gain employment. All he'd wanted was information. When they offered the bottom rung minimum wage shit job, Terry was too stunned to turn it down. Now, as the manure man, he didn’t even sound strange for asking a gazillion questions. The existing staff chalked up his inquisitiveness to his baffling thirst for zoological knowledge.

He’d been given a guided tour of the facilities, an access card, and two pairs of dark tan overalls. As a part time night shift cleaner, his life alternated in bad smells: decomposing garbage by day, animal shit by night, repeat in perpetuity. In three weeks time, Terry became a fixture at the zoo. Between his demeanor and his position he even earned a nickname: Scoop.

The pigs were energetic little bastards. Until Terry learned of way to calm them down, there'd be no way to carry out the big operation. That is, until he learned about dietary adjustments, a politically correct term used by the staff. It meant drugging animals via their diets to keep them nice and sedate. It kept the more violent species from declaring mutiny. Now he had a method to zap their peppy piggy power.

The zoo had transport vehicles, which solved yet another dilemma. The last problem was security and surveillance. The challenges melted away, one by one, as Terry formulated the scenario in his mind, refining it until no devious craftmanship could improve it any further.

Finally, on a warm May evening, Terry finished shoveling shit and made an extra visit to the pigs’ sleeping pen. He fed them laced treats, careful to make sure each pig got one each.

Off he went to the staff office, where he clocked out for the evening. Finally, he stopped in at security before he left. “Hey Earl, the pigpen camera is buzzing. Dunno what’s wrong with it.”

“I’ll let Leandra know tomorrow. She can call a repair tech. I can’t see anything on it. Looks like it got covered in mud or shit. No big surprise, knowing them little bacon factories. G’night, Scoop.”

“Night, Earl. See you later.”

He walked home, unaffected by the gnats and flies following him around like a frenetic aura. Everything was ready.

Time for an inventory. Tattoo gun? Check. Blue ink? Plenty. Stolen transport keys? In his pocket. Mallet? Present and accounted for. If any of the pigs got frisky, Terry could thump it one square and put it back under for a few. Finally, stencils. Lots and lots of carefully made stencils of corporate logos, one each for every one of the primary sponsors of the tattoo lottery. Last but not least, whiskey. Never know when that might come in handy.

Terry accessed the zoo and snuck to the pigpen without incident. The night crews that manned security or looked after animal emergencies were all finished with their rounds, and were by now gathered in a circle playing poker by the peacock lookout.

The oinkers were laid out sleeping. Some were so peaceful they looked dead. (Terry checked, all were breathing deeply.) Terry hoisted up a heavy little pork chop onto a hay pile outside of the pen. With scotch tape he attached a SUBWAY stencil to the pig’s torso and started inking the outline.

When the needle pierced hide, the pig twitched but didn’t wake. It seemed okay. Twenty minutes later, the pig was bleeding from the completed logo outline. Terry moved him to an empty pen to rest. He went back for another.

At four A.M Terry finished tattooing his final outline, this one the Ameriprise Financial logo, which looked like an asterisk. He had two dozen bleeding pigs, many of them beginning to bleat and stir, angry about the sore patches on their hides, ignorant of the hideous violation that had been branded with ink upon each of them.

Before they got too riled up, Terry needed to get them on a truck. After that? Well, then came the difficult part.
4:38 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, February 10, 2006

Ambushed!

So what have I been doing?

Well.

I got invited to write articles for a magazine. Sounds great, right? I thought so, too. Tell me all about it, I said.

“It’s a magazine about metrosexuals. It’s being created to take advantage on the recent cultural trend of males using beauty products and getting pedicures and so forth. The main focus will be models, but we need filler, so we’re looking for writers. I thought of you. The pay will be weak at first, but you’ll be well rewarded down the road.”

“Have you read my work? I’m not sure weirdness, black humor, and filthy gore are right for a publication like that. Plus, I’m a straight guy with poor grooming and no style. I don’t know, man.”

“Expand your horizons. Challenge yourself. You’ll do great. And I need to stress, this isn’t a gay magazine. Part of our readership will be gay, yes, but our largest demographic will be straight women. The guy who envisioned this whole thing is gay, but he stressed to me this won’t be a fag rag. He wants it clean enough to be traded at Catholic high schools. It will accentuate pretty men, but it’s not meant to be overtly sexual.”

“I’ll give it a shot. I need the money more than my pride. I’m gonna take a lot of shit for this. Oh well.”

So I dashed off a couple short humor stories about skinny guys who wear too much makeup. Nothing mean spirited or derogatory. The founder guy loved them and invited me to join a meeting to discuss the first issue. I went.

All was well until it came to model and photograph reviews.

“Come on Steve, you need to offer feedback here, too. I know you don’t have any interest in looking at pictures of guys on bear skin rugs or in boxers, but I need every perspective available.”

Oh jesus. I thought this was about makeup and hair salons. There's pictures of men in provocative poses in the magazine? I’ve been misled.

Reluctantly I walked over to the kitchen table full of photos. The rest of the staff, comprised of women, gay guys, and trannies all stood silent looking at them. I spoke up first.

“Okay guys, I’m not gonna hold back here. I thought this was more of a fashion thing than a softcore gay porn thing. This looks worse than even that. These guys look 18, and just barely. All I see are bunch of scrawny pale boys posing awkwardly against backdrops of empty rooms with white walls. It’s creepy. I feel like I’m looking at child pornography. I’m disturbed. Really. I feel like a priest.”

Ten faces all turned to me, and then to the owner, who had chosen all the models. He seemed to be chewing on words, figuring out how to answer me.

“This is my ideal guy. It’s not child porn, Steve. All of them are legal. Young, yes, but completely legal.”

Before I could respond, everybody else, including the guy’s mother, all piped in and agreed with me vociferously. Verbal warfare was waged. While they all argued, ten against one, I wandered off to another room and turned on the Super Bowl pregame.

What a strange day that was.
1:05 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, February 03, 2006

Ink Inc. Part Three



“Jerry, wanna make some extra cash?”

“Why, what’s goin’ on, Terry? I do pretty well here at the vet’s office.”

“I need some tranks. Lots of ‘em.”

“What? Are you finally going bonkers? The stuff I use here is for animals, Terry. The only stuff humans use, illegally I might add, is ketamine, for cats. What do you want with a massive supply of tranquilizers anyways? You’re not the druggie type.”

“I can’t tell you yet. It’s a secret.”

“No, Terry, just no. I value my job too much to pull a stunt like that.”

“Oh well. You comin’ over for the Super Bowl on Sunday?”

“Yep, I’ll bring the pizza and chips, you cover the beer and dip. And I expect a full explanation when I see you.”

“Sure thing, Jerry. Later.”

Terry decided another trip to the zoo was in order. Research was necessary. As a garbage man, Terry had developed a strong immunity to awful smells, which he figured might help him with the job application process. It was a natural point of conversation, a humorous aside to put his interviewers at ease. He didn’t have any training in zoology or animal husbandry, but if he feigned enough interest, he might be able to learn the ins and outs of the zoo facility. He would certainly be turned down for the job, but he could play the part of a zoo stalker trying to land a job. By this method he could engage the current staff in conversation. Terry was pleased with his logic.

All he needed to know were the security protocols and where the drugs were kept. He had no way of rendering pigs and monkeys unconscious if he went in there armed with nothing but zealotry and ignorance. He’d just get arrested. For his revenge plot to work, he had to be prepared. He needed to plan.

Terry shaved, brushed, and put on some decent but rugged looking clothes. He psyched himself up for his first visit as a pesty wannabe zoomaster.

“I love animals. Animals are great. I love animals. They’re special. They’re wonderful. How did you come to this career? I’d like to pursue a career in the field of untamed animal wrangling. I love animals. I just love them. Yeah. Hire me. Yeah. Hire me. Okay. Leopards, zebras, peacocks. Yessir.”

“Here goes. Gonna get those Inkhead bastards. Oh yes.”
11:39 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Ink Inc. Part Two



“Dear Terry Sobaski,

Thank you for participating in the Ink Lottery application hearing last week. Unfortunately, you were not selected to participate. Please understand that thousands apply and only two hundred candidates are accepted. While you were not selected this time, you may apply again for the Ink Lottery next year.

Sincerely,
Inkhead Promotions, Inc.”

More goddamn rejection. Terry balled up the letter and chucked it at the open garbage can in the corner of his filthy kitchen. He missed. The letter landed in a dried puddle of spaghetti sauce. Terry’s golden ticket had floated away. Once again, hope had failed him. It had failed him in earning scholarships, failed him when he tried to reconcile with his wife, (he’d cheated on her) failed him at the custody hearing, and failed him when he applied for a promotion with his employer, a waste removal company. Life sucks and then you die.

Terry neglected to wash the trash slime from his foul fingers before microwaving and wolfing a hot pocket. He finished and thought about another empty night of a pointless life. The idea of watching bullshit TV shows made Terry feel even worse. Alcohol wasn’t going to help, either. Terry decided to go for a walk. Maybe it would clear his head.

It didn’t. Terry just felt worse. All he could think about was the money. All that easy money, just to wear a forehead tattoo. Money bought respect, money bought women, and money bought luxury. To him, those were the holy trinity. Those were three things in short supply.

Terry held out no hope that another attempt would yield better results, and besides, that was a whole year away. Rob a bank? Maybe. Terry passed the zoo, then doubled back to enter it.

The monkeys were lucky. They were perfectly happy to shit in their own hands and fling it around. The fish were fine swimming in little circles. The pigs at the barnyard exhibit just squealed, ate, and shat all the live long day. Lucky stupid beasts, all of them. Terry envied them.

Terry looked at the burning skull tattoo on his bicep. Why didn’t they want him? Was it just bad luck, or was there something in particular that disqualified him? A lion roared. A kid begged for ice cream. Terry kept ambling along, floating through his black mood.

“Hey there, you big dumb ugly fuck. Think they’d let you sell microwave popcorn? I doubt it. They’re picky, those fuckers. They won’t take just anybody.”

The elephant ignored Terry. Maybe it didn’t speak English.

“Even if they gave you a lifetime supply of peanuts?”

Still no answer.

"That's right. You already got a lifetime supply of peanuts. Well, fuck you!"

As the sun peeked out from behind the clouds and the world grew brighter, Terry had an epiphany. He had his answer. A purpose. A dream.

At that moment, Terry knew what he would do. All he’d need was his tattoo gun, lots of ink, and a large supply of animal tranquilizer. If he couldn’t have a tattoo payout, nobody would. Terry was gonna break the whole system.
2:26 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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