Thursday, October 30, 2008


one time I went to community college
down in south Florida
on the first day of classes
I was riding the bus to school
there was this fucking asshole
going around and talking to everybody
he was introducing himself
and asking stupid questions like,
“what’s your name?” and
“what are you studying?”
he was writing down all this information
filling up his little black book
when he finally came up to me
I tried to ignore him
but this little fucker
got right down into my face
kept belching words.
Finally I said to him,
“what the hell are you doing?”
he looked around
to see if anybody else
had heard me
when he felt safe he whispered to me,
“hey, just don’t tell anybody else
you know my game, okay?”
then he walked away
down the aisle to harass somebody else
I checked my pockets and bag
to make sure
he hadn’t made off with anything
and then I dismissed him
as just another accident
of human breeding
seemed there were plenty
of those mishaps out there
and they all had an affinity
for taking rides on the public buses

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


No matter what job I worked
my co-workers were was always shocked
when they’d discover
that I’d packed a lunch to work
it was this whole big thing
that I was trying to save money
by not eating out
at some fast food restaurant
“oh, SMART guy!” my boss used to say.
“you see this, guys? He PACKED his lunch.
He’s a SMART guy.”
I really didn’t see what the big deal was
then they’d go crazy when they’d notice
I’d wrapped my sandwich
in a shopping bag
instead of a ziplock baggie.
I always liked recycling
just seemed to make sense.
“holy SHIT!”
this painter shouted at me once
brows in a big frown
eyes wide open
like they were witnessing a rape
“you wrap your SANDWICH
in a shopping bag? Are you crazy?”
“could be,” I replied.
I don’t even want to get into
when I’d be spotted drinking tap water
but it really freaked some people out.
“you can’t- you shouldn’t drink THAT water!”
they’d scream, horrified
it got to the point where
I’d sneak off alone during lunch
just so I could relax and eat in peace.

Friday, October 24, 2008


“the Kid,” I said, speaking to a sheet that divided the room in which I was sleeping with the sparsely furnished living room. “now there’s an example of a whole different species.”

Nielson pulled back the curtain and poked his head in. “yeah, you’re really one to talk. You’re wearing a Jim Beam vest that used to be a t shirt, an American flag bandana, a showgirl mask facing backwards and a pair of commando pants.”

“these are mere accessories to my lifestyle as an American, you fuck. I’m just exercising my rights here. It’s still a free country within the confines of your own home, haha. As long as you haven’t made the Terror Watch list yet. And as long as you keep the shades down and the noise at socially acceptable levels.”

“yeah, jackass, it’s guys like me who are responsible for that freedom you’re enjoying.”

Nielson was an ex-Marine who’d done two tours in Iraq and he never missed a chance to chime in about the freedom he fought to protect. Since his honorable discharge, he shared my affinity for chronic unemployment but to his credit he’d found a way to live comfortably on a supposed mental disability check and unemployment pay.

“whatever, Marine. Get your fuckin’ head out of my room.”

Twenty minutes passed as I tried to figure out a way to build a guitar stand with a few pieces of wood I’d nabbed from a broken futon out front. Like most projects I’ve embarked on, it was doomed from the start. I soon gave up and went to the fridge for a beer.

Nielson was watching a television show about the ten things most likely to end the human race.

“you know what’s next?” I asked, slumping onto a filthy, piss-stained sofa with the grime so ingrained you could barely make out the tacky floral pattern. He looked over at me and watched as I snapped open my beer and took a sip.

“where’s mine?”

“in the fridge.”

“I’m not gonna get up.”

“I never asked you to. Anyway, number seven is black holes. They say that scientists first thought that black holes remained in one place, but it turns out some of those bastards are roaming around space, just devouring entire galaxies and solar systems and shit.”

“hmm, kinda like you. Just roaming around my apartment, devouring entire cases of beer and boxes of cereal.”

I laughed because he was right on with that one.

“now, will you get me a beer?”

“hmm. On one condition.”

“no! No, you can’t shoot me with your gun.”

Since I’d been down there in Wilmington, NC, living in his place and eating his food and drinking his beer, I’d developed this bad habit of shooting him with my air pistol. He’d be watching television and I’d be in the other room and I’d draw back the sheet just enough to sight his toe and then POP!

“OWWW! ARGGHHH! What the FUCK, man?! Why do you keep shooting me with that fucking thing?”

The only time I heard him swear, aside from calling me a jackass, was after I shot him. That was half the reason I did it. I liked to hear him swear. Usually he was saying things like, “holy smokes” and “gosh darn it” and that irritated the hell out of me.

“c’mon, grab me a beer.”


“no! I’m not gonna let you shoot me for getting me a beer. Don’t you ever just wanna do something nice for somebody?”


“well, how about now?”

I got bored of the conversation and knew it would continue until I got him a beer so I got up and went to the fridge, thinking, “I’ll just shoot him later for this one.”

After the next commercial came the part of the show about the wandering black holes. And after that was the possibility that a certain asteroid, which was scheduled to just miss earth in the year 2029 would swing back and knock us out in 2036. It made me happy because I worried less about getting a job and settling down.

As soon as I got close to finishing my beer I could feel Nielson’s eyes move from the television screen to my beer can. He knew I had a little asteroid of my own. The way we did it was that whenever each of us finished a can of beer we’d throw it at the other’s head. It was just another game we played to keep the boredom at bay. To make things a little more interesting.

I tried to fake like there was more in the can than there actually was, but it’s impossible to finish a beer without tipping the can all the way up.

“I know you’re done, jackass.”

“maybe I am, maybe I’m not.”

He took another sip from his can and I side-armed it at him, clipping the back of his head and then dodging an immediate retaliation. His hit the couch but then bounced back and splashed on my shirt.

“you didn’t even finish your fucking beer, Marine. Now it’s your turn to get up.”
As lazy as he was, Nielson played by the drinking rules we’d established. He got up, went to the fridge, tossed me another beer and sat down again.

“so, you find a job today?” he asked.

“there’s nothing out there.”

“did you even look?”

“yes, MOM, I fuckin’ looked. Everybody wants you to have a degree in accounting or engineering and ten years in the field. You gotta be familiar with all these goddamn computer programs, as well as being a motivated self-starter who can work well, like, independently and on a team. You gotta have a clean criminal record, a clean driving record and a North Carolina driver’s license.”

I turned to him and swallowed hard.

“do you think I have any of that?”

“holy smokes. You are kinda screwed.”

He grinned and looked back to the television.

“you know what the biggest threat to humanity is?”


“no, seriously.”

“I’m trying to watch the show, here.”

“it’s climate change. Global warming. Hell, I don’t even need a job because we’re all gonna drown or fry or eat off each other’s faces within the next few years. Maybe I’ll just coast along until then, drinking your beer and eating your food.”

He glared at me as though he believed it was a serious possibility.

“or maybe,” I said, standing up and walking to a map I’d tacked on the wall. “just maybe, one of these days, I’ll throw my shit in my jeep and drive my ass out to Vegas. Anybody can make it there, right? And if one of these calamities does happen, like if we do engage in all out nuclear war, (that’s the second on the list), I won’t even know until the very end because I’ll be holed up in the corner of some dark casino, drinking whiskey and watching the roulette wheel spin around and around and around. And by then…well…who knows?”


There were a couple things I didn’t like
about that apartment.
The first was that
there were always cockroaches
in the bathroom.
Sometimes they were big motherfuckers
and sometimes just babies,
but either way
they just stood where they were,
never moving. Occasionally
I’d blow one apart with my BB gun
but sure enough, the next night,
another had taken his place.
In the corner,
on the ceiling,
under the toilet,
those bastards just stood there,
making me nervous as hell.
I didn’t like that
The second thing
was that these college kids
had moved in next door
and there was this one chick
that just cried all night long.
She wailed and wailed
and she did this right on the other side of the wall
from my bedroom. At first
I thought about going over there
banging on the door
make sure she was all right.
Then I just got annoyed.
It’s not natural for a human being
to be capable of crying that much.
She put babies to shame with those gigantic sobs.
and that was how I spent my time
in that apartment.
Being wary of cockroaches
and going to sleep to the sound
of some girl next door
balling her eyes out.
The only upside was that I wasn’t paying rent.
I hated paying rent.
I had this fierce aversion to paying
for a place to sleep at night
when there were so many free places,
like park benches
or fire escapes
or 24 hour laundromats. Anyway,
it wasn’t long before I cut out of there.
“fuck this,” I said one day.
“I’m fuckin’ outta here.”

Monday, October 13, 2008


I took another pull from my Blue Moon and scrolled to his number on my cell phone. I giggled before pressing TALK. After two and a half rings he picked up and murmured, “what’s up, dude?”

A moment later I screamed into the phone, “NATION! How the hell are those waves out there?”

I always had to trick him into talking with me because most of the time I called just to berate him about loathsome qualities he didn’t possess or to squeal about my own doubts and anxieties. How I’d never make it as a writer, or how we’d all soon be sex slaves to a super race of bisexual Chinese business tycoons.

I was always having these thoughts like, “times are strange and things are weird”or “it’s a fucked up world out there and it’s a fucked up world in here.”

It was a wonder to me that Nation ever answered my phone calls.

“not bad, dude. I work at Scripts now, so it’s only five minutes from being at work to being in the water.”

There was a hint of excitement in the big bastard’s voice. “it’s tight, dude. I get to surf on my lunch breaks.”

Woopty – doo! I get to drink myself into oblivion and wake up on fire escapes or in people’s trunks. We all have our fetishes.

I took another drink from my Blue Moon and then reached in, fished out the orange wedge and noisily sucked it apart.

“what are you up to?” he asked.

I hesitated before whispering, “well, Nation, I’m doing a little work for this company. I’m a producer. And a researcher.”

I looked around the booth. There were a half dozen empty pint glasses with orange rinds in the bottom and a few clippings from newspapers I’d pasted to the wall with Pete’s Hot Sauce. The clippings were of big breasted cartoon aliens and I’d set them up so that they were attacking a framed photograph of James Dean.

“oh yeah? That’s cool.”

“it is cool, isn’t it?”

“what kinda company, or, research are you doing?”

I could tell his excitement was fading. He’d probably begun to tap his pen on his desk.

“Nation,” I hissed, now above a whisper. “that’s not important. What is important is that I need funding for a small porno I wanna shoot and I’ve decided you’re my man, moneypants.” I began to snigger and then gasped, “now that you’re a fucking DOCTOR! DOCTOR Nation, now, right?”

“oh, Jesus Christ,” he sighed. “dude, I gotta go. I’ve got a meeting with my boss.”

“Nation goddamn it! This isn’t a joke. Not some schlepshow idea by some schlepshow rookie. This is the REAL DEAL. Now, how much can I expect from you? I’ll need at least fifty grand for starters. Even in this economy these midgets aren’t cheep. You can send a bank check to four twen-”

“I’ll talk to you later, man.”

“Nation, you’re a greedy, heartless bitch, you hear me? A real first class asshole!”

I kept yelling profanities into the phone long after he’d hung up. Then I turned to one of the big breasted cartoon aliens and smashed a pen through her stomach and into the wall. Over the rim of my pint of Blue Moon I saw one of the cooks’ heads peep out from the kitchen. He’d been on my case all morning.

A few moments later my waiter approached. He noticed the pen sticking out from the wall and turned to me.

“sir, is everything all right?”

I looked away, at the wall, regarding the cartoon, then splashed some more hot sauce under the pen so it looked like she was bleeding from the stomach. Spicy, tasty blood. I was just about to lick it off the wall when my waiter raised his voice.

“sir! You’re going to have to-

“no! No, kid. Nothing is all right. In fact, everything is terrible. And wrong.”

A few tense moments crept by before I tossed a twenty on the table, grabbed my things and growled, “and it’s all your fault.”

On my way past the kitchen I stopped and stuck my face in through the order window and yelled to the cook who’d ratted me out.

“hey! Hey you!”

He turned and frowned and balled his fists as though he’d been waiting for this moment all morning.

“hey, take a good luck at this face here, all right? Because you’ll never be seeing it again.”