July 07, 2008

July 2008, Vol. 7, Issue 7

Welcome back to summer issue of Truckin'! We have six stories for you, which would be perfect beach reading material.

1. Berlin by Paul McGuire
It was in a hotel suite, not some dingy hot sheets motor inn near the airport. Anyway, my entire point was that at least I had the courtesy to keep my hooker alive, not like Uncle Teddy.... More

2. One Night Out Part II: Hunter-Hunter by Sigge S. Amdal
The night sky loomed with pregnant darkness, while a million brilliant lights in white, blue and orange from the city below fought the epic battle as hard as they could. Sirens, shouting, gunshots and helicopters; everything was muffled by the distance... More

3. Of Lattes and Stuffed Monkeys By John 'Falstaff' Hartness
I abandoned the carnage of my room, leaving an apocalypse of shattered glass and plastic on the sidewalk and the oak outside my window garlanded with t-shirts and sweaters. Five hours later I pulled up in front of my parents' house without ever really noticing how fast I was going or really having a plan as to where I was headed... More

4. All Those Things That Don't Change, Come What May by Johnny Hughes
Jake inherited the Magic House when his drinking Uncle tried to empty a rabbit out of a long irrigation pipe and the pipe hit a high-line wire. The 1940s furniture clashed with Jake's beatnik, coffee-house conversational monologues sanctioned only by the weekend wannabe artists, singers, writers, and actors from the college that came to his regular parties, called Jake Parties... More

5. Don't You Know What I'm Thinking? by May B. Yesno
You know, education is a funny thing. Too much of it in any one area makes you dumber. That's probably a bad way to look at it. Lets say, a very good foundation in a subject is a good thing, but as you continue to study it, it takes more and more effort to obtain less and less knowledge from it.... More

6. Cold by Kajagugu
When we crossed the border we had to avoid detection and make it quickly to our destination. We had decoy units who crossed the border with us and then led the UN peacekeeping soldiers on a wild goose chase. With these fools out of the way we moved swiftly and silently... More

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been...

From the Editor's Laptop:

Thanks again to everyone for wasting your precious time month after month with Truckin'. This summer issue is anchored by veteran writers including everyone's favorite Norwegian word wanker, Sigge. John 'Falstaff' Hartness, Johnny Hughes, May B. Yesno, and Kajagugu round out the list of returning scribes. Oh, and I whipped up a snippet of a conversation that magically appeared out of thin air.

Please tell your friends and family about your favorite stories from this issue. It takes only a few seconds to pass along Truckin'. The writers definitely appreciate your support.

Also, if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list, well, please let us know! Shoot me an e-mail.

Before I go... many many many thanks to the writers who exposed their souls to the world and spilled blood to make art. They did it for free which is always inspiring me. Thanks for taking that leap of faith with me.

Be good,
McG


""There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming." - Soren Kierkegaard

Berlin

By Paul McGuire © 2008

"You brought a hooker to your sister's graduation?"

"The short answer is yes. The long answer is far more complex."

"Humor me," she said as she rolled her eyes.

"I didn't pay the hooker to fuck me. I paid her to escort me to Columbia's graduation. It was a sort of my way of saying 'Fuck you!' to the old man, to the school, to everyone."

"I see. You were an angry young man rebelling against the system and the pillars of education which provided several family members special opportunities which they utilized to amassed a fortune which allowed you to have an extremely privileged upbringing. Collegiate. Taft. Cornell. Those weren't cheap schools. And that's how you pay respect to your elders? By bringing a disease-infested hooker to a graduation ceremony. Real classy."

"Class had nothing to do with it. And it's not like she was a fuckin' skeeved out junkie with track marks that I picked up on 11th Avenue. She was a high end call girl like the ones that Spitzer fucked. She cost me a couple of grand and I didn't even get a fuckin' hand job! So back off on that. Okay, yes, she fucked guys for money but she also read Chaucer. How many hookers do you know do that?"

"None."

"Have you read Chaucer?"

"Well, no. That's not the point. Just because you brought a semi-educated prostitute to a family gathering doesn't take away from the fact that she provided sexual favors for money."

"And you do it for free? That's horseshit. All women fuck for something. For love. For friendship. For validation. For self-esteem. For curiosity. For boredom. For better clothes. For nice meals. For trips to Europe. For long weekends in the Hamptons. For a big fancy wedding. For that swanky loft in Tribeca. For a house with a white picket fence at the end of a cul-du-sac. And if women don't fuck for material items or for the emotional security, then they're trying to get knocked up or maybe they're straight up nymphomaniacs."

"Although some women trade sex for emotional and financial security, the majority don't. And let's not forget that most hookers are diseased-infested drug addicts."

"Most hookers are, but the one I bought to Columbia did it for the money. Plus she enjoyed having sex, so why not get paid to do it? The best jobs in life are the ones you can get paid for doing something you love. My grandfather said that to me before he died in that weird hunting accident in Maine. This was the same guy who bought off two senators, a district attorney, and at least a dozen magazine and newspaper writers during the Union Carbide disaster in 1984. In your eyes and in society's eyes, it's perfectly okay that he profited from a horrible business that accounted for the brutal deaths of at least 3,000 people in India, not including how many other people died along the way. But it's not acceptable for me to bring a woman with dubious morals to an elitist function that I'd rather not attend? A hooker who reads Chaucer is a saint compared to the monsters that spawned me."

"How can you compare the two? And besides, if you were that upset with your family's blood money, there are far more productive ways to challenge their business philosophies. For example, you could have rejected it completely and made a name for yourself and stake out your own fortune."

"You have a valid point. I'm not going to bullshit you. I'm lazy. I'm a hypocrite. I like sushi. I love the opulent lifestyle. I like living where I live and the fact that I don't have to share a rat infested walk-up with six other hipsters in Brooklyn. Besides, I can't just lash out at the family. My cousin did that and they had her committed."

"A hooker? Come on, that's so.... so... trite."

"I thought it was fuckin' funny. Would you rather me dose everyone at the graduation dinner?"

"Well, at least that has some sort of subversive intent. A hooker is just filthy."

"Hmmmm... LSD is good, but hookers are bad?"

"I hate it when you put words into my mouth."

"Well, I hate it when you try to read into things that I have done and have fuckin' clue about the principles involved. Besides, the hooker was the least of my family's long list of problems. At least she was alive. There are several dead hooker stories tucked away into my family's vast closet of secrets and scandals. Those stories we dare not speak about are the ones that make Union Carbide look like a picnic in the Sheep Meadow."

"What dead hookers?"

"Come on. You know! Go across the street to the internet cafe and google 'Franklin Hotel dead hooker' and I promise that you'll find some interesting things."

"Whatever! Everyone knows that's just an urban legend. No one actually finds dead hookers in motel rooms anymore."

"That's what they want you to think. And it was in a hotel suite, not some dingy hot sheets motor inn near the airport. Anyway, my entire point was that at least I had the courtesy to keep my hooker alive, not like Uncle Teddy."

"Can we please stop talking about hookers?" she said in a hushed tone. "The couple sitting across from us are eavesdropping."

"You started the whole hooker talk. I'm totally hungover and just wanted to get a cup of coffee. Besides, that couple? They're German and have no idea what we're talking about. So you can chill out and stop being so paranoid."

"How do you know they are German?"

"Look at their eye glasses. German all the way. Plus they have been speaking German since they sat down fifteen minutes ago. You would know that if you actually spoke a language other than English."

"Wait a second, I speak fluent Spanish. Don't forget I served in the Peace Corps in Honduras."

"Ah, I forgot about your altruistic past when you saved a bunch of villagers by teaching them how to plug in a TV and get brainwashed by corporate thugs. So you speak Spanish. Big fuckin' deal. You don't read Chaucer which is a shame but I'm still trying to discover your deeply rooted disdain for hookers. Which is intriguingly odd because you have zero qualms about dosing the bourgeois with LSD. Yet, you seem to be oblivious that the Germans keep asking each other if they understand what we are talking about because we're speaking to fast for them to keep up."

"You speak German?"

"Ja! Spreche ich Deutsches. Ein prostituiertees von Berlin brachte mir bei, wie man die sprache spricht."


Paul McGuire is a writer originally from New York City. He currently splits his time between New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.

Don't You Know What I'm Thinking?

By May B. Yesno © 2008

File: Pure; Card: 6; Non-expensed

Don't You Know What I'm Thinking?

You are sweet, mellow, and easily satisfied.
You don't like anything too intense and dramatic.
Deep down, you're a kid at heart... and you're nostalgic for the past*


So said the probation officer, quite possibly tongue in cheek, as I left the premises after my final reporting date.

Damn Fool, you, in your dumpy middle class clothes and two week over due haircut. Have you the faintest inkling how very grating that smile is, that feeling you extrude of stabbing one in the back when you turn to write your post visit summation? Have you?

You accept the canned answers to your canned questions I reel from half my attention. You don't want to hear what I'm really thinking underneath, and full time with the other half. No!, you exercise your authority with admirable restraint, just as you have been taught. Reminding me on occasion my freedom is in your hands, you miserable little worm, when I periodically refuse to speak.

I'm finished now. Done. And I wait for it; and sure enough it comes. The obligatory "I hope I never see you again!" as I leave this final time. Done. Damn, I'm done with you. I'm satisfied. And mellow, now. I can laugh like a kid, alright, for no good reason other than for the pure joy of life. Except I've been thinking.

The thing I've been thinking about is that job you assigned me, got for me? Found for me. At any rate, that job is what I've been thinking about. Well, not the job so much as the owner of the place. That is not even correct. I've been thinking about the business, the paper end of the business more correctly. You see, there's something there that just might make you cringe. That Boy isn't a hundred percent honest; and all that fine charitable, give the sinner a chance, front covers up something else and you don't even see it. Or if you do, your part of it. Which wouldn't surprise me, considering how many of us you've run through there. Have you ever asked yourself what happened to all those bodies? Have you? Ever? Or do you know?

I suppose that's enough putting you down.

Admittedly, you're probably as honest as someone in your job can be. You've asked many times why I'm haggard and grubby on reporting days. I've never told you. You did give the curfew exemption when I explained the night classes, for which I thank you. But you never knew I'd finished others on-line, did you? I never told. I don't want them on the record. You also don't know I finished my degree work, but there will never be a graduation. Not on the straight record there won't, unless I think the man comes knocking and then I have the real answers waiting.

You know, education is a funny thing. Too much of it in any one area makes you dumber. That's probably a bad way to look at it. Lets say, a very good foundation in a subject is a good thing, but as you continue to study it, it takes more and more effort to obtain less and less knowledge from it. It stifles you, and you can't reason outside that area.

So a good foundation in many subjects allows you to cross reference areas of knowledge and develop answers to questions. What you might call a specialized Liberal Arts education. And that is what I've been doing, without telling you. I didn't want to confide to you, the keeper of the little records. I certainly didn't want the records to know. Some say that ability to draw from experience is the highest level of learning.

There are many things I didn't tell you. As an instance: I am many people. Most of them I've made up and lied about. There's a lot of cash to be had in grants and student loans from the government, and there is just as much from the gullible in the schools themselves. The Liberals like the down trodden and degenerate restoration projects. And I've skimmed a great many of them. For which I thank them. Which answers your question of how I managed to look haggard and grubby in good clothes that couple of times I was too tired to remember my role with you. Of course, I hope you don't remember or have made a note in your visit summary. But then, that's what an education will do for you. You accepted my explanations for where I got the clothes. I didn't tell you I had studied rhetoric and debate. I am quite good, actually, in those areas.

As I said, though, I have been thinking about the business at the job. Money comes from some place, and it goes some where without stopping for taxes and un-employment deductions. I know where in one case. But I want to know both, and I will, because I want part of that action. But I don't want the owner to know, either that I know about the money, or that I'm getting part of it. It would be foolish to take a risk as part of the organization hierarchy when there's a way for the little guy to feed from the bottom, especially when there are University's to draw more from scattered all across this great land of ours.


* a non-attributable source


May B. Yesno is a writer from Fresno, CA.

Cold

Kajagugu © 2008

It wasn't supposed to be this cold. I made it a high priority to check the forecast all week and let everyone know how cold it was going to get. Can't trust the fucking weatherman, I thought to myself. I should have prepared better. It's not like I can go back now and get an extra set of gloves for everyone or some heat packs, right? We were more than twenty kilometers inside enemy territory, laying in a star ambush formation on the frozen ground, just waiting for those idiots to show up. And I've been there, awake, for over 48 hours.

Terrorists love anniversaries. It's common knowledge in the military intelligence field. If something bad happened on a certain day, they would either try for a repeat or try something new to commemorate the occasion. The problem is that so many terrible things have happened already, that the calendar is pretty much full. So now, every day could bring a new threat. But this time we had real information. We knew they were coming. We knew where they were heading, how they planned to get there and how many they will be. They did it before, a long time ago and we were not prepared. They killed innocent women and children. We were not going to let it happen again. Not on my watch.

Planning this lethal operation had to happen on an extremely shortened schedule. No time for fancy maps and diagrams. We only had a couple of dry runs to make sure everyone knew what they were supposed to do. We had less than 48 hours before they would be leaving on their mission. We had to select the teams, arm them with the right weaponry and knowledge and make sure they were in position without being detected. And then we just had to wait.

Our side consisted of three teams of 12 highly-trained, barely past their teenage years, elite infantry soldiers. And me. I had been with the unit for a few months now and had earned my place by showing my capabilities. I did not have to use my rifle. I just had to use my brain. I had the power to blanket the whole area with exploding shells fired from a big distance. I was their Artillery Officer. I brought with me the power to crush any target, provide smoke cover for a rescue operation or sneak attack and with a few words I could light up the night sky. They couldn't do it without me. And I was happy to be there.

When we crossed the border we had to avoid detection and make it quickly to our destination. We had decoy units who crossed the border with us and then led the UN peacekeeping soldiers on a wild goose chase. With these fools out of the way we moved swiftly and silently. Twenty kilometers go by pretty fast when you're pumped full of adrenaline. We reached our target in a little over three hours and made an initial sweep. Then we got in position and I located the targets. I easily spotted the intersection, the old barn, the hill top and mosque down the road. They were all where they were supposed to be. I took a few measurements to confirm the coordinates and everything checked out just fine. My boys back beyond the border had their cannons aimed for the past few hours. One command from me and this whole landscape would erupt.

Now we just had to wait for them. The reports said they would arrive in two vehicles, possibly two beat-up green Mercedes sedans. They would come to the intersection and each driver would drop off a team of three with their gear. They would split up and follow two separate paths. But they wouldn't get very far. We had them out-numbered six to one, not including the drivers. The drivers were going to wait until they made sure their passengers did not need a quick evacuation. Two of our teams were in position to strike these threesomes about thirty seconds after they left the vehicles. It was my job to take care of the drivers.

It wasn't supposed to be so cold, but I liked it anyway. It kept us alert. It kept the guys from losing concentration and dozing off. You'd be surprised how easy it is to lose focus and fall asleep after staring at the same scenery for 48 hours without moving. At one point doubt starts creeping in as well. Did we miss them? Did they sniff us out? Did they change plans and we were in the wrong place? Are they bringing reinforcements? You have to stay focused on the mission and not worry about other things. That's what back-up plans are for.

And then it just happened. At first it felt like a slow motion scene out of a movie. The two cars arrived with their headlights off. We could see them approach through our thermal imaging systems. When they stopped at the intersection we could see by the light of the moon that they were in yellow and orange Mercedes sedans, not green. They quickly got out, put on their gear and quietly went down the pre-determined paths as planned. I was going to strike first.

I knew it would take the shells about thirteen seconds to hit that intersection. All I had to do was count it down and give the command at the right time. We heard distant, faint, cannon roars. It wasn't loud enough or too unusual for anyone to notice. All of a sudden the intersection burst into a gigantic, scorching ball of fire, heat and light, being struck by eight shells simultaneously. At the exact same moment our other two teams opened fire on the surprised terrorists. They didn't stand a chance. Just like those women and children didn't stand a chance years ago.

And just like that, it was over. And it didn't feel too cold anymore.


Kajagugu is a wannabe poker player and veteran world traveler who now lives in Atlanta.

Of Lattes and Stuffed Monkeys

By John 'Falstaff' Hartness © 2008

I saw her sitting there, at the only patio table with an open seat. Sitting alone listening to her iPod on a gorgeous Spring morning. One of those sparkling mornings that's just cold enough to carry a sweater, with just enough warmth in its smile to promise you won't need it.

"May I?"

"I... OK, sure." She gave the patio the once-over to see if there was another option, then gave me the required polite response when she saw it was either sit with her, or juggle my latte, muffin and novel while standing.

"What are you listening to?" I could see she was upset, and probably didn't want to talk, but I had a feeling it might be worth it to pry.

"I... it's a new Alanis Morrisette song. Her new album is all acoustic.” I loved the way she paused for a second before answering, just that slightest hesitation when she wanted to tell me to piss off, but couldn't quite bring herself to do it. I leaned over, took the dangling earbud, and popped it in. You Oughta Know sounds so different with a live drummer and acoustic guitar, but it still transported me.

Scent is supposed to be the sense most closely tied to memory, but for me it's hearing. A song can take me almost physically back to a moment in time, and this one was no different. It was almost ten years ago, the album was new, Alanis wasn't a superstar yet, just another angry young chick carrying the Ani DiFranco banner for the next generation. And I was twenty, bleached blonde and jilted with her hit single blasting through my dorm room as I threw all of the sorry bastard's pictures, CDs and clothes out the window onto his head, drowning out his protestations and apologies with projectiles and expletives.

He at least had the wisdom to run when I appeared in my 8th-floor window holding his guitar. He must have known the amp was coming next. Annie, my roommate, opened the door, peeked in at the carnage, and swiftly decided that this would be a good night to study at the library. I spent another hour or so playing the raving Medea; then decided I needed to be at home.

So I abandoned the carnage of my room, leaving an apocalypse of shattered glass and plastic on the sidewalk and the oak outside my window garlanded with t-shirts and sweaters. Five hours later I pulled up in front of my parents' house without ever really noticing how fast I was going or really having a plan as to where I was headed. My kid sister, just fifteen, was sitting on the porch swing when I got out of my much-abused Cabriolet.

"Hey."

"Hey."

I sat down next to her on the swing. We sat there for somewhere between twenty seconds and an hour; swinging on the porch, listening to the crickets and trucks on the highway. Just sitting and swinging. I didn't need to talk, I just needed to be with somebody I still trusted.

"He fucked my best friend."

"I know. Annie called. She thought you might come home."

"He's a fucking piece of shit."

"Yep."

"I still love him."

"Yep."

And I curled up into a little ball on that swing, and my kid sister held me while I cried myself to sleep. I woke up the next morning in that swing under a faded blue blanket, with a pillow from the bed I grew up in under my head and her stuffed monkey tucked under my arm.

A passing truck jolted me back to the present and I caught the girl looking at me strangely. “I know this tune,” I said.

"Yeah, the song's old. But the album's cool."

"Yep."

We sat there for a time without time, listening to Alanis on shared earbuds, until I reached out and touched her hand.

"You know he's not worth it, right?"

"Yep."

"Doesn't matter, does it?"

"Nope."

Then I reached into my bag, handed her the monkey, and held my little sister while she cried out her soul on the Starbucks patio.


John 'Falstaff' Hartness is a writer from Charlotte, NC/

All Those Things That Don't Change, Come What May

By Johnny Hughes © 2008

Jake inherited the Magic House when his drinking Uncle tried to empty a rabbit out of a long irrigation pipe and the pipe hit a high-line wire. The 1940s furniture clashed with Jake's beatnik, coffee-house conversational monologues sanctioned only by the weekend wannabe artists, singers, writers, and actors from the college that came to his regular parties, called Jake Parties.

Stilt Momma took me to one of Jake's scratchy–jazz-records-spilled-red-wine-bullfight-poster-smoky rent parties. Pseudo intellectual was the pose du jour. Over one hundred optimistic souls, mildly costumed, loved each other there every weekend of 1964 and 1965. Faded blue work-shirt was already the uniform of the day for this flock of alleged nonconformists. Magic House and the parties were Jake's life and livelihood.

Jake would meander regally to small groups of impressionable college kids, pontificating and pretending to speak knowingly. His weapon of choice was the caustic, shocking insult, a brief cryptic challenge. It was Jake's gig. He was the only legend in town that year. I thought he was a con, and sometimes cruel to his drunken guests/suckers.

It was cheaper to go to the strip for your own booze and hide it somewhere in the spacious Magic House than to be badgered by Jake to chip in for his profitable trips to the strip or later to buy beer outright from him. My first night there, two gorgeous, ironed-blond haired bookends were glued to Jake reading aloud from Kerouac's On the Road.

For them, being hustled by, buying wine from, and ultimately being Jake's temporary girlfriend would be the adventure story to take back to Dallas.

"I have a right to tall women," he gloated. Jake was five-eight, not good looking, with this bramble patch of thick, black curly hair which he conditioned and fussed over to get the exact, unkempt look. His flashing, chocolate eyes stayed hidden by his signature shades day and night until he needed to remove them dramatically for effect. His wispy and uncooperative goatee betrayed him.

The Magic House was Jake's rice bowl. Revenue trickled in from love offerings, a volunteer cover charge, bootlegging, and the sale of you-cook-your-own hamburgers and pork chop sandwiches. At two bucks, I'd buy one right now. The place always smelled of the variegated stale of red wine, tobacco, and pork chops. Usually, Jake had compelling reasons not to actually cook or clean or hold a job over three weeks or a fiancée over a semester.

Some of Jake's stories originated with trips to Selma, Denver, Mexico City, North Beach, and Venice. He did the Beatnik grand tour before he was self-incarcerated in the never ending party of Magic House. For some, graduation was delayed. For others, the dream of graduating was partied away. I feared I'd miss some folk singers or some heartbroken Freshman girl rejected by rush or some radical politico with news of the outside world. Magic House was my flame. I was the moth, returning, returning.

Karen began to pretend to love me during the third verse of a group sing-a-long of "Four Strong Winds" and I really believed her. Under the year 'round Christmas tree lights and the spell of the song, "twelve voices glued us together," Karen later said. I cooked her a pork chop sandwich. The black leotards, oversized men's dress shirt, dishwater ponytail, and copy of Kahil Gibran made Karen seem ordinary that year. She was a skilled romantic with little notes, poems, morning toothpaste kisses, worn pink wool pajamas, and small shoplifted gifts. We'd have romantic dinners at fancy restaurants, dressed to the nines, and walk the check. She'd pout and cry and leave and I'd go after her and keep going. Her elitist belief in Ayn Rand's objectivist philosophy somehow justified her life of petty crime.

Her notes, presents, day and night phone calls, and obsessive, controlling jealousy convinced me of the ocean floor depths of our love. Stalking wasn't known then. Karen climbed a winter-brittle elm tree to the second floor window of my alley pad to leave a lime on my pillow. Jake's unvarnished warnings all slid past me. She secretly tape recorded my drunken benedictions.

Three months into it, Karen quit me in a Furr's supermarket produce section. We were shopping for French bread, noodles, garlic, and tomatoes.

"I don't like you or Jake or your so-called friends," she said.

A history major with a long slide rule on his belt observed all this and drove me back to Magic House. He baked the garlic bread, drank half a gallon of red wine, and left a new, tan corduroy coat with leather elbow patches. Jake claimed it, as he often did with lost articles.

When the mean blood-alcohol level of the Magic House was precisely right, Jake led a group sing-a-long to the Beatles’ first album and everyone knew every word. He was shaking his own mop top and dancing on the couch. I had thought Karen and I were engaged. No one saw me cry.

Sororities warned penitents about Jake and Magic House and his well-intentioned but ephemeral engagements to a parade of young women, dissimilar in appearance and background but remarkably alike in their intense need to prove their intellectual worth and unbridled devotion to the dawning of the counterculture. Jake's future bride of the semester always had a car to loan, but Magic House was hard on monogamy.

My last semester, I was so broke that I had to move into Magic House. My clothes always smelled of cigs and pork chops. After a few weeks, Jake wanted me to go with him in Karen's car to steal food from deep freezers in richie neighborhoods. Sometimes, he stole beer or whiskey which was amply stored in a dry town. I wouldn't go but knew Jake and Karen were an item. I baked one of the stolen, frozen cherry pies the next morning and moved out before Jake woke up.

A couple of years later, on my way home from Viet Nam, I ran into a guy from the debate team in the Los Angeles Airport. He said the Magic House, and the parties, and Jake were still the same. On the airplane, a reed-thin, textbook salesman, who smelled of Old Spice, provided his opinion of the manhunt for James Earl. "He'd been to New Orleans just like Jack Ruby and Oswald. Probably been to Cuba too." he said.

The flat, flat land of home and the checkerboard fields glided by outside the window. While filling out the papers for a rental car at the Lubbock Airport, I began to have jagged, second thoughts about a reunion with Jake. The kitchen door of Magic House was open when I arrived. The walls had the same tired, printed slogans I had seen in magazines, "Hell no, we won't go." The college-bar smell welcomed me. From the next room, I could hear Jake reading aloud from Kerouac's On the Road. A youngish female voice said, "Wow."

I retreated, silently.

The End


Johnny Hughes is the author of Texas Poker Wisdom.

>One Night Out Part II: Hunter-Hunter

By Sigge S. Amdal © 2008

I had talked to my brother the same morning, after finding out that the Binaerpilot concert was delegates-only, regardless of the price you could afford to pay.

"Then get us in as delegates, God damn it!" I demanded, and after the evening dinner he texted me to say that an MVIP list was in motion, courtesy of the performing artist himself.

You're only as good as your network, so thank God for the Internet. At a quarter to midnight, three good and drunk Most Valuable Important Persons entered the High Tower of the Labor Party where the concert was. A storm was coming and the air held a current of several mega volts, enough to make you shiver with anticipation.

We got to the door next to the closed down ol' Opera where a couple of wannabe uppity bellboys asked for our affiliations.

My brother stepped in:
"Koew, Kill All Humans CEO."
"Kornelius, Head of Wartime Inventory."
"Sigg3, Associated Press."

While one of them went through the short list of Respectable People the other gleefully smiled at us from a bellboy's holier-than-thou mountain top.

"Watch it, kiddo," Kornelius said, "we've got people in the IRS."

I put a hand on his shoulder. You never threaten the doorman. It's a rule. For the short while you're waiting in line, you're a thief and he's Saint Peter. When he's had visual confirmation with the higher-ups however, he's free game for pocket change.

"I'm sorry, but I can't find you on the list," the first one said.

"You're checking the wrong list, man." My brother insisted. "We're on the MVIP."

"That's RIGHT!" Kornelius yelled.

"Don't take any guff from these swine!"

The face on the other wouldn't recover with the help of a face-lift after the three of us were let through with all apologies.

"When's he starting?" I asked Koew.

"He said he was on at half-past, but you know how these things are."

"Excellent," I said. "I could use another beer."

"Me too."

"What floor is it?"

"Top floor."

"Yeah of course, but what floor is that?"

"Take it easy," said Kornelius taking care of all concerned parties for the time being. "Let's just milk this for what we can. I'm gonna try and get me a BJ from one of those inheriting rich kids."

They were playing plain club hopping when we got off the elevator. The bar was lit up in electric blue and all the bartenders were Asian.

With an air of world-weary indifference I paid a fortune for the first three beers.

"What now?" I looked at Koew, being he was the main reason we'd got so far.

"I'm gonna try and hook up with Binaerpilot if I can find him."

The place was crowding by the minute; delegates, investors, representatives and or their obnoxious little offspring from whom Kornelius anticipated essential services.

"Let's check out the view! I bet you can see the entire city from here."

We stepped out from the bar with our .4l plastic glasses and into the refined world of exceptional hypocrisy. Politics and money, idealists and the idealists' moneymakers.

The outside could have been any street-level porch-like café except from the fact that we were up among the clouds. The night sky loomed with pregnant darkness, while a million brilliant lights in white, blue and orange from the city below fought the epic battle as hard as they could. Sirens, shouting, gunshots and helicopters; everything was muffled by the distance, the clashes of winds and the occasional screeches from soaring pterodactyls swooping down at us. These giant cold-eyed beasts from the cretaceous had been stirred from their sleep, awoken by the loud music booming in the bowels of the metropolitan region.

"This is bat country!" I looked around.

Every one was here. I shrugged. Didn't know any of them. I took up the camera I had bought for the part and snapped a few of the scenery. The great outdoors. Most of Oslo lay in postmortem slumber, but the few of us still alive from the many nights before could see the machine gun fires in the outskirts. Bolts of lightning far away. Was it a rainstorm? Or a failing power plant participating in the glorious display of disco culture? Or was it simply the end of our joyful participation in the suffering of this world? Nobody knew. Nobody cared. This was the top of the world.

Lizard people all around: rich kids in tuxedos, freaks in aluminum suits, regular daft punkers, radicals with reggae/rasta hairdos and the usual secret service types hovering in the shadows. Before I knew it Kornelius had advanced on a couple of politically correct gold-diggers and was doing the usual persuasion routine. A redhead looked up at me with beautiful and wet duck-fucking eyes.

"Justine," she said in a fake French accent and extended her hand.

"Sigg3, Associated Press."

"Oh. What do you do?"

"International watchdogging. I dog the watchers so to speak. Keep them in line. We can't have any controversial conspiracy blow up all the time. Chaos needs planning."

"Oh?"

"But that's not what I do. I'm the go-between. Kornelius here is the go-getter. Dangerous trade. I really can't say too little about it."

"Are you here to see the concert?"

"But of course. We're close friends with some of the artists playing in this establishment tonight. And to have a look around of course. You can't be too safe nowadays."

"Do you really think we are in danger?"

I sniffed. She was eating the whole thing, fur and all. But we were empty and Kornelius didn't seem to get anywhere.

"Let's find Koew and get some more beer."

"Koew?" the girl asked.

"KAH CEO, love."

"Oh."

Time to let the hook sink.

We rustled away from the posing carpet-lickers and headed for the bar. It was Koew's round. He was easily found, the only one wearing a simple t-shirt in this place, scoring points for individuality.

"Meet Binaerpilot."

I had seen him many times before but never actually spoken to him.

"Sigg3, Associated Press."

Who was the silent side-kick? I'd seen him before as well but he always moved in the shadows. What was he? A people advisor? Bodyguard? Spiritual trip guide? Devil knows.

"I'm really looking forward to the concert," I said. "Did my brother convey my hit wish?"

"Yeah! And thanks for coming!"

He side-glanced at Kornelius who inspected the wall-carpets very closely.

"Don't worry about him, he's completely harmless."

But I knew we needed a time-out. The screamers had begun to kcik in. How long would we be able to maintain? Koew stepped in and side-tracked Binaerpilot while I took care of mister K.

"Let's stretch our legs a little."

"Excellent! God damn air in here tastes like moth balls. I'm all dried up here. Did you see that blonde? Totally repulsive. But she had the riches, and very plump lips."

"And?"

"Wasn't ready for marriage yet. Not without a prenuptial agreement. You know these girls. They wanna see your CV before they'd even consider a hand job."

"Give it some time, do the right thing, and they'll be begging for you."

"You think? Shit, I gotta use the bathroom."

"It's down here."

We passed the crowded barscape and down the cylindrical staircase to the toilets. The Ladies' and the Gents' combined were larger than my apartment. They had a servant handing you silk towels, and an air-drier with the potential of a 747.

"Shit, I could live in here," making conversation at the pissoir.:

"You're damn straight. We're toilet people, Sigg3. There's no hope."

"Shut up with that negative shit. The concert's right about to start."

"She really wanted me, man. But she just couldn't do it. I need to get her somewhere we can be in private. Away from all of this. Those dazzling eyes. Inka forehead. I think she is a virgin."

"Really?"

The servant steadied him while he shook the entanglements.

"What happened to the Mysterious Mr. S?"

Took me the good of two hours to remember who was missing.

"He had to baby-sit his fucking nephew. Fucking sister, I fucking swear."

"I know. She needs therapy or some shit."

"Nah. She needs a good fucking."

"Ha!

Anyway, he should have brought the kid here. Would have been a good learning experience."

"Fuck that. Let's make a rumpus."

"Agreed."

Expectations had grown while we were away and the primitive sensation of calm before the storm had really put the spirit into people. The Asians behind the bar were doing their best to keep up with demand. We elbowed our way through the crowd with the usual tacit threats and settled next to the Budweiser tap.

"Jesus Christ!" Kornelius exclaimed.

"Where!?"

"Are those two women fucking a polar bear?!"

He was staring at the empty corner of the room.

"Don't tell me that stuff."

"...dirty animals."

We got three topped ones and barely made it back to the standing table before 'Gesouble Gesutch' blared from Binaerpilot's home-made loudspeakers.

There are only a handful of tracks in the world that makes me move like that, most of which are MJJ signature tracks. With Kornelius deep into the abyss of world politics I headed over for the stage and put away the most unnecessary clothing before doing justice to the 8-bit blessing booming all around us. Binaerpilot's girl and Koew were already on the floor shaking it.

"Right!"

I braced myself before bottoming up. "Let's show these imperialists how to party."
It was just like ecstasy. I made it back and forth to Kornelius a couple of times but except for that I was one hundred percent present on the dancefloor.

You can't go wrong with console music. It's hard-coded into every one of us who just happened to be born sometime between the sixties and the nineties. Binaerpilot himself was dancing behind an altar clad with a pirate flag whereupon his technical equipment rested, while a blizzard of black and white drawings - Tokyo 3000 style - moved around in mechanical movements on a wall-to-wall projector screen behind him.

Because he played 'Gesouble' so early in the set I gave my max when 'Smile' came up. In complete despise of ambient noise the 8-bit keys fell like electro rain on my aural perspiration sensors Tokyo 3000 style:
You make me smile when you make your body move...
Everybody just freaks when my people groove...
Could be the greatest hit - maybe this is it...
It was brilliantly timeless, alas 'twas over all too soon. Time enough to convince some of the rich kids to abandon their sinful ways however, and step upon the righteous path of Mecha-melody.

Fairly short after the gig, the follow-up ensemble - a vulgar hillbilly technopop group - gave us no choice but to leave the premises in order to savor the memories.

We regrouped at Café South, where Kornelius believed his love would follow in due time for some late-night activity. He had yet to see the ultimate meaning of being kindly asked to leave.

In the meantime we seated ourselves - beer in hand - at a table overlooking the pot-smoking, political crowd that frequents this hip hop joint. I got in conversation with a midget MC sitting next to us and we had a great time tossing stories about yesterday feats and conquests none of us would recite in court.

"This is no staying place," my brother pleaded.

"I agree. It lacks the right oomph a proper Saturday night out needs by this hour."

"Kornelius?" For the last hour he had been seeing Little People in the shadows, greatly offending our new midget mate.

These things do happen. Lady C herself bequeathed a story of a little blue man with a bowler hat in possession of her faculty of judgment while under the sweet tyranny of strong intoxication. But Kornelius's visions had subsided to give way for post-drug depression.

"She doesn't love me anymore. My dick-sucking muse of motherhood, my eternal love and longing, she - the most prevailing beauty of them all! - left me here to rot. It's her treacherous genes, I say! They're pulling her into this capitalist mess! And I'm nothing but a world-weary poseur reaching for the fruits the highest branches proffer. Long live the total lack of libido!"

He raised his glass.

"Kornelius?"

"Seriously man!... You're not listening! I mean. Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?"

"To a tittie bar," my brother ruled confidently.

And he was right.

For what other ends had God intended by the creation of evenings like these?

With the divine blessing of a higher power, we were soon on our way further into the night, to the costly land of milk and honey, where sin and sainthood intertwine in the abominable vortex of man's twitching loins.


Sigge S. Amdal is a word wanker from Oslo, Norway.