December 01, 2010

December 2010, Vol. 9, Issue 12


The year-end issue includes a couple of Christmas-themed stories. Happy holidaze!

1. Christmas Bird by Paul McGuire
Shap drank whiskey and soda but with no ice. He'd nurse two or three drinks in five hours and sat the end of the bar for hours on end attempting to finish the NY Times crossword. When he was done with the puzzle, he'd engage in spats with Sully, the resident encyclopedia of sports statistics and knowledge of everything sports... More

2. That Musical Christmas Meeting in Jail by Johnny Hughes
When Sheriff Dink staggered across the room with Lonnie's guitar, both men pulled guitar picks from their pockets. Ryan reached out and grabbed the guitar. He picked a few notes, tuned it, and then quickly demonstrated that his finger picking style was more advanced than Lonnie's cording and strumming. Then he launched into House of the Rising Sun, and he and Lonnie stood facing the others, singing together, obviously delighted... More

3. Santa's Vice by Mark Verve
They were replacing some of the couches that line the walls. The old ones were in the alley when I arrived. The crushed red velor was torn, soiled, and stained with spilled drinks and god knows what other types of fluids. No one would ever consider sitting on them if they knew... More

4. NY, NY by Ernest
Most of the peep shows and porno theaters were already deserted, so the city had sponsored an art exhibit. The lobbies and display cases of the theaters were filled with crazy sculptures and graffiti pieces, and all the marquees had cool phrases or haikus on them... cool Basquiat type shit... More

5. Hell Pro Support by Sigge S. Amdal
Did you know that most of the tools and drivers our technicians use are available on our website? Just go to support dot euro dot hell dot com. Your call is important to us, thanks for holding. We'll soon find an available technician to answer your call. The conversation may be recorded for training purposes... More

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

From the Editor's Laptop

The December issue includes four seasoned-themed stories and one tale about support hell. Norway's Sigge Amdal wrote a story about awful phone support that I'm sorry to say we're all to familiar. Texas author Johnny Hughes whipped up a Christmas doozy about musicians and jail. Ernest returns with a trippy story about New York City. Mark Verve delves deep into Santa's bad side. Lastly, my seasonal contribution is a piece of jazz-inspired fiction.

The contributors at Truckin' write for the simple love of self-expression, which is a clever way of saying that they write for free. These writers are bold for taking an inspirational leap of faith by exposing their inner souls to you. So, I kindly ask you to help spread the good word about your favorite stories. Good karma and many blessings will come your way for exposing new readers to our amazing writers.

If anyone desires to being added to the mailing list, or any scribes (published or non-published) are interested writing for a future issue, then please contact us.

Also, thanks to you, the readers. The long-form written word is slowly dying off, but you're keeping the spirit alive with your unwavering support of Truckin'.

Be good,
McG

"You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Christmas Bird

By Paul McGuire © 2010

After I lost my job after the dotcom bubble burst, I humped the morning shift at a neighborhood bar in Brooklyn. Initially, I worked four days a week, taking off one day a week to dedicate myself to interviews and finding a job. I gave up looking for a job after six months and called the bar my office for five days a week for the next three years. I showed up 9am on weekdays to open the bar and usually worked through the end of Happy Hour at 6pm.

Shap, one of the morning regulars, must have been in his late 60s, but Sully told me that he thought he was 75. With a full head of silver hair, Shap looked good for his age, whatever it was, considering he spent four or five hours a day inside the bar five days a week, only skipping Tuesdays and Sundays.

Shap dressed like a college professor -- with corduroy jacket with patches on the sleeves and a wrinkled dress shirt. I think that's what he did before he retired. Shap drank whiskey and soda but with no ice. He'd nurse two or three drinks in five hours and sat the end of the bar for hours on end attempting to finish the NY Times crossword. When he was done with the puzzle, he'd engage in spats with Sully, the resident encyclopedia of sports statistics and knowledge of everything sports. Sully knew that Shap grew up in Boston and always gave him shit about the Red Sox. Shap took his guff mostly because the Celtics won more championships that Sully beleaguered Knicks.

What Sully was to sports, Shap was to jazz music. I had been serving him for four days a week almost a year before I discovered his passion for all things jazz. One Tuesday morning, I pointed at his empty stool and quizzed Sully.

"Where does he go on Tuesdays and Sundays when he's not here? Sundays is for church right? Is he religious something?"

"Shap? That cheap Jew?" barked Sully. "You've seen how he tips. He's a full-blooded Jew as much as I'm a full-blooded McCatholic. He's a bad member of the tribe too because he's in here drinking on Saturdays."

"So Sundays? What's he doing?"

Sully told me that Shap took Sundays to visit his adult children and grandkids. I never even knew he had kids, something he never talked about. Some barflys bombarded you with unsolicited tales of their entire life story, while others don't tell you a lick. Shap was in that group that rarely spoke about his personal life outside the bar. Mostly everything out of his mouth was sports or politics.

"What about Tuesdays?"

"He's got that radio show. You know, on one of those college radio stations at the far end of the dial. I dunno if you can even hear it out in Brooklyn. Signal is too weak."

Radio show? I quickly discovered that Shap was a jazz historian who hosted his own show on NYU's radio station. He took the subway into Manhattan every Tuesday, and dragged a dozen or so LPs with him to the Village. Shap hosted the same show for over thirty years. He didn't get paid a dime and had become sort of a legend among the students who worked at the radio station over the years.

Shap taught literature at NYU for a decade and wrote record reviews for jazz magazines on the side. He got paid to write about his passion as he collected thousands of records, including thousands of hours of live bootlegged recordings of his idol Charlie Parker, otherwise known as "Bird."

Shap's biggest claim to fame was when Miles Davis accepted his invitation to drop by the studio in the late 1980s, and in his trademarked gravely voice, Miles told an elaborate story about how Charlie "Bird" Parker had arranged a series of gigs in Chicago.

"When Bird couldn't cop any smack, he drank cough syrup and whiskey. He'd get blind drunk and pass out and sleep for hours on end. He missed a lot of gigs that way. Bird owed a huge debt for failing to show up to four gigs in Chicago. The club was owned by a slick cat named Morris and Morris had friends with the mafia. Bird was scared that they were going to kill him, so he agreed to work off the debt, but with a crazy schedule -- Christmas Eve through New Years -- with only Christmas off, and three sets a night plus five on New Year's Eve. Bird rounded up a couple of his friends in New York and formed a band for the Chicago shows. I didn't want to go, but all of the clubs in the city were closed on the holidays. I didn't have any money to go home to St. Louis and visit my family for Christmas. I figured that I could get out to Chicago, earn some scratch, and then take the train down to St. Louis after the holidays. We took the train to Chicago and played our first gig on Christmas Eve. Bird didn't cop enough dope before we left New York and he started taking Seconals, which were these red pills that were heavy sleeping pills. We showed up to Chicago with only one rehearsal under our belt. Bird was useless and all fucked up on Seconals, so I picked the songs to play. On our first night at the club, the joint was packed for a special Christmas Eve show. Bird stumbled on stage and played when he wasn't nodded out. Most of the time he wasn't even playing the same songs as us -- but at least it was in the right key. That's the thing about Bird, even as fucked up as he was, he knew we were in F and just started playing the first tune that came to mind that was also in F. For the second set, I had kick him in the shin to wake him up for his solos. The next morning, I saw Bird in the lobby of our hotel. He said that his shins hurt and I told him it was because I had to kick him all night because he kept nodding out. That's when he told me, 'Miles, never take Seconals and play chromatics. You'll go crazy.'"


Paul McGuire is the author of Lost Vegas.

That Musical Christmas Meeting in Jail - Amarillo, Texas, 1913

By Johnny Hughes © 2010

When the Sheriff's deputies brought Lonnie Hogan to the Amarillo jail, Ryan O'Malley was already incarcerated. It was a meeting that they'd laugh about for many years. Both men were 26 years old, and had thick, curly, brown hair, and chocolate-colored eyes. Both were handsome men, and knew it. At 6'2", Lonnie was six inches taller than Ryan. Ryan talked most of the time. He talked fast, walked fast, ate fast, and was impulsive. Lonnie was naturally quiet, slow-moving, and deliberate. Ryan was most interested in Lonnie's guitar, which the deputies locked in a closet.

"I heard 'em say they had you as a gambler?" Ryan offered his hand to his new cell mate. Lonnie shook, but with little enthusiasm. They were the only prisoners.

"We were playing poker at the Amarillo Hotel. They arrested me for winning a horse and fancy buggy off this old, drunk Doctor. He kept jacking up the stakes. It was a fluke. I've offered to give it back or sell it cheap if they'd cut me loose. It has soft, leather seats. Anyways, what you in for?" Lonnie's Texas cowboy accent and slow speech lent itself to an unexcited calm.

"Singing songs. I'm a Wobbly. A soap boxer. I was down at the railroad yard singing, Joe Hill's 'Pie in the Sky.' My union card says International Workers of the World, ever heard of it? That's the Wobblies. One big union. They got me for Vagrancy, being temporarily without funds." Ryan was boastful, as always.

"I've heard of these union and communist kind of troubles. What's your trade? You a railroad man? A miner?" Lonnie asked. "You a busker? Goin' around singing with your hat on the ground for tips?"

Ryan agreed that basically he was a busker, and said his guitar was with a railroad man he knew only as Hank, but being a union brother, he knew he'd get it back.

"Nah, I want to be a labor organizer. But I've never had any trade or other union card. My family ain't much for working. Most Wobblies are two card men, belonging to a trade union also. I'm headed for southern Colorado. Big labor strikes with the miners against Rockefeller."

Lonnie said they had raided his room at the Amarillo Hotel early that morning. They found six decks of cards, and a dozen pair of dice, all of them on the square. They'd charged him with keeping a gambling house but hinted that he'd be out soon because of Christmas. Ryan said he had no idea of when he would be released, explaining that Wobblies were police targets all over the country. When he asked Lonnie about the poker game, Lonnie explained it was dealer's choice, mostly high draw, no openers, bet or fold with a stiff ante that grew through the night. They agreed that they thought stud was too slow and draw without openers gave the dealer a real advantage.

Then Ryan challenged Lonnie to play heads up draw poker when they were released. Lonnie laughed that off, saying, "You ain't got no money. Cash on the wood makes gambling good. I'm sure I'm a better poker player than you and a better singer."

Lonnie seemed to think this was hilarious. Ryan took offense.

"I'm an O'Malley. I come from a long line of gamblers. You could come up to our family farm by Duke, Oklahoma. There might be a handful of uncles or cousins who are off the road. Ever single one could beat you at any gambling game. And my whole family are great musicians. I'll bet I can play guitar better than you."

Lonnie explained that he had been singing in a duet at the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico for over a year, and playing in the daily poker game on the second floor. Then he began to sing in a deep, rich baritone, "There is a house in New Orleans, they call the rising sun, Its been the ruin of many a poor boy, and Lord, I know I'm one."

On the second line, Ryan took the harmony, very loudly, with his perfect-pitch Irish tenor. Both men were on their feet, their dark eyes shining. After a few verses, Ryan said, "I'll bet you five bucks I know more verses than you do to that song."

Ryan said, "A good gambler doesn't gamble with brokes," then he sang, "Frankie and Johnny were sweethearts... He was her man, but he done her wrong."

Now each man would sing lead on a verse and the other would back him up. Lonnie said, "I know verses where she gets off, and I know verses where she goes to prison." They both knew Shine On Harvest Moon and Glow Worm.

Being single, Jack Collins had drawn Christmas duty guarding the jail. He had come back to the cells and was listening. He told Lonnie he didn't have a key to the closet or he would get him his guitar. Then he said, "Don't say nothing to spoil the surprise, but the Sheriff's wife Alma is cooking a turkey and all the fixins. She'll bring the best damn food you ever laid a lip on over here this afternoon or evening. Y'all can sing for her."

Jack Collins started a song in his off-key, whiskey voice:
"Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie,
Where the wild coyotes will howl over me.
Where the west wind sweeps and the grasses wave,
And sunbeams rest on the prairie grave."
Lonnie took over and sang several verses, with Ryan backing him up as best he could. "See, that's a lot of my act. My daddy had been a cowboy out of Wichita Falls and worked for ol' Burk Burnett some. He got these magazines that had all the words to these cowboy and trail driver songs."

Lonnie said that he had been a cowboy on a ranch outside Mobeetie, Texas. There was so much gambling in the town that he was able to make that his living.

Jack Collins broke in, "First man to own a ranch in the Texas Panhandle was killed in a poker game. Ol' Man Springer opened this here way station, general store, outside Mobeetie to serve the trail herds and buffalo hunters in 1877. He kept a poker game going almost every day. That was only two years after Quanah Parker and the Comanches surrendered to Col. MacKenzie and went on the reservation. Springer and his hired man were playing poker with some Cavalry men, buffalo soldiers, colored soldiers. The Indians called them that because their hair was like a buffalo's. A couple of them killed Springer and his hired man saying they'd been cheating. The Army had a little hearing about it, 'course nothing come of it. Poker can be dangerous. Ol' Springer was supposed to have won a lot of money and cows. The cowboys with them herds could get chips for cows, and Springer got together a big herd."

Lonnie started singing Stag O'Lee. Gentlemen of the jury, what do you think of that? Stag O'Lee killed Billy de Lyon about a five-dollar Stetson hat.

Ryan knew the song and the two were amazed at just how well their mellifluous voices blended together. They sounded like brothers who had sang together since childhood. They were very good, and they both knew it immediately.

After exchanging sanitized and slightly magnified versions of their life stories, Lonnie said they could get a job singing at the La Fonda in Santa Fe easily if Ryan was really good at guitar and could get over there.

"There's this here powerful Judge, Rudy Vigil. He loves poker and plays there nearly every afternoon. Long as he is there, it is never above five-dollar limit. But at night, after he leaves, they vote and take the limit off. "

Lonnie said he had been singing with an incredible beauty and musician, Gloria Chavez, a member of a well-known musical family. Lonnie didn't reveal that he loved her. He said he and Ryan could "sho nuff make better music and land a job easy." Her three brothers also had an act that rotated with their's at La Fonda. Gloria, only 20, had eloped with a wealthy rancher from northern New Mexico who was 46. Her father and brothers were making death threats. The families had hated each other for a couple of hundred years.

Dr. Grover Monahan, one of Amarillo's first and most respected doctors, sent a hired man over to see Lonnie. He apologized profusely and said the Doctor had nothing to do with his arrest. He also asked if he'd sell the horse and buggy back and asked what Lonnie wanted for it. Lonnie had walked over to the livery stable with the drunk Doctor around daylight and barely looked at his new prize. Lonnie told the man to ask the Doctor for a fair offer.

Lonnie and Ryan weren't surprised that they had both started out on shape note singing. Lonnie had sang with two church choirs. Both of their fathers played guitar and sang. Ryan said his uncle was in this Irish musical show in New York. Ryan said the whole O'Malley clan were big on their Irish roots, Irish foods, and songs. Lonnie said his family were Irish but he knew nothing of that. It was rarely mentioned.

Deputy Jack Collins broke in with another of his stories. "Right after Oklahoma became a state, there was this here man in the Oklahoma panhandle going on trial for something. The night before his trial, Ol' Temple Houston, Sam Houston's son, was playing poker with his two lawyers. He thought they was cheating and shot them both dead. He was a lawyer, so Temple defended the man for free and got him off. Then he got his own self off. Poker can be mighty dangerous."

Right at sundown, with slants of flat land light illuminating the jail, Deputy Sheriff Doak Bradshaw and his wife, Velma, came in with a pumpkin and pecan pies, mashed potatoes, and some unopened cans of cranberry sauce. Right after that, Sheriff Dink Flournoy arrived, followed closely by his wife Alma. She began to spread a white table cloth on the desk. The Sheriff was obviously drunk and carrying a gallon of red wine. He opened the cell door and handed the wine to Ryan who took a big swallow and handed it to Lonnie who did likewise.

"Sure hope y'all are hungry," Sheriff said, "'Cause Alma has been fussing over this all day."

When Sheriff Dink staggered across the room with Lonnie's guitar, both men pulled guitar picks from their pockets. Ryan reached out and grabbed the guitar. He picked a few notes, tuned it, and then quickly demonstrated that his finger picking style was more advanced than Lonnie's cording and strumming. Then he launched into House of the Rising Sun, and he and Lonnie stood facing the others, singing together, obviously delighted. Dink said, "these are bound to be the happiest jail birds I ever saw."

Just then, Ryan made it a medley doing a few verses of Frankie and Johnny and on into Stag O' Lee.

"These ol' boys don't just gamble, they sings about gambling," Dink continued. "Y'all need to sing a hymn or Christmas music for Alma. She's mighty religious."

Jack Collins started Rock of Ages, and then Silent Night. Ryan led them all on Joy to the World. Before dinner, Alma said a long prayer mentioning several Amarillo residents, her Arkansas cousins, sinful Texas cowboys, and other lost souls. Dink brought out two more gallons of red wine, and everyone but Alma was drinking freely. At the end of dinner, Dink was slurring his words when he presented Lonnie a check for $350 from Doc Monahan for the horse and buggy which was worth four times that. Lonnie accepted graciously, very surprised and happy to get it. They ate, sang, and drank long into the night, and often praised Alma for the memorable feast.

Lonnie staked Ryan to a train ticket to Santa Fe, a cheap suit, and a Porkpie hat that Ryan always wore with the brim up. He located his guitar. Lonnie had this annoying habit of writing down all his expenses, especially money loaned to or spent on Ryan, in a little black notebook he always carried in his coat pocket. They drew great crowds at La Fonda Thursday though Saturday nights. They always opened with House of the Rising Sun, their signature song. Ryan went into every business and government office in downtown Santa Fe introducing himself and inviting people to their show. Soon he put a tip jar on stage, which brought in good extra money. They added a Sunday afternoon show which was always packed.

Lonnie made the rules and was the unofficial boss. He banned any form of cheating at the poker, union songs, and mention of unions, especially Wobblies. Ryan swore he knew lots about cheating but never would because of the danger. Bravery was never Ryan's long suit. They were both regular winners in the afternoon poker games with a limit of $5. They played each other heads up and Lonnie always won. If wealthy ranchers made the night game too high for him, Lonnie would quit. Not Ryan. He went broke and built back up a bank roll over and over. One night Ryan was $1600 winner with Lonnie as his partner. Lonnie cut out his share of the winnings, urging Ryan to quit. Ryan lost his share all back. The very next morning, Lonnie was making Ryan a loan and marking it in the little notebook. Ryan wrote a funny song about Scrooge's Notebook and sang it at La Fonda. Lonnie loved it and wrote a couple of verses while they sang. That was the beginning of their song-writing partnership.


Johnny Hughes is the author of Texas Poker Wisdom, a novel.

Santa's Vice

By Mark Verve © 2010

I immediately waved to the bouncer as a line had been crossed. He was busy watching the new Thai dancer. Studying her was more like it. Probably filling his RAM with skippy whipping material for later I thought. He saw me after the second or third wave. As expected he casually moved over in my direction. As a rule the VIP room bouncers are told to be discreet. Wouldn't want to disrupt the atmosphere by causing a commotion right? This bouncer had worked the room for the past three weeks. He looked like an MMA wanna be and had a snake tat crawling out of his collar towards his left ear. I met him in the middle of the room and shouted to be heard over the music: "That FREAK just exposed himself."

"OK, I'll handle it. Go back downstairs," he replied.

I started toward the stairs. I knew what handle it meant. He'll ask the customer if he'd like to invite another dancer to join him. Chances are she'll be more relaxed about his needs. I should have known it was too good to be true. I mean, thirty minutes into my shift on Christmas Eve and I get a VIP request? As I passed by the bar I noticed the guy dressed in a full Santa outfit. He'd been in the night before and said he enjoyed the dance I gave him. I laughed to myself and wondered where Mrs. Claus thought he was tonight. If this was his only vice the kids were safe. He motioned me over and I signaled that I'd be right back. I headed to the locker room to check my make up. The door swung open and Riley appeared.

"Back so soon?" she asked.

I gave her a one word reply: "Freak."

"Sorry baby," she said as she adjusted her tube top and headed back into the smoke and noise.

The locker room was full of the usual drama. Lost jewelry, lost clothing, crying, an argument in the corner...whatever. I tried to ignore it and moved quickly to the nearest mirror. Just as I'd thought, the Freak had had smudged my rouge when he cradled my face as I was straddling him.

"Stacy," he said with a Russian accent, "Are you the adventurous type?"

Adventurous seems to be the new code word for good to go. At the time I just laughed it off and hoped he had just stumbled upon the word. Nope, ten minutes later he shared his definition and I was back downstairs. I knew him as a regular with a taste for blondes. Why he picked me I'll probably never know.

The bright lights of the locker room reveal the shocking physical truths about dancers. Stretch marks, dark circles, surgery scars, regrettable tattoos, burns, cheese, bruises.....you name it we've got it. Customers only see us in the dimly lit rooms outside. In this case ignorance is bliss. I'm convinced a dark club turns any five into a nine and makes her profitable for the night. It reminded of the time I returned to the club in the late morning for a meeting. They were replacing some of the couches that line the walls. The old ones were in the alley when I arrived. The crushed red velor was torn, soiled, and stained with spilled drinks and god knows what other types of fluids. No one would ever consider sitting on them if they knew.

My day had started hours earlier with some last minute Christmas shopping with my friend Colleen. We'd met at the club and became quick friends. I was attracted to her kind heart and unaffected attitude. She's a red headed stunner with alabaster skin but seldom used her power. Sometimes it seemed she was truly unaware of it. She was most comfortable off duty as a tomboy. Customers loved her and enjoyed seeing two of her three pink parts. I fantasized about being with her but had never told her so. Probably never will. She was outwardly more feminine than I could ever be but I wanted her to be my butch. I arrived at her condo on the west side about noon. She had just finished a phone conversation with her latest boyfriend now turned loser and was upset. Colleen is unable to tell the difference between sex and love so she regularly fell victim to men that could. I tried to explain that she'd never have trouble finding sex but love was a completely different animal. She may never understand.

We made our way to the local mall and joined the masses. She calmed down on the way over and we decided to have a drink and quick lunch at Ricardo's. We sat on the rail in the patio area surrounded by mall traffic. It was great for people watching but we had to swat the flies that gathered. Red heads are like a beacon. I should have known better as this had happened before. They try to make a play despite the fly rings we both were wearing. It used to be funny but lately it was just an annoyance. Even the waitress seemed interested with a little too much small talk that turned personal.

Some of our conversation involved the club and the recent arrests of three dancers for lewd behavior. It seems that the local vice squad had sent undercover cops to harass us again.

"I heard that they took Cheyenne out two nights ago," said Colleen. "Sky said she was crying hysterically and almost had to be carried out of the office."

I could not get a third citation as that would mean a mandatory ninety day suspension not to mention the fine. With a kid and a mortgage it would be a disaster. I'd gotten two warning citations six months ago for no reason but fighting them was nearly impossible. It was their word against mine.

"Just be real careful with contact and play it straight for a while," I said.

Easier said than done it thought. We agreed to have breakfast after our shifts that night.

After finishing my makeup I returned to the bar area and walked up to Santa. He greeted me with a reserved smile. I suggested we move to a booth and he agreed bringing his Evian with him. He wasn't much for small talk and asked for a lap dance. We sat in awkward silence for a minute until a new song started. He didn't get touchy or ask me to sit next to him while we waited. He just sat there with his hands folded in his lap. Everything was just like last night. When the music started I moved in front of him and took off my top. He never stopped looking into my eyes. I moved to straddle him and just then my left heel strap broke. I almost fell into his lap but held myself up. I felt the inside of my right breast brush his fake beard and nose. It felt like stiff cotton candy. He didn't react at all....not even a flinch. I laughed nervously, took off my other shoe and continued. When the song finished he paid me and I left to make repairs.

Back in the locker room I was putting on my back up heels when I saw Samantha approaching out of the corner of my eye. She's the House Mother for the club. A kind of counselor, friend, and know-it-all for the dancers. Got a problem or an issue? Ask Sam. Need your thong repaired or forget a tampon? Sam's the one. I try to steer clear except when I tip her out. She loves drama and is more trouble than she's worth.

"Stacy, Turk wants to see you in his office." She almost said it with glee in her voice.

"What about?" I asked. "Didn't say, just that he wants to see you now."

Emphasis on now. I went to my locker and got out my red jacket. It was as business like as I could look in my school girl outfit.

Turk's office is on the other side of the club by the liquor storage room. The cheap bastard likes to keep an eye on that door. He's a smarmy chubby thirty-something with the beginnings of a comb over. I think of him as George Costanza with an bad attitude. I'd been in there twice before. Once when I was hired and again a week later when he called me in to discuss my "future" at the club. He'd picked up on my vibe that I knew the score and laid off. Girls that don't know any better probably fall for that ruse when Turk makes his play. I'm sure he gets several a month with that tired bullshit.

When I entered the room there were two uniforms standing in front of Turk's desk. Turk looked at me and then the floor. The female told me their names and explained that they were doing a lewdness investigation. Lewdness? I couldn't believe it. I started to panic inside as a suspension would be a disaster. There must be a mistake. I had only given one dance in the main room since I'd arrived. I doubted that the Russian would have reported anything and besides nothing happened up there. That left Santa. Other than my heel strap breaking nothing had happened there either.

"What's the problem?"

"We have a witness that claims lewd contact during a lap dance," she explained.

"But I've only given one dance tonight and that was for the guy in the Santa suit," I protested.

The female cop seemed sympathetic. She looked up from her paperwork and said, "Sorry honey, Santa's vice."


Mark Verve lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and writes for relaxation. He trades the stock markets for a living and plays poker for aggravation.

NY, NY

By Ernest © 2010

The first time I went to Times Square I was tripping my balls off.

I was visiting my friend who was housesitting his art professor's huge apartment/art studio in Tribeca for the summer. On our first night in town, a group of us went to the last strip club left in Manhattan that didn't charge a cover. You get what you pay for. It was a dingy joint called Satin Dolls. Like a rookie, I bought the first round. Forty bucks for four Buds for four buddies. Yikes. The talent was less than stellar. The anorexic, bruised strippers would actually emerge from a trap door on the stage. I imagined a dirt floor dungeon shooting gallery down there, where feral stripper junkies would prowl around hissing at each other until it was their turn to go above ground like a bunch of dope sick C.H.U.D.S. I'm really surprised that a stripper didn't come up with a needle still hanging out of her arm. There was a back room/pay phone alcove where strippers would occasionally lead fat old men in stained wife beaters to do blow or get blown. It was basically in plain view of the bar. All you had to do was lean back on your stool and you had a clear shot of all the disturbing nefarious activities. My friends were cheap as shit, and only two of us were tipping the strippers. At one point, a particularly strung out stripper with protruding ribs leaned over the bar from the stage and started screaming at us "Tip! Tip! TIP!!!" as little flecks of spittle formed in the corners of her chapped lips.

Sexxxy.

After the screaming incident, the club's gigantic bouncer came over to us at the bar and put his arms around all four of us at once and said in a Barry White-like voice: "You boys will be having another beer."

We believed him. He was wearing more jewelry than Mr T. and his breath smelled like Hennessy and beatings. We shelled out another forty bucks and drank our second beers quickly as Alanis Morrissette blared over the speakers. I shit you not. Alanis fucking Morrissette. As if the place wasn't depressing enough. Whatever happened to Def Leppard or Motley Crue? My friend Bamboo and I decided that the only proper reaction to the scarring experience of Satin Dolls was to drop some of the acid that I had smuggled on the plane to New York in the waistband of my boxers. We went into the men's room that I really, really don't want to talk about, and swallowed the little paper squares. I don't know why we bothered to go into the bathroom, drug use was everywhere out in the open. We washed the acid down with the last of our $10 Budweisers as we walked past Mr. T and out into the muggy New York evening.

The subway ride was mercifully short, and as we walked up the stairs into Times Square, we were really starting to trip. Times Square is already sensory overload when you're sober, and on LSD it was like ground zero of a neon atomic bomb. Everything was flashing color and vertigo as we stumbled down the sidewalk trying to maintain. This was right before the Disney-fication of Times Square. Most of the peep shows and porno theaters were already deserted, so the city had sponsored an art exhibit. The lobbies and display cases of the theaters were filled with crazy sculptures and graffiti pieces, and all the marquees had cool phrases or haikus on them. I was too fucked up to remember any of them, but it was cool Basquiat type shit. Everything was all a blur as we made our way a few blocks down to the Manhattan Center where the Melvins were playing. We got some beers at a bodega and hung out on the steps of the Post Office across from Penn Station before smoking a joint and heading into the show.

The Melvins psychedelic sludge was incredible, although some drunk dude mistook me for the bass player of the opening band, Season to Risk. He kept asking me about "the new album" and "what touring was like." He was relentless, even though I insisted I wasn't the bass player. Later I found out that my friend TB had told him that I really was in Season to Risk, but that I was humble and shy so he would have to be persistent. Thanks TB. Fuck with the guy who is tripping. What are friends for.

By the time we left the show, it had cooled off outside, thank god. We enjoyed a typically insane New York City cab ride as we headed back to the loft. I remember thinking that I felt bad for people who grew up in New York, because all of this would be the norm for them. Every place they went after this would be a let down. We grabbed some beers at the corner store at 3am (was this place heaven or what?) and headed up to the apartment. After we hung out on the fire escape for awhile listening to the sounds of Manhattan at night, I went into the living room and lay down on the couch that would be my bed for the next few nights. As I looked out of the huge floor to ceiling windows, I had a perfect view of the Twin Towers framed by the moon.

A lot has changed since then, but that first whacked out night is how I'll always picture New York.

Ernest is a writer currently living in Maine.

Hell Pro Support

By Sigge S. Amdal © 2010

* You've reached Hell Pro Support. Please hold while we find an available technician to answer your call! The conversation may be recorded for training purposes...

* Hi, Hell Support, Joan speaking. May I have your service tag, please?
* Yes, of course. It's two-oh-four-four-a for alpha-m for male and sixty-nine.
* Thank you.... That's a Hell OfficeComp E2000? And I see that you've got Pro Support.
* Yes. That's why I called the Pro Support number.
* Hang on, while I connect you to one of our Pro Support technicians.

* You've reached Hell Pro Support. Please state which of our products you are calling about. Press 1 for Laptop Computers. Press 2 for Desktop Computers. Press 3 for Hell Server Products.
* #1
* Press 1 for EasyComp. Press 2 for OfficeComp. Press-
* #2
* Please hold while we find an available technician to answer your call! Please be aware that you must have your service tag ready and be near the system in question...

Did you know that most of the tools and drivers our technicians use are available on our website? Just go to support dot euro dot hell dot com. Your call is important to us, thanks for holding. We'll soon find an available technician to answer your call. The conversation may be recorded for training purposes...

* Hi! This is Rhonda from Pro Support!
* Hi, I'm John from Just another office. Do you want the service-tag?
* No, I've got it.
* Okay.
* So what do you want to do today, hot stuff?
* I seem to be having some hardware trouble.
* Let's start with what you're wearing...
* I can see the hard drive in BIOS but I just can't boot.
* Ooooh, you're just a nasty little one, aren't you John? You're dressed for trouble. I'm going to “get into” something more comfortable here... Taking off my black leather boots.
* Pressing F12. Diagnostics. Right, it's running.
* Ah, that feels good. Do you want to lick the boot?
* "Did you see colors on the screen?" Yes. Alright. It's running some memory test now.
* I said: Do you want to lick it!?
* This usually takes a while. I'm not having any memory issues, so I'll just skip ahead, alright?
* You're a naughty little man, John, and I'm gonna have to punish you!
* Alright, alright. No need to get agitated... *sigh*
* That's better, little man. I'm taking my top off now. Removing the bra... *groan* I'm fondling my big, black breasts, tickling the left nipple with the edge of my tongue. What are you doing, John?
* It's still running.
* Ummm...that's right, John. Take those damn things off you! I want you naked as a baby when you worship me. It's cold and dark here, but I still want you down on the concrete floor. Naked...
* Ah! Finished! Booting Diagnostics Utility...
* That's better, John. You're a whimpy little man,you know that? I bet you got your ass kicked in school every day, John. Didn't you honey?
* Right. It says Express Test, Comprehensive Test, Custom Test and Test Memory.
* Now I want you to crawl towards me. Slowly. NO I don't care that the concrete hurts your skin! CRAWL TO ME, JOHN!
* Custom Test, okay. Selecting Non-Interactive Tests only.
* EYES DOWN, DAMMIT! Keep your shitty little eyes down, John!
* So do I select all the tests or just the hard disk related ones?
* I don't give a fuck what you want to do, John, you're just here to worship me. Now, LICK MY LITTLE TOE, YOU BASTARD! Put the whole thing in your mouth and suck it!
* Running Device Self-Test...
* Mmmm... that feels good, John. You're a good little sucker, ain't you John? ...KEEP SUCKING IT, DAMMIT!
* Seems alright to me.
* Now look up at my panties... don't you dare look at my eyes, John, don't you dare. The panties!
* Look, I can't sit here doing an entire surface scan while on the phone. Besides, the Device Self-Test in the pre-boot environment didn't report any SMART errors so there's no reason I would discover anything here that would account for my booting problems. I'm thinking more of a motherboard issue.
* Do you like my little, black panties? They're made of licorice, John....
* I'll just cancel the surface scan and run a motherboard test?
* YOU SORRY PIECE OF SHIT, JOHN! Did I say you could taste the licorice panties? Huh?
* Alright, alright. Don't get your knickers in a twist.
* You're going to behave, little John. I'm not going to stand for this mischief... see this? That's right! Mama's bringing out the horse whip.
* See? No errors. Just like I said.
* Oh, you don't look so smug now, do you John?
* Wait a minute!
* *CRACK!*
* I got an error right towards the end here!
* THAT'S RIGHT, JOHN! MAMA'S NOT AFRAID TO USE IT EITHER!
* It's Eff-Zero-Zero-Zero
* *CRACK!*
* Colon
* OOOOH... is it too big for you honey? Do you want the pony whip? I'm gonna ride the living shit it out of you, John.
* Two-four-two-two.
* That's right! Now get down on all fours!
* Oh, really? And how much is that gonna cost me?
* Spread those puny legs out, John! RIGHT THIS MINUTE!
* No, the warranty ran out some three-four months ago.
* Steady... Now TAKE IT JOHN!
* Ouch!
* You're my little play-pony, ain't you John? TAKE IT LIKE A LITTLE PONY!
* I'm gonna have to check this up with Finance, first.
* Be a good pony, John! A good pony!
* Well, it's an old system, and we're gonna roll it out sooner rather than later.
* Awww. You want to be comforted now, John?
* But I thought it was worth checking.
* Oh, did my little pony come on the concrete floor, huh? Did my little pony come?
* Yeah, but thanks a lot!
* Then get the fuck out, John. That's right. The show's over.
* Okay. Merry Christmas. Bye!
* Merry Christmas. Bye!


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

November 03, 2010

November 2010, Vol. 11, Issue 11

1. Hot August Night by Paul McGuire
I never particularly liked Neil Diamond. I always thought that he was fake cool and not tough, like if he and Van Morrison got into a fight, Van would kick the living shit out of him...More

2. The Fat Kid by Sigge S. Amdal
I was brought up in a Christian home, so when my mother decided that me and Tom would walk to school together, then her little rat spy Jesus would tell on me if I didn't. And so me and Tom walked to school together for the next decade or so...More

3. The Stain by Wolynski
The maid pulled back the bedspread, turned the blanket over and gasped. Everyone gasped and gathered round the bed not quite believing their eyes. Right in the middle of the bed was the biggest, ugliest brown stain you've ever seen - someone had taken a dump in the Presidential bed and housekeeping did not catch it... More

4. Getting High by Dan England
You run 8,000 feet up the mountain over almost 14 miles, and just when you're really getting tired, your oxygen gets cut in half. Oh, the pain is so sweet when you're on your fourth hour, and you can barely breathe, and cramps are knocking on your door. The endorphins are just sweeping through at that point... More

5. Dar es Salaam by Adam J. Weise
I went to buy two bottles of water and after the vendor overcharged me Billy loudly demanded an explanation in Swahili to which her reply was that she didn't have the correct change so she figured shortchanging me was a completely legitimate thing to do. For good reason white people are the target of beggars and street children and many a friendly conversation devolves into an outstretched hand and word "please" being repeated over and over while awkwardness ensues... More

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


From the Editor's Laptop

The November issue features the return of everyone's favorite Norwegian scribe, Sigge Amdal. Wolynski is back for a third issue in a row with another peculiar celebrity encounter. Dan England contributed to Truckin' in the past and he shared a tale about adrenaline junkies. This issue also marks the debut of Adam J. Weise's piece on his experiences in Africa. And lastly, I whipped up a short story about my favorite topic -- addicts.

The contributors at Truckin' write for the simple love of self-expression, which is a fancy way of saying that they write for free. I can never thank the writers for taking an inspirational leap of faith with me month after month. So, I kindly ask you to help spread the good word about your favorite stories. Good karma and many blessings will come your way for exposing new readers to our amazing writers.

If anyone desires to being added to the mailing list, or any scribes (published or non-published) are interested writing for a future issue, then please contact us.

Also, thanks to you, the readers. The long-form written word is slowly dying off, but you're keeping the spirit alive with your unwavering support of Truckin'.

Be good,
McG

"I'd like to have money. And I'd like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that's too adorable, I'd rather have money." - Dorothy Parker

Hot August Night

By Paul McGuire © 2010

In high school when things got rough, Birdy ditched class and drove to Denny's on the outskirt of town. She sat in one of the back booths and drank coffee for hours on end. Always with lots of milk and lots of sugar.

"The waitress was named Doris or Dorothy or Dee or something like that," Birdy told me. "She knew that something was wrong with me, but never said anything. She was polite and never asked questions. The last thing I wanted to do was talk... to her... about my problems. It's never easy being 17."

When Birdy ditched classes for a week straight, school officials notified her grandmother who acted as her official guardian for the last two years of high school. Her mother had a nervous breakdown, which was a polite way of saying that she ran off to Reno with a wanna-be wiseguy who was a third-rate check forger and second-rate safe cracker. Birdy's alkie father was long gone -- a distant memory aside from a faded picture that she used to obsessively stare out for hours on end. To this day I don't know if he died or he just left the family, because she never talked about him. Birdy was stuck living with her grandmother, a religious nut who clipped coupons all day and watched reruns of Little House on the Prairie.

"That's one of the many reasons I life Ohio," she said. "Well that, and all the redneck methheads."

These days, Birdy reverted back to old behavior whenever she was grief stricken. When things got too crazy at the office, she skipped out and hung out at a Greek diner on Third Avenue. She walked seven blocks out of her way, and past two other more popular diners, to make sure no one at her office saw her. I became fascinated with her routine -- she'd sneak out of the office, smoke a cigarette, buy a magazine at the newsstand and head to the diner. She always sat at the counter, ate wheat toast, and drank coffee with lots of milk and lots of sugar. She sat there until she finished the magazine, then she went outside, smoked two more cigarettes, bought another magazine, walked to the park and read until lunch time, then headed to the museum. It was closed on Mondays, so that was movie day and she went to the artsy theatre near Lincoln Center that played indie flicks. She'd sneak back into the office just before mostly everyone left for the day, which drew the stink eye from many of her co-workers. Birdy didn't care. She hated them all out of principle and was doing everything possible to get fired.

To cut up lines or crush up Ritalin, Birdy always used a Neil Diamond CD. Hot August Nights. It was missing Disc 2. Don't ask why, Neil Diamond just sort of happened like that one night, and ever since it became part of the ritual. Just like how most cocaine addictions begin, it started out casual and escalated. Birdy was originally a weekend dabbler when she moved to New York. She limited herself to a few keys bumps in bathroom in different bars on the Lower East Side. When things got a little boring with her life, Birdy graduated to buying her own eight balls from the elderely Dominican gypsy cab driver that a friend of a friend of a friend.

Birdy's weekend binges started earlier and earlier -- Thursday nights, then Wednesday nights and Birdy began skipping work on Mondays, which she spent most of Monday mornings ripping lines and watching Regis and Kelly. Everyone in the office noticed and hated her for her habitual absences. For the last month, I was running a "When Does Birdy Get Fired Pool" and the prize pool jumped up to over $1,500.

I never particularly liked Neil Diamond. I always thought that he was fake cool and not tough, like if he and Van Morrison got into a fight, Van would kick the living shit out of him. But then again, Van had a mean Irish temper and was a bit on the crazy side. Neil seemed to be too much of a pretty boy to win a physical test of strength.

"They used to call him the Jewish Elvis," explained Birdy. "That's what my grams called him, except she didn't say that in a fond way. Grams was full of hate when it came to..."

"Elvis?" I blurted out.

"Yeah," said Birdy. "She hated Elvis... and Jews too."

Birdy didn't like to talk much, so when she did, I attentively listened. I always felt a bit sorry for her. She was always in a dour mood, but she was hardly a negative person. I guess that's why she preferred cocaine and other stimulants -- to help pull her out of the doldrums.

I was curious about where Birdy went when she was in one of her moods and left the office, so I invited myself along without her permission. I guess you can say that I stalked her -- I waited for her to slip out of her cubicle and trailed her all the way to the diner. She never saw me, until I walked into the diner. I was surprised that she invited me to join her for a cup of coffee -- with lots of milk and lots of sugar.

Shortly after our encounter. I willingly joined her on Wednesdays -- it was the perfect way for me to split up my hellish work week. I'd fuck off all Wednesday and that way, I had only a four day work week. After a while, Birdy and I skipped the diner and just went back to her apartment to get jacked up and watch Regis and Kelly.

"That bitch Kelly Ripa is so fake," said Birdy as she gave the TV the middle finger. "But I betcha she gets some good coke."


Paul McGuire is the author of Lost Vegas.

The Fat Kid

By Sigge S. Amdal © 2010

Everybody knew a fat kid growing up. They come in all forms but one size fits them all. The fat kid I knew, his name was Tom by the way, came from a relatively poor family. That is, everyone was relatively poor back then, but when both parents are generally uneducated and run a homebrew operation in the basement, it doesn't help.

I bet Tom's story would have been a success story if his parents were any different. But that's just speculation. Add to his situation a sadistic elder brother and you've got yourself a future social case file.

I was brought up in a Christian home, so when my mother decided that me and Tom would walk to school together, then her little rat spy Jesus would tell on me if I didn't. And so me and Tom walked to school together for the next decade or so.

I wouldn't exactly stand up for him if he got in trouble, but I wouldn't make fun of him either.

I realized very quickly that Tom would emulate me to get along with other kids. What surprised me, and still surprises me, was that he beat me as well.

I was really good at maths in school, making it seem trivially easy, because there really is nothing more to it than rule-following. Tom got the message the rest of class didn't, and soon we would compete three or four chapters ahead of them all. I remember thinking to myself that while I came from an academic family he would still be able to ace my math coming from his poor excuse of one. Of course, when Tom came home after school, his parents and his brother would not recognize this, and instead belittle and taunt his newfound sense of self-esteem.

Tom was the fat kid, and the other kids made fun of him, how he smelled, his hair, and everything they could think of. And he was a bit round around the edges, but that also meant a more streamlined and stronger body than other kids, making for a really good swimmer. In swimming class I was usually the fastest because I swam two months every summer at my grandmother's lake. Tom didn't go away on holiday, at least not far enough south to enjoy swimming, but he had no problem keeping up and sometimes even beating me. After I had convinced him that swimming wasn't so bad once you get in the water. Sure the other kids could point and laugh, but he would take points back from them anytime in the water.

I lost whatever remaining respect for adults when I discovered his parents' TV1000 porn recorded on a VHS tape that I borrowed, a few minutes after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. It puzzled me why they didn't hide it better. It was still there the second and third time I borrowed it. The last time I did it they explicitly warned me to stop the tape after Turtles too. Like that's gonna put an end to it!

It was terrible porn at that, with a plain looking couple doing the doggy-style on a pink background. It was more of an instructional tape than anything else. But it was also the only moving pictures I could get my hands on before the 'net.

Tom and his brothers were always up to mischief, and it was thanks to Tom I had my first experience with alcohol beyond just tasting it during a grown-up dinner. Thanks to his parents he had a ready supply of alcohol above 60%, just swapping some of the clear liquid with water, and not taking too much at a time.

The first time, however, we opted for an old bottle of wine that was just standing there. Having gulped it all down we walked downtown and tried to chat up some school girls we met. I later learned they would have to be drunk too. Two weeks later we found out that his parents had saved the bottle since their wedding day, since it was a gift, some twenty years before.

After high-school, in which I'd gone the Literature and Languages courses and he Chemistry and some advanced Mathematics, we sort of drifted apart. I had my rock band and he did whatever he did by then. Soon he moved away to begin University in a city at a comfortable distance from his family.

I met him one summer before I left there, and we got talking about his studies. He was doing something advanced in chemistry at university level, but I didn't care enough to get my head around it.

"Do you know how easy it is to setup a meth lab?" he suddenly asked. "You can get everything you need in regular hardware stores. I could do it by tomorrow!"

All I know is that he dropped out, or was expelled, at some point a few months later. And that is all I know about the matter.

That, and the fact he got kicked out of the local youth division of a particular right-wing party, because he chose a member meeting as the venue for coming out of the closet. That's just sad. It takes balls to do such a thing, but he should have used his brains as well that day. Of course, that part is just a rumor and may not be true for all I know. Last I heard, he was back in town and unemployed.

But these are the stories we make, of people we have already figured out. Who knows what the fat kids are up to today? Really! We just use their made up examples to feel more successful about ourselves. That's why we'll always remember them too. Long after we've forgotten the names of our best buds and first sweethearts, the fat kids will be on our minds whenever we need them. While they have long outgrown their past and leave to reminisce the troubled and unsuccessful.

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

The Stain

By Wolynski © 2010

In my career as a photographer I had many adventures, met a lot of people, photographed a lot of stars. Then I changed careers... This is one of the funniest things that ever happened as a photographer.

It was the the late 70s. I'd been in the US for 3 years and now I was freelancing for the Hyatt Regency - in Cambridge, Mass (Boston really) - they'd call me to photograph conventions.

One day I was shooting a convention, when one of the hotel executives tapped me on the shoulder and said he needs to borrow me for 15 minutes. Olivia Newton-John was in the hotel and we needed to take a shot of her in the Presidential Suite and then a group shot with her and all the top hotel brass. But we only had 15 minutes, because the guests checking into the Presidential Suite were already pulling up.

So I gathered my equipment and we rushed to the Presidential elevator. Olivia was already there - we were introduced and I remember a very firm handshake. Six executives, Olivia and myself piled into the elevator. The executives were tickled pink - Olivia had just done "Grease", she was one of the biggest stars in the country and everyone was thrilled to bits.

The Presidential Suite was gorgeous with a spectacular view of the Charles River. But we had to rush - the guests were already checking in. The executives decided to pose Olivia by the grand Presidential bed, next to the night table with the beautiful lamp.

Just as I was about to take the picture, the director of the hotel said wait, the bed looks much better when turned down with the rose and the mint on the pillow. So a maid was summoned and the guests downstairs stalled.

The maid pulled back the bedspread, turned the blanket over and gasped. Everyone gasped and gathered round the bed not quite believing their eyes. Right in the middle of the bed was the biggest, ugliest brown stain you've ever seen - someone had taken a dump in the Presidential bed and housekeeping did not catch it.

Everyone stood there dumbstruck. I decided to break the ice and said "So... are we ready to take the picture?"

The director spun round and clamped his hand over my lens "Don't you dare, don't even think about it. And stop laughing, this is not funny." I bit my lip, trying not to giggle. Like hell it's not funny, it's hilarious.

Just then we hear a loud shriek and look over at Olivia. She couldn't contain herself any longer - she's now doubled over in laughter, tears streaming from her eyes, her make-up running. So this sets me off and we're both howling while the hapless red-faced executives are running around like headless chickens. This is not what they had in to mind to impress Olivia Newton-John with.

Sheets were changed, staff were fired, the photos got taken. On the elevator ride downstairs Olivia and I were both biting our lips, avoiding looking at each other in case we both burst out laughing again.

She saved my ass that day. Had I been the only one in fits of hysterical laughter I would've been fired. Thank goodness I wasn’t photographing Diana Ross - she’d swoon and been carried out on a stretcher.

And I figured out how nobody noticed the diarrhea in the Presidential bed. A guest probably had an accident (Elvis?) and was so mortified that they made the bed very carefully and went to sleep in another bed, like it wasn't them. The maid in the morning assumed this bed had not been slept in.

Wolynski is a photographer and former comic who lives in Las Vegas.

Getting High

By Dan England © 2010

When I haven't had a hit in a few days - most of you would call it a "workout" - my body starts to tingle.

Only it's not the kind of tingle you want. It's not the kind of tingle that drives 16-year-old boys to scrounge around in the back of seedy gas station dumpsters for Tits Magazine (though now that I think about it, that's how we did it; I suppose the Internet makes that a moot point any longer. So much for reminiscing).

No, this tingle feels like a thousand spiders crawling anxiously around in my bloodstream, turning my neurons into omelets and running up and down my legs and through my arms and all around my brain.

It's the kind of tingle that would eventually drive me to try something else to quell it, only there isn't anything else.

Nothing but endorphins.

Those of who who haven't felt the glorious, mind-bending rush of endorphins probably think I'm a healthy person.

I guess, by normal standards, I am. I guess, by normal standards, my running or climbing partners are healthy. Yeah, we don't gobble McDonald's like a nuclear war survivor, the way most of you do. We don't gobble anything really, except maybe energy chews on our second hour of running or our sixth hour on the trail. We don't drink much, either, though we're not afraid of beer, as it's full of carbs, or red wine, as it's good for your heart, or margaritas, as tequila thins your blood, or so I'm told. We don't smoke, as we would never, ever do that to our lungs. Most of all, while more Americans come up for air after a trip up the escalator, we can run three miles and call that an easy day.

We're endurance athletes. We're active. We look it, too.

Ah, but we've got you fooled.

You've got your addictions. Your fatty foods and sugar. Your alcohol. Your pharmies. Your drugs, maybe. Your poker and dice and slots. Your Facebook. Your sex. Maybe all of it in one night. That's what Las Vegas is for.

We've got our endorphins.

We're just as hooked as you. We live for the rush as well. We're willing to pursue it, too, no matter what it takes, just like you.

This wasn't more apparent than at the Pikes Peak Ascent late this summer. That's a race up the famous, 14,100-foot Pikes Peak. You run 8,000 feet up the mountain over almost 14 miles, and just when you're really getting tired, your oxygen gets cut in half.

Oh, the pain is so sweet when you're on your fourth hour, and you can barely breathe, and cramps are knocking on your door. The endorphins are just sweeping through at that point.

But it's not the event that gets me. It's the expo. This is a legal drug trade. You can buy energy chews (uppers), pills that help you sleep so you can "get more rest before a race" (downers) and some sort of raspberry colored liquid that tastes like you've just soaked your socks in it. That's supposed to help your joints. I tried it after my marathon. I think it works, too. Junkies always think their magic juice works.

Wanna chase the rush? How far are you willing to go? You want to buy machines that make water bubble, giving "life to your feet." How about sunscreen that contains energy droplets, whatever the fuck those are? And the bracelets that use holograms to up your body's energy field. I actually wear one of those. One of my running friends, or fellow junkies, gave me one. They work. She runs fast.

Nothing can keep us from the rush.

Injuries? Ha. Our long runs on the weekend sound like NFL locker rooms as we pound the pavement together. How's the foot? How's the ankle? How's the shoulder? How's the neck? How's the knee? The answer's always the same. Never better. Even when your body hurts like a motherfucker. Because admitting it hurts means taking time off, and after more than a few days, the spiders start crawling through the bloodstream.

Besides, we like that hurt. That's part of the rush too. The pain, almost as much as the endorphins, keeps the spiders at bay.

We don't eat much because we want to be thin, perhaps too thin, like meth addicts, because even a pound slows us down. Five pounds can add as much as a minute, and a minute easily separates those with medals from those without, especially at those community races ran by mostly people coming off Atkins diets and those trying to "find themselves" or celebrating a new them. We run those community races too. We're the ones elbowing our way to the front, wearing dry-fit clothing and those strange watches that tell us our pace, our total time and our miles.

The rush, as always, is expensive.

We spend our money on pairs of running shoes, special shoes, not the kind you buy at Kohl's. We sniff them before we take them out of the box. We hoard them and change into them only right before a race, even wearing another pair until five minutes before the gun because there's only so much magic in them and we want to keep the rush going for as long as possible. Just like you. We need a GPS and enough running clothes to fill part of a closet, and races cost money, too, sometimes $100 or more.

I have belonged to many exercise cults, even though I never played high school sports. I lifted weights first. That's the gateway drug. I love mountaineering, especially the 14ers in Colorado. I'm a card carrier for that group. I talk to others about how many they've done on the way up. I have far too many guide books and water bottles and head lamps.

But I'm a recent member of the running junkies. It's the most hardcore group out there. I guess the soft stuff just doesn't do it for me any longer. I need a stronger rush.

And now if you'll excuse me, it's been a couple days. It's time, once again, to put the spiders back in their cave.


Dan England is a professional writer who lives in Greeley, CO and writes for the Greeley Tribune.

Dar es Salaam

By Adam J. Weise © 2010

As I sit on the outdoor patio of the most expensive hotel in Dar es Salaam, the same one President Bush vacated two days ago after renting out every room, I wonder how it is possible for my new $30 five-countries-in-one portable power converter can break while Billy's $5 converter trudges through its third year in Tanzania. I am now completely without all my electronics except for this laptop whose battery is quickly depleting as the only outlets available here are for British devices only. Billy, who is currently pecking away furiously at his five year old laptop, has taught me how to use being white to garner every advantage and free amenity possible. Being white has not been all that pleasant, though, as it has caused me to become quite jaded with anything connected to money. Immediately upon arrival I went to buy two bottles of water and after the vendor overcharged me Billy loudly demanded an explanation in Swahili to which her reply was that she didn't have the correct change so she figured shortchanging me was a completely legitimate thing to do. For good reason white people are the target of beggars and street children and many a friendly conversation devolves into an outstretched hand and word "please" being repeated over and over while awkwardness ensues. I learned while volunteering at a Miami homeless shelter that money should not be given to beggars as it only serves to sustain their lifestyle and it leads to little positive change. Now you are absolved of any guilt you have ever felt about refusing change to the homeless, especially in the United States, where there are numerous shelters and organizations where the disenfranchised can access. In a third world country, these avenues for assistance either don't exist or are there but to a far lesser degree. I'm not sure if I can condemn charity given towards the old woman with no legs or the quadriplegic dwarf that I see every time I walk past the post office in downtown Dar es Salaam. Where are these people to go? In a country like this who will help them?

We are going to take the boys on a beach retreat and by retreat I mean a beach day peppered with one or two serious activities not involving water or the recently purchased soccer ball that has become the center of attention with the boys. This means I am wearing swimming trunks while Billy wears his only non-school teacher pair of pants which are plagued with five holes nearly all of which are in unseemly places. Despite our decidedly informal attire we are allowed to use the posh hotel's free wireless Internet due to the pigment of our skin. Being white and 6'2'' I differ from 99.9% of the people I meet. I have seen one man in Africa thus far that is both taller than I and of the same ethnicity. Wherever I walk in Mabibo, the section of Dar Es Salaam's urban sprawl where I reside, children will gawk at me like I'm the Loch Ness monster; something they've read and heard about but up until now had never quite believed existed. Jaws agape and only a few of the braver ones will address me but it is usually only with a cry from afar of "mzungu" which means white person. Some scream it from the top of their lungs while others whisper greetings underneath their breath. Many will hold my hand as I walk even if we are going in opposite directions and if I sit or bend down to their level their hands almost instinctively go to the top of my head. My long blond hair has become a sensational hit among the children, who boy or girl are forced to shave their heads up until college to prevent lice from entering the schools.

The combination of the children using their permanently dust laden hands to constantly grab at or play with my hair and the lack of access to running water has led to me being quite filthy by American standards but since I have occasional access to the upscale gym's shower I am quite clean in comparison to the boys in the orphanage. Although I alone have developed a series of rash like bumps on my hands and feet, I fear the Sponge Bob Square Pants sheets on my bed may not be as clean as they appear to be.

Whether Sponge Bob is clean or not, sleep is hard to come by as we now have a generator, which is spectacular in that it allows us to tutor the boys and me to utilize the computers I brought, but this same generator is very loud and its use has led the boys to stay up quite late which prevents my attempts at sleep. Each night I tuck in my mosquito netting and crank up my iPod to full blast and hope not to wake before the Muslim Call to Prayer which is broadcast by a megaphone from the local mosque. This message is supposed to occur at dawn but the mosque's overzealous announcer begins far earlier than the set time as he channels a both the enthusiasm of Robin Williams from Good Morning Vietnam and the vigor of a professional wrestling announcer. As the call to prayer draws out, I lie in bed sweating profusely quickly losing any hope of returning to sleep and I think of how much money I would pay to an imaginary wind God for a cool breeze. On a particularly sweltering hot morning I settled on $27, which is enough money to feed myself here for weeks, but I stand by this number nevertheless.

Billy and I recently went to Subway where we spent the equivalent of $5 on a huge meal; yet he still chastised my opulence as we could have had our usual $1 chips myai. Chips/fries, ugali, a very simple tasteless carbohydrate, or rice are combined with either soda served in a refillable glass bottle circa 1950 in the United States or one of the four African beers. I've learned from the boys not to think of eating as an enjoyable activity but simply as a necessary daily task like brushing one's teeth.

I recently set up an art project where each boy creates a piece of art with supplies we provided with the end result being everyone's art being displayed on the walls, a best drawing being crowned and a prize awarded to the most popular piece. After explaining this to the boys and not revealing the prize Justin asked me if the prize could be "we get to come home to America with you?" Not only was this heartbreaking but it made me realize that the Air Qatar travel kit with the mini toothbrush would not suffice as the prize. Later that night Haji, the smallest boy, asked me to stay here and become the new Mr. Bill. They are aware that Billy and I plan on leaving on April 25th and 29th respectively. I am giving the option of staying in Tanzania indefinitely a lot of thought as it would be an easy transition for me as I could take Billy's motorcycle, his room and his responsibilities.

I already have a job lined up as I worked two days this past week with Billy at a preschool/daycare run out of a wealthy Indian woman's house. The nannies of these wealthy German, American and Japanese expatriates drop off the four year olds at 8 a.m. and pick them up at 11:30 a.m. each weekday. The children are quite spoiled by both African and American standards but it reminded me of my college job at the Hales Corners Recreation Department which I adored. While a little fussy, none truly misbehaved except for little Zead whose family owns the sole milk provider to Dar es Salaam. Billy introduced him as his favorite and I could see why as during the first few minutes Zaed was painfully shy, clutching to Billy's pant legs with one hand and his empty bear shaped backpack with the other. I took him to see Billy's motorcycle and even though he was the only child who spoke strictly Swahili his timidity faded. Little did I know this would snowball into him spilling water on me, attempting to spit on me and his eventual metamorphosis into a full blown terror. His greatest feat was a whirlwind punching attack which made use of both his fists and his mouth which bit at the air in anticipation of his target: my leg. The second day the little Arabian hell spawn came in just as reserved and apprehensive as on the first day but before long he was trying to reenact his own hit and run with an tricycle and an unsuspecting Japanese boy named Nishi. His cuteness helped him immensely in the eyes of the other counselors as his greatest punishment was downgraded to a two minute timeout. By the end of the day he had won me over to some degree by lying next to me and draping my arm, which had to equal or surpass his body in size and weight, around his little shoulders while we listened to Billy tell us whether Gus the Goose would find K.C. the Cat's picnic. The owner of the day care center offered me Billy's job once he leaves and she wants a reply soon.


Adam Weise splits his time between Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Austin, Texas. The organization described in the writing has become the House of Blue Hope, which Adam and Billy now sit on the board of. Adam is also a co-founder of Ex Fabula, a Milwaukee storytelling group.

October 05, 2010

October 2010, Vol. 9, Issue 10

Welcome back. The October issue of Truckin' is upon us.

1. The Wait by Paul McGuire
Blake was so weighed down by the downers -- anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety meds, and anti-depressants -- that she was constantly fighting against the heaviness of what her shrinks prescribed her. She combated her sleepiness with sugar-free Red Bull, 5-Hour energy shots, and triple Espressos from Coffee Bean -- which only proved to be a costly way to stay awake. That's when she turned to me for help... More

2. Burial Detail by Martin Harris
The skull was cracked across the front ridge and titled backwards, away from the rest of the skeleton. The lower jaw was apparently still somewhere beneath the dirt, and you could see a couple of fillings shining there in back in the upper jaw. Further down was the breastplate and the sternum or whatever you call it, with pieces of red-checkered material stuck to it here and there... More

3. The Find, Part Two by Mark Verve
It was clear that I couldn't just walk into the bank and make a large cash deposit. Any amount over ten thousand must be reported. Making lots of deposits under ten thousand was also not realistic. It could attract the attention of local authorities and would definitely interest the IRS at tax time. I would deposit an odd two or three hundred every now and then to cover checks but that was it. Likewise putting it into a safe deposit box was not a realistic option. The sheer space the cash took up was too much... More

4. I Screwed Your Sister In High School by Johnny Hughes
Ronda had heard talk that Dewey was a lecher with the girls in small towns. She had lost her own husband, an evangelist, when they were teaching at a Christian summer camp in New Mexico. Her husband had been caught giving two teenage girls LSD and malt liquor. They were thrown out that night. Their marriage did not survive the long, painful bus trip back to Texas... More

5. Andy, Andy, and Dali by Wolynski
Dali planted himself firmly in front of me and said "Madmoiselle!" He launched into a very long, important and animated speech in French aimed directly at me. I was mesmerized. I examined the famous face and the mustache and the eyes boring into me, wondering when he would reach for some change. What was so important he had to tell me? I understood not a word, but enjoyed every minute, especially when he jabbed his fingers into the air... More

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


From the Editor's Laptop:

The October issue marks the debut of one of my favorite scribes, Martin Harris, who shares a pulpy tale. Wolynski joined the Truckin' ranks last month and she returns with a story describing the events of a surreal Halloween in the 1970s. Everyone's favorite West Texas author, Johnny Hughes, is back with a witty piece of political-inspired fiction. Mark Verve contributes the second part of his epic series "The Find." And lastly, I whipped up something that may or may not appear in a future novel I'm writing about druggies living in the City of Angels.

The scribes at Truckin' write for the pure love of self-expression, which is a fancy way of saying that they write for free. I kindly ask for your assistance and help spread the good word about your favorite writers and your favorite stories. Good karma and many blessings will come your way for helping us out.

If anyone desires to being added to the mailing list, or any scribes (published or non-published) are interested writing for a future issue, then please contact us.

I can never thank the writers for taking a courageous leap of faith with me. That tremendous risk inspires me to no end. And thanks to you, the readers. The written word is slowly dying off, but you're keeping the spirit alive month after month with your unwavering support of Truckin'.

Be good,
McG

"That path is for your steps alone." - Robert Hunter

The Wait

By Paul McGuire © 2010

Waiting. My least favorite thing to do in the world, yet, I always get stuck in the longest lines no matter where I go. Grocery stores, 7/11, the drive-thru at In-N-Out...it doesn't matter. I always get delayed.

The bank? Always horrendous. My appearance at the end of the line guarantees that everyone in front of me will engage in complex transactions that takes a dozen signatures from eight different bank officials.

Airport security lines? I always get stuck behind the old Jewish lady from Florida who has never flown in her life before, at least, that's the impression she gives off as she walks through the metal detectors with a shitload of jewelry dangling from her wrinkled wrists and sun-scorched leathery neck, yet, she insists on not taking off any of her jewelery which is the primary reason the detector goes off.

Blake is one of those selfish friends without any concept of time who constantly takes advantage of your patience. She's always late. Always. It should not surprise me, because I'm always waiting for something. However, in the last few weeks, her tardiness has been pissing me off. "I'll be over in ten minutes..." is Blake's code for "I'll be over anytime between an hour to ten hours from now."

When I lived on the East Coast, people had their shit together and respected your time. If someone was running late, they usually had enough to sense to give you a warning call and apology. Out in LA? Everyone is late. If it's not the mind-numbing traffic, it's out of sheer laziness. Blake should know better because she's from the Boston area. However, living on the breezy West Coast for less than 24 months magnified her flakiness. She was always a space cadet in college, but the California sun warped her brain even more so. Although no longer a toker, you would have thunk she was the biggest stoner in the world because she was forgetting everything and always gave you a blank stare. It took her three seconds to respond -- to anything. She had a perpetual time delay which always complicated any important conversations. Surprisingly, she was not a pothead because her brain was marinated in so many other substances that weed did not affect her in the same way it does with you and me.

Blake ingested a plethora of daily medications and her weekly pharmacy bills were in the hundreds of dollar -- even with insurance. Her wealthy father, a prominent Boston attorney, picked up the tab and paid for all of the doctors. I have no idea if her different shrinks had any idea that they were all prescribing her different medications. Maybe they did and didn't care? She said that she was going to two different shrinks in the Valley, not to mention her decade-long strict Freudian shrink back in Waltham.

Blake's live-in boyfriend had a bad back and she had access to jars of Percosetts. She swiped a handful of Percs every time she visited me. The only reason we hung out these days was to solely trade drugs. She was looking to get up, while I was always looking to sink down and down and down.

I had access to Adderall and Ritalin thanks to a friend of mine at the radio station who gave me whatever I needed at cost. Addys and Rits were Blake's favorite poison, so I always kept a stockpile. She was so weighed down by the downers -- anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety meds, and anti-depressants -- that she was constantly fighting against the heaviness of what her shrinks prescribed her. She combated her sleepiness with sugar-free Red Bull, 5-Hour energy shots, and triple Espressos from Coffee Bean -- which only proved to be a costly way to stay awake. That's when she turned to me for help We usually swapped two Percs for every Adderral and three percs for every Ritalin. I could have done an easy swap, but Blake was clueless when it came to street prices on pharmaceuticals.

When Blake moved to Studio City, she drove into the city about once a month to swap pills. As her addiction grew deeper and deeper, the frequency of her drop ins increased steadily. For a while it was every other week, then once every ten days, then once a week -- where it had stay for around six months. But sometime around St. Patrick's Day, her habit worsened. She came over twice a week like clockwork on Mondays and Thursdays. By the end of the Spring, she had gotten really bad and bugged me all the time. When she fleeced her boyfriend's entire stash of Percs, she begged to pay me in cash instead of trade. That really bothered me because I didn't give a shit about money. I'm not a drug dealer and I wasn't dealing drugs to supplement my income. I was bartering with other pillpoppers in order to secure the buzz I was seeking. Once it became apparent that Blake wasn't living up to her end of the trade, I saw no point in bending over backwards to help enable her morbid addiction to Adderall and Ritalin.

Blake got hooked hard and her fiendish behavior freaked me out. I tried to cut her off but she flipped out. She begged me. She offered up cash and even made a pass at me, suggesting oral favors for free Addys. I wanted neither. It was very sad and pathetic. All I wanted were painkillers and not a lazy handjob. She stormed off in tears. Three days later, she showed up with two bottles of Vicodin. She convinced a doctor to give her script for painkillers, which she happily gave me in exchange for her fix.

Blake was too much to handle when she was jonesin'. She called at the worst hours and sent a barrage of text messages, even though she knew that we had a scheduled meeting the next night. And even after we finally completed a swap, she'd call within an hour or two and the cycle repeats itself as I'm bombarded with "When can I come over?" texts.

Blake crushes up pills and snorts them for a faster effect. She quickly transformed into an old fashioned speed freak, except the Adderall is like eating speed without any harsh side effects. You don't crash as hard as traditional speed, sort of like landing a plane on a huge football field of marshmallows. She gets extra chatty when she rips lines of Ritalin, which gives off a cocaine-like euphoric effect, except that it lasts much longer than blow. It provides a quick blastoff but you don't crash 15-20 minutes later then act like a total fiend until you get another line. Ritalin jacks you up for a few hours and you get a sustained coke-like effect which is great for party situations. I usually eat a couple when I have to be extra-social at an industry party -- it saves me trips to the bathroom every twenty minutes to rip more rails and with pills, I don't shit my brains out because the cholos cut the blow with baby laxatives.

Blake was the slowest junkie on the planet. You'd figure she'd be rushing over to get her shit, but she took forever to get out the door. I'd get twenty calls begging to come over, but after I agree, I wait up to half a day for her to arrive. If I go out to the store or something and I'm not home when she finally arrives, then she flips out. Last week, I caught her trying to break into my apartment when I got sick of waiting and drove to In-N-Out Burger to grab something to eat.

You couldn't win with Blake. She was the addict and an insane junkie, yet I seemed to be the one who was the slave to her addiction. That had to stop. I was prepared to finally cut her off. But in typical Blake fashion, she was late to her own intervention.


Paul McGuire is the author of Lost Vegas.

I Screwed Your Sister in High School: A Lubbock Fable

By Johnny Hughes © 2010

Billy Sue Bailey, well-known local Tea Party leader, and prominent member of one of Lubbock's founding families was standing at the checkout counter in the upscale grocery store, Market Street.

Dewey Huffknot was standing right behind her. "I screwed your sister in high school," he said loudly, "In the backyard of y'all's historic home."

The teenager at the cash register was a frozen statute, holding a can of Del Monte Sweet Corn in mid-air. Dewey's naturally buggy eyes and perpetual half-grin gave him a surprised, innocent expression. His perfect flat top, and short-sleeved shirt with a plain, black, clip-on, bow tie shouted out, "Square!"

"What did you say to me?" Billy Sue turned sharply, with a rattle of bracelets and ear rings.

"I've seen you around many years. I've always wanted to say that to you. We dated a while. Where is Wild Jenny? I heard she is in Santa Fe. I hear you on talk radio all the time. Me and Jenny didn't go together long but she wanted to screw in the backyard one summer night I'll never forget."

Billy Sue Bailey still occupied the family home, one of the historic knock-offs of Tara, the plantation in Gone With the Wind, that face Texas Tech on 19th Street. Dewey always, always thought of Wild Jenny when he drove by there.

Billy Sue almost ran for the parking lot, abandoning her groceries and the startled clerk. She stood by her Lexus in the 100 degree heat calling her lawyer on her cell phone. Billy Sue was known far and wide for the walkouts and demonstrations at the annual county and state Republican Conventions. Neo-Nazi blogger, Don May, a.k.a. Dr. Doom, was her ideal ideologue. She labeled most everyone socialists on a few talk radio call ins each week. She liked to point out correctly that she was farther to the right than everyone else, everyone. Of the talk show hosts, Chad loved her. Wade tolerated her. Jim and Jeff went to a hard break or a Zogby Poll. At 38, she was a striking, even beautiful, brunette with the figure of a college girl.

Billy Sue hadn't spoken to her New Age, hippie, socialist sister in seventeen years, even though Jenny came to Lubbock often. In Santa Fe, Jenny was a crystal healer and channeled a five-hundred-year-old Navajo woman named Velvet Hands who was a massage therapist. Billy Sue didn't doubt for a minute Dewey's backyard humping memory.

Dewey's life was crashing down before his eyes. For sixteen years, he had been the Life Skills teacher at the Tornado Christian Military Academy, funded almost entirely by the late Asa Sheridan, Dewey's best friend, mentor and Bacardi Rum and Diet Coca-Cola partner every single Sunday afternoon. Dewey told folks, and it was very true, that Barack Obama killed Asa Sheridan, and therefore the Academy, which needed killing.

In the early days, Asa wanted the students to wear uniforms to celebrate the combat experience he had in World War Two, which was a lie since he entered the Army two years after the war ended. Asa was thrown out for bed wetting, sleep walking, and an outrageous, false charge of public masturbation stemming from a technicolor world-class wet dream he had in the barracks. The Academy parents resisted uniforms and most tuition increases.

Dewey had a wife, Ariel, the first four years he taught at the Academy. With him gone every Sunday, she began an affair with the young man who drove an ice cream truck through the neighborhood playing, "Pop Goes the Weasel" over and over. When Ariel changed Dewey's pet name from Cuddles to Caliban, he should have known the jig was up. Ariel and the ice cream man moved to Longview, Texas and opened a wildly successful Chuckie Cheese franchise. Any time Dewey would see an ice cream truck or hear any of their songs, he'd cry.

The Academy students were a joke all over town because they all marched for one class period a day outside if the temperature were above 25 degrees and the wind was below 90 miles per hour. Kids tagged them the "Tornado Marchers." The Academy, for seventh to ninth graders, was down to 164 students even though they hosted the annual Easter egg hunt for "home skooled" students hoping to meet some other right-wing white folks avoiding the socialist, government-run schools and minorities. The did have five old non-operative M-1 rifles and some students developed drill team skills twirling them around. Dewey took them over to Asa's house for delivered pizza, and they got drunk and watched them left face and right face around the yard. Dewey didn't really like rum and coke and would never have ordered it in a bar. However, he had lied to Asa on that first afternoon and it became their personal tradition.

In the early days, Asa and Dewey watched football with the rum and cokes, but since Obama's election, Asa, 81 when Obama finally killed him, left the television tuned to Fox News 24 hours a day, even when he slept. When Bill O'Reilly was on, Asa would stand very close to the set, militarily erect, almost as if at attention, but more like a trance. Asa had ordered O'Reilly's book for all the Academy parents, whether they could read or not. When Obama was elected, Asa was the model of health, and had five million dollars he had inherited from his father's lumber yard chain. He promised each Sunday that the Academy would be taken care of by the mysterious and generous will he spoke of often as a sick, old man's con. About three quarters way down the rum bottle, he'd let it slip that Dewey would get "a nephew's share" in his will.

Actually, telemarketers in Las Vegas who had "proof" that Obama was a foreign-born Muslim and Manchurian Candidate Muslim plant beat Asa out of most of his fortune, and he gave the rest to Sarah Palin. He had a series of strokes starting with Obama's election and became most profane at cursing the TV. Dewey thought it was Alzheimer's. Asa was the maddest man he had ever seen. He was popping Lipitor and Atenol like popcorn. Fox News was helping him secure some eye-popping blood pressure numbers.

When Dewey got home that afternoon, Todd, a lawyer and his younger brother, called with a "deal." He had to stay away from Billy Sue, not mention their family and get counseling or she would file stalking charges for holding her up to public ridicule. Billie Sue had also told Ronda Eloyd, the principal of the Academy, who couldn't make payroll anyway. Dewey protested that he really did screw Billy Sue's sister and that he was just telling the truth.

As a sideline, Dewey spoke in small high school assemblies on Life Skills which was basically an anti-sex lecture. He'd started out with twenty small town high schools a year, but most didn't invite him to return. Dewey, with the same flat top he'd had in high school, would sit in the middle of the stage at a table with his yellowed, veteran index cards and warn the teenage girls that boys will tell any lie, do anything to touch certain spots. He'd talk about hands outside clothes, hands that would unfasten bras, hands and the dangers of drive-ins and parking. He'd tell of a boy driving a girl out in the country and saying, "If you are not here after what I am here after, you will be here after I am gone."

He'd say that every boy, every single boy, will go into that locker room and tell that you went all the way whether you did or not if you let him touch certain spots. If he feels of your breast, he tells. Boys hated him as a gender traitor. When Dewey repeated his signature phrase, certain spots, he'd drag the words out and pause as he made eye contact with the prettiest girls. More than one high school counselor noticed that Dewey liked to hug the girls and that he held the hugs with the chubby ones way too long. Dewey was steadily hitting up on the young chicks in those small towns, often in the oil fields south of Midland.

Ronda asked for and received Dewey's resignation and a small retirement party was held at the Academy for the faculty. Ronda had heard talk that Dewey was a lecher with the girls in small towns. She had lost her own husband, an evangelist, when they were teaching at a Christian summer camp in New Mexico. Her husband had been caught giving two teenage girls LSD and malt liquor. They were thrown out that night. Their marriage did not survive the long, painful bus trip back to Texas.

For Dewey Huffknot's retirement party, they had a white cake from a bakery, some Fritos and bean dip, and this fire-engine red punch they served at every occasion. Ronda said some of the expected things, then Dewey began to speak.

"This place was founded by Asa Sheridan who promised me long-range funding one thousand times. Hey, we're all turning a page, huh? It's honesty time. When I'd go give those anti-sex lectures in the little towns, it would make me horny. I nailed me twelve of those young Texas beauties but none were underage, nothing illegal. I'd wait. One girl worked at the Dairy Queen in Crane. I started courting her when she was only fifteen. Single roses and Hallmark cards. I would drive 100 miles out of my way to see her."

It was the summing up of his years of teaching, and he chose his favorite memories.

The room began to empty rapidly. Ronda's fists had balled up and she couldn't open them, just like on that dreaded last bus ride with her ex-husband.

Dewey's brother agreed that he would attend a therapy group. This was someday-Doctor Nina Hemply's on-going group, last labeled anger management. Everybody there had made some deal to go there to keep from criminal charges being filed against them. Nina started out going over the rules for the new members, although Dewey was the only new member. Confidentially. Free expression. Cooperation. Share your feelings. No seeing other members outside the group.

Calvin, an outrageous gay dude with so many piercing's he couldn't pass though airport security, had stabbed his roommate in a dispute over a floral arrangement. He chimed in, "Why is that Big Nurse? What if I want to see Mr. Wilson or Jose for a beer or something?"

Nina went into this carny pitch about being a Rogerian explorer helping them map their untapped inner feelings.

Mr. Wilson's son had attempted to have him declared incompetent in order to control the worthless oil rights on the old family farm. He had traded away the cotton farm and kept the mineral interest in order to invest in exploration and 3-D Seismic surveys that indicated there was no oil. Mr. Wilson said it was the greatest hot weather for a record cotton crop after record rains. The price of cotton had nearly doubled in a year, the highest in twenty years. His family wouldn't harvest a single boll. Not one boll because of his idiot son. Mr. Wilson had fired both barrels of a shot gun over his son's head in his front yard when he came out to get his Lubbock Avalanche Journal one morning.

Nina was a large, tall woman, not fat, more like a big, muscled man. She ran the group with an iron hand and a soft heart. She was very, very good at what she did although few of the clients knew that. She warned Mr. Wilson that "graduation" from the group was based on her report to the District Attorney's office. It depended on progress in "owning and authenticating and using your anger."

Ernest Watkins and his wife were locked in a bitter child-custody battle. Neither he nor his wife wanted their black-clad, heavily tattooed, nail-polish sniffing, expert shoplifter, twin girls. He was the maddest man there.

There was also a wife abuser, a man who was abused by his wife, a hard-shell Baptist church youth minister, a parolee, an ambulance driver, and a Catholic priest, all men.

When Nina asked Dewey to reveal the source of his anger and how his anger brought him to the group, he said he didn't hear about anger until after he got there. Then he told the story of Billie Sue at the supermarket, and his confession at his retirement party. The other guys roared with laughter. Nina saw this as as cohesion building and a critical stage in the group developmental process. She was curious about the sex part. She left for the bathroom.

While she was gone, Mr. Wilson invited them all over to his house that very evening to grill steaks outside, drink beer, shoot pool, and break Nina's rules. All but Jose Alvarado accepted. He was on parole and a member of a lesser-known, out of favor, prison gang.

"I can't be hanging out with all you outlaws," he said. "I'd end up back in jail."

That first night, Dewey brought his old index cards with the famous quotations, and jokes from old Reader's Digests. Calvin immediately asked him about his twelve sexual conquests in the little towns. Mr. Wilson echoed that question. They liked to talk about sex and the group bonded, just as the absent Nina intended. There was Dewey, just as he was supposed to be, just as he felt called to be, up before a group talking about sex, only now, he could tell the truth, finally.

They continued to meet each week at Wilson's house, and even took up a collection for a turquoise and silver necklace for Nina. She cried. Life-long friendships were developing. Mr. Wilson funded a used CD and book store for he and Dewey to own together. It became a hangout for the group members who often came for coffee in the mornings. Dewey Huffknot had another rich mentor and another job, for awhile.


Johnny Hughes is the author of Texas Poker Wisdom.