July 21, 2010

July 2010, Vol. 9, Issue 7

Welcome back to the "always late" July edition of Truckin'!

1. Everest by Paul McGuire
What was supposed to be the family room was completely unorganized clutter -- bags of clothes, empty containers, Betty Boop memorabilia, canned goods, grocery store fliers, and boxes of Christmas decorations. Everything was piled on top of each other like ever shifting sand dunes... More

2. Baby Boo and the Canyonlands Motel by Katitude
The sun is blazing into your eyes, and no matter how you squint, you can't really see what's up ahead. You can feel the mother of all headaches begin to take up residence between your temples. You're hot. You're tired, and tired of being on the road... More

3. The Lonehorseman by Ernest
The extremely pregnant woman did a shot of Jagermeister, and then started slowly sliding off her barstool. The bartender ran around the corner of the bar and caught her just before she hit the ground. That’s a sound I was glad I didn't have to hear. The sickening thud of a drunk pregnant woman hitting the floor... More

4. Art of the Bluff by Waffles
I was a little bored when one of those Facebook web cam whores came on. You know the ones I am talking about. The ones with hot pictures who call you baby and tell you how hot you are while trying to get you to enter your credit card information on their webcam sites... More

5. Free by Paul McGuire
That abrupt shift in reality does not happen over night. It's a gradual decline as your brain slowly loses touch with reality. It was as though he had been hanging on by one last little thread for many weeks before it... snapped... More

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

From the Editor's Laptop:

The July issue is always delayed because of my summer work assignment which takes away all of my attention and zaps my creative juices. I apologize, but then again, true fans of Truckin' sort of expect a two-week delay every July. Like clockwork, we hit our usual snag. Rest assured, we'll get everything back on track in a few issues.

Anyway, if it's any consolation, we have an amazing batch of stories for this issue. Ernest makes his debut. What can I say aside from the fact that I love any short story that starts off with a pregnant woman slamming Jager? Katitude is back with another stellar road tale about a motorcycle adventure she took last summer. Waffles is also making his debut with a story about a webcam scammer. And yours truly penned two stories; the first was inspired by TV shows about hoarders, and the second is an excerpt from a novella that I never got around to finishing about a serial killer on the loose in Seattle.

The scribes write at Truckin' for free, so please help spread the word about your favorite stories via any means possible which includes social media networks and good old fashioned word of mouth. We all appreciate your assistance.

If anyone is interested in being added to the mailing list or writing for a future issue, then please contact us.

I can never thank the writers enough for exposing their blood and guts for the world to read. That takes a lot of courage and a tremendous leap of faith. I'm eternally grateful because they constantly inspire me by keeping Truckin' alive for eight years.

Before I go, I want to thank all of you, the readers for taking the time out to support the arts. Thanks for keeping the spirit alive month after month, and issue after issue.

Be good,

"It ain't braggin' if you can do it." - Al Jolson


Paul McGuire © 2010

Lizzy's grandmother grew up grew up under tough circumstances. Money was tight back then and even though Lizzy's grandmother married into a predominately wealthy family, she still had foundation of savings. She had a difficult time throwing things away. She saved everything. It's not that Lizzy's grandmother was miserly, on the contrary, she enjoyed spending her money. Her hoarding problem intensified when Lizzy's uncle was killed in Vietnam and a few years after, Lizzy's grandfather passed away after a heart attack.

Lizzy's grandmother lived in a ten-room house. The outside was perfectly manicured. Lizzy's grandmother paid top dollar for the best landscaping company in Pasadena. The inside of the house, however, was an appalling opposite of the outside. You couldn't walk five feet into the house before you were panicking because of a claustrophobic labyrinth made up of hundreds of files cabinets, bankers boxes, shoe boxes, shelving units, milk crates stuffed with junk mail, and plastic bins stacked to the ceiling.

For five weeks every summer, Lizzy's grandmother went to a spa Colorado. Lizzy's sister drew the uneviable task of house sitting. She was afraid to enter the house because it was a "death trap, fire hazard, and smelled like dead cats."

Lizzy's sister offered her $100 to keep an eye on the house. All she had to do was take in the mail once a day and pay the landscaping crew once a week. Lizzy is a Trustafarian, which means she's constantly broke, just got back from three months in Cambodia, and smokes my weed. All. The. Time.

Lizzy and my friends are what you call functioning addicts. We're constantly chasing the next high. The problem is that the next high isn't cheap so we're figuring out every way possible to make money or score drugs on the cheap -- without actually breaking any laws or selling our bodies for prostitution. Heck, Lizzy refuses to get a job. Period. So how can someone as lazy as her get up early enough to turn a few tricks?

Lizzy was convinced that she could find a potential bonanza of stuff at her grandmother's house -- which she would pawn, fence, or sell on e-bay. All we had to do was sort through the piles and piles of junk. Lizzy convinced me to join her and a Midnight raid of her grandmother's house.

What was supposed to be the family room was completely unorganized clutter -- bags of clothes, empty containers, Betty Boop memorabilia, canned goods, grocery store fliers, and boxes of Christmas decorations. Everything was piled on top of each other like ever shifting sand dunes. You would try to climb one pile and have a couple of feet of junk topple over you and you're caught in an avalanche. One mountain of crap rose up from the middle of the room and shot up to the ceiling. Lizzy nicknamed that ten-foot behemoth: "Mt. Everest."

Lizzy had a theory that her granny hid everything of value inside that room because it would be too tough to steal it underneath the mountains of trash and crap. She wanted that area to be the main focus of her salvage operation. I saw it more like tomb robbing.

Lizzy brought a can of raid to kill all the spiders and other critters. I wore dishwasher gloves to avoid any potential spider bites. I also wore ski goggles just in case. I made a mental note to buy a SARS surgical mask because the excess dust complicated breathing.

After about an hour of sifting through a couple of suitcases filled with magazines and old newspapers as far back as 1979, I suggested that we look for pills and raid the medicine cabinets. Lizzy found pill bottles... hundreds of them... in boxes near her grandmother's makeshift bedroom which was actually the hallway. Her grandma slept on a couch in the hallway because her bedroom became over run with racks of dresses and boxes of shoes.

Lizzy found dozens of labeled bottles but expired for several years. She was ready to experiment and twisted off a cap.

"Wait...," I shouted. "You don't know for sure that's the same pills that supposed to be in that bottle. Think about it. Granny can't even keep anything in order, who's to say that she didn't mix and match by accident?"

"Shit, you're right. But what do we do?"

My plan was simple... gather up every possible bottle and bring them back to Lizzy's house. Which we did. We had two pillow cases filled with bottles and retreated to my apartment. We snorted lines at the kitchen table and four of us identify each pill individually. Bodie and his girlfriend brought their laptops. They were our researchers. We'd describe a pill and they'd check the internet. You'd be surprised how easy it was to figure out what kind of pill you had by simply heading to Google and typing the shape, color, and any markings on the pill. If that didn't work, all you had to do was post your discovery on the message boards at Drugs.com and fellow junkies or actual medical practitioners would respond with the correct answers.

Lizzy's grandmother didn't horde any pharmaceuticals of interest to us. She had plenty of blood pressure and hypertension pills. We found a couple of bottles of expired Percodan. I didn't think they made that anymore, but the effects were similar to Percosett. We didn't know what the dosages would do, so we all popped one to see how we felt and would reassess our condition in four hours.

Lizzy found a bottle of muscle relaxers and something for migraines. We were disappointed that it took us two trips sort through two medicine cabinets, granny's dressers, and the entire hallway outside of the master bedroom.

Lizzy decided that we needed to return to the house and take on Everest. You couldn't even walk on the floor and sometimes you were two feet off the ground. Lizzy was convinced that there was gold buried underneath Everest.

"How about a Jaguar?"

"Fuck you! Are you gonna help me or not? My mom said there's gotta be some jewelry hidden somewhere. If it's anywhere it's gotta be underneath Everest."

I let Lizzy lead the Everest expedition. I opted for a more practical mission: seek out higher end items that we could fence like electronics, pieces of art, and old vinyl records. Bodie and I each took a different floor of the house and wrote down items that we thought could be of value. Once we finished compiling the lists, we strategically went for the best stuff. Bodie found a brand new Casino keyboard lying underneath a stack of sweaters. It was still in the box. We quickly loaded that into his car and tried to figure out how much we could sell it. He was overestimating and thought we stumbled up a $2,000 score. I told him we'd be lucky to get $200 in craigslist.

In the former den, one of the shelved walls contained hundreds of books. Getting there was the tough part. Once we cleared out a path way, we went in search of something of value that we could sell. Bodie dropped out of high school to become a professional skateboarder, so he had no idea that there was a difference between John Grisham and Shakespeare. To him, they were both writers -- equally the same. That's why he looked at all of the books and couldn't figure out which ones had value and which were junk.

I told him to leave me alone in the den to sort through books. I suggested that he dig in the other corner and look for vintage records. Who knows what sort of old jazz records that we could find and eventually sell at a second-hand music store where hipster spend $50 for a scratchy vinyl version of Blonde on Blonde.

I found mostly text books and old science manuals that belonged to Lizzy's grandfather. I had no idea what I as looking for, but I tried to make two piles: books I wanted to keep for myself and books I wanted to sell. After three hours, I only found two books worth pawning (what appeared to be an original copy of Gravity's Rainbow and a signed copy of Breakfast of Champions). The other pile had about a dozen or so books that I wanted to read and then later on try to sell for like $2 each at the flea market on Fairfax.

Lizzy emerged in tears and heavily bruised after Everest swallowed her up a couple of times. She was tired and frustrated and hadn't slept in four days snorting coke and crushing up Adderall every eight hours. She was pissed too that all we got out of our salvage operation was a keyboard, a couple of books, and menopause meds.

"Don't forget about the six pairs of Santa Claus and Mrs.Claus salt and pepper shakers we found," I reminded her.

"I have no idea what granny was doing with those. She's Jewish."

Paul McGuire is the author of Lost Vegas.

Baby Boo and the Canyonlands Motel

By Katitude ©2010

You can always tell the people who have never really "ridden off into the sunset." They're the ones who still think it's romantic.

The reality is anything but romantic. The sun is blazing into your eyes, and no matter how you squint, you can't really see what's up ahead. You can feel the mother of all headaches begin to take up residence between your temples. You're hot. You're tired, and tired of being on the road. You're hoping that a decent motel will magically appear over the horizon, one with air conditioning and a mini bar. And you discover that hell is an empty, westward highway that never ends.

That is where I was late one August day. Keith and I been riding since the morning, through a desert heat that we were not used to. We were both dehydrated and tired. Monument Valley was visually dramatic in the late afternoon sunshine, but the view was not enough to stop me from wishing I'd forced a stop in Mexican Hat, Utah, a half hour before. We hadn't seen another vehicle on the road and I figured we were about halfway between Mexican Hat and Kayenta, quite literally in the middle of nowhere.

I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a view I had to photograph. Keith was ahead of me and I knew he wouldn't be happy about a delay, but I pulled over anyway. I watched him ride off, taking the camera gear with him. While I waited for him to notice I wasn't there anymore, I took the water bottle out of my pack and took a long swig of the tepid water that did nothing to wash away the bright metallic taste of the heat and the dust.

The look on Keith's face as he pulled off his helmet matched the tone of his voice as he said, "What now?" I gestured back the way that we had came, at what I had seen in the mirror.

"I need to take a photo."

He looked the view, really looked at the vivid red desert bisected by new blacktop so straight that it seemed like it went through the distant red cliff rather than curve around it. He saw the same thing I did, and handed me the camera. He smiled and said, "Good eye. I'd have missed that one."

He gave me some hints on composition, and we talked sporadically while I aimed the camera at the scenes around me.

"I'm about done with this", he said as I sat in the middle of the road, focusing on the distant hills. I pressed the shutter button twice before I answered.

"Yeah, me too. Where do suppose we are?"

Keith helped me up and took the camera to take some shots of the dusty bikes in that golden sunshine.

"Middle. Of. Nowhere."

"Literally. What do you figure, we're about halfway to the next town?"

"I guess. The question now, " he said as he put the camera away, "is do we go on? Or do we go back?"

I remembered the two-story hotel I had seen beside the river in Mexican Hat, the one with the all-important air-conditioning grills under each of the windows that overlooked the San Juan River. I mentioned it to Keith and added, "Plus, we'll have the sun at our backs for the half hour, rather than it glaring in our eyes."

"Sold. Let's go."

The ride back seemed quicker, as it always does when you know that the end is in sight. We pulled into the hotel's courtyard and smiled at each other in relief as we walked into the office. An older woman with long white hair, wearing a white t-shirt over an ankle length red peasant skirt, smiled at us and gently explained that there was no vacancy, hadn't we seen the sign?

I know I blinked in surprise. No vacancy? WTF does that mean? It took me a second to remember that it meant no room at the inn. In all of our travels over the previous years, we had never encountered No Vacancy in any of the budget or mom and pop motels we tend to frequent. There was always room and we had grown complacent.

The wind had been knocked out of my sails, but Keith still had the presence of mind to ask her if she could recommend another hotel in town, someplace clean and cheap.

"Go to the Canyonlands Motel. It's up the hill on the left, beside the gas station. Don't even bother with the other ones, they're crap."

Off we went, up the hill and turned left into an uneven gravel parking lot. The Canyonlands Motel looked pretty dismal, with cracked stucco around each door and a broken neon sign that now only said "Budget Rat s."

"Well, this is special." I muttered to Keith as we headed to the office after making sure that the NO part of NO VACANCY was unlit on both sides of the sign.

“At least it will be cheap," he replied. He really is a most frugal man.

We opened the door, and I worked to keep my face blank. I'm sure it was a tidy place once, but now it had the look of a place that had slipped quietly by inches. It wasn't dirty, just messy as hell. People had put stuff just anywhere rather than put it away. Folded linens were piled high on the end of the counter in a tower that had a decided lean to it. A large dented industrial vacuum squatted in the corner in front of red vinyl chairs that had been new a few decades before. One of the chairs had a dirty white plastic bucket on it, filled with cleaning supplies with a pair of used yellow rubber gloves tossed over them. A box of cheap garbage bags sat on the other chair. Magazines and rolls of hotel toilet paper and boxes of thin motel soap were heaped around with no attempt at organization.

A teenage girl sat at a computer on the other side of the counter, sitting back in an old office chair with her feet up on the counter. She slowly put her feet down when we asked her if they had any rooms available.

"Sure," she said, giving us a wide smile through snaggle teeth. It was my turn to get the accommodations so I chatted with her as I filled out the card. She was friendly, if a bit odd. Her hair had been dyed black, but a while ago and her roots were coming in a mousy blond. Frankly, it looked like it had been cut by a lawn mower, choppy and spikey in the most peculiar way. She wore black eyeshadow which only served to highlight how small and porcine her eyes were in that round, white face, and the scarlet lipstick had been applied outside the lip line giving her a clownish look. She stood up as I finished filling in our information, and I saw that her glitter nailpolish had been picked off and chipped halfway down each bitten nail.

The crowning glory of her look had to be her t-shirt. It had to be at least 2 sizes too small and covered her ample form like a sausage casing ready to split. A black and red banner design had been airbrushed on it and the words Baby Boo was written in a bilious purple script that warped and distorted as the t-shirt stretched over her chest.

"If ya need anythin, just call. I'm ______ and I'll be happy to help ya."

We both forgot her name immediately. To us, she would always be just Baby Boo.

A green rental car pulled into the parking lot as we walked out of the office, disgorging two couples that spoke in German to each other. The men talked to each other in that hearty tone that said what a great adventure this is and sauntered to the office. The women stayed by the car with slightly shell-shocked expressions and looked silently at the motel buildings. One caught my eye and we exchanged a smile and a slight shrug, silently commiserating with each other that we had ended up here in this cheerless spot.

Keith started to unpack his bike while I wrestled with an aged sliding glass door, trying to get into the room. Finally he had to come and help. So much gravel and dust had settled in the tracks that the whole exercise took far longer than it should have, and nothing we did could get them closed again. Frankly that was just as well; the room was stuffy and hot after being closed up all afternoon and the faint breeze was more important than security right then.

The room held no surprises. It was as dejected as the rest of the place. A brown and beige shag carpet filled the room and was matted with more gravel and dust from years of travelers coming in from the parking lot. Both double beds slumped noticeably in the middle and the cheap nylon comforters had pulls and snags distorting the shiny satin-like surface. Everything seemed clean though and the scent of bleach overlaid the smell of heat and dust. I won't touch anything but the sheets, I thought. And NO WAY am I walking on that floor in bare feet.

While Keith fiddled with the TV and looked for the air conditioning controls I checked out the bathroom. Clean but dingy pretty much sums it up. While the porcelain and tiles were clean, everything was just a little chipped and shabby. I wondered how I would ever get dry with towels as threadbare as the ones hanging on a pitted chrome rail.

"You're not gonna believe this," Keith called from the other room.

"Only one channel?"

"Worse. No air conditioning."

"Are you fucking kidding me?!?"

"There's this space up near the ceiling, but I don't know if that's it."

I sighed. "Well, let's go ask on our way to get some food."

"You going to shower first?"

"No, let's just go. I'll just get all sweaty and dusty again. I'll shower before bed."

Baby Boo was still in the office, and looked genuinely puzzled when Keith explained that there was no air conditioner in the room.

"Oh there totally is. There's one in every room. It's just a little different that what most people are used to."

That was our introduction to swamp coolers, also known as evaporative coolers. It is not, as Baby Boo claimed, an air conditioner. It is a fan that blows air over water, and cools by adding humidity into the room. She told Keith how to turn it on, and I waited by the road while he went back to the room to get it started.

"It's going to be a special night," he said to me when he came back.

“Special how?”

We started walking down the road to find a restaurant.

“The room is getting damp, but not cool. I think separate beds tonight”

I sighed. I didn't like it very much, but we'd learned that a night spent trying not to roll into the dip in the middle of an old bed didn't make for a good night's rest. Add heat and we'd both be grumpy as hell in the morning.

We passed another hotel as we walked, and we tried to peer into the dim lobby as we passed it.

"How bad does this place have to be, if it's worse than the Canyonlands?" I asked Keith.

"Maybe the woman at the San Juan Inn gets a kick back."

"Just how much of a kick back can one expect from a $60 a night room?" I wondered.

Mexican Hat is not a big place, one of those blink-and-you-miss-it towns, so we soon found a sign for the Swingin' Steakhouse. The smell of barbecue was too good for us to look for another restaurant. We walked around a fence to find ourselves on a partially covered patio. There was a bar at one end, and about 10 old-style melamine tables with mismatched chrome chairs. The flag stones were uneven, and everything wobbled no matter how we shifted our chairs or propped up a table leg with a folded napkin. We turned our chairs so we could see the other end of the patio.

Here was a large firepit, maybe one meter by three meters with a grill hanging from chains suspended over the glowing charcoal fire. It was attended by a young man in a dark cowboy hat with black jeans and t-shirt, who drank from a steady supply of long-neck Budweiser bottles as he tended to the orders on the grill and kept it swinging steadily over the flames.

"You want chicken or beef," asked heavily tanned blond who could have been 30, could have been 50. "There's nothin' else."

We both settled on the beef, and I added a Bud to my order. Keith wondered idly what vegetarians would order.

"There's salad and beans and bread that comes with," said our waitress helpfully.

"Guess this isn't the place to be a vegetarian," Keith remarked after she left.

“Umm...no,” I said, laughing as I looked at the big slabs of steak on the grill
We sat on the patio and watched the stars come out against a perfectly clear sky as we enjoyed what is possibly the best steak dinner we have ever had. I splurged and followed it up with a piece of home made apple crumble a la mode, that was so good it made me sleepy with contentment.

We walked back to the motel hand-in-hand, pleased with the dinner at the Swingin' Steak. and the night in general. While I waited for the eight daddy-long-leg spiders that had been lingering in the tub to wash down the drain before I stepped in for my shower, I thought about what had been a good day's ride followed by a good dinner with good company. And as Keith later remarked, even though it wasn't the best of accommodations, Baby Boo and the Canyonlands Motel made for a good story.


The next morning, we rode along the same route. It turned out that where we stopped so I could take the photo had actually been much closer to Kayenta than Mexican Hat. If we had carried on another 15 minutes, we would have been in the kind of town you find where two highways intersect, with chain hotels, Denny's and MacDonalds. Air conditioning a-plenty, but no Baby Boo or swinging steak.

Katitude is a writer from Toronto, Canada.

Art of the Bluff

By SirFWalgman © 2010

Last night I was a little bored when one of those Facebook web cam whores came on. You know the ones I am talking about. The ones with hot pictures who call you baby and tell you how hot you are while trying to get you to enter your credit card information on their webcam sites. The people behind these things could be fat chicks, or dudes, or who knows.

So I decide to have a little fun. No not that kind you pervs. Between talking about her webcam I drop these little lines in. This is called the setup. Where you layer a back story.
8:10pm Waffles: ok it is nice to meet someone to talk to
8:11pm Chloe: thanks..so are you on my link babe
8:11pm Waffles: yes do you have a promo code?
8:11pm Chloe: nope just live it blank ok babe >....
8:11pm Waffles: I have been lonely lately.. .I have cried myself to sleep since my divorce.
8:12pm Chloe: oh sorry for that babe i hope i can ease the pain your feelin now
8:13pm Waffles: yeah it was hard she pretended to like me then one day she left me for a fireman and said she never loved me
8:14pm Chloe: oh my god shame on her...dont worry she dont deserves you ok ..so just move on i will help you... let me know if you got your ID NUMBER OK BABE
At this point I am not sure where I am going with this. I figure I will fuck with her somehow but I have not figured out the end game yet. So she ups the ante for the end game pitch.
8:15pm Chloe: yes...do you want to know my real name ??
8:16pm Waffles: yes
8:16pm Chloe: hmm im stacey parker hope you understand that i use a screen name
8:16pm Waffles: right makes sense so people will not harass you in real life
8:17pm Chloe: hmm yes...your the only one knows my name now
8:17pm Waffles: that's awesome it makes me feel special
8:18pm Chloe: yes your a special person for me...hope i can trust you
8:18pm Waffles: yes you can trust me
8:18pm Chloe: with my heart
Now, she is sticking it in. I told her I was just divorced and crying every night and yet she wants me to trust her with her heart. I think this is a little bit cold and so I formulate a game plan. So, I lay on some more of the lonely depressed thing.
8:20pm Waffles: can you give me a hug?
8:20pm Chloe: yes if you want it
8:21pm Waffles: yeah I need a hug I am lonely since my divorce
8:21pm Chloe: dont worry cause i can give you that oh babe where's your id number
See how I might be skeptical as she keeps asking for my ID number? She did promise me a hug though. I think we are really progressing here. Then, she starts to get a little suspicious.
8:28pm Waffles: oh right ok I am looking for a credit card
8:28pm Chloe: so can you finish the vote now babe ok babe
8:28pm Waffles: I don't want to leave you though
8:29pm Chloe: why where are you going
8:29pm Waffles: I think I left it near the pizza box I need to get up and get my card under the beer cans I have been drinking a lot since I got divorced
8:30pm Chloe: ok babe im waiting ok...hope you dont just play me...i like you and i dont want the guy i want to play me around...got me babe dont worry i will take good care of you
I keep layering on the comments pointing to my depression and alcoholism. In between talking to her and putting her off for the credit card information I throw in the little tidbits of how I am lonely, depressed, drinking...how my wife left me. Real sob story. Layering the lies. She then ups the stakes and I figure out how to stick it to her. I need to be patient though.
8:31pm Chloe: oh i see..so do you want to see my pussy now babe ??
8:31pm Waffles: yeah I do! do you shave it?
8:31pm Chloe: you know i rally like you so babe please dont play me round ok..cause i can be your wife if you want
8:32pm Waffles: you can be my wife?
8:32pm Chloe: yes my pussy is clean yes if you want to
8:32pm Waffles: my wife has a hairy pussy
8:33pm Chloe: hmm babe you will see later ok...and you will like it my juicy and nice pussy...
8:33pm Waffles: don't you live in another country?
8:33pm Chloe: hmm are you signing the 2nd page babe
8:33pm Waffles: yeah I am looking for my gold Amex
8:33pm Chloe: i can go anywhere i want to go...and i can go there at your place as long as im with you
8:34pm Waffles: you would come to America and live with me?
8:35pm Chloe: yes is there something wrong???or you dont want
8:35pm Waffles: No I just am stunned
8:35pm Chloe: babe are you really on the 2nd page?
8:35pm Waffles: I would not be lonely with you...you seem very nice
8:35pm Chloe: dont feel like that ..cause i think your a good gut and not hard to love
8:36pm Waffles: I am not sure my ex-wife said I was ugly
8:37pm Chloe: hmm she says that cause she dont love you ok...but dont worry we can visit her if im with you so...let me see what she will feel...hmm i think im more beautiful than your ex wife
8:37pm Waffles: yes you are and you are sexier i bet you know how to please a husband
8:38pm Chloe: hmm just relax ok babe cause im good at all...and i think i can satisfied you in anyways
Wow! So now we are going to get married!! I just need to find that pesky ID. I am so happy. I have found a new wife!!! Notice when said she thought I was a nice gut. I think she meant guy but probably she is more correct with gut. Now we move into the end game.
8:38pm Waffles: I am crying now...I did not think I would every meet anyone else that could love me
8:39pm Chloe: so babe are you done signing?? hmm i think you deserves me and i deserves you...now please dont cry babe cause i dont want my babe crying
8:40pm Waffles: ok. I will man up. I am just so lonely.
8:40pm Chloe: dont worry im here now so dont be sad ok babe
8:40pm Waffles: I think I might kill myself if I did not find a nice person like you
8:41pm Chloe: hmm babe are you done singing the my link???? hmm dont say that cause im here now babe ok babe
8:41pm Waffles: I hope this is real...or I may have to kill myself
Layer it in but take it slow. You can not move too fast or it will seem fake. You need to talk, then say something about killing yourself, then talk about how happy you are again. Layer upon layer.
8:41pm Chloe: so im here to ove you no dont go that way ok babe cause after this contract i will go there in you place and let's have a new start ok babe
8:42pm Waffles: I bought a gun last night last week and I have put the nozzle in my mouth every night but I can not pull the trigger one more bad thing though and I think I will just end it
8:43pm Chloe: what??babe please promised me that you will not do that again ok babe please
8:43pm Waffles: well since you are coming to be with me I do not have to do it...if not then I think I would just have to go ahead and move on to a better place
I have set the plate now. I have been sticking a gun in my mouth. I am suicidal. However my angel has saved me. As long as I can hold on to this hope I can live. The stage is set and now I just have to drop the BOOOOM!
8:44pm Chloe: yes that's it cause your the one who will give me a baby yes that's it
8:44pm Waffles: you wan't a baby?
8:44pm Chloe: babe hmm did you got your ID NUMBER yes ID NUMBER
8:45pm Waffles: you seem young for a baby how old are you?
8:45pm Chloe: 22....hey babe im asking you if your done and got your id number
8:46pm Waffles: I think you are just lying to me to get me to fill out that page... I can not take this anymore. I am just going to end it. I am going to stick a gun in my mouth now and blow my brains out. thanks for making my last moments humiliating
8:47pm Chloe: oh my god babe im not lying ok i just want you to see me cause i have wrote something that will make you happy and i want you to see it hmm babe please i have wrote something for you babe and i want you too see it on the web cam you there
8:48pm Waffles: goodbye life
I then stop typing ANYTHING. I just go silent. For the next 15 minutes I get the following.
8:48pm Chloe: please im not lying ok i liked you
8:49pm Chloe: please talk to me hey
8:52pm Chloe: hey babe
8:57pm Chloe: are you dead??
9:01pm Chloe: heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy
I really think I got her. Scammed the scammer. What do you guys think? Too mean? Did I get her? I have decided if I get another message before tomorrow morning I will have won. SO I am leaving facebook open for the night... and hopefully I have won.

Who want's to be the cop? You know. Something like this.
Cop: Hello Chloe my name is Sergent McDonald. How do you know Waffles?
Chloe: Oh I do not know him well
Cop: Oh. Ok. We are investigating all of his friends. The other night he committed suicide. We do not think there was any funny business but we are talking to his Facebook friends and requesting chat logs.
Chloe: Oh no. That is so sad. I do not know what happened. Bye now.
Waffles is a freak from Massachusetts.

The Lonehorseman

By Ernest © 2010

The extremely pregnant woman did a shot of Jagermeister, and then started slowly sliding off her barstool. The bartender ran around the corner of the bar and caught her just before she hit the ground. That’s a sound I was glad I didn't have to hear. The sickening thud of a drunk pregnant woman hitting the floor. What kind of place was this? What alternate dimension had I entered? I looked around the bar from the slightly flickering neon Schlitz sign, to the jukebox blaring Charlie Daniels, and finally to my friends playing darts in the corner. They were either oblivious to the drunk pregnant woman, or they were so used to the sight that it didn’t even register. I was hoping for the former. And to think, two hours earlier I had been comfortably at home in another town.

Few words in the English language can bring more excitement and anticipation to the heart of a twenty year old than “road trip.” Those two fateful words had been shouted in my living room earlier that day after my pal John got off the phone with our mutual friend Carolyn. It was summer break, and we were all college buddies. Carolyn was home in Burlington , Wisconsin , and had called to invite us down for an impromptu party and dorm floor reunion. We were still up in Madison , and decided to make the hour and a half trip south. How could we pass up the opportunity to black out in a different location? We made record time flying down I-39 towards Carolyn's, and decided to stop into a weathered roadside bar at the edge of town to continue drinking (we had started the minute John hung up the phone).

Inside the bar is where we found the scene with the pregnant woman unfolding. This was 1988, and I guess they hadn’t gotten the memo in southern Wisco that alcohol and fetuses are a bad mix. We were doing copious shots of the newly discovered Jagermeister ourselves, and the pregnant woman kept asking us to buy her a shot, but by then she had been cut off by the bartender. Rules are rules, and when you and your unborn baby have had enough to drink, then that’s that. The bartender would serve you until you fell over, but he’d catch you on the way down. A true humanitarian.

I was beginning to think I had passed through a portal to a dark world, but it might have just been the booze and the three joints we smoked on the road. Eventually we left the watering hole from hell, and the battered wooden door slowly closed behind us, muffling the shouts of protest from the pregnant woman inside. I’ve always wondered what might have become of her unborn child. He or she would be around twenty-two by now, probably running the Tilt-o-Whirl at some fair, or mopping the floor of some penitentiary. Kinda tough to start life already behind the eight ball like that. It reminded me of the first chapter of every serial killer’s bio that I’ve ever read.

We headed out into the setting sun, which burned our dark bar adjusted eyes. We drove down a series of dirt roads with the red and dreamsicle colored sunset shining through the endless fields and barbed wire fences. And cows. Lots and lots of cows. The sulfurous stench of ozone destroying methane hung in the air. We pulled into our friend Carolyn’s family’s horse ranch just as the sun finally set. She greeted us on the huge porch with a smile and a beer. People had arrived from all over for the gathering, and it was starting to look like it was going to be a serious party.

After the typical reunion hugs, keg problems solved, and emergency booze runs, everyone was settling into a pleasantly hammered buzz. It was time to explore the ranch a little. We headed down to the stables with some drinks for us, and carrots for the horses. I didn’t have to travel far before I met a new friend. Everyone else headed to the main stable, but I was drawn to an old horse in the side stable who seemed to have a devilishly bemused look on his long face. He greedily accepted my carrot offering, appreciatively bouncing his head up and down quickly the way only a horse can. When the carrots ran out, he decided to try my arm as a snack. This was the first time I had ever been up close and personal with a horse, and I was amazed at the strength of his jaws. I actually panicked a little as he clamped down on my arm and pulled me back and forth with ease. After I retrieved my arm, we came to a peaceable understanding and I stood there petting him, having one of those incredible moments of youthful drunken bliss when everything is optimism and the universe seems to make sense.

Carolyn came by on her way to catch up with everybody else and was surprised at my choice of friends.

“He’s a grouch.” She said. “He doesn’t usually like anybody.”

I took it as a compliment, said my goodbyes to him, and then followed her to the main stable.

Many of the horses had gotten loose in the field behind the stables. It was pitch black by now, and sometimes all you could hear was the muffled thundering of hooves on dirt and large blurry images moving around us in the dark. A mixture of fear and excitement had overcome me. Carolyn was trying to round up the horses when one of her neighbors showed up even drunker than we were. He was a charming fellow who seemed to think “fuck” was simultaneously a noun, verb, adjective, and adverb. I think he managed to utter a couple of long sentences using only that one word. After a few minutes of erudite conversation, he insisted that it was time for him to ride one of the horses bareback. Carolyn, and a majority of the horses, seemed to think that this was a bad idea, but he set down his Coors Light and found a horse that slowed down just enough for him to run and hop on. He was lying on his stomach on the horse’s back, with his legs hanging off the horse sideways. As he whooped and hollered, the horse had second thoughts about this scenario. He bolted towards the dark outline of the only tree in the pasture, and when he got to it, he took a sharp left. We could see the silhouette of the drunken neighbor flying off the horse with his feet extended straight up, and his head a few feet above the ground pointing down. Then we heard the shattering impact of human body meeting tree trunk. Followed by silence. Followed by groans. We ran over to him with a flashlight just as he was getting to his feet. Personally, I was surprised that he was remotely alive. The horse must have been going close to twenty miles an hour just before his passenger went airborne. Somebody shined a flashlight on the neighbor’s face. I had never seen so much blood. He was making a guttural wailing noise, and I couldn’t tell where his nose was, or if it was even still there. Many of his teeth were missing, but I couldn’t remember if he had been like that pre-accident. After all, he was wearing overalls with no shirt, and missing teeth seem to go hand in hand with that look. He appeared to be angry about the way things had turned out, and was blaming the horse and Carolyn. He headed back to his place and we chuckled as his curses slowly faded into the night.

We went back to the house and had our nightcaps. I vaguely remember drinking with people on the porch until everyone started passing out one by one on the living room floor. As I succumbed to sleep I prepared to dream the dreams of purgatory deep in America's heartland.

Ernest was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the late 1980s. Everything after that is a little blurry. He regrets nothing. You can find his writing in a blog called Throwin' Rocks.


By Paul McGuire © 2010

It's hard to say when Ike went crazy. Sure, I was there during the trigger point, or flash point, or whatever you call it. But something, deep, very deep into his past must have been the root cause of his bout with insanity. That abrupt shift in reality does not happen over night. It's a gradual decline as your brain slowly loses touch with reality. It was as though he had been hanging on by one last little thread for many weeks before it... snapped. Ike snapped.

Becky ran up to me. Normally she's one of those girls who makes a huge deal about greeting you. She's a hugger. But that time, I knew something was wrong when she stopped and didn't embrace me. Instead, she stood in silence for ten seconds as I said, "What? What? What? What's wrong?"

"Ike. The police called. We have to get back to the apartment."

Becky and Ike used to be... well, Becky and Ike. Those two had met in college and for as long as I knew them in Seattle, they were always attached at the hip. I never saw one without the other. That's why it came to a shocker when they had split up a few months earlier. Now, I know what you're saying... it's Becky's fault. But you have to understand that she wanted them to stay together. Ike was the one who broke it off when he decided to move back to Colorado at the end of the summer. If anyone was going to go psycho, it should have been Becky because she had every right to. One day, they were living together and the next, Ike had dumped Becky and showed up at my door asking if he could crash until he bailed for Boulder. Becky was crushed.

Ike? Didn't seem to act like someone who ended a seven year relationship. He began dating. Many different girls. I'd come home from work and they'd be another UW girl sitting on my couch, smoking my weed, while Ike strummed my guitar playing a bad cover of a Bob Marley song.

He refused to talk to me about Becky. It was as though he erased the name completely from his memory. One morning I woke up and realized that he had deleted Becky's name from my cell phone. When I jokingly confronted him, he instantly accused me of sleeping with her.

"Don't you have any respect? You're not supposed to do that. It's the Man Code."

I wasn't sleeping with Becky. I wasn't sleeping with anyone. I hadn't gotten laid in months, aside from a blow job that I got from a really really drunk cougar in Bell Town, I was stuck in the middle of the worst dry spell in years. But that's not the point. It was OK for him to nail four, five, ten chicks on my couch but it wasn't OK for Becky to sleep with me. I let it go. I hadn't thought about the incident until I saw Becky.

"Why didn't you answer your phone?"

Becky called twice but I didn't recognize the number. Ike has erased her entry, so the number came up as an unknown number with a 206 area code. She rode her bicycle over to Fremont hoping to catch me at work. I was standing outside smoking a cigarette when we had the peculiar encounter.

Becky handed me one of Ike's journals that she found hidden in drawer. She opened up the notebook to a random page. She quickly turned seven pages in succession.


Becky frantically riffled through the notebook and stopped.

"It's filled. Every page. With the same word."

I took the notebook out of her hand. "Free" was repeated and repeated. It appeared neatly in every space of the notebook.

I went inside the bar and told my boss that my roommate Ike was in an accident. He wasn't really, but what was I going to say?

"Yeah, I need to take a couple of hours off. My roommate just walked into Stumptown Coffee, beheaded two people with a Samurai sword, and took four people hostage. Can you watch the bar for me until I get back?"

Paul McGuire is the author of Lost Vegas.