July 20, 2004

July 2004 (Vol. 3, Issue 7)

Welcome back to another issue of Truckin'. Print up all the stories to take with you on your vacation. It's perfect reading for poolside lounging, or while waiting for a late flight, or in a long security line. I wrote three stories this month; another Miami story, a random short story, and a something inspired by my latest travel adventure. Richard Bulkeley gets intimate with an airport goodbye. Al Can't Hang returns with a third installment of Stories from the Bar. Tom Love flashes back to the late 1960s in Germany. NYC poet, Diane Roy adds her voice to the mix with an unusual, but gripping first part of her story. Otis B. Dart is the latest poker blogger to join the staff. Sigge, our friend from Norway, gets a little philosophical for us. Sit back, relax, and enjoy. Be kind, McG.

1. Sundrenched by Tenzin McGrupp

I wandered down past a bevy of lost souls repairing themselves in the hot, early afternoon Indiana sun... More

2. Words We Don't Have by Richard Bulkeley

It always amazes me the power that smells have to evoke memories and emotions and all the other stuff that our more rational senses filter out in darker moments... More

3. A Quarter's Quarter by Otis B. Dart

I had bankrolled her binge, so when she stood from her barstool, her feet were mushy. I thought her step toward the door indicated confusion, perhaps inebriation... More

4. Almost Stood Up by Al Can't Hang

She was drunk but was also young, beautiful, and way out of my league... More

5. My World Crumbled Like Chunk of Hash by Tom Love

It's 1969, I'm in the US Army, stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, smoking some of the most powerful hashish in the world... More

6. Amanda Dick by Tenzin McGrupp

Calls from Senor were rare. It was like getting a call from the Pope. You dropped everything you were doing and gave him your full attention... More

7. Perversion by Diane Roy

Smelling underwear was like kissing; you had to do it with your eyes closed. It's not really sincere any other way... More

8. Existentialistic Sunday by Sigge S. Amdal

You realize that more than half of what you've done in your life qualifies as 'mistakes.' That's one way of introducing yourself to an existentialistic Sunday. Or a hangover on the couch... More

9. Lacrecia by Tenzin McGrupp

We settled into a sidestreet cafe, one where we knew no tourists from Missouri with camcorders would stalk us, and began the process of drinking the bitter La Fée Verte... More

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

From the Editor's Laptop:

Nine stories? I'm impressed with the diversity of the writers. Sure this issue is peppered with tales of plenty of inebriated and emotionally wrought women, but it's the various voices from the authors that inspire me. I am certainly proud to publish this issue, one of my favorite to date. Writers from Norway to New York City and from Greenville to New Zealand gave us a glimpse, or a literary portrait of our thoughts... today, right now... from flashbacks in Germany or Connecticut to bars and cafes in Amsterdam and New Orleans. Thanks to everyone who shared their bloodwork this month. And it's always a pleasure to add new authors to the roster.

I ask the readers that if you like these stories, then please do me and the rest of the writers a huge favor. Tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes a few seconds to pass along the URL or the monthly e-mail. I certainly appreciate your support. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list.

Thanks again. I am grateful that you wasted your time with my site. Until next time.


"Go outside once in a while. Buy a donut." - Johnny Depp


By Tenzin McGrupp © 2004

25 June 04... Somewhere, Indiana

I wandered down past a bevy of lost souls repairing themselves in the hot, early afternoon Indiana sun. I could hear the clatter of shuffling feet on the crowded gravel road as small clouds of dust kicked up with each step. Faint whispers of drugs for sale drowned out the catchy sales pitches of hundreds of vendors that lined the main road in the campgrounds. A couple of sunburned frat boys from Ohio offered up Pale Ales for $3. An extremely dirty, shirtless kid about twenty years old, with a scraggly beard tugged on my arm. He could've looked like Jesus. But shit, if Jesus showed up at a Phish show in the middle of nowhere, he certainly wouldn't be trying to sell me Yay-yo for $60 a gram.

I thought about the spun out girl (who looked a lot like Reese Witherspoon) with the big black dog selling the ganja cookies before the last Brooklyn show. The Joker let her tie her dog up to his vehicle as she sat down next to us and sold her baked goods while the Joker sold Bloody Marys and other vodka drinks. Two days after Brooklyn, we saw the blonde teenager standing barefoot in the middle of a parking lot in Saratoga. She was yapping on her cellphone, with her big black dog tangling the withered bright blue leash around her legs. We tried to get her to tell us why she was so fucked up the last time we saw her. After the show in Coney Island, she wandered through the lot without her dog and walked right past us. We shouted her name and she kept walking until the Joker nearly tackled her. After she gave us a glazed over look, we could tell she was far gone. And what good was wasting my time on a girl whose mental capabilities were somewhere near oblivion? It makes you wonder how kids that wasted were able to get from show to show and from city to city, without getting killed, arrested, or ODing in an alley behind a liquor store in suburbia.

My thoughts were messy and worth absolutely nothing. I couldn't even trade the best of them for a warm sip of beer. I was spilling over with excitement at the thrill of seeing Phish in the upcoming hours. The vodka mixed with lemonade and painkillers destroyed any order I attempted to set forth. My sundrenched mind was stained with inebriation after ingesting a lifetime's worth of illegal narcotics and controlled substances, hourly, for the entire week leading up to Deer Creek. Thumb wrestling with penguins sounded good at that point.

I ran out of cash and had only marijuana, my honor, and comedic skills to barter for food, drinks, various goodies, pharmies and other party favors. I found an old Deadhead who gave me two breakfast burritos in exchange for a handful of nugs. A cute girl from North Carolina with armpits hairier than mine, traded me a couple of rolls for a Valium and some nugs, even after I almost stepped on two of her three puppies that she lead around with pink ribbons. She loved the red dinner jacket that I had been wearing the entire tour.

"You must wear yours with a difference," she said in a mild Southern twang as we departed with a solid hug.

When I returned to base camp I was exhausted. I needed to take a nap. I clumsily emptied my pockets. I had three Valium pills, two hits of ecstasy, a three and a half grams of Smurf, $3 in cash, my ticket to the concert, scribbled setlists on various pieces of paper, a lighter, a bowl, a pen, three poems written on a flyer, two business cards from people I'll never see again, sunglasses, my cellphone, a paperclip, two rubber bands, and three pieces of stale gum. I lined up all my drugs and took a mental picture. My inner space was ruled by havoc. My will and fate were not going to be overthrown by my sloppiness. I was determined to have one of the best nights of my life. I lived for those moments. Steve McQueen wouldn't have taken a nap. I took a deep breath. It was only noon. My morning binge was only the first steps of an epic journey. It was time to shift gears. I could taste the fear as I let it go.

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

Words We Don't Have

By Richard Bulkeley © 2004

There is an African tribe that has no word for goodbye. When it’s time to go, they just turn around and go. Now, I’m not sure if this is a real African tribe, or one of those apocryphal ones (like the dubious Chinese proverbs people are fond of), but at the moment, I wish I was part of that tribe.

I’m at the airport, saying farewell to my soon to be ex-girlfriend, and what I want more than anything else in the world right now is to walk away. I want to walk through the security check and towards the plane without looking back.

Her hair smells like apples, and the subtle scent of her shampoo is squeezing the bottom of my lungs. It always amazes me the power that smells have to evoke memories and emotions and all the other stuff that our more rational senses filter out in darker moments.

Ultimately, Robert DeNiro’s character in Heat said it best “don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.” In my case, the heat is a metaphor, an almost physical need to travel and be alone, but it’s just as scary and life altering as the police. Well, it’s been closer to thirty minutes, and she still isn’t allowing me to walk away. Truth is, I don’t really want to go. There is always a lot of dead time before catching a plane, and there are worse ways to spend it than hugging a good-looking woman.

Now, admittedly, these were the words of a fictional armed robber, and it might seem sick to try and apply them to the life of an arrogant, confused, emotionally retarded twenty-something. But I do. It’s not like I do anything more criminal than smoking an occasional joint. I’ve really got no excuse for my predisposition towards rejecting the trappings of civilized life. When I think about it, it’s kind of sad that I see a long-term relationship as just a trapping of civilized life. Or that I pretend I think that. It’s not that I didn’t love Kate. I did.

But it’s over, whether or not I still love her – and I do. I just don’t love her like I used to. When we first got together, it was tingles down the spine, an interminable goofy grin, and all the other sickly Hollywood clichés that seem so apt when your hormones take over. Now, it’s a warm fondness. Before time took its toll, I loved her in the same way I loved my right hand. Life without her would have been possible, but inconceivable. If you’re feeling cynical, and I usually am, it’s possible to say that I loved her because she performed some of the functions of my right hand. But, for a dozen more reasons besides, I loved her. Now, well, my feelings towards her are more on par with how I regard my baby teeth. Sure, they were nice, and useful while they lasted, and the sight of them (my mother keeps everything) brings back some warm memories, but that’s it.

Or so I tell myself, and have been for the last month. We’ve both noticed an edge of desperation creeping into the relationship recently, and we’ve both kept quiet. We’d rather slip into the North Atlantic singing “Abide With Me” (or more likely trying for one last quickie on the poop deck of the HMS Titanic) than scramble around trying to find lifeboats. Neither of us would have admitted that we knew that the massive iceberg in the shape of a jumbo jet with a kangaroo on the tail was coming, but we would have had to be idiots to forget it. While love makes fools out of men, and women (although it’s more expected of them), there are limits.

So here we are, locked in one last embrace. There’s precious little emotion in it, and what little there is is precious. I wish I could cry, but I have only cried once in the last decade. I’m a deliberate emotional cripple and it took the death of my best friend in a climbing accident, the death of my grandfather (of a throat cancer that robbed him of the dignity and strength that mere old age and the shadow of Hitler’s evil couldn’t), and a two-day bender to weaken my resolve.

The final split is about as anti-climactic as it is awkward. English doesn’t really have the right word for this situation. I mean, “see ya” is definitely overly casual, almost cruel in its indifference. But then, “farewell” is almost too formal; it’s become a noun in its own right. But English has several words for use when parting, and I end up spluttering the simplest one.

“Uh. Goodbye.”
“Yeah. Goodbye.”

And that’s it. I’m not sure if it’s appropriate or ironic, and frankly I don’t care. I’m a coward, and I walk. I barely notice anything until I walk past a stooped old man in a cowboy hat. Now, this isn’t all that unusual, we are in cowboy country after all. In fact, he’s just another retired guy with his wife, flying somewhere.

What gets me is that he’s with his wife. I remember a half-joke I made the first time we discussed long-term possibilities. I said “cowboys are free, cowboys don’t have wives, farmers have wives, and I don’t want to be tied to one horizon.” This old cowboy’s got a wife, and he looks plenty happy. Now, I’m not even considering asking Kate to marry me. But I do realise that I’ve been an asshole.

I believe that everyone has a moment where they are given the opportunity to make a magnificent gesture. The universe grants us a limited number of opportunities to stand up and be truly exceptional. Even the least of men will have moments in his life where he has a chance to reveal a character who rivals those we love in the great stories.

With a sickening clarity, I realise that this is one of mine. I can either keep walking towards the gate and cut the sundry bonds that I have accrued on this patch of earth, or I can turn around and walk back to the departure lounge. Ultimately though, I don’t really have a choice. The role I have created for myself inside my head requires – no, it demands – that I act like a hero. If I can’t be one, and I’m gradually resigning myself to the fact that I can’t, I can at least act like one on occasion.

I’m not Ulysses, or the Scarlet Pimpernel, or Steve McQueen. There’s no honour in destroying myself here. To nobly shoulder up and face the future has no value to any cause but my own selfishness. So I turn around and hurry back to the security check where we were separated. I can almost imagine the stirring violin music starting as the realization dawns on me what I should do.

CUT TO: Medium Close Up, our hero turning round with a grim smile on his face and walking rapidly away from the camera, back towards the security checkpoint.

It’s like I’m watching myself in a movie. Actually, it’s like I’m watching someone else in a movie. This is new and uncharacteristic territory for me, so I’m framing it in terms of something with which I am familiar: Hollywood. Everyone understands what the leading man should do in a romantic comedy, or even a romantic drama, so I’m doing it.

I break into a run as the imaginary soundtrack swells towards the inevitable crescendo. It’s easy enough to avoid the other passengers and wind up to near full speed. My arms are pumping and my backpack bounces rhythmically as I fly past and round the bit players.

They probably think I’m just another idiot who has scheduled his connecting flights badly. My smile becomes genuine for a moment as I realise that I’m actually an entirely different level of idiot. Today is my day to be an idiot of legendary proportions, at least in my own life.

Slightly out of breath, I stumble through the exit lane and come to a full and complete halt (and the airhostesses will tautologically ask us to wait for upon arrival before removing our safety belts). My safety belt was discarded a long time ago, at least a minute. This is all definitely unsafe territory. I look around. I know that the familiar shock of blonde hair will be somewhere nearby and we will run towards each other and fall back into each other’s arms, where the white-hot rush of emotions will turn me into a good man.

Well, that’s the plan anyway. But I can’t see her.


I draw disapproving glances from several of the nearby family farewells, but I’m too angry with myself to notice. I turn around and walk slowly back. It’s what I’ve always wanted, to be walking away, alone, into a grand new adventure. But it’s far more difficult to feel proud when there’s nobody there to impress.

This could have been my bright shining moment, and I blew it. I had my chance to make a grand gesture, and it ended up being as hollow as my heart. Now that’s a nice melodramatic metaphor, it’s just unfortunate that it’s true. I’m not even sure I wanted her to be there. Like I said, I’m a confused, emotionally retarded twenty-something with arrogant notions of freedom being just another word for nothing left to lose.

Richard Bulkeley is a gentleman scholar from Auckland, New Zealand.

A Quarter's Quarter

By Otis B. Dart © 2004

It was the beret that killed me. Had she not been wearing the little black hat, I might’ve been able to pay attention to something else. Like the time. Or my sobriety. Or my wallet.

She wasn’t even French.

There’s a bar on Toulouse Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter. It’s sandwiched in between a place called The Dungeon and a building that careful people avoid. On the walls you’ll find pictures of celebrities. Hanging from the ceiling you’ll find a frightening assortment of sea shell wind chimes. Against the bar that night you would’ve found me, mouth agape, eyes fixed on a short little thing wearing a black beret.

See, if the band hadn’t been playing, and if I hadn’t been drinking a grain alcohol concoction, and if my buddies hadn’t been in search of variety, I might not have been so taken with her little chapeau. If she hadn’t smiled, and posed for pictures, and let me spin her to the rhythm of the trop rock, and rested on her elbows on the bar in a little girl pose, maybe I would’ve noticed the sun was about to come up.

A true scientist would label the variables from alpha to omega, I suppose. Looking back, though, there’s no doubt her beret was the x-factor.

I had bankrolled her binge, so when she stood from her barstool, her feet were mushy. I thought her step toward the door indicated confusion, perhaps inebriation. Instead, I realized it was determination. She was leaving with my booze, my love. My little black beret.

“Time to go,” she said. And I knew she meant I wasn’t going with her.

I sighed, grabbed a smoke from my wrinkled pack, and gave a weary smile to the old bartender lady. She returned the smile in such a way that I knew, if she talked much she would be saying, “So it goes, son. Now get the hell out. We’re closing.”

I was hundreds of miles from home in a year before cell phones had found their way to commercial success. My buddies had long since disappeared, promising as they left to return in time to see me give the final woo to the non-French girl. And as I reached in my pocket, I realized I was not only alone, but I was broke. I had spent every last dime on the girl. I couldn’t get a cab back to the hotel. I couldn’t buy another drink. And I couldn’t use the pay phone to call anyone I knew and ask for help.

The old lady behind the bar offered me a ride. Caution nudged me in the kidneys and said, “Nuh-uh.”

I slumped out to the corner of Bourbon and Toulouse and smoked another cigarette. It should’ve felt rock and roll. It should’ve felt wanton and poetic. It should’ve felt like I was out there, on the road, living the life of a barfly with no cash, no woman, and a single crumpled cigarette.

Instead, I felt like a fuckchop.

Usually, in such cases I just start walking. Something, I usually reckon, will happen if I’m moving.

As I started to move, a homeless man sidled up to me. I expected one of the routines. Like, “I betcha I know where ya got those shoes.” (When you bet them, they tell you you’ve got them on your feet, on Bourbon Street and that’ll be ten dollars). Instead, he asked for a smoke.

I knew I only had one left. It was all I had left in my pockets.

I thought for a second and looked at the old dude. I didn’t expect to say anything. I certainly didn’t expect to say, “You got a quarter?”

Before my addled mind could process the deal, the man’s crusty, old hand was palming twenty-five cents into my fingers and taking my last cigarette.

Somehow, it seemed like victory. It was validation that the world was not a sick place where non-French girls in berets would drink away your bankroll. It was humanity at its finest. I knew help was now only a payphone’s call away.

Life, friends, was not that awful.

Reality walked up the sidewalk with my buddies. They had all only been a few doors down looking at cheap strippers and drinking expensive beer. They must’ve seen the look on my face.

“What happened to you?” they asked.

I thought for a moment, pawing my pants for the cigarette pack. It occurred to me that I had just witnessed one of the lowest moments of my own life. Rarely does one recognize it so soon.

What happened to me?

“I just sold my last cigarette to a bum for a quarter.”

Otis B. Dart is a writer from Greenville, SC.

Stories from the Bar: Almost Stood Up

By AlCantHang © 2004

"How long do I have to wait before I'm officially stood up?"

I was speaking to my latest bartender/confessor as he poured my third double. He shook his head and put the bottle back in the rack.

"How long have you been waiting?"

"Nearly 40 minutes."

"If she's not here in five, the next one is on me."

I had met this young cutie at a company function the week before. We had set a date for the following Friday and now I was beginning to wonder if she was going to show. We were both drinking heavily that night and she might not have remembered. I wasn't getting too anxious. It wouldn't be the first time I had been stood up.

Almost exactly five minutes later, she rushed in the front door of the bar. Apologies and explanations were pouring forth as she took her seat at the bar. None of this was really moving me because I was three doubles in and completely relieved that she even showed up.

When she finished her explanation, I called the bartender over and spoke two simple words that would change everything.

"Penalty shot!"

She looked confused and I just smiled along with the bartender. When I asked for her preferred liquor of choice, it finally hit her.

"Double Rumpleminz, sir. Her penalty shot."

The beautiful young woman just looked at me and said plainly, "This is going to be an interesting evening."

As we finished our drinks, we made easy conversation and made our plans for the evening. A friend's band was playing down the block and we decided it would be a good time. After dinner and more drinks we took a nice stroll down to the next bar.

We walked into the bar and immediately ran into my friend Tim. When we walked over to greet him, she seemed very surprised that we were well acquainted. He joined us at a table and the drinks flowed once more.

Here's a little trick that I found that girls use. They will occasionally invite a friend along on the sly as a cover if the date goes bad. What really screwed it up for her was that I knew Tim longer than she had.

The drinks were coming nonstop, the conversation was deteriorating, and my date was becoming visibly intoxicated. It culminated with her coming over to me sitting on my barstool, climbing me like a sequoia, and planting a big, soul-sucking kiss.

"I have to go powder my nose," she whispered in my ear.

Two thumbs up from Tim after she walked away and I made my way for the facilities also. When I returned, I found her walking towards the front door with her jacket on.

What the fuck?

I caught up to her and realized the problem. She was completely obliterated and was in obvious need of getting the fuck out of dodge. The lovely girl apologized for the second time that evening and asked me if I'd walk her home.


The three blocks to her house, we were more holding each other up then walking with each other. Arms around each other, thumbs locked into the other's belt loops, leaning on the other to keep from staggering too much.

"Would you like to come in for awhile?"

Hell yeah.

She was drunk but was also young, beautiful, and way out of my league. We walked into her bedroom and she left me sitting on the bed alone for awhile. When she returned from the bathroom, she stood in front me, bent down, and laid another one of those knockout lip locks.

She whispered one more time, "You've got to go."

Stunned, I walked out of the apartment having no idea what I had done wrong. As I began the useless three-hour drunken search for my car, I heard the faint, yet distinct, sounds of my new beloved losing her cookies in a violent manner.

I smiled and walked on. This one was a keeper.

That was my first date with the beautiful woman who would later become Mrs. Can't Hang.

Al Can't Hang is a gentleman and a seasoned SoCo-ologist from Phoenixville, PA.

My World Crumbled Like Chunk of Hash

By Tom Love © 2004

It's 1969, I'm in the US Army, stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, smoking some of the most powerful hashish in the world. Blonde bricks from Algeria, thin sheets called Paper Dynamite, from Lebanon, black gooey stuff laced with opium from Afganistan which made my teeth hurt.

We work in an accounting office with French and American civilians. Our commanding officer, the Major, is an alcoholic the color of ashes. He's in his last command, forced into retirement to save the Army any more embarrassment. He knows about our drug use but doesn't care. We're pretty much straight during the day, writing in ledgers which track the spending of NATO generals charging their travel expenses to top secret projects with names like 'Sidewinder,' and 'Prometheus.' First class plane tickets, five-diamond hotels. My books never balance.

We get off at five and head to the barracks and light up, six or seven of us: There's me, Meachum, Chris, Juan (from Puerto Rico, doesn't get high, just drinks beer), Bob from Philly. Across the hall is Lee, the coolest guy in the unit. He never says anything at all except for an occasional "Far out." His roommate is Ray from Chattanooga who, during a Post football game (mostly made up of black players), displays a huge Confederate flag from his window causing a near riot. The six of us get high every night. On weekends we would toke up when we woke up.

The central activity of the nightly sessions is melting candle wax with matches and dripping it onto a giant volcano-looking cone of melted wax. We have been doing this every night for about six months. The wax figure is four feet tall.

When we go out on the weekends, we usually end up making out with the dependent girls. We are twenty-two, twenty-three. They are fifteen, sixteen, daughters of very high-ranking noncoms and officers. These Army fathers allow this fraternization because they trust the GI's more than the German boys. They won't let their daughters date Germans. If the GI's go too far with one of the girls they get a court martial and sent to Vietnam. Sex goes no further than kissing, believe me.

Dating a sixteen year old when you are twenty-three is great fun. Most are very cute cheerleader types, perky, vivacious. I spend New Years Eve, 1969-70, in a darkened living room, watching fireworks with a high school girl on my lap.

But mostly it’s about the drugs. April 1970 and the acid hits. Powerful Sunshine LSD laced with Strychnine. We all drop on a Saturday afternoon. Vivid Hallucinations, visual, auditory, time warping, body surging. We are connected telepathically. It scares the shit out of us. I walk through the German city at 3:00 AM, trying to get my mind back. I never do.

In May I apply for an 'early out' to go back to school. I am shipped out, mustered out, and burned out. A year later I'm flipped out.

Tom Love is a writer from Atlanta, GA

Amanda Dick

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2004

31 Dec 2003, Miami, Florida

9:45pm EST. My cellphone rang. I looked at the Caller ID. It was Senor.

"I'm shocked you picked up."

Calls from Senor were rare. It was like getting a call from the Pope. You dropped everything you were doing and gave him your full attention.

"It's setbreak," I answered as I took a sip of beer. Phish left the stage a few minutes earlier and I sat down and looked over the setlist when I got the call. "By the way, do you remember where we were ten years ago?"

Senor paused for a few seconds before he spoke. "Yeah, it seemed like yesterday."

"And what was that blonde's name again?"

We both paused before answering in unison, "Amanda Dick."


31 Dec 1993, Westport, Connecticut

Senior year of college, Senor threw a rowdy New Year's Eve party at his family's house in a tony suburban neighborhood in Connecticut. It was going to be a rager. I skipped out on seeing Phish in Worcester in favor of a Senor party. They were wild, epic, fun, and everyone from college was going to be there.

I had spent the entire Christmas break obliterated to shreds in NYC, partying with friends from the other prep schools in the city. We were all 21 at that point, and for the first time, could enter bars legally. We finally ditched all the kiddie bars packed with high school weekend alcoholics and headed out to the really cool bars and clubs where you were carded you at the door by former NFL linemen-turned-bouncers. Add to my bender a Phish show the night before New Year's Eve, and you can guess that I was frazzled as I could have been.

I was Bukowski drunk and a lit monkey before I even stumbled into Senor's. Jerry successfully navigated the drive from Boston while we openly flaunted our fifth of Jim Beam and passed it around, chased by hits from a bowl of really bad schwag that I had smuggled on the plane from Atlanta. When I found Senor, he embraced me and quickly introduced me to a few of his high school friends. Then he pointed us to the keg. I grabbed three beers for myself and took an empty seat at his kitchen table. I randomly joined a group of locals playing Quarters. After hanging out with same people in Atlanta, all the time, for the past three and a half years, I wanted to get fucked up with people I had never met before. That's when Amanda Dick sat down next to me.

If Amanda Dick were cast in a John Hughes film, she would be the prototypical cheerleader. Blonde, pretty, and perky, she was the girl at Westport High that every guy wanted to fuck and every girl either wanted to be best friends with, or they hated her because she was prettier than the rest of them. She looked like the girl on page 27 of the latest J Crew catalogue. I immediately liked her because she drank like a fish, knew all the words to the Black Crowes songs that were blasting on the stereo, and watched The Simpsons religiously.

When I got up to go to the bathroom, Javier (Senor's younger brother) and some of his high school friends followed me outdoors. It was freezing and gently snowing, but under heavy forms of inebriation, my body had the uncanny ability to withstand hostile temperatures. As I sprayed Jackson Pollock streaks of light-yellow urine onto the canvas of white snow, Javier and the high school kids pestered me.

"Dude, you know who you're sitting next to, right?"


"Yeah. That's Amanda Dick. She's the hottest chick in Westport."

"Really?" I muttered as I zipped up and grabbed a lit blunt out of one kid's hand. After twelve drinks, twenty bong hits, and a handful of mushrooms, all women look the same.

"Her last name is Dick? Or are you boys making that up?"

They all shook their heads.

* * * * *

When I retold that story to Senor he couldn't stop laughing. A decade had flashed by us in a nanosecond. I never could have predicted what our lives would become. Over the span of ten years, we had embarked on a deluded journey, circled the world, and shared several of the craziest adventures possible. My life was marked, affected, and influenced by the decisions we had made and the risks we had taken. He's the only person I know who loved living in the moment more than me.

"Gotta go, bro. Have fun in Miami. Keep livin', man."

"Absolutely. Hey, by the way, one last thing..."


"Happy New Year, Senor."

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

Perversion Dispatched, Part I

By Diane Roy © 2004

A deep sigh, and Hubert inhaled the panties. They were white cotton (of course), and after much wear and tear the lace-elastic was already beginning to thin. Smelling underwear was like kissing; you had to do it with your eyes closed. It's not really sincere any other way. It had been a long day for Hubert and he was more than ready to call Dispatch and have them put him on the going home list, however he was stuck in the middle of bumper to bumper traffic so it was a moot point. By this time, it was almost a quarter to seven in the evening but the sun still burned the sky as if it were noon. It stood over the highway omniscient, not out of condemnation but more out of laziness; it was too hot to care. The heat outside crept steadily up to 99.3 degrees and thousands of cars were stuck on the Cross-Bronx because of an accident up front. Traffic was usually bad during rush hour but today it was particularly unbearable. The accident up front had intensified the bumper to bumper purgatory that Hubert was stuck in now. At this point, many of the cars had even turned their engines off for fear of overheating in this weather; besides they weren't going anywhere, anyway. The lady on the radio who gave out traffic updates said that there was some "police business" still going on down there but she didn't give any details. Soon her voice faded out into a drone and Hubert closed his eyes again and inhaled all the way back to the brownstone in Park Slope.

It was an OT from Connecticut and Hubert had almost not gotten the call but he had just made it back to the cab in time. This was a sweet ride, complete with extra stops and waiting time; the works. Guys usually just slept all the way home unless they had some young cheap company with them. Normally, though it was the women who made the expensive trips; especially with a company car at their disposal. It was those little things that turned simple trips to JFK into $300 cash pots. Helping her with her bags was a must, it almost always assured a hefty tip, maybe even cash? It was a credit card that time and that was well and good so a humble thank you was in order. After the door closed, Hubert turned around and made his way down the steps of the newly renovated brownstone and back to his Town Car. That's when it started.

Hubert heard this loud rush of screaming girls coming at him and time slowed down as if it were congealed. They started coming, at first just one by one than two of them then three and four. An army of little girls riding by on their scooters! They zoomed past Hubert. When they got to the end of the street, they just stepped down, turned around, pumped, pumped and pushed. Soon they came back, whizzing by Hubert who was still hypnotized on the stairs. There was no amazement alive in Hubert, more curiosity. It was like watching an accident; you just had to look. They continued, just back and forth

back and forth...
back and forth...
back and forth...

Back on the Cross-Bronx, a frustrated Hubert frantically scratched his head and pulled at the sideburns he had to make up for the lack of hair on his head. Hubert kept shaking his head as if trying to get rid of a bug in his scalp and threw the panties down. "Hmmmph!" Frustrated, Hubert honked helplessly. There was no point; an accident a mile and half down had traffic blocked for at least two hours. The traffic was bad as expected but the accident was like the nail in the coffin, making his stay here seem to last forever. Hubert assumed that; it was pretty gruesome, because though they usually clear this stuff quickly, there was still "police business" going on. But "who needs fingerprints in a car accident?" He wondered.

Hubert sighed and wiped his forehead and then leaned back in his chair with his hand on the armrest. What was done was done and Hubert thought that he should just forget everything and just hope that he got out of this without getting caught. Hubert looked up at the dancing hula lady on his dashboard and thought, "Well she did buy me pizza."

Jennica would understand, she was the type who did with just a little thinking and a little compassion. Hubert was amazed at how intently she listened to him describe Prospect Park before gentrification and how she didn't laugh when he told her guiltily that he still had a soft spot for the Muppet Babies. They were a little behind her time but she didn't have trouble adjusting. Hubert was now feeling hopeful and deciding on just trying to put everything behind him but fiddling in the blistering heat, every fidget brought him closer and closer to the panties. They just sat there, exhausted and teasing. Hubert was inhaling again.

The little girls were going by. Flimsy, the scooter was, supporting them; holding their legs together. They would go down that street (which they didn't cross) to one end, step down, turn around, pump pump and push! And off they were! Flying! on these flimsy scooters, holding their legs; together.

back and forth...
back and forth...

They kept going and going, never getting tired of that game. To one end of a street they didn't cross, to just turn around and go to another they don't cross. Back and forth and "They haven't fallen yet" mumbled Hubert in awe. Crack! and next thing you knew one of the girls had fallen, flat on her back. She had gone entirely too fast and her scooter wheel got stuck in one of the pits in the street. Still in shock, she lay there disheveled. Hubert raced over, no one seemed to be around at the moment and noticed her, her shirt crumpled as she turned on her stomach slowly and Hubert noticed "No spikes yet" in her pre-pubescent spine.

"Don't worry honey," he consoled, "You're safe, this time."

"Thank you," she replied and jumped up, and with a quick brush she was off again. "I'm Jennica," she perked and her friends soon gathered around her to see if she was ok. She dusted off the wall she called a chest and with a wink she was off again down the street.

The Connecticut job had lasted all night and Hubert was in no hurry to get back on the list so he patched into the dispatcher and told Paul he was on break. Back in his cab and Hubert kept watching the little girls go by. It was like watching birds. Pecking, playing, flying it wasn't as if they really did anything but go

back and forth...
back and forth...

It was now three hours in the blistering heat and the traffic had still not moved. The panties were now soaked in the sweat coming off of Hubert's forehead amongst other things. The girls had been playing for about twenty minutes and Hubert was napping in his car before he went home when he heard tapping on his car window.

"This your car?" she said. She told him that she wanted pizza. Hubert saw the other girls huddling and giggling with each other a couple doors down.

"Why can't you get it yourself?" Hubert smiled, slightly annoyed.

"Can't cross without a grownup," she returned with a sly grin.

Jennica was 11 going on 12 he found out. She was old for her age though, and despite the Hello Kitty wallet that protected her allowance (she treated when they went for pizza) and the scooter in the backseat of Hubert's cab, she was better conversation then most of the women he saw. Like the waitress from Dunkirk, New York he had taken out a couple weeks ago. He had met her at the diner outside of LaGuardia Airport while waiting for a pick up. She was always generous with the butter that came with free bread and she always, almost always refilled his water without him even asking. That night he took her home, excited at the prospect of something new and unexpected but though she was new, she was tired like everyone else in the business. In the city for only three months and she was already worn with the disaffection that plagued him and anyone who would ever be desperate enough to settle for him.

Jennica was different though, growing up in the city, she'd already been accustomed to the shit. The hustle and bustle didn't grind her like it did everyone else. She was beyond the grime and it didn't affect her or maybe it was just that she hadn't reached the grime- yet. However this was special; she was special and for the first time in weeks, Hubert sat across from someone who smiled. He asked her if she wanted to go to Coney Island. She was hesitant. This was already a big deal, she wasn't even allowed to cross the street by herself. This whole thing had started off as a stupid dare. Unlike her stupid friends, Jennica wanted adventure. She had even kissed a junior high school boy. She wasn't sure if she should stop now. Next thing you knew, ice cream in hand, Hubert was driving away. He couldn't even think or maybe he just didn't think. He looked over and saw that Jennica, seatbelt strapped across nibblets parading as breasts, was nearing real fright. The ice cream that he had bought her didn't seem to be making her feel any better and Hubert clutched the wheel in a cold sweat.

He knew that he was only a few blocks away, and that he could still turn around, drop her off. No one would even know; they'd only been gone half an hour, forty-five minutes at the most, but he couldn't. Hubert tried to turn around but he couldn't. This was the first time in weeks that he had smiled, he assumed, but in reality it had been months. There were, of course, the sarcastic grins when one of the guys at the base cracked a dirty joke or the fake ones he mustered when he wanted tips or sex, but it had been months since he had truly, genuinely smiled. Hubert was absolutely not going to let go of the wheel and his feet pushed down on the gas even harder and next thing you knew, he was over the Manhattan bridge. Jennica was beyond being uncomfortable. She was now terrified.

To be continued...

Diane Roy is a writer from New York City.

Existentialistic Sunday

By Sigge S. Amdal © 2004

I was having an existentialistic Sunday. Most people would just call it a hangover, but I think that's understating the revelations your state of mind and body produces as you're shaking like a leaf, totally drained of energy, and - to your own amazement - carefully considering that scary something optimists like to call 'your future'. What a frightful concept! There's another tomorrow? Shit!

It introduces all kinds of new concepts you feel that you should have sorted out when people around you stated how mature you'd become all of a sudden, concepts like 'responsibility' I never got the hang of that one. The word itself is pretty harmless. Yes, even irresponsible thinking about how much shit that can lurk behind it. Like a troll behind your door. Sooner or later you'll notice it, at least smell it. Following, you realize that more than half of what you've done in your life qualifies as 'mistakes.'

That's one way of introducing yourself to an existentialistic Sunday. Or a hangover on the couch. Slowly things are falling into place before you, like a mental jigsaw puzzle, but you don't like the finished picture. Instead of a beautiful woman, like The Madonna for instance, it turns out to be a picture of a battered newt. With a bracelet.

Women, yes. They're like men without balls, instead they've got brains, which - in most cases - outweighs your balls by a ratio of three to one. And, for some mysterious reasons, you want them. Women, that is. Not to compare balls and brains, no, it's just something you perceive as being part of a state of happiness, having one. And they feed themselves. Heck, if you're really lucky they even feed you (don't count on it, though)!

Still on the couch thinking about this, your what's-it-called - comprehension - draws a line between earlier reasonings and you clearly see that most of your 'mistakes' are somewhat related to women. One way or the other. It can only be glancing at a red-haired lady with enormous breasts across the street, for instance, forgetting to see where you're going. Destiny sees to it that there's an equally attractive, even more so, woman right in front of you enjoying a cup of soft ice cream. And the ice cream is carefully, again by Destiny, smeared all over the victim's unsuspecting breasts. And this, by all means, is just a really innocent example of what can happen when involved with that 48% of the world's population. Against all earthly logic, however, you don't improve. You still have this notion that you want a woman. Tough one.

Ignoring the matter, you move along to your Future. Unfolding in front of you, like an imaginary brochure, are your expectations in black and white, capital letters:


Sounds really great. You flip through the first three or four pages looking mostly at the pictures. Most of them contain either women, cars, or briefcases stuffed with money, or combinations of the three. You get the hang of the idea, you even like it, and your wishful thinking works really hard trying to put yourself in that red sportscar, next to that blonde holding your briefcase full of thousand dollar bills. You almost make it, and it gives you a good feeling. Then you flip to the last two pages.

Text only.

Really small letters. Oh, well...
a) Behave
b) Study hard
c) Work nightshifts and save money for later mortgages
d) Behave. When not, use condoms.
...etc. etc. for two entire pages.

You mentally erase the brochure, back to the couch and the white ceiling above you, pretty damn depressed. Why? Because you know yourself. With a student loan on your account, five figures, you wouldn't stand a chance not to waste some of it. Most of it, actually. Probably, even, all of it! Second, you wouldn't behave more than a pig at a royal banquet, let alone work nightshifts. At night you're sleeping off the alcohol, right?

Again, on the existentialistic side of the Sunday or your designated hangover, you ask yourself a question sounding more or less like this: Could I change?

You know you've lost the battle when you're trying to answer the simple yes-or-no question with a percentage of yes. That's called clutching to the last shred of hope you're supposed to have. Still, there's the unfamiliar voice of positivity somewhere deep inside you trying to break down your handcrafted framework of philosophical pessimism. You're still got your health. Sure, not right now I haven't, but there's always good money to make driving garbage. Oh yes.

At the end of your inner travel, your dive into Lake You, you've sorted out the following:

a) You don't have a future.
b) You'll keep making 'mistakes' since you'll keep your eyes on women and not the current (and perhaps random) path of direction.
c) The only way to fulfill the brochure pictures is to "bend the rules" a little, i.e. steal two million dollars, a red sportscar, and persuade some light-headed, hitchikin' gal to get into your car and just ignore the four heavily armed police cars chasing you. Doing this would kind of defeat the purpose. I mean, it's pretty hard to relax at some tropical island somewhere when the local authorities are taking shots at you all the time. It's almost stressful.

So, the perfect life is out.

The idea of a plain, regular life starts to seem both probable and attractive. It’s got to. Or else you'll soon find yourself lying on a couch somewhere going through the exact same procedure all over again.

Hey! I've never said I was mature. Someone made that up. Some stupid someone. And I really don't care what stupid someone thinks about my level of maturity or lack thereof. Honestly. This is my fucking life, after all. Geez!

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


By Tenzin McGrupp © 2004

I stabbed a woman once, in a bar in Berlin. She had a lisp, which often confused me when she spoke French and English. Her German for the most part was lisp-free. Odd, I thought, since Lacrecia was born just outside of Montreal, Canada. As the story goes, we met up with each other in Amsterdam. She was crashing on a houseboat with a group of Swedish hippies near the Red Light District and I knew her from my past travels in the Caribbean. I had lost most of my Euros playing cards at the Holland Casino and had begged her to loan me a few bucks to buy some hash. She agreed, but only if I drank an entire bottle of Absinthe with her. We settled into a side street cafe, one where we knew no tourists from Missouri with camcorders would stalk us, and began the process of drinking the bitter La Fée Verte.

It came on slow and I likened the buzz to tripping on mushrooms, but not quite. Lacrecia began licking her lips repeatedly and muttering in broken English and French, "I don't feel much of anything."

"Maybe you can't feel a thing because of the entire gram of cocaine you snorted in the toilet twenty minutes ago," I snapped at her.

She flashed a distasteful frown, a face that snarky junkies (like myself) find themselves trying to erase from their memories for the rest of their lives. She swigged the remainder of her glass and lit up a joint, mixed with Northern Lights and tobacco. That was the last thing I recalled about Holland. Three days later, I woke up in a small apartment in the posh Hackesche Höfe section of Berlin. I had a stomachache, my socks and my passport were missing, and it took me another day before I tracked down the wench who had attempted to sell my passport to a sophisticated ring of Chinese organ thieves. Luckily, I still had all my organs intact.

When I found her, she was drinking at a table of well-dressed bankers and a very large woman, who looked like Linda Tripp in a sun dress. With perfect English, she invited me to the table after I clumsily made my way through the crowded cafe shouting at Lacrecia like the deranged soul I had become. Before she could say anything, I picked up a fork and plunged the shiny piece of silverware into her upper left arm. She screamed and I searched my poor memory for a more satisfying moment. When I could not find one, I let go of the fork and watched the blood trickle down her bicep and forearm while a flurry of unknown German words were shouted my way.

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.