December 24, 2005

December 2005, Vol. 4, Issue 12

1. Sunset by Tenzin McGrupp
In my grandmother's eyes, she was in Hell's waiting room and she couldn't get out. She asked God to take her right there on the spot but refused. She's been pissed off ever since... More

2. Saving Time by F Train
We'd have been able to revisit that hour, again and again, whenever we wanted, twisting and turning it like a Rubik's cube, marveling in an unexpected combination or viewing its myriad colors from a previously undiscovered angle... More

3. Lost Time by Change100
The next thing I remember is being in a cab sandwiched between two big black hookers. The hookers were talking to each other about my state of conciousness and I think one of them sort of poked me to see if I was at all alive... More

4. The Birthening by Bobby Bracelet
I distinctly remember hanging out in my dad's left nut with all my buddies. All the cool sperms hung out on the left side. The right side was where we all agreed the potential fags, cripples, and uglies hung out... More

5. Life Memories by Armando Huerta
It's always disconcerting to put your items on sale subjecting them to ridicule, harsh comments or just plain disinterest. Every time someone comes by to see something of yours for sale that you're treasured for years it's rather unnerving to see them roll their eyes or say something rude... More

6. Walk: The Second Step by Scuba Steve
Jake had woken up that morning with a sort of foolish optimism that there really was such a thing as Christmas magic and that somehow, this year, there would actually be presents under the tree... More

7. The Raise by Daddy
Before the words had even left my lips Jake stood up, and started to unzip his faded blue jeans. With his left hand he dug deep into his boxer shorts, jostled things around a bit, and finally pulled out his old worn out nutsack... More

8. A Typical Friday Night by Mr. Subliminal
One last look in the mirror. I tighten my belt one more notch, but there is no avoiding the Homer Simpson-like side profile. No matter, if this is the price I have to pay for maturity and a modicum of sophistication, then so be it... More

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

From the Editor's Laptop:

Thanks for returning back for the final issue of 2005 for my literary blogzine. This issue features several new writers such as Mr. Subliminal and Change100. We also have returning authors who are back sharing some amazing stories. Those include Bobby Bracelet, Scuba Steve, F Train, Armando Huerta, and Daddy. Plus I share a touching story about the death of my grandmother.

Thanks to everyone who shared their bloodwork this month. I always say that the other contributing authors inspire me, because it's true. You guys write for free and if I could pay you, I would. Your time and effort is worth more money than I can ever afford to pay.

I ask 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. 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.


"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware." - Henry Miller


By Tenzin McGrupp © 2005

My grandmother died on Saturday morning of a heart attack. She was 93. I saw her a few moments in the ICU before I left NYC and headed to Vegas. I decided to leave for my month trip because she woke up from her coma and seemed like she would be better. Unfortunately she wasn't and had two (or three) heart attacks. The last one killed her.

When I left the hospital that day I wondered if that would be the last time I saw her. It was. Whenever I embark on a long journey I always made the effort to stop by and she her. I knew that she was old and that could be the last time I see her. The hardest part about traveling so much the last ten or so years was knowing that my grandmother (or any family member or friends) would die while I was away. That was one of my biggest fears... having to cut short a holiday to come home. I had to do that.

I was over 3,000 miles away in Long Beach when I found out she died. And getting home was harder than I thought. I had to drive four plus hours to Las Vegas then get on a plane and fly five plus hours home. I had a free flight coming to me on JetBlue and I could not pick the dates/flights I wanted. I got stuck with a redeye on Monday night arriving Tuesday morning.

I'm not overly upset at the loss of my grandmother. I feel more sad for my mother and her brothers and sister. My grandmother was old and after she survived a stroke 20 months ago, I accepted that she was in the last stages of her life. That time was bonus time I told myself. And in that span she hit a few slots jackpots at Mohegan Sun. She took down $10K one trip and ht a few small jackpots worth a few grand. Whenever she won she'd always give me and my brother a small cut. I guess that's why whenever I come into money, I'm always sharing it as much as I can.

Some people are just plain lucky and based on her tough life, I'm sure she would tell you that she got lucky in life more than once. Sadly, in the last chapter of her life, my grandmother was severely depressed. Although she had a quick mind, it was slipping and she was not as mobile as she used to be. This prevented her from taking long walks through the neighborhood. She couldn't go to the grocery store a few blocks away without a cane and someone to keep an eye on her.

She also stopped going to church. Everyone thought she had too much pride and didn't want the other parishioners see her have to walk with a cane. The real reason was that she was angry at God. In her eyes, God let her down. I suspect that when she had her stroke, she didn't want to survive. She was stronger than she expected and recovered, but not without a reminder of how awful it is to be stuck in a hospital with tubes sticking out of you and being hooked up to machines and having strange nurses poke you with holes for blood samples. When she was in the stroke ward, the guy next to her was crazy. He would scream uncontrollably because he wanted morphine and pain killers. The doctors wouldn't give him any so he would yell non-stop and rip off his gown until the nurses sedated him. I was watching one of his incidents one afternoon when I visited my grandmother and I was horrified by the wailing naked old guy. In my grandmother's eyes, she was in hell's waiting room and she couldn't get out. She asked God to take her right there on the spot but refused. She's been pissed off ever since.

When I first arrived in LA, I checked my email/messages. My mother wrote me. This was one line about my grandmother that was hard to stomach:
She was saying that when she gets home she was going to jump out the window. Anyway, I hope when she starts to eat something, maybe she'll feel differently. I hope so.
My mother thought it was just a phase or a state of mind that would change that some food would cure. I took those words seriously. My grandmother lived enough life and she wanted to leave the party. When I found out she had a heart attack I was relieved. No one should have to wait to die like that. Last week, when I stood over my grandmother and seeing all those tubes in her, my eyes filled with tears. I wasn't sad that I was going to lose her. I was angry, ashamed, and confused on why we were torturing her like that. That's no way to die. She deserved better and that's a tough decision that certain family members are going to have to deal with for the rest of their lives. She was in too much pain and if there is a higher being, then God finally answered her prayers.

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

Saving Time

By F Train © 2005

An hour was all we had. It was all we needed, to be sure -- from the highly charged start to the soothing comfort of its quiet, entwined conclusion -- but in a perfect fairy tale world, we would have had more. We'd have been able to revisit that hour, again and again, whenever we wanted, twisting and turning it like a Rubik's cube, marveling in an unexpected combination or viewing its myriad colors from a previously undiscovered angle. Unfortunately, our own personal fairy godmother hadn't read the part of the story where Cinderella and the prince live happily ever after. Our godmother had deigned to give us only an hour.

"Why would you want to have anything to do with me?" Cinderella asked me at the top of the hour, as we left the ball. She didn't really care what the answer was. By that point, we both were confident where the hour was taking us. The question was one of mere idle curiosity.

That didn't stop me from answering in a way that Cinderella's prince never would have, as I pulled her closer to my shoulder. "Because you're fucking hot." If it was ever true, it was especially true that night. Her gown was a slutty black number that was tied behind her neck, open the whole length of her back, and just barely covered her ass. It was complemented by black fishnet stockings and jet black, thigh-high "fuck me" boots. There were no glass slippers for this would-be queen.

The bottom of the hour found Cinderella's lithe naked body curled against mine, her head resting on my chest. As I stroked her long, dark hair, I asked what time it was. Her response was soft, barely a murmur.


Two minutes more, then. We had taken a step outside of the usual, and it had been a fantastic torrent of passion and emotion, but our fairy godmother was waiting and would not be detained. I held Cinderella with one arm, feeling her soft and ageless skin against mine as we both quietly and contentedly awaited the coming of the hour and the breaking of the spell.

In the fairy tale, Cinderella's spell broke at midnight. When the clock struck twelve, the carriage turned back into a pumpkin, the horses shrunk to their former mousy selves, and the belle of the ball herself reverted to her everyday, scullery maid existence. Our spell broke as the clock rolled forward to 1am and we found ourselves back at the ball, leaving it for a second time.

The FM boots, the fishnets and the gown -- that same, trashy black skimp of a gown -- were once again covering Cinderella's greatest treasures as a cab pulled up to the curb. Cinderella opened the rear passenger door, tossing her hair over a shoulder with a flick of her head as she glanced back at me. "Thanks," she said. "That was fun."

A soft half-smile cracked my face. "Yeah."

There was a pause while I considered more of a response, but there wasn't anything else to be said. There couldn't be anything else to be said. Cinderella took advantage of the pause to climb into the cab and slam the door closed. As the magnificent yellow carriage carried her away from me, I stood rooted to the spot, watching until they both disappeared into the twisting, night-cloaked maze of Gotham.

Every year, a curious thing happens on the last Sunday in October. At 2am, verifiably the dead of night, all clocks in the United States are turned back an hour in recognition of the end of a legislatively mandated anachronism known as Daylight Saving Time. For most people, the only noticeable effect is that they gain an hour of sleep. Some, however, choose to gain an hour of life.

F Train is a writer and poker player from Brooklyn, NY.

Lost Time

By Change100 © 2005

Room 235 was in a remote, forgotten corridor of the Imperial Palace adjacent to what looked like a crack alley. The clueless lady with the bad dye job at the front desk obviously had no idea where it was either, because I managed to go up and down every freakin' elevator in this two-star maze of a hotel, while dragging my heavy, overpacked suitcase behind me before wearily asking for a second set of directions from one of the pit bosses. I finally found the right elevator after about 20 minutes and squeezed inside along with about a dozen Stetson-clad cowboys.

When I opened the door to my room, the scent of stale unfiltered Camels nearly knocked me all the way back to the elevator bay. The walls were yellowish and my king bed was covered in a garish floral comforter. After setting down my suitcases and hanging up the garment bag I wouldn't touch again all weekend, I rummaged through my makeup bag for the cheap bottle of Gap Scents: Dream that I knew was in there. Cheaper than perfume and more pleasantly scented than Lysol, it comes in handy in removing offensive and/or illegal scents in confined spaces. I doused the room in Dream and flung open the curtain, revealing a small balcony. There is a God. And some much-needed ventilation. After a quick smoke break on the balcony, I changed clothes, sorted through my cash, and decided it was about time to find the poker room and meet some bloggers. Somehow I had left Los Angeles without any phone numbers. Aside from Pauly and the Murderer's Row gang, I hadn't met anyone and was relying on posted photos and a little faith to hook me up with the group. I suppose this was my first real gamble of the weekend.


The G-Vegas crew made a grand entrance into the MGM poker room straight out of "Swingers" and I met its three legendary ringleaders. Otis and CJ greeted me with huge hugs. Man, do these bloggers loooove their women. G-Rob's hair is, indeed perfect. After chatting it up with everyone for a while, I realized I did have chips on the table and I should probably play at least a little bit. Daddy had quit the game and Helixx needed company.

Here's where things start getting a little fuzzy. Here's where rumors begin.

I was playing a hand. I couldn't tell you what the cards were. I think I got outdrawn and I let an f-bomb escape from my lips as the tall, irritable floor-lady passed by our table.

"Please watch your language. I'm going to have to warn you."
"I can't fucking believe this." (Uh oh).
"OK, now that's two. One more and I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

Helixx's head dropped into his hands and he let out a small sigh. Was it really gonna be one of those nights? The floor lady walked away and my tablemates laughed at my mini Matusow blow-up. I played a few more hands before getting up and taking another walk-and-chat. Or should I say stumble-and-chat.

Here's where the time-space continuum parts ways with my memory.

I remember being in the bar behind the poker room with Iggy, Pauly, and Joe Speaker. I remember making plans for a smoke break with two of those three gentlemen. I remember Pauly telling me that Phil Gordon was sitting at the 5-5NL table with Hank and some of the Full Tilt crew. I remember the blue shirt Phil wore that perfectly matched his dreamy eyes.

Then I remember being in the Ava Gardner stall in the ladies room where I may or may not have temporarily passed out. The booze just hit me so fast. I didn't think I had drank enough to do this sort of damage.

The next thing I remember is being in a cab sandwiched between two big black hookers. The hookers were talking to each other about my state of conciousness and I think one of them sort of poked me to see if I was at all alive or cogent.

"Man, this 'lil thing is WASTED!"
"How'd she get like this?"
"She don't even have no coat on!"

The hookers' banter brought me around a little bit, and as my head lolled from sideways to upright, I noticed that one of Hooker #2's two-inch fuschia acrylic nails was touching my gold purse. That brought me around a little bit more, and I told myself that I needed to wake the fuck up and pay enough attention to get myself back to the Imperial Palace without being robbed by these ladies of the night.

That's really the last thought I remember having before crashing out in the wee hours on Saturday morning. I have no recollection how I paid the driver. Or how I navigated the IP maze and found the correct elevator. Or how I got up to my room, took off and untangled six necklaces, and ordered myself a 9:20 AM wakeup call.

At dawn, I woke up in a panic, believing that I still had chips on the table at the MGM Grand. I must have had over $150 still in my stack. There was nothing I could do about that right now. "I'll just write it off as a loss," I muttered to myself before rolling over and falling back into a fitful sleep as the sun rose over Sin City.

Change100 is a D-Girl and degenerate gambler in Los Angeles, CA.

Life Memories...

By Armando Huerta © 2005

Life memories. Going once, Going twice... SOLD to the lady in the polyester jumpsuit!

As we are once again moving to another country, we decided to take the opportunity to streamline our possessions by getting rid of bulky items and concentrating on books, family heirlooms, paintings, etc.. We figured that this would be the perfect time to fit all of our things into a storage unit permitting us to hop from full-service flat to full-service flat as our needs/desires dictate.

Figuring out what we were going to sell was pretty straightforward, all the furniture, appliances and electronics since we have less of a connection to them. Or so we thought.

It's always disconcerting to put your items on sale subjecting them to ridicule, harsh comments or just plain disinterest. Every time someone comes by to see something of yours for sale that you're treasured for years it's rather unnerving to see them roll their eyes or say something rude. My favorite: "Wow... this club chair really is comfortable. Too bad it's so ugly." This about an Italian chair we found at a famed design store marked 50% percent off where Jeremy literally grabbed the price tag before another couple could and we raced them to the register to buy it first.

Or the dining room table that I spent a year searching for after moving to a larger Boston apartment that would actually hold a full sized dining table. The only thing prospective buyers see is the fact that one of the chairs has a nick on the corner. What I see is a dear wine-soaked friend of mine, flushed face and giggling, pulling back from the table in a grand movement only so he could stand up in order to gesticulate better to the hysterical story he was telling all of us with tears rolling down our faces.

Or saying goodbye to the stainless steel stove, which thankfully was sold in less than two minutes with no rude comments, where many a nights I’d be cooking on, glass of red wine in hand, while listening to laughter and clinking glasses emanating from the rest of the apartment.

The one item that I completely did not expect to miss was the mountain bike I bought my second day at grad school, over 10 years ago. I had forgotten how I was practically fused to the frame of my bike those grad school years, I was riding it so much. While I never named the thing (though Maximillian would have been cool), I did treasure it. After all, this was the bike I'd peddle to class every day in the 100+ degree Phoenix heat. Course, as everyone would always say, "but it's a dry heat..."

It's a dry heat? What the fuck!?! The dry heat might make the air seem 10 degrees cooler but it's still fucking HOT people! This was the bike I rode back from the campus pub one night after hours of drinking with my friends only to hit a stop sign half a block from my house. Bike was fine, I however, was knocked out for 30 minutes and my sunglasses literally wrapped themselves around the pole. This was the bike that I'd take out to the White Tank Mountains in Western Phoenix at least twice a week. The bike being my only company and salvation as I biked through the dessert mountains for hours with no one around for tens of miles, taking in the still desolate landscape and allowing myself time to think about my life.

Alas, tonight there is someone coming by to see, and more than likely purchase, Maximilian. I'm glad he'll continue seeing the beaches and mountains of Rio de Janeiro for a while longer instead of the inside of a storage unit. I just hope the buyer has only positive things to say or they'll be seeing my foot on their ass as I kick them out the door.

Armando Huerta is a smart-ass who will soon be leaving Brazil.

Walk: The Second Step

By Scuba Steve © 2005

A pair of red dots quietly disappeared out of view as Jake's soon-to-be-ex-stepfather pulled out of the driveway. The car had paused for a moment, about halfway out the long gravel path, clouds of exhaust billowing out, surrounding the car in a depressed cloud. He could almost feel the sadness emanating from the vehicle that sat in a swirl of snow and darkness. That brief hesitation in the driveway seemed to last much longer than it really had. Finally, the taillights dimmed and the car inched forward, slowly and silently, until Jake could only see black.

His parents had decided to announce their divorce on Christmas Eve of all days. "Your father and I have decided that it would be best if we were no longer together," his mother had told him.

"Stepfather..." was all Jake could reply.

The next morning, the house was nearly silent. Jake and his little brother sat on the couch, staring blankly at a little TV, trying to pick up something to watch. It didn’t really matter what was on, the TV just gave them an excuse not to talk to one another.

Jake had woken up that morning with a sort of foolish optimism that there really was such a thing as Christmas magic and that somehow, this year, there would actually be presents under the tree. He even tried to remind himself, as he walked down the hall, that such a thing was not even slightly possible, but was unable to fight back the hope. It was something he had learned from his mother.

She had always made it abundantly clear that no matter how bad things were in that house, with the daily beatings from a drunk, drug-addicted, horror of a human being that they would always deny that it existed. Jake's earliest memories were of fighting off a man who would victimize him daily with the sort of awful things that no child should ever be forced to witness. It wasn't the physical abuse that destroyed his love of life as much as the psychological trauma he was subjected to.

Once, when he failed to make his bed with the "hospital corners" he was expected to, his stepfather grabbed him mercilessly by the throat, threw his 10-year old body against the wall, flipped over the bed, and threw the footboard at his head. When the footboard hit the wall and not its intended target, he hoisted Jake by the collar and pushed him out the second story window. Fortunately for Jake, there was a lower roof that separated him from a two-story plummet to the ground.

Another time, Jake's stepfather returned home to find that relatives were hearing stories of sexual abuse happening in the house. Naturally, he assumed that Jake had been running his mouth to some busybody aunt and responded by having a 7-year old Jake put on one of his mother's short nightgowns and have him kneel in the gravel parking lot holding roller skates at arms-length. His stepfather had tied the laces to Jake's wrists and ordered him to hold them straight out; when Jake's strength began to fail and the skates dropped closer to the ground he received a work boot to the gut.

Unlike his stepbrother, Jake chose not to allow his stepfather to break his spirit. He would never allow this awful man to feel accomplished in his torture. He always followed up every awful experience by committing the same infraction that brought the punishment on, just to spite the man. If his stepfather wanted to "win," he would have to kill Jake.

So, when Jake woke up Christmas morning and saw the absence of gifts under an unlit tree, he felt the sort of sadness he did every year. It wasn't the lack of presents that depressed him as much as the lack of presence. No one was there to greet him, no one was happy to see him. All that was there to greet him was a quiet tree and the smell the couch seemed to generate. For some unknown reason, Jake sat on the couch and softly sang "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" to himself, getting about halfway through the second verse before his head dropped into his hands and he began to cry.

Jake's brother had heard the sobbing travel into his bedroom from the living room and decided to wait until the sound stopped before leaving his bed. When he joined Jake, the TV was on and Jake was sitting on the couch, hypnotized by the glow coming from the center of the room. He wished Jake a "Merry Christmas" and sat down next to him. Jake just sat there and didn't move, didn't turn his head to look at his brother, and wouldn't return the "Merry Christmas." It would have launched Jake into another crying fit and he wasn’t about to let his little brother see any weakness coming from him.

Jake was rinsing his dishes from lunch when his mother's bedroom door opened and her slippers softly dragged down the hallway. She quietly walked into the kitchen, her eyes a deep red with dark crimson circles around them. She poured herself a glass of orange juice then, sobbing piteously, made her way back to her bedroom. They wouldn’t see her face again until the next day. They knew that she hadn’t killed herself because every hour or so, the smell of a cooking spoon crept down the hall.

The next morning, when Jake woke up, she was already in the kitchen, leaning against the refrigerator. "I want you to get your stuff and get out..." she said without lifting her head high enough to look at him. "I want you to pack up some clothes and leave... I want you out of here now..." Stunned, he didn't even attempt a protest. He turned around, walked back into his room, crammed his feet into his still-tied sneakers, and walked out the front door.

As he neared the door to leave, he heard her mumbling "...I wanted to do something with my life... I never asked to have you... I never should have had you... I should have gotten rid of you like he said..."

That would be the first of several vacations Jake would take from home. Each time he left, he sunk deeper and deeper into the clutches of Dr. Feelgood, trying to fill that empty part of his soul with some self-medicating brown sugar. What did he have left to live for? As far as his inexperienced teenaged mind was concerned, his whole world was falling apart.

Whenever he was kicked out, he was always able to get some friend to take him in for a few days, sometimes a few weeks. It was usually just long enough for his mother to cool off and let him come home. Sometimes, if his friends wouldn't let him crash there and his mother wouldn't let him come home right away, he was forced to go on some sort of pathetic impromptu camping trip. Most times he would sleep in a spot near his home, deep in the woods, near a small waterfall and a pool of fresh water.

It was the same spot where he had lost his virginity. A real awkward experience, the moment had lasted about two hours because of his compulsive fear of getting a girl pregnant. He just kept doing the best he could to make her feel good, but didn't know when she had had enough. It wasn't until she asked him if he was going to finish when he faked the orgasm and rolled onto his back. She said that moment was amazing, but it would be the last time he would ever see her. She stopped taking his phone calls and faded into oblivion. The last he heard was that she was joining the Army. Good for her.

He never actively pursued a girl after that, fearing rejection and the embarrassment of not knowing some of the things that most people had a natural instinct for. He didn't grow up with hugs and kisses from his family, so his sense of compassion and friendship were almost alien. He thought he couldn't be intimate with a girl because when the moment came, he always thought about his mother moping around the house, telling him how getting pregnant in high school was the worst thing that ever happened to her.

When he would return from his walkabouts, he would usually hear the same speech his mother liked to deliver as he walked in the door; something along the lines of "...there's going to be a few rule changes..." and "...if you don't want to listen you can roll right back out again..."

Several months went by. Winter ended sometime in February, and his mother's newest boyfriend had become his new stepfather. Unlike his previous stepfather, who had joined their family when he was only four, this stepfather would be called by his first name, John, and never be referred to as "Dad."

His mother had finally found someone who would treat her and her children with the kind of decency and respect that every person deserved. John spent all his free time building things for the house, repairing things in the house, mowing the lawn, showing his younger brother how to build things and how to use certain tools, and Jake couldn’t possibly hate his mother and John for it. This guy was great; where was he ten years ago when Jake was getting slapped in the crotch with a ruler by a deranged monster?

His mother refused to ever talk about anything he had gone through during his childhood. She would tell him that it never really happened and that everything was better now. She also would get wildly defensive if the topic ever came up, firing red hot insults about how Jake had always ruined her life and that he wouldn’t be ruining things for her and John.

Jake would try, though. As far as he was concerned, if he couldn't have closure, then his mother couldn't have happiness.

Jake was standing in the kitchen, receiving another sermon from his mother, while her newest husband sat quietly in the living room, trying not to get involved. In addition to controlling every aspect of his life, she was also consumed with admonishing him each time she discovered he was seeing another girl. "Why are you wasting so much time with this girl? It's stupid... You don't know the first thing about commitment..."

"That's hysterical coming from you," Jake replied. "You've gotten married three times!"

"Three?" floated in from the living room, and out Jake went. Jake's mother never told John that her previous husband was not Jake's father. She flew in a rage, spitting in his face as she talked, telling Jake just to get out or she would kill him. It was in that moment that he saw, in her eyes, that everything she had ever said about him ruining her life was coming straight from her heart.

She never loved her own son and had never done anything to stop her second husband's abuse because she secretly hoped that one day he would have killed her son. It would have been like "two birds with one stone." She couldn't have guiltlessly gotten rid of the one burden that she never wanted and also gotten rid of the man who constantly hit her as well. She could start over with a new husband who would give her a home and food and security, and never again have to worry about anyone but herself.

Now he was far away from home, in a place where no one would ever find him, just several feet away from inevitability. He had only been awake for a few moments when the door had startled him into consciousness. A sharp rain sailed into the cold dark switch house Jake had passed out in. The dark outline of the largest man Jake had ever seen was standing in the door way carrying something large on his shoulder.

The only light was being provided by the moon, until the form reached up and pulled on a thin string dangling from the ceiling. A filthy yellow light bulb put off a dim light that bounced around the room from a swinging chain. Jake could still only see the shadow standing just a few feet away. Jake was just about to apologetically announce his presence, hoping the man wouldn’t call the police for trespassing, when he happened to look down at the floor.

The tips of his black boots were covered in a liquid that looked a little more viscous that the rain. He couldn't quite make it out until the bulb swung by and showed the man was standing in a growing pool of the reddest rain he had ever hoped to never see.

In the moment that he realized he was in more trouble than the law could ever put him in, the creature in the doorway set a curved blade on the floor beside him. Blood and hair clung to the blade, confirming that Jake had better stay exactly where he was and to be as silent as he possibly could.

ScubaSteve is a DJ from the outter suburbs of Philly. He spends equal time annoying and pleasing his listening audience but always entertains.

The Birthening

By Bobby Bracelet © 2005

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from Bob Respert's great American novel that nobody asked for, tentatively titled: Huge Junk: The Bobby Bracelet Story.

I have an excellent memory. I guess you can thank the wondrous mixing of my parents' DNA for that. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's a photographic memory, but whatever you want to call it, I can remember before I was born.

They say that a very small percentage of people in the world can remember when they were semen. I don't know WHAT the percentage is, and I don't know WHO "they" are, but I saw it on microfiche so I know it's true. (Seriously, who would go thru the trouble of creating a microfiche with a lie on it? You'd have to have serious amounts of free time on your hands, the kind of time where writing a novel sounds doable.)

But back to the topic at hand, my pre-birth.

I distinctly remember hanging out in my dad's left nut with all my buddies. All the cool sperms hung out on the left side. The right side was where we all agreed the potential fags, cripples, and uglies hung out. Yeah, while the right side boasted uncool sperms like Marvin, Spencer, and Timothy hanging around the sack, you'd likely find Pookie, Ray-Ray, and B-Smith on the much hipper left side.

I was the brutish, yet likable sperm that everyone wanted to be buddies with. Many a night was spent with me weaving beautiful stories of the stuff I planned on doing on the "outside" while hanging around at the local watering hole, eating the only thing available to sperm, salty nuts.

While not the fastest of swimmers (Although my flagellum was thrice confirmed as HUGE by the ladies of left nut) I was crafty as hell. I clutched, grabbed, and tripped my way to the front of the pack one fateful evening. We had felt the early warning signs while I'd been regaling the troops with a story about how I would someday turn down the presidency because the campaign interfered with MacGyver reruns.

The guys were enthralled with how one man could defeat entire armies with nothing more than some wires, a battery, and four cloves of garlic. Sure I could change the world, but there just aren't a whole lot of things as great as a lazy afternoon on the couch while Mac throws away a gun so he has two hands free to make a cardboard weapon.

But the interruption had come suddenly and we were now washed away, mid story, to a destination only talked about by the elders. I distinctly remember coming out of my father like a flying Karamazov. The direction to head was obvious, although getting there would prove to be more difficult than I wanted.

I looked everywhere around me, but it appeared that Pookie and Ray-Ray had somehow remained behind. In every direction I saw right-nutters jockeying for space, slapping each other on the asses, and comparing outfits. Ridiculous.

I was only zero years old, but I already knew two things.

First, don't mess with Texas.

Second, no pansy assed, potential cripple sperm was beating me to that egg.

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. One of the elders told me that after he was repeatedly left behind on the great egg hunts that took place numerous times a week, and sometimes twice in one night. Keep telling yourself that old man.

But the thought did cross my mind as I was deposited squarely in the middle of an opportunity that I had been preparing for. I was behind a half million or so trained egg hunters and I did not want to let my father down by allowing his first son to be a one-legged pillow biter. I needed to make my own luck.

But the tunnel was angry that day, my friends.

I liken it to being in the middle of a very angry wave pool. Add in a few million other swimmers and you've got a very tough task in getting thru everyone to the ladder out of the pool. And oh yeah, if you don't get to the ladder first, you die.

I spied B-Smith a few lengths ahead of me and it seemed like he had a good idea of where to go. I knocked aside the sperms that were in my way, swinging my huge flagellum like a club.

B-Smith noticed the commotion behind him and turned quickly, expecting a fight, but a big grin materialized instead and we got straight to the task at hand.

I wouldn't realize this until years later, but what transpired next was the precursor to Roller Derby, which was my idea.

B-Smith and I took turns swinging each other forward thru the masses. In some cases we needed the momentum it created, but in others we were using ourselves as battering rams to knock unsuspecting hunters out of the way.

Now, in the heat of this type of battle, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It's awfully dark in there, my friends. If you're not careful you can end up right where you started. Luckily I've always had a very keen sense of direction. Call it a sixth sense, call it dumb luck, but it has proven itself over and over throughout my life. It's sort of like a math theorem, I guess.

We suddenly managed to find a break in the sea of sperm. My senses were telling me that we were close now. B-Smith pointed out a couple lads who were disappearing around some sort of corner. I could tell this was something we should follow up on, and directed B-Smith to stand watch at the corner while I snuck around to see what was there.

Peering around the corner I silently applauded myself for a correct assumption, for lying at the end of a small length of tunnel was the egg. My egg.

It turns out that preparation was just about to meet opportunity after all. Damn, for such an unlucky sperm as that wise elder was, he might have been on to something about good luck.

I recognized Derek, a lanky sperm, who clocked a solid 12 on the pansy scale. If it wasn't his lisp, it was the way he sashayed around the right nut that made it obvious he would grow up gay. Right now though, he was dropping his best pickup lines on the egg in hopes of gaining entrance.

His buddy was waiting patiently for his turn when I snuck up behind him. Derek was in the middle of a lame attempt at a manly pickup line as I got within striking distance. I only heard the first part, "Do you like sausage?"

Sperm, child, or adult, snapping the neck is a much easier thing to do than one would realize. Derek's buddy tumbled silently to the floor.

Derek, on the other hand, certainly wasn't giving up as easily. He had been turned down at least two times already but was only increasing his pressure. So he noticed too late as I grabbed his tail and pulled him back from the egg. He squealed like a little girl and I gave my best, See what you almost let in? look to the egg.

For such a lanky sperm, Derek put up a decent fight. It took me almost 20 seconds to dispatch him in a style similar to his friend. I looked back towards the corner and felt momentarily bad for what I was about to do. B-Smith wouldn't know he had no shot until it was too late. Well, so long as my pickup skills were as good as I thought they were.

"Hi, I'm Jade. Who are you?" the egg asked.

"I'm the conductor of the pleasure train. First stop: You."

"That's funny, but what's your name stud?"

"I'm Bobby, but that's not important right now. You are. And you look awfully tense, I give great back massages, you know."

"I could use a back massage, but I always like my massages to be very sensual and often they lead to other things. You may have skills when it comes to massage, but what are your qualifications for what may come afterwards?"

Silently I backed away from Jade so she could get a good view. I looked left, looked right, and after I was sure the coast was clear I slipped down my swim trunks.

You could hear my junk thump on the floor as it landed, and her gasp was audible all the way around the corner. B-Smith couldn't help but draw his attention away from security for a moment.

And it was at that moment that Jade quickly opened up and allowed me inside. I looked back at my good friend B-Smith and shrugged my shoulders while I fanned my hands out, as if to say Am I good, or am I good?

Bobby Bracelet was officially born 9.5 seconds later.

Being in the womb is sort of boring. You don't have anyone to talk to and although you can hear people talking on the outside, it's really hard to make out what they are saying.

I do know that my parents would get ultrasounds and spend the next few hours crying over the pictures that depicted what appeared to be a 3-legged baby. It wouldn't be for a few months yet until they would be told that the abnormality wasn't what they originally thought.

Bobby didn't have an extra limb, the doctor would explain, he has just has really Huge Junk.

Bobby Bracelet is drug salesman from Michigan.

The Raise

By Daddy © 2005

I was murdering the $2/$4 No Limit Hold'em game at the Mirage. It was close to 5:00am and I was up almost six buy-ins. I had only brought a thousand dollars with me on this trip, and I now had almost six. My flight was set to leave in 48 hours, and I had visions of a new HDTV, a Fender American P-Bass, and something shiny for the wife.

I also had the itch.

I'd met Vinny around midnight when he took the seat to my left. He was fat and played tight. We had been talking about hitting the diner for at least an hour, and he recommended the patty melt.

I also recommend the patty melt.

I'm not sure why I let him talk me into that cab that morning, but I did. We were off to play in a $25/$50 No Limit game at Binion's. The cap on the buy-in was $10,000, and I planned to limp in with my six. I had the itch. I wanted to make my move. I wanted to put my stamp on this town. I wanted to walk through my front door when I got home and tell the wife that our house was paid for. I wanted to play some poker.

By lunch I had already ran my stack north of the cap, and was sitting with roughly the table average. I felt good. My raises were respected, until once. And then they were respected even more after that. My cards were holding up, and I knew what everyone held. Every time. I felt real good.

Vinny cashed out at 6:00pm. He said he was up two grand, but he needed some sleep. I was still on a rush, and had pushed my stack to almost twenty thousand. Our table had almost turned completely over save for an old guy in the one seat who was there when I arrived twelve hours prior. I held steady in the nine seat, and had maintained a good rapport with all of the players and dealers. At 8:00pm the two seat and three seat both opened up when a couple of the locals decided to call it a night. This is when the fun began.

Dale sat in the three seat, and Jake sat in the two. They were both Harley-Davidson store owners from the Midwest, in town for a classic car convention. I've never been one to judge a book by its cover, but these guys didn't look like card players. I was half right.

By midnight Dale was on his fourth buy-in, and another non-local had ran through two. I had my stack up to almost fifty thousand which was second only to a very old man in a jogging suit who had only been playing for about six hours. He was the beneficiary of a couple extremely loose Harley Dale calls. I had yet to play a hand with Harley Jake, but noticed that he was a very solid player. His stack was just short of mine, and he paid very close attention to every card that was dealt.

It was just after 1:00am when the hand of the night came along. I was on the button and looked down to find both black aces staring at me. My heart didn't skip a beat. I felt nothing. Jake opened under the gun for $200, and it was folded around to me. I thought about smooth calling here, but I felt isolation was a bit more important. Besides, I wasn't going to let a cheap set flop my evening right into the shithouse.

I said, "Reraise," and pushed in another thousand.

The blinds folded, and Jake contemplated for a bit, and then grabbed two stacks of chips.

"Re-reraise. Let's go ahead and make it a cool five. If that's okay with you?" he muttered.

I played dumb. I'm no actor, and I knew he was going to call anything at this point, so I felt no need to beat around the bush.

"How much you got left?" I asked.

He counted down his chips, and I had him covered by almost two thousand. By this time a large crowd had gathered around the table. We were the only two still seated, and he maintained a steady stare directly down at the felt. He had kings, and I knew if I could dodge the other two I'd be able to walk into my house and tell the wife that it was paid for.

"I'll go ahead and re-re-reraise, and put you all in."

The poker room floor erupted. Harley Dale was shaking his head, and kept saying to Jake, "Call him, he ain't got shit!" My heart rate still hadn't fluctuated. My pulse never wavered. I felt good. I felt really good.

Jake took yet another glance down at his hole cards, and then looked up at me and said, "Can I raise you more than what I have in front of me?"

I wasn't sure what this meant, and then it occurred to me that maybe he had the deed to his house in his pocket, or car keys, or better yet, keys to his bike. I told him that if the other players at the table didn’t mind then I wouldn't have a problem with it. He asked the other players who were standing around eager with anticipation. Nobody declined.

He said, "I'll re-re-re-reraise you two pink eggs."

"What the fuck is a pink egg?" I asked.

Before the words had even left my lips Jake stood up, and started to unzip his faded blue jeans. With his left hand he dug deep into his boxer shorts, jostled things around a bit, and finally pulled out his old worn out nutsack. Almost simultaneously with his right hand he had dug an old pocketknife out of one of his front pockets.

It happened so quickly that nobody really had any idea what was going on. Jake lifted his bag up over the poker table, and with his right hand opened his pocketknife and began to cut the underside of his scrotum all the way back up to the base of his penis. He then pulled his bag skin up around the shaft of his dick, and there they were. Two pink eggs. Dripping with ball juice, and throbbing with life. His heart never skipped a beat.

I mucked.

Daddy is a donkey fucker from Hilljack, Indiana.

A Typical Friday Night

By Mr. Subliminal © 2005
"There is a time for playing cards and there is a time for playing." - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Friday nights are reserved for playing. There can be no other way as the daily grind of live No Limit cash games exacts a hefty toll on my psyche. I need a diversion urgently.

Friday night, 9:35pm

One last look in the mirror. I tighten my belt one more notch, but there is no avoiding the Homer Simpson-like side profile. No matter, if this is the price I have to pay for maturity and a modicum of sophistication, then so be it. I fling the fur coat around my shoulders, apply a final spritz from a 30-year-old bottle of Aramis and slam the door behind me.

Friday night, 9:36pm

Bang frantically on the front door upon realizing that my keys are still on the coffee table. The banging stops when I remember that I live alone. My neighbor has a spare key and hopefully will be home when I return later from/with my conquest.

Friday night, 9:40pm

My cab arrives. I could swear some part of my clothing rips as I contort my way into the back seat.

Driver: "Where to, Sir?"
Me: "Bellagio."

I expect the crowd at the Light nightclub to be the pick-me-up I so desperately need.

Driver: "Aramis?"
Me: "Davidoff."

Let him call my bluff if he doesn't want a tip. I fart silently to confuse him further.

Friday night, 10:00pm

The cabbie drops me off at the Flamingo Street entrance and I nearly collapse as the hot 98 degree night air hits me. What's with this fur coat shit, a habit I can't seem to shake from my New York days, or should I say nights.

Friday night, 10:05pm

I am in the men's room, rubbing the soaked back of my shirt against the electric hand dryer. The place now reeks of Aramis. Luckily it's a young crowd.

Friday night, 10:25pm

The bouncer at the Light, for some unknown reason, doesn't want to let me in.

Bouncer: "It's a private evening, Sir."

Meanwhile everyone and their dog is being let in. I hate resorting to the old Benjamin Franklin trick, but he leaves me no alternative.

Me: "Maybe this will refresh your memory."
Bouncer: "Sorry, Sir."

At least he has the decency to return the crumpled up $1 note, which I immediately deposit into a nearby slot machine.

Friday night, 10:35pm

Me: "What's the list like for $2-$5 No Limit?"
Poker Floorman: "You'll be sixth, Sir. Aramis?"

Mr. Subliminal is a former lumberjack and subsistence farmer who is currently living under highway overpasses in Las Vegas.

November 24, 2005

November 2005, Vol. 4, Issue 11

November 2005, Vol. 4, Issue 11

1. Las Vegas Blvd. Hookers by Tenzin McGrupp
The Joker wanted me to teach him how to spot a hooker in Las Vegas and I gave him a quick tutorial. We identified the ladies as they walked right next to us... More

2. Dead of Night by Joe Speaker
I shade my night eyes toward the floor, groping with my left hand for the chair I know is there somewhere, cradling my pen and pad in my right. Sleep has eluded me again, pushed aside by the wall of thoughts stacking impenetrably in my head... More

3. To Be Determined by Human Head
The only two people he had ever been exposed to with that name came in the form of a television show about a retard named Bill, and his grandpa, who smelled like a mix of body odor and dirt... More

4. The Shit House by Al Cant Hang
I think I recently killed my new co-worker and friend. I'm not saying that I murdered him, but I think my actions led to his demise... More

5. Walk by Scuba Steve
After getting bleary-eyed on Buddha, nothing is better than a Marlboro and a Mountain Dew. Man, what I wouldn’t do for a Mountain Dew right now... More

6. Me, Bob and the Blonde by Tom Love
We walked a couple of more blocks, eyes bloodshot, eyelids puffy. In front of a pharmacy, we were approached by two cute British girls in miniskirts who started a flirting conversation with us... More

7. Gemini a poem by Jaxia Kiley
To pulverize a living, beating heart... More

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

From the Editor's Laptop:

Thanks for returning back for another issue of my literary blogzine. This special November issue features a few returning writers and even two new ones. The poker bloggers are back. Joe Speaker, Al Cant Hang, and Humand Head are all contributors this month including a hilarious tale from Al Cant Hang. Jaxia Kiley joins us as our token poet. I forgot to include her in the original publication of this issue, and I apologize immensely for my incompetence! I erased her submission by accident. I hope that she can contribute her work on a monthly basis. Tom Love returns after a hiatus with another groovy story. ScubaSteve debuts with a short story and I hope to publish more of his work in the future. Oh, and I wrote something too. I share a most recent encounter with ladies of the night in Las Vegas.

Thanks to everyone who shared their bloodwork this month. I always say that the other contributing authors inspire me, because it's true. You guys write for free and if I could pay you, I would. Your time and effort is worth more money than I can ever afford to pay. My apologies again to Jaxia.

I ask 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. 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.


"Every good painter paints what he is." - Jackson Pollock

Dead of Night

By Joe Speaker © 2005

The kitchen light is harsh and I shade my night eyes toward the floor, groping with my left hand for the chair I know is there somewhere, cradling my pen and pad in my right. Sleep has eluded me again, pushed aside by the wall of thoughts stacking impenetrably in my head.

I begin to focus, idly noticing how filthy the kitchen is. The single bulb illuminates the dull, hospital green linoleum splattered with all manner of grime; onion husks here, a puddle of godknowswhat there. This evening's party isn't any excuse, either. This is always how I find it when I sneak out of bed to write. The tiny house was once someone's home, I imagine, but to us--myself, my roommates and the revolving cast of overnight characters--it's a purgatory with no discernable exit.

We've lived here far longer than the four months we were promised. Our landlord planned to raze the house and build apartments on the huge lot. A recession nullified that plan and so we continue to live in a squalor we’ve created for ourselves, no longer giddy that our actions held no consequences. We've pushed this house to its limits. Graffiti on the walls, holes where none should be, a forever-clogged bathtub and dirt. Everywhere, dirt.

Like usual, the kitchen this early morning is the only room in the house without a sleeping body, the only place for a conscientious insomniac with demons to confront and apologies to make. One of my roommates secured himself some female companionship. The other with whom I share a room, both of us flopped on the floor in our $49 futon mattresses, doesn't miss me. I can hear Riv snoring from the living room couch, Critter wheezing in his sleeping bag. The regulars, drinking and smoking themselves into oblivion, into easy sleep. I could not envy them any more at this moment.

I start to write, never knowing where to start, sure that it will come out long and circular and meaningless. Life before becoming trapped in this adolescent nightmare, this ritualistic avoidance of adulthood, of responsibility. Like the house, we push ourselves to our very limits. But only in search of escape, never improvement. I've lost my sense of perspective, of past mistakes. In fact, the past continually blurs together, with only bare snatches of recall available. I've been numbing myself for years. My inability to sleep suggests it's not working.

I don't do this to find order. It's dreadful purge. I'd rather the thoughts visited me at noon, exposed to the light. In the silent dark, alone, the hurt is magnified, stumbling upon self-truths, announcing themselves without warning. Sure, they exist inside my head, but until they become tangible words, they're easily dismissed. Instead of searching for a beginning, I tap a random moment, the one that pulled me from my feckless search for slumber.

An afternoon picnic, a cramped dorm room, the two of us heaving, pleasantly perspiring in the dusky light. It was the ecstasy of youth, of discovery, that first connection, form, content, heaven, hell, every mystery suddenly and forever revealed, stripping us raw so we were left only with naked truth split wide-open. There was a soft nature to it all, a slow-motion disbelief that lasted until we could no longer accept each others' gifts and collapsed in exhaustion.

I can't see her face, nor hear her voice, nor imagine her breath upon my skin. Not any longer. But the way she smelled, her strawberry hair mixed with the sweet sweat of passion, tossed with spring's ascension. I can conjure it at will and am transported.

I suppose I'm talking about loss. Of the details. Of the girl. More ceaseless regret. How very fucking unique. "Life has wounded me and I am unable to cope so here I sit with my pen looking for salvation." Very deep, idiot. Honestly, I'd rather just be able to find regular sleep than look for answers. I'd rather the self-flagellation gene were excised and I could go about living again, removed of the weight of all my failure. It's so heavy. Riv rumbles deep in his throat from the other room. It sounds like mockery. This stinking kitchen. This aimless walking through day and tortured endurance of night.

I'll never capture that scent again. Nor anything like it. For a time, all I did was chase that moment, that buzz, too often in the early morning hours. I wish I'd never lived it, never knew an experience that lifted me above common existence. All the events of my life pale beside that afternoon. I've given up my fruitless bids to recapture that feeling, that impossible place. I've been sapped of any motivation to strive beyond the usual, the soul-kicking mundane.

So I write. To remember. To forget. To work my brain to the point where it will shut down, invite sleep. Because I'm so tired.

Joe Speaker is a writer and poker player from Southern California.

Las Vegas Blvd. Hookers

By Tenzin McGrupp

We wandered back over to the front of the casino and sat down to do some more people watching. There was a kid in a tie-dye sitting next to us who looked like he was in high school. His girlfriend wore a long green dress and looked like she was barely 16 years old. He had a ton of acid to sell but was worried that he would get busted. We joked with him that we were FBI agents, but he sold us some anyway. He mentioned that he had not been to too many shows because he wasn't 21 and most bands that he liked had an age requirement of 21 and older. He was trying to tell the Joker that Cheesekids (teenagers who followed around String Cheese Incident) were good people.

"I know. I live in Boulder," answered the Joker. "I see Cheesekids and the guys in the band all the time."

The kid liked the Cheese and didn't even know they were from Colorado. That's what happens when you chomp on acid every day from ages 16 through 18. Although naive, he seemed nice enough and he had a hot girlfriend who we still couldn't figure out was jail bait or not. For a brief moment, I considered beating the piss out of him, stealing his drugs, and running away to San Francisco with his girlfriend. But then I'd have an Amber Alert on my hands. The federalies would lock me up and throw away the key for sure if I was caught with a glove compartment full of doses.

The Trey Anastasio Band show ended and the crowd rushed back into the casino as hey left the theatre. I yelled, "They're letting the freaks out! Here come the freaks."

Thousands of spun out hippies, Phishkids, wookies, and other weirdos flooded the Aladdin casino floor just around 4 AM. For a tourist couple who had no idea there was a music festival going on in Vegas, they must have been freaked out to see so many dirty hippies walking around in a jovial daze. The unleashed freaks did nothing to deter the degenerate gamblers from plugging away at the slot machines. They kept their heads down and continued to gamble while they ignored all the weirdness that went down right behind them. Kids were slinging pot and molly behind rows of slot machines, while other rolling hippie chicks watched the various lights on other slots, or headed to the bar for post-show cocktails, or continued to dance at the bar above the poker room.

Grubby was in the poker room at the time and told me that the entire casino reeked of pot. He thought kids were actually smoking it inside. I'm sure that the aromas of various kind buds wafted from the theatre out to the floor. Grubby also said he saw a few braless hippie chicks wander through the poker room.

The Joker and I made our way outside and walked from the Aladdin to the Excalibur. Along the way, we spotted two hookers on Las Vegas Blvd. just outside of Fatburger. The Joker wanted me to teach him how to spot a hooker in Las Vegas and I gave him a quick tutorial. We identified the ladies as they walked right next to us. One was a tall, super thin black woman with a blue wig. Her friend was a portly white girl with a super short skirt and her beer belly slipping out of her top. Two middle-aged tourists also spotted the girls and began to follow them. We walked a few paces behind them. I couldn't tell if they were interested or just fucking around. The black hooker with the blue wig walked up to an older gentleman wearing a suit. He was by himself and she made a decision that the guy was going to be her mark for the moment. The other chubby hooker slowed down and made a phone call while she let her friend do her thing. I assumed she was calling up their pimp telling him that they have a possible john. The old guy walked into the MGM. The black hooker with the blue wig walked in with him, followed by the chubby hooker a few feet behind them. The two middle-aged tourists followed the chubby hooker. I looked at the Joker and motioned towards the MGM front doors. We followed everyone into the casino. We decided to investigate.

By then, the Joker picked up on which girls were hookers and which weren't. As we walked by one of the bars, we saw about a dozen at work. He was amazed at what was going on, but for me, it's just part of Las Vegas. It's not anything out of the ordinary for me to see hookers crawling around a Strip hotel bar. It's simply another integral part of Las Vegas, just like the Bellagio fountains or the all-you-can-eat shrimp buffet.

The black girl with the blue wig struck out with the older gentleman. I assumed he wasn't interested. The middle-aged tourists soon disappeared from sight and we found the two hookers sitting at the hooker bat at the MGM. We sat down for a little while before retreating back to the Excalibur. On our way from New York, New York to Excalibur, I spotted a woman sitting down in front of the Statue of Liberty. She was drunk with a souvenir goblet nearby, she was missing her shoe, and crying hysterically. Another Las Vegas 5 AM casualty.

We headed to the bar at Mandalay Bay where we met up with some of the Joker's friends from Colorado. We all watched the hookers over there work it. One guy had a table of three or four of them and we wondered if he had any idea they were working girls. There was some sort of bull riding contest in town, and a slew of cowboys were all around. They stood out with their tall black cowboys hats, blue jeans, and shiny buckles. Some of them were getting hit on by the hookers. The bar had an interesting mix at 5 AM with drunken cowboys, tripping hippies and scantly clad hookers elbowing each other and fighting over which girl is gonna blow the only high roller in the bar.

The Joker is originally from Texas and said, "Tourists from Texas must get a lot of hookers when they come to Vegas, because every time I tell them I used to live in Texas before I moved to Colorado, the hookers start flocking and hit on me even harder."

Since Vegoose was supposed to start in seven hours, we decided to leave Mandalay Bay. We eventually walked back to our room as the sun was coming up over the mountains, and we spotted a hooker walking towards us. The Joker nodded to me with a funny face which said, "Spotting hookers at sunrise is tons of fun."

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

To Be Determined

By Human Head © 2005

For the first time, he is leaving the city where he grew up.

Sam always hated his birthplace, and remembers thinking of it with derision from the beginning. As the first comprehension of abstract and logical concepts began coming together in his young mind, he knew. I don’t belong here. He didn't know how he knew, but the knowledge was there as certainly as if it he had been born with a birthmark that spelled it out. He was five years old when the thought hit him for the first time. Sam was on his way to the first day of kindergarten.

It was cold and rainy that day, and it sent goose bumps loose on his shoulders the way a cold day always did. Being skinny, he desperately longed for warmer weather, but those days were few and far between. Sam knew he had been dealt a geographically shitty hand and couldn't understand why on earth anyone would willingly subject themselves to such torture. A homemade book bag sat on his lap, and he wondered at the strangeness of disliking the bag but find it comforting at the same time. Mom had worked a long time making the bag, lovingly adorning it with his initials, SJM. Samuel James Montrose. Being conscious of his own age, Sam thought it was odd that he wasn’t proud of his own name, but was eminently thankful that he wasn't named Bill. The only two people he had ever been exposed to with that name came in the form of a television show about a retard named Bill, and his grandpa, who smelled like a mix of body odor and dirt. Why can't Grandpa just take a shower after he gets off of work? I think I would like him more if he would just do that. Even though he had never entered a classroom before, he knew that the other kids he would be stuffed into a room with would never have considered disliking their names.

The bag was navy blue (his Mom's favorite color, the one that she deemed appropriate for all nice young boys), and his bright red initials were sewn on the side, each letter larger than his hand. The handles sewn on were gargantuan, and when he carried the bag normally, the bottom would drag on the ground which meant that he had one of a few choices, all of them unpleasant: carry it with his arm at a 45-degree angle that hurts my shoulder, sling it over his shoulder like a purse I don't want to look like a homo (Thanks to diligent efforts from his parents, he was well-versed on the evils of homosexuality), or just drag it on the ground I'll get in trouble for getting it dirty and tearing it up. Even though they had just started their trip, Sam felt the preemptive pangs of embarrassment that would intensify as he found out with certainty that the other kids had backpacks, just as he thought they would.

He could worry about all of these things later, though.

There were more pressing issues at hand, namely, how to get into the school without his Mom walking in with him. Sam loved his mother, but was embarrassed by her, as well. He didn't need anyone to hold his hand, and it was intensely frustrating that his Mom didn't know him well enough to realize that fact. Traveling through the rain on roads that never undulated and rarely curved, he knew that this was the first day he would have to stand up for something he really wanted, whether it hurt her feelings or not.

The school building was plain, an uninspiring combination of light golden brown brick with dark shit brown trim. It would be pretty funny if there was corn. Yes, the subject of poop was always funny, even though it was strictly forbidden in conversation. Farting was amusing, as well, but was also a subject not suitable in front of closed doors. This was something Sam was reminded of two days earlier as he expelled a particularly forthright statement from in between his cheeks and found it proportionately hilarious. I don't care what they say; I still think it's funny. In the lawn of the school was an imposing cross, with something attached that he could only imagine was intended to represent flames. The fact that it was a private Christian school embarrassed him a bit, as well. The whole thing just seemed a bit artificial, his only benchmark for such things being an internal measurement of how uncomfortable it all made him. Awakening from a movie-like dream sequence (he was fond of imagining things in a cinematic context), Sam noticed that the car had been still for some time and that his mother was looking at him expectantly.

"Are you scared? Do you want me to go up there with you?"


It came out harsher than he meant it to. He had intended to be emphatic in his statement, wanting to convey the seriousness of his need to join the line for class all by himself, but the quickness and tone of his response hid everything he felt about as well as sheet of plastic wrap. His mother knew that he wanted to act independently but she could also hear the embarrassment. The recognition brought a familiar look of pain, similar to when one accidentally steps on a dogs foot, prompting that look that says that they didn’t think such a thing was possible...not in a million lifetimes.

There was an innate knowledge that a line had been crossed; a crossing that came several years ahead of when it is typical to do so. Sam had no idea what exactly that line was, but it was behind him now and he knew that it couldn't have been any other way. He tried making it up to her by expressing his thanks for the book bag, and this seemed to console her somewhat even though she knew it wasn't the genuine truth. She grabbed his hand in an effort to hang on, for one last moment, to the little kid that had inexplicably changed in the space of twenty minutes, from home to the first day of school.

As he ran up to the school, surfing on a wave of expectant adrenaline, he knew that something had changed. It didn't matter that he couldn't articulate what it was. He had escaped the confines of his familiar world and was filled with satisfaction as he rushed headlong into this new frontier of learning. He wasn't afraid of school, thanks to his parents showing him some basic reading and writing mechanics during the previous summer. Sam knew he had a jump on these kids, a fact that was confirmed as he took his place in the line and saw the blank stares coming back at him. Looking back, he now realizes how strange it was for a kid so young to think such things, but that’s the way it was. No, he was not afraid of the academics (such as they are in kindergarten) that lay before him, he was afraid of the people. Already he could feel the stares of superiority from those who already knew one another, and the only thing he knew how to do was grit his teeth and hope they got distracted with themselves.


Sitting in his room full of bags, he tries to remember some of the more tangible details, but there really aren’t very many. It seems as though the only things that he can remember in any detail are those that are part of a separate life lived only in his own head. Pretty soon it will be time to go.


The Human Head is a writer and poker player from Whicita, Kansas.

The Shit House

By AlCantHang © 2005

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jack. I clean shit-houses for a living. Port-a-johns, outhouses, etc. Those tiny plastic shitters you see at campgrounds, concerts, and construction sites. Lovely job. As you may imagine, there are quite a few stories which I could tell but this one is the most important.

I think I recently killed my new co-worker and friend. I'm not saying that I murdered him, but I think my actions led to his demise.

Fat Charlie was neither fat nor was his name Charlie. His name was Bob and he was remarkably skinny. He'd made the mistake when he first joined the crew of trying to give himself his own nickname, like Brutus or Butch or some odd thing. Our drunken foreman decided that Bob's new nickname was Fat Charlie. The foreman was an idiot but he was the boss. I wish I was working with the foreman that fateful day instead of Fat Charlie. But it wouldn't have mattered because I would have been out in the heat instead of him.

Fat Charlie was an oddity amongst our crew. He was young, in shape, and college educated. No one could figure out why Charlie showed up every day to ride beside me from site to site cleaning up crap when he could be sitting in a nice comfy office doing accounting or lawyering or whatever he went to school for. He was tightlipped and we never did find out.

I had the easy part of the job. Being the senior man on shit detail meant that I drove the Honey Wagon while the other guy ran the suction hose from the crapper to the tanker. A good day meant going to a campground during the off-season. It's cool out and they're rarely used. Those days I might even get out of the truck to help. The bad days were in the middle of the summer. Particularly the day after a 100 degree day baseball game in August. The games don't have the same number of drunk tailgaters as the local pro football team, but what the stench lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality. Imagine a shit sauna and you have a small clue. Those days you were lucky to get me to acknowledge the outside world as I paid more attention to a dog eared copy of Louis L'Amour and the pint of Jack stuffed between the seats.

Fat Charlie's last day on this earth was one of those bad days.

It wasn't our standard Monday morning. I started the day off easy by hitting the local construction sites that never got much action. The hard part would come that afternoon. The sports complex promised to be ugly. A Sunday baseball game with a heated rival, the first pre-season football game was played across the street, and one of those weird jam bands played the arena. Those freaks would have been in the parking lot all weekend. Who knew what kind of abominations we/he would see.

I'll give Fat Charlie credit. He never did ask for my help. He knew I'd earned the right to sit in the remarkably efficient air conditioning while he siphoned the human rot of a thousand people. The pattern was simple: I would pull up to a group of a dozen units and Charlie would hop out. He would grab the hoses, one for suction and one for cleaning, and start with the first one. My job was easy. Sit in the truck and make sure to move forward occasionally so Charlie had enough hose to do his part. I caught up on the latest masterpiece by Tom Clancy or John Grisham. I was hopeful that the pint of booze would last until the end of the day. If not, there was always the other two stashed in different spots.

Charlie gave a yell to move forward so then next unit could be handled and this is where I made my mistake. I was a little slow for a night of partying and the hair-of-the-dog might have dulled my senses. The clutch was tricky and the truck jerked forward a little harder then normal. I could hear the john move along the pavement and I had an instant sense of horror. I looked in the mirror and was relieved to see it still standing upright. Nothing can ruin a week like knocked one of those things over.

I went back to reading Clancy explain the intricacies of a nuclear explosion in 2,000 words and lost track of time. Finally I realized it had been quite a while since Fat Charlie had asked me to move forward. Not completely unexpected you see. Sometimes they fight back. After yelling his name a couple of times, I hopped out of the cab to check on my friend and co-worker.

There was a reason I couldn't hear Fat Charlie scream as the jerk of the truck caught him between the hoses and overflowing shitter. To this day they've never been able to explain how a human could end up in that position and the official cause of death, drowning, was too horrible to think about.

I made a silent promise to my friend that day. No more drinking.

At least on the job.

Al Cant Hang is an internet celebrity from Phoenixville, PA.


By ScubaSteve © 2005

"When you believe in things that you don't understand..."

My Walkman should have died hours ago. I mean, I’ve been walking on these tracks all day, listening to Stevie’s Moog over and over again, you’d think the wheels would stop turning soon. I stole these batteries yesterday from that old man's store in Saugerties. It took me ten whole minutes to wait for him to drop his cigarette and finally look away from me. How can I swipe things if he’s watching every move I make? I bought a fifty cent can of Coke and walked out the door with five dollars worth of double-A’s in my pocket.

I think it was Saugerties. Who the hell knows? I’ve been walking for about two weeks now with no destination. If it wasn’t Saugerties, then they really seem to be into Woodstock. They were selling those two-birds-on-a-guitar-neck tie-dye t-shirts everywhere. They even had them hanging up at the post office. When I slipped that postcard into the big blue mailbox outside their front door, I saw one swinging stupidly in the breeze, like some Jersey shore tourist-type crap that no local would be caught dead actually wearing.

I probably should have packed more than a couple t-shirts and a carton of smokes. Even though the corners of the carton dug into my back as I walked, the cigarettes were pretty important. After getting bleary-eyed on Buddha, nothing is better than a Marlboro and a Mountain Dew. Man, what I wouldn’t do for a Mountain Dew right now. It’s probably 100 degrees with nothing but sizzling hot iron lying in front of me, further than I can see. All I can see is the heat rising off the ties and millions of rocks doing the best they can to make me twist my ankle.

So long as I don’t stand still, I’ll be okay. I can’t stop moving. There’s no point in sitting on the side of this path to give the devil a chance to ask me where I’m going. Right now, my biggest enemy is reason. One hesitation is all he needs to completely destroy my compass. Just keep walking. I’ll know where I’m going once I get there.

My Electronics manager can figure out some other way to move the Sparkomatic car stereos. As far as I am concerned, in Lancaster, there’s nothing going on but the rent. I am not about to root down in that town. Going back there would be like admitting defeat, and I won’t give anyone the satisfaction. I don’t need walls. Though, they would be nice right about now. I think I just felt another drop.

I haven’t seen a house in about three hours and it’s teasing rain. I’m not so stupid to think that the indestructible me is immune to catching a cold. That’s all I need. A nagging cough is a real drag when you’re born with lungs like mine. I was under the jaundice lamps for about a month after I entered this world. Besides which, I smoke like I’m on death row.

Thankfully, I can just barely make out a switch house about a mile or so down the tracks. As I learned when I was a kid, they never seemed to lock those rust-caked doors. So, it looks as though I’ll be resting for a bit in a mold farm.

Lucky for me, I have some shelter, a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, half a bottle of stale water, and enough green to make the time pass by nicely.

Just as the rain began to pick up enough where I could feel it behind my belt, I reached the door to the bunker. Locked, but not in any serious way. A few quick shots with a nearby rail spike is the key I was looking for.

The rain was hitting the tin roof like a can of nails, loud and angry. Upon entering, it only took a few moments before I noticed the smell of not showering for way longer than is probably healthy. It’s probably pretty severe when the smell from your body is outdoing the microbial stink that nature likes to put in confined places. I don’t think you could have beat that odor off with a stick; sort of a mix of salt water and pepperoni.

Inside was a small table littered with paperwork. Upon closer inspection, I noticed these papers didn’t date any later than 1974. It’s been awhile since this place has had a visitor. It didn’t seem to have any official business since before I was born. Cool. That means no interruptions.

On the floor was a small wooden crate branded with some crude-looking bird. It looked like the kind of wood burning project a fourth grade Cub Scout carried home from the pack meeting; a real treasure worth burying.

Who would care if I looked? Employing the spike once again, I pried the lid open. Keys. There was probably about a thousand unique keys in that box. Exactly the sort of package Goodwill loves to find lying next to their big red dumpsters. Oh boy, a box of pre-cut keys… Gee, thanks.

I don’t think I realized how tired the walking had made me. I sat down on the floor with my back against the wall, hit my dugout twice and passed out behind a stack of broken chairs. While I slept, I dreamt about my mom’s finger. It was the last thing I saw before I left. She was shaking it in my face and telling me what a disappointment I had been, how I would have to start paying rent, and that my only hope was joining the military. I just needed some direction in my… WHAM!

The door flung open, nearly falling off its hinges, slamming against the brick with an unapologetic clang. It was pitch black outside, save the dark form standing in the doorway, heaving.

ScubaSteve is a DJ from the outter suburbs of Philly. He spends equal time annoying and pleasing his listening audience but always entertains.

Me, Bob and the Blonde

By Tom Love © 2005

It was the spring of 1969, Paris. Me and my friend Bob were on a three-day pass from our Army base in Germany. We were roommates and big on smoking hashish that we would score for $30 an ounce. Hash from Lebanon formed in big blonde slabs. Our plan was to load up a Galois with a mixture of tobacco and hash and stone up in public in Paris. What were we thinking???

So we walked into a crowded cafe that served wine and sandwiches, and lit up. Within seconds, the air took on a quality of hazy blueness. An electric buzz filled our heads. The sour Galois smoke paralyzed us. We noticed that everyone in the room was looking at us, all those dark French eyes, the paranoia was palpable. We exited and hurried down the boulevard. We looked at each other and shared a nervous laugh, still reeling from the smoke and the experience.

We walked a couple of more blocks, eyes bloodshot, eyelids puffy. In front of a pharmacy, we were approached by two cute British girls in miniskirts who started a flirting conversation with us. One of them pulled out some comic books depicting Biblical Revelations. Bob and I took one and looked at it feigning interest. Out of the corner of my eye to my right, I noticed a guy in a trench coat who had been reading a newspaper, was walking toward us. To my left another trench coat guy was walking hurriedly in our direction. Suddenly a black Mercedes pulled up behind us on the street. All of this occurred simultaneously. Two guys, same trench coats, jump out of the car. One says "Passports please!"

Bob and I knew we had just been busted! Smoking hash in public, walking around Paris stoned, plus we were holding a good five ounces of the blonde Lebanese. Man, it was over. We pulled out our military IDs (back then they served as passports in Europe). The head trenchcoat said in heavily accented English, "You two get out of here." Bob and I started backing away in stoned confusion. We overheard the head guy tell the girls that they were under arrest for being in the country illegally. The trenchcoats were Interpol, conducting sweeps to rid the country of the Children of God cult who were selling sex for Christ in order to gain converts. Bob and I escaped with our stash and manhood intact and beat the hell out of Paris that night.

This would not be my last experience with the COG. They used the same ploy to kidnap me in LA three years later. Will I ever learn not fall prey to the prostitutes for God? Serves me right!

Tom Love is a writer and musician from Atlanta, GA.


By Jaxia Kiley © 2005

So cruel
To pulverize a living, beating heart
With words that reek of acid
Formed by such beautiful lips


Before you, love was a little girl
playing dress up and pretend.
The shoes fit me now and the
clothes are my own but
loving you is still like still like
being in a fairy tale.

Jaxia Kiley is a poet and writer from Forth Worth, Texas.

October 22, 2005

October 2005, Vol. 4, Issue 10

1. Baby and Winky Reprise by Tenzin McGrupp
Baby wiped away the remainder of her tears and slid the gun underneath the passenger's seat. Just a few minutes earlier she had stood barefoot on a cold linoleum kitchen floor and kept firing... More

2. Langston Alone by BG
I let her go with everything I had left, which is to say, it took next-to-nothing to let her go. It was a moment that was dry, devoid of subtext and utterly clinical - at least on my end... More

3. Toy Box by Gary Moore
This toy box would only hold his best toys, the ones he wanted to take special care of. Anything he wanted to protect, anything he wanted to save, anything he wanted to keep from being destroyed, would go in this box... More

4. The Miracle John by T-Money
Problem was is that I was on a stretch of 131N where there is nothing. No gas stations off the side of the road. No party store. Hell, not even a fruit stand... More

5. Message in a Bottle by HighonPoker
Nine to five in an office environment is supposed to be hell for a cubicle monkey. But I'm not a cubicle monkey. I'm a junior executive. I should know better. And somehow, I do... More

6. The Chase by Vinnie the Fish
I wanted to thank you once again for helping us put a criminal in jail," were the parting remarks from the police officer before we ended our conversation... More

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

From the Editor's Laptop:

Thanks for returning back for another issue of my literary blogzine. This issue features several new writers (HighonPoker, T-Money, Vinnie the Fish, and Gary Moore) who are readers and fans of Truckin'. Let's hope they will all return sometime in the future. BG is back with another installment of his Langston Saga. And I return with a story about some of my favorite characters... Baby and Winky.

Thanks to everyone who shared their bloodwork this month. I always say that the other contributing authors inspire me, because it's true. You guys write for free and if I could pay you, I would. Your time and effort is worth more money than I can ever afford to pay.

I ask 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. 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.


"The ordinary man is involved in action, the hero acts. An immense difference." - Henry Miller

Baby & Winky Reprise

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2005

Baby sat in the front seat of the car and trembled as she sobbed uncontrollably. Winky's dull windshield wiper blades barely cleared away the late afternoon Seattle rain as he sped off onto the Alaskan Highway with a faintly audible Neil Young song fading in and out on the radio.

"What the fuck you crying about?" Winky shouted.

"I shot," she whimpered for a few moments before she completed her sentence. "I-I-I shot Moses' dog!"

"Good!" Winky screamed. "Fuck Moses and his stupid dog!"

"You're not angry?" Baby timidly asked.

"Of course not, Baby," he said as he brushed away a tear from her cheek. "That prick had it coming. And you know how much I hate pets. Especially those chic hybrid dogs. Who the fuck cross-breeds pugs with beagles anyway? Moses' fuckin' dog was the ugliest mutt I've ever seen! You did this world a justice by ridding it of another ugly hipster pet."

Baby wiped away the remainder of her tears and slid the gun underneath the passenger's seat. Just a few minutes earlier she had stood barefoot on a cold linoleum kitchen floor and kept firing until Moses' dog stopped moving. Seven bullets later, one found its way into the door of the refrigerator while six were lodged in the body of the poor dog.

A simple drug deal gone bad had ended up in a case of canine homicide. Moses had tried to sell Baby and Winky a sheet of bad acid the month before. They didn't know it was bunk and had sold the entire sheet to a group of aging hippies making their way to Burning Man in a renovated school bus that looked like a giant banana. Upon their return, the hippies demanded all their money back.

Winky was pissed. That wasn't the first time Moses had fucked them over. He’d screwed them on a Canadian marijuana deal after crossing over the border in a kayak and smuggling in three pounds of British Columbia Super Skunk. Moses had shorted them several ounces and he still owed them. Moses had also stolen a pair of Baby's dirty underwear at one of their parties and held them for ransom. He said he would give it back for $200 and only if Baby and Winky would let him watch them have sex while he jerked off and sniffed Baby's armpit.

Winky tracked Moses down at his Mother's house and confronted him while he sat in the kitchen in his boxer shorts, eating a bowl of Froot Loops. Moses pulled a small pen-knife on Winky and Baby pulled out the gun. She pointed it at Moses' barking dog.

"Drop the knife or I shoot your dog!" Baby yelled.

Moses hesitated for a moment and then he heard the first shot. He quickly dropped the knife into his cereal. By the fifth shot, his dog had stopped barking and Moses began screaming. Winky grabbed the only thing of value he could find nearby -- a brand new Ron Popeil Showtime Rotisserie. He almost went for the juicer, but settled upon the Rotisserie because he always wanted to cook his own chicken.

The two dashed out the back door as Moses looked at the pool of blood collecting on his Mother's linoleum floor and screamed, "You killed my dog, Baby! Now Moses is gonna kill you!"

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

Langston Alone

By BG © 2005

I let her go with everything I had left, which is to say, it took next-to-nothing to let her go. It was a moment that was dry, devoid of subtext and utterly clinical - at least on my end.

It's ridiculous in a way to use two simple letters, "IT," to refer to the singular moment of my adult life when everything stopped swinging, spinning, or twisting itself up in my head, but there it was. I had known for months that she had been cheating on me, I even knew with whom it was happening, not that I knew the guy. It was enough to know, and if I wasn't retreating from her steadily before that point, it was happening then. Steadily.

I had even broken through from "I miss you" to "I'll remember you" weeks before I told her I was leaving. As a matter of fact, the exact words I used the day I left were, "I'm leaving now." I spoke them calmly, softly, and without adornment. She returned to me a look which at that instant I couldn't read. In her eyes was some mixture of puzzlement, understanding, relief, sadness, and joy, the quantities of which were fluctuating by the second. Despite my confusion, she had never before been so nakedly honest with herself in front of me, which should have depressed me even further.

"I'm leaving now."

"I know... What do you know?" It was a legitimate question. I knew about Scott, knew about the cover stories her friends were providing, knew about the emails and the instant messaging. I knew he professed to love her, that she was steeling herself for the moment she felt right about leaving, and that for six months and probably longer she thought I was oblivious. I knew she had misread my seeming ambivalence.

"Enough. Scott. Everything, I guess. I can't keep this going." I wasn't taunting her with the knowledge, and actually I never did. I was resigned, accepting. Every ounce of vitriol I’d had six months ago when I overheard something I shouldn't have--"I'll tell him I'm out with Kim"--had either been spent or buried, totally alone.

"What exactly do you know about Scott?" She was looking for a fight, one I wasn't about to give her. I was done, I knew enough that I wouldn't trust her again, and knew it was time to go.

"I know enough. Look, I signed a lease on a place and..."

"You what!?! What the fuck Langston?" She was boiling, which was completely in character for her. She wanted to be the one to have things set, to walk away first. It wasn't in my machinations to trump her on that effort, it was simply the point where time and depression had passed the point of silent resignation and had moved me mentally straight into avoidance.

I sighed. I was tired. "I've been moving in slowly over the past couple of weeks, and..."

"Couple of weeks? Goddammit Langston, I knew I couldn't trust you." Another phrase, just trying to bait me into the middle. That was Filet Mignon on a string, but I wasn't hungry.

"I've got what I need, you obviously haven't missed what I've taken so far, and I loaded up the rest tonight. Our lease here runs out end of next month. Rent's paid, and I've left you a check made out to Two Men and a Truck to help you move. It should be plenty. Everything left in here is yours." She was searching me quietly, trying to find something to build on. I could see her run through the options, seeing if she could taunt me into an argument, cry me into shared tears, or run the guilt-trip from her old Catholic school playbook.

"Fuck you Langston."

"Good luck Marnie, I'm sorry this didn't work out." I turned for the door, stopping to grab the duffel bag at the end of the couch.

"Fucking pussy. Yeah, run away! You're no man! Why the fuck do you think I've been fucking Scott for almost a year now? You couldn't give me..." I never turned around, shut the door behind me, and climbed into my car feeling just horrifyingly empty.

Should I be crying? Pounding the dashboard with my fists cursing the fucking slut that ruined my life? I didn't know where people found those moments in their life, where passion was the only motivating factor driving their actions. I remember my grandfather's funeral, Italian, from "The Old Country." I sat stoically next to Marnie as she dabbed tears from her eyes. I saw my great-aunts, enormously sturdy women built for the men of the iron mines they loved and outlasted, throw themselves on the mercy of God with insurmountable rage in one instant, only to be shaken to their foundation, knocked prone with their weeping jags of sorrow in the next. I used to tease my grandfather about his mob ties, an absurd notion considering his three decades hauling iron ore from the depths of the earth in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. My dad, his son, had passed when I was young, so unofficially I became his son by proxy. We talked every week, I brought him down for holidays, and he quickly became the only relative of mine Marnie could stand.

I loved my grandfather, and felt guilty I wasn't sobbing and trembling, screaming and cursing, something to show I loved him like his sisters did. That I always would.

I never found that inside of me, and I wasn't crying now. I pulled out of the driveway of the duplex my wife and I had shared, and never again came within two blocks of the place I once called home.

BG is a writer from a small hamlet in Western Michigan.