May 27, 2006

May 2006, Vol. 5, Issue 5

We're back with five new short stories and some poetry.
1. Kentucky Waffle House by Tenzin McGrupp
That Waffle House was the late night magnet for the lowest strata of society which included raccoon-eyed meth dealers, repugnant hookers, Glock-packing pimps, drunken frat boys, and several deranged members of the local homeless population... More

2. Losing Grip by Sigge S. Amdal
The skin around my nails was always hard and white. You could pull off chunks, but it wouldn't bleed noticeably, and another layer would grow. I could never stop picking it... More

3. Ten Years Later by Novice
The stage is almost bare. There's just a couch, with some hideous print upholstery. I walk out, sit on it. I realize that it's the same couch that once had the moss green velveteen... More

4. Violent by Sean A. Donahue
I couldn't stand him for whatever opinion he misspoke he infuriated others and drove me crazy. All Ken did was pick at people and give them a reason to hate him... More

5. Sheet Lightening by John Beck
Sheet lightening. Rippling waves of black blank black blast. What the fuck is that cat trying to tell me... More

6. The time trials a poem by Barrett Crawford
Obscure and misunderstood
If you only knew what I know
of the fibers of time
I have been trapped in thought of these... More

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

From the Editor's Laptop:

Thanks for returning back to another issue of Truckin' featuring several of your favorite writers including Sigge, Sean Donahue, Novice, and yours truly. The May issue includes two new writers John Beck and Barrett Crawford.

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 much more money than I can ever afford to pay.

Here's where I ask you, the reader, for a huge favor... if you like these stories, then please tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes a few seconds to pass along the URL. The other writers 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 every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life." - William Faulkner

Kentucky Waffle House

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2006

The 5 AM hour is the demarcation line, no matter what city or town you are in. If you can get past that period of time and survive to see the sunrise, you accomplished a feat similar to climbing Mt. Everest. No matter what you are enduring at the ungodliest of hours, whether it's an all night bender or a night of suicidal insomnia, the rancorous cult of vampire-like miscreants scamper off as dawn approaches.

After a night of gambling and liquor consumption, Daddy and I wandered over to Waffle House which was about two blocks from our hotel in Covington, Kentucky. We were told by our cab driver that the Waffle House was considered the dirtiest in the area and had been cited for several health code violations. That Waffle House was the late night magnet for the lowest strata of society which included raccoon-eyed meth dealers, repugnant hookers, Glock-packing pimps, drunken frat boys, and several deranged members of the local homeless population.

My friend Lori (who went to law school in Covington) warned me, "That's were people disappear from. You know, like so-and-so was last seen at the Waffle House before going missing for three weeks. Then the police find their rotting and raped corpse floating in the Ohio River."

Alas, you can't keep a drunk fat man away from hashbrowns and pecan waffles, despite the dangerous circumstances.

When we walked into Waffle House, two trigger-happy cops sat in the front booth closest to the bathroom. Two hookers drenched in cheap cologne sat at the lunch counter next to their pimp with more bling than Ice-T and Mr. T combined. A white cab driver who looked like the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island sat in the corner booth and read a newspaper as he sipped on coffee. A tall homeless guy with a large black duffle bag sat at the far end to the counter muttering to himself as he slid a few napkins and a spoon into his pocket.

We sat down in one of the open booths as I let out a sigh of relief. Seeing the cops nearby in the sketchiest Waffle House in the South was reassuring. I peeked at the sticky menu that was drenched in dry maple syrup and Hepatitis B. Waffle House menus are encased in plastic lamination that dates back to the Nixon White House years. Daddy knew exactly what he wanted, while I couldn't decide between breakfast or a cheeseburger.

Our pear-shaped waitress shuffled over like an American POW on the Bataan Death March. The worn out look on her face and disheveled uniform was an indication that she’d worked at least a ten hour shift. Her apron was streaked with tons of condiment stains and she could not have been older than 19 or 20 at the most. Daddy tried to sweet talk her right away. She was in no mood for chit-chat and barely looked up from her yellow notepad.

"What's your name?"

"Tracey," she said in a backwards drawl that you only thought you heard in the movies. "Whaty'all like to order?"

"Tracey. Nice. How are you doing sweetie? Lemme ask, does a nice girl like yourself have a man?"

"Yeah. He's at home watchin' our kids."

"How many do you have?"

"Two and another on the way. Whaty'all like to order?"

"Does your man treat you well? He should. You're very pretty. What time do you get off?"

She looked up and smiled as bright as someone could with three missing teeth. I glanced at her left forearm. She had a poorly designed tattoo in aqua ink that read, "Total Bitch!"

"I want a triple plate of hashbrowns. Scattered. Smothered. Covered. Chunked. Diced. Topped. Peppered. But no mushrooms. Make sure there are no mushrooms in there, honeypie. And a pecan waffle to sweeten my Waffle House experience."

Nine minutes later, the pear-shaped waitress brought over a large plate heaping with hashbrowns. I had never seen a bigger serving of potatoes that was the size of a baby otter. His plate of hashbrowns was steaming hot with cheese, onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, ham, and Bert's Chili piled on top in an orgy of food. Daddy picked up a bottle of hot sauce and shook out ten or eleven huge droplets as they dissolved into the mountain of food.

Another waitresses began to mop the floor near by. Her rail thin body pathetically clutched a mop of dirty water as she made small circles onto the floor. She looked like a tweaker who has been up snorting crystal meth with her biker boyfriend for three days straight. When she turned her head, you could see two tattoos behind her ears and prison tattoos all over her arms. She had two hearts behind her right ear and two cherries behind the other. Both were in fading blue ink.

"Hey honeypie," Daddy said as he shoved his hashbrowns into his mouth. "What time you get off?"

"7 AM," she mumbled. "What's it to you?"

"You wanna go to a party later?"

She ignored him and kept up her enthusiastic mopping as Daddy shoveled two bites of his pecan waffle into his mouth.

"So do you got a fella?"

I knew that I was returning to Hollyweird the next weekend, so I came up with an idea to pitch some suits a new reality series where Daddy and I travel around America eating in Waffle Houses and Denny's at 5 AM after we drink beer and huff airplane glue in the parking lot. It can also be a ground breaking documentary film. Degenerate cinema. I might even pitch the idea to European venture capitalists. Those Germans with film almost anything.

The pear-shaped waitress brought us our check and Daddy tried to hit on her one last time. Exhausted and grimy Waffle House waitresses in their third trimester with gang tattoos and who are missing three teeth are the last women on Earth I'd try to pick up. Yet, Daddy was relentless.

"Fat chicks give the best head. Plus pregnant women are super horny."

Even as he paid the bill and made his way to the door, he never gave up.

"Which one of you ladies want to experience the Vanilla Gorilla?" as he grabbed his crotch.

The Sunday sun slowly crept above the Kentucky hills as we stumbled out of the filthiest Waffle House in the South. Folks were getting up to go to church, as we capped off another nebulous night of drinking and gambling.

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

Ten Years Later

By Novice © 2006

No one is in the halls. I can hear the secretary on the phone as I pass by the office. She's no one I know. The pictures of shows past line the walls. I follow the path towards the stage, push open the door. The stage is almost bare. There's just a couch, with some hideous print upholstery. I walk out, sit on it. I realize that it's the same couch that once had the moss green velveteen. It's the couch from "Blithe Spirit."

That was my last show. I run my hands along its frame. Jon and I snuck up into the prop loft two days after set strike with a bottle of wine. We sat on that green velveteen couch, drank, talked about all the shows we had done together, made out. We didn't have sex, and to this day, I wonder why not. It would have been a romantic story, an opportune time... but we drank the wine, kissed a lot, and then went back down.

I get up, move stage left. This is where my speech started in The Scottish Play. All the perfumes of India... I remember all of it. I had been a sophomore, and the Shakespearean roles usually only went to the Juniors and Seniors. Especially this one.

"One of Shakespeare's best parts for women," the director had said. She had been one of my dream roles, and I got her at nineteen. I got good reviews, too. The one from the "Boston Globe" is framed in my parent's guest room.

I move off the stage and into the makeup room. Flick on the lights. They've moved the photos around since I was last here. There are so many new photos, kids I don't recognize. I see myself in costume from "The Caucasian Chalk Circle." Junior Year. Jon is in the photo, too. So is Rachel Davidson. She was a senior then, and a year after she graduated, she had a part in an episode of "Dark Angel." That one episode was the only time I saw her after she graduated. I find another picture of the two of us, from The Scottish Play. We're sitting in folding chairs in the women's dressing room, half in our costumes. She's saying something that I'm laughing at. I heard she committed suicide a year ago.

Outside the door is the ladder to the prop loft. I go up. I find my parasol from "The Importance of Being Earnest," Rachel's mirror from "After The Fall." Jon's "Pirates of Penzance" knife. I was on the set crew for that one, and I was transfixed from my spot near the curtain pulleys whenever he was onstage. I hold onto that sword and remember when he came off after his song, Opening Night. He leaned in, kissed me and whispered, "Love you."

I hear something from below me. The door near the makeup room opens. Someone's climbing the ladder. A dark head pops up, and a face looks surprised to see me here. One of the current students. He has to be a freshman, he looks so young. Did I ever look as young as he does now?

"Oh! Um... hi," he says.

"Hi," I say.

I watch him for a second. His face makes me think he's not supposed to do what he is here to do.

"I used to go to school here," I explain. "I was in..."

I stop. This kid doesn't care about me; I'm so old next to him.

"Never mind."

The kid comes up and days, "I'm just here to put something back."

He has a prop in his hand. It's another sword. He looks embarrassed.

"We did 'Romeo and Juliet' last semester, and this was mine," he explains. "They want us to do prop inventory before Spring Break, so I figured I should put it back."

I smile. He's having indelible memories made with every show. It's painful to let go of a role.

"I hated inventory," I say, "I usually got stuck doing costumes."

He smiles back, puts his sword in the box, and says, "Well... bye," before hurrying down the ladder.

"Bye," I say as I hear his footsteps race to the door, and out.

I look at Jon's knife. I get Rachel's mirror and put them both in my purse. I walk across those beloved floorboards, full of memories. I don't look at the pictures again. I don't look at the couch. I see no one I know on my way out.

Novice is an observer of human nature from Massachusetts. When she isn't writing, she sings to her kick ass baby.

Losing Grip

By Sigge S. Amdal © 2006

The skin around my nails was always hard and white. You could pull off chunks, but it wouldn't bleed noticeably, and another layer would grow. I could never stop picking it.

It was a Friday evening it happened. I wasn't going out, but my body ached for a drink. I came down to the subway station - it's more of a stop really - and a group of outgoing types, boys and girls dressed up and slightly drunk were standing there. This type always stands exactly where the first or second door will stop, at the first cart, as if the guy running the train would care if they got beat up or mugged or something. As if the only thing separating these frail, delusional, television-bred, spoiled and arrogant kids from the wild night they knew was out there - 'cause they'd seen it in the news - as if this guy, quite their opposite was their only shred of civilization in an evening we all know is driven by the passions of men and lure of women.

Even if something had happened, something as unlikely as these kids ever waking up from their dreams, he wouldn't have lifted a finger. He took care of his own.

There was a little rain, but not uncomfortable.

I chose to stand where the end of the train would be, like I always do. I'm mostly left alone back there, ever since the newspapers had a story running about a rapist who would sit at the back of the train, picking out his victims. Timetable Tom.

That's when I felt an eerie tingling sensation at the base of my left thumb.

I was looking at two of the boys. One of them had kicked the other in the crotch, and now it was the other guy's turn to get to know the inner fire lit by the spark of passion. Even though it was the passion of hurt. MTV turns young kids into sadists.

But soon the sensation in my thumb had receded from a throbbing, and it felt as if it gushed cold, and I realized I couldn't feel it any longer.

Blood had rushed out of it, like the last rats to leave a ship, and now the captain was going down.

I glanced at the group. I recognized a few wondering stares. They were afraid of me, I knew that, but now their looks were coloured by curiosity, too.

A cold sweat of fear caused a quick tremble, and they turned away from my eyes; I couldn't ask them for help, they would run anyway. I kept my trembling hand to the side. Out of view, out of shame, and I awkwardly lit a cigarette, looking down when I could.

From one of the cracks in the tough skin I thought I glimpsed something. Now, it could have been a raindrop reflecting the light from the lamp on the other side of the street for an instant, but I think to this day that what I saw was something alive. Something that had been inside of me.

A maggot.

A chill ran through me, and I stepped sideways to see if I could see what it had been. I saw nothing. One of the guys shouted something and the girls laughed nervously. I hurled around, but they turned their backs on me.

One of them gave me a thumbs up, but a girl pulled down his hand and quickly glanced at me, before scorning him in hushed, controlled whispers.

The train was about to arrive. I stroked my thumb with my left index finger, and could barely hear the sound of flesh falling from bone when it amputated, above the sound of the train.

It fell into a little puddle. I stretched out instinctively, picked it up and put it hurriedly in my pocket, and kept my hand there. I suppressed my panicking breath.

I caught one of the girls gaping at me, but she looked away quickly.

The train arrived, I got on the second last cart, and I didn't dare to look at it before I was well home - beyond the gaze of others.

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

Sheet Lightening

By John Beck © 2006

Sheet lightening. Rippling waves of black blank black blast. What the fuck is that cat trying to tell me?

Click. Shutters. A quiet crash. English accents do it for American women for some reason. Just about anything applies when it comes to 'English' mind you. Scottish, Irish, Australian... basically anything but Canadian. Doesn't seem to apply in reverse though. I've always wondered what American accents sound like to English speakers.

Flash, bang, pow, the storm rages and rages. Break off the peeling paint and feed it to the cat if he gets hungry. I keep a spare chisel laying around for just such an exigency.

When you get to Nine Mile Island, be sure to ask the tour director how much radiation escaped that fateful day. Then snap a picture when he informs you, 'None.' Get a picture right then, and you will have captured the Platonic ideal behind the concept of Smugness. Then dwell on the fact that he's right, and that something from the Ford administration drives exploding gas prices today.

Cough. No really. I'm talking a COUGH here. Like a sneeze from Andre the Giant after spending a week in a coal mine compressed in an instant's explosion. Imagine a lone vocal chord whirling past your head. Followed, naturally, by a pronounced Splat.

Slam. Did the window just blow out or something? Picture this: Christmas lights. Christmas lights laid out in a roughly even grid, spaced a bit too tightly, against a white ceiling. Primary colors, but very dim. Incidentally, that tingling feeling is all in your head (by way of your stomach).

Gun shots are cathartic, especially when followed by a meaty wet smack like a hand slapped against muddy wet grit. If you've ever wondered what it's like to be fired out of a cannon, just crawl outside of your head for a few minutes and wait for the sunrise (or so they say). Purple toes from the acceleration.

Have you ever stopped to wonder what happens when a light bulb breaks? Slow motion: spider web lines, the first shard clicks free, implosion from the vacuum, the hair thin filament sighs. Then everything just goes to pieces. Entropy reigns. It always does.

"Don't come crying back to me when your leg falls off!" she shouted. She was always shouting. The emotion is a funny one. Start off standing in rain pouring down so hard it hurts. And cold. Unimaginably cold. In place of drops, sleet dripping off of your outstretched finger tips. Now: you're in the middle of Kansas with nothing visible all the way to the horizon, and you must walk or die. Something like that. Not really sure where legs enter into it, but pretty sure they come into it somehow.

That cat's howling again. The cat always howls when there's a storm. I think it has something against precipitation. And it turns out there's no such thing as Santa Claus, which makes explaining the cat's very presence, shall we say, challenging. Nose? Pink, naturally.

Wind chimes are not for the faint of heart. People fail to realize that if they're not in tune, they'll drive you insane. If they are in tune, they'll hypnotize the unwary. They like to sneak up in the night when everything's quiet, then unleash a cacophony of dischordia. All hail Eris!

John Beck is an energy trader (think Enron minus the malfeasance) living on the East coast against his will. While he's never written professionally, he has always been an avid--if deranged--writer who originally began writing upon founding a political blog. While it has become largely defunct, he's transitioned into the roll of professional guest blogger, writing intermittently for a number of different sites on topics ranging from neo-libertarian politics, cosmic drunkenness, and poker, including his favorite site, Jaxia's Steal The Blinds.


By Sean A. Donahue © 2006

I swear your honor; I am not a violent man.

Let me explain.

I really didn't like him in the first place, and I know it sounds bad but please let me finish. He was my good friend's brother, a necessary evil in my life. Wherever my friend went, his brother wasn't far behind. I couldn't stand him for whatever opinion he misspoke he infuriated others and drove me crazy. All Ken did was pick at people and give them a reason to hate him.

But that wasn't the thing that hurt me the most.

It was how others, because of my friendship with Ken's brother, caused me to be linked up with Ken's creative storytelling and lies. When people started to link me and Ken together I couldn't take it anymore. Whenever he did something stupid it was "Where's your idiot friend Ken?" or "Did you hear what your buddy said?"

He wasn't my friend or my buddy. But I tried to be patient and just ignore his stupidity, let him dig his own grave. But, alas he would find away to jump out before the dirt would even start to cover him.

Yes, he was a thorn in my side, yes, I hated him but I tolerated his actions to keep the family peace with my friend. Boy was that a mistake.

So he came by my house drunk one day and I offered him a chance to sleep on my spare bed, use my laundry to clean his clothes, and take a shower, (immediately after which I planned to bleach the entire bathroom) and just start over fresh.

But he chose not to. He crashed on my futon and threw up over my Chinese rug. He didn't offer to clean it up, just walked out. He didn't apologize for the coffee table that he broke or the picture of my daughter that he knocked down; he just opened the back door and collapsed in the middle of my back yard.

Yes, I was mad. He destroyed things in my house, not caring for a thing that was mine and was muttering about how pitiful I was. I thought if I could get him up and out of the yard that he would traipse over to his brother’s house and leave me alone.

But he wouldn't go, he just kept talking about my dead wife, how ugly she was and how he could have screwed her cause she was easy.

Yes, this angered me your honor, and I tried to keep the anger away. But all I saw was red. I saw my wife's face as I laid her into the ground on that cold December morning. I saw the cries of Ashley's face as we mourned our loss. And I don't even remember jacking Ken up with one punch, but yes, I thought it was funny to pour the honey over him and lead it straight to the red ant hive. Yes, it was cruel of me. But I thought he would wake up, I didn't know he had alcohol poisoning. I just didn't think that someone who treated me so badly deserved anything but having the ants washed off him with a spray hose after they started biting.

Please understand that I didn't mean to hurt him, you see I have a child, a twelve year old that I want to walk down the aisle when she gets married. I am a good father and have a good job in the oil fields. It was all harmless fun. Yes, your honor I tried to get him help. I washed the ants off and tried to sober him up. But he started to choke and vomit he turned purple and when the ambulance got there he was gone.

I didn't know he was allergic to ant bites. I'm not a violent man.

Sean A. Donahue is a freelance writer, radio personality and poker amateur. He plans to move to the semi-pros with stops in Topeka and Albuquerque some day. He has been published in For Kids Sake Magazine, Sunlight through the Shadows, Truckin' and is the author of a website looking a life, liberty, and the ability to have Instant Tragedy when you just add water. He is divorced with two children and lives in Lubbock Texas.

The time trials

By Barrett Crawford © 2006

Obscure and misunderstood
If you only knew what I know
of the fibers of time
I have been trapped in thought of these
and the twisting turns captivate.

Can you see the path
the trail I foretell
Perhaps you can, if you but look;
Of the doors to be closed, only
mine is open
and now it refuses to budge.

Caught up in tendrils
you are not you, later
my touch spreads like wildfire
allowing me to know all.
I have been shunned, that was seen too
but this is not my secret.

There is a place within us each
Our souls are written there,
small and close
Now mine is clean, for but one thing:
Nemo propheta acceptus in patria sua
and rarely in his own time.


River runs to the heart
roaring richter against ramparts
I cast the net
and am drowned in my catch.

This too, I say
can be wrong but good.
Brown taste, lip cover
active product of rage;
Who rails stumping on to the block
while running through the hold?
Cavernous and intimate
the cup burns the tongue.

Probably time sees it and laughs
No hold, I say, anymore than
anything else
anyone else.
This is my charge to keep
No less than Atlas, no more than Virgil.

What gate is this to breach
what wall to climb?
There are secrets to guard
passages through to find
Time but tickles, whispers,
Breathlessly implores:
(Take heed, it remembers like the earth-
fingerprints in dust)
Tread lightly on this soul.


I looked at my watch
and couldn't believe the passage of time.
Why, I wondered, do you measure by the tides
they are unchanging and dynamic
but too romantic.

She paused, confusion flittered across
her wide mouth
It was soon wiped away.
You are mistaken, she said-
I am the tide.

How can one tell what to do
It should have been obvious when marks
had to be re-etched constantly
There is a book for this, I was told;
Incredulous, I didn't know there was an almanac
for the heart.

She gently patted my hand
and wrenched my soul
when she said:
"Were you not listening? You can't build your castles in the sky."
Funny, I thought,
as the wave washed over me.

She was always punctual,
that was her fault.
Maybe I should have seen
I was waxing, she waning-
It is hard to move to one's own beat
when you’re caught in the pull.

Comfort yourself with the same knowledge
with which you are tortured
The hourglass runs like your soul is writ
Someone else will write on you,
fumbling on the shore
This too, she cooed, as she turned away
This too shall pass.

Somehow, I feel no better.

Barrett Crawford is a part-time degenerate living in Nashville, Tennessee.