May 06, 2007

May 2007, Vol. 6, Issue 5

May 2007, Vol. 6, Issue 5

We close out the fourth year of Truckin' with an issue that features a couple of new scribes.

1. 60 Hours in Amsterdam, Part I by Paul McGuire
I was worried that the Air France ticket agent in Nice was going to send my bags to Paris. He kept asking me if I was going to Paris and I responded with "Amsterdam" everytime he asked... More

2. Stuck in Monte Carlo by Otis Dart
It was actually the sea that I had stepped out on the balcony to see. I'd only been on the ground in Monte Carlo for a few hours. The moment I crashed into my room at the brand new Monte Carlo Bay Resort, I'd fallen into the most comfortable bed in the world... More

3. Emilio Estevez Loses His Tooth by BTreotch
Four minutes earlier, Emilio Estevez was beating his kid-brother Carlos while he was hog tied and strapped to the top rail of their swing set with cheap-itchy yellow rope... More

4. Confessions of a Man by Sigge S. Amdal
I should have asked her for a date. Any date at all. 4th of March, 6th of April, didn't really matter. As long as we could go and have a dinner, or see a movie or something. It's not like I'm craving a relationship, I've got too much to do already, but it stung inside of me knowing that I'd already lost a chance. A chance. Singular term. There could be more coming... More

5. A Grand Day Out by Susan Bently
On the other side of the road sat this German guy's car with a huge dent on the bonnet and his family sitting in the car, wife and children looking wide-eyed and pale. The bleeding carcass of a moose lay next to the car, dark patches of blood over the centerline... More

6. City of Sins by Clay Champlin
People head to Las Vegas for two reasons: salvation or condemnation. Those looking to be saved from their mundane Midwestern lives bask in the perpetual glow of the strip or gawk skyward at downtown's Freemont street experience... More

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

From the Editor's Laptop:

This issue features an interesting mix of new and old writers in one of the strongest issues of the year. Susan Bently and Clay Champlin join the staff along with familiar faces such as Otis and everyone's favorite Norwegian word wanker Sigge. And finally, BTreotch is back with the second installment of his hilarious Emilio Estevez series. My contribution this month is about a short side trip to Amsterdam after a work assignment in Monte Carlo.

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 Truckin'. 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 to the writers who exposed their souls to the world and wrote for free. I'm lucky that you were willing to take that leap of faith with me. Thanks for inspiring me.

Thanks again to you the readers for wasting your precious time with Truckin'. Until next time.


"I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center." - Kurt Vonnegut

60 Hours in Amsterdam: Part I

60 Hours in Amsterdam: Part I

By Paul McGuire © 2007

I was worried that the Air France ticket agent in Nice was going to send my bags to Paris. He kept asking me if I was going to Paris and I responded with "Amsterdam" everytime he asked.

I booked a KLM (Dutch Royal Airlines) flight from Nice to Amsterdam but that particular segment was in conjunction with Air France. So although I was billed by KLM, I was virtually flying on Air France.

The security line at Aeroport Cote d'Azur featured several people who blatantly ignored the rules. They'd have to walk through the metal detector three or four times before they were cleared. One woman was snooty and giving off the vibe, "I'm rich. I'm old. I'm French and I don't have to put up with your stinking peasant asses." She argued with the French security guards for five minutes while they tried to get her to take off all her jewelry.

I finally made it through security and found Stephen from Gutshot, a member of the British poker media, sitting at a cafe near my gate. He was heading back home to London. We originally met at the WSOP in Las Vegas last summer and I spent a lot of time talking about similar interests in media row at Monte Carlo. Turns out he might be one of the biggest baseball fans in the United Kingdom. We bullshitted for a few minutes before he boarded his flight.

Neither Air France nor KLM flew me to Amsterdam. Both were too busy or delayed for that flight and ended up handing over operations to Martin Air. I had no idea if that was a Dutch or French airline. All I can tell you was that their seats were cramped. At least I had the entire row (and last three rows for that matter) to myself.

I knew 50% of the passengers on my flight. It was about 40 people in all and most of them were Dutch or Swedish poker pros or media reps heading on home. There were a few well named European pros on my flight, a famous Swedish pop singer who has been playing a ton of poker (and may or may not be dating a Swedish pro), and random bloggers and writers from Holland and Sweden. I had about an hour or so of sleep and was burnt out on poker, so I avoided the lot of them as the congregated at the gate for another delayed flight. I waved hello and made some small talk but all I wanted to do was to avoid all things poker and arrive into Amsterdam as quickly as possible.

I barely touched my meal... apple slices, yogurt, and a cheese sandwich on a whole wheat bun. There was packaged OJ and a few cookies which were the highlight. All I did was listen to John Coltrane and James Brown on my iPod and look out the window as we flew over the French Alps and Switzerland. I fell asleep for a few minutes and when I woke up, we were about fifteen minutes outside of Amsterdam.

The European Union thing was nice because I avoided any passport control areas and walked off my flight down to baggage claim. My bag magically appeared as my paranoia over the Air France was all self-fabricated. I quickly left that area and wandered in the train station. I bought my fare and it was right around 5pm on Tuesday. I was caught in rush hour on my train to Centraal Station. By the time the train arrived in downtown Amsterdam, I'd had exactly 36 hours of R&R before I had to leave for the airport at 6am on Thursday morning.

I originally booked the Amsterdam side trip with Tim aka the Poker Shrink. He threw out his back in Las Vegas and was unable to make the gig in Monte Carlo which also meant his side trip was canceled as well. I had two nights booked in the Victoria Hotel, one of Amsterdam's swankiest hotels and the closest to Central Station. That's where Nicky and I stayed last November.

It took about five minutes to check into my room and I almost got the same room as last time. Nicky and I were in 566 and I was given 565. I dropped off my bags, tossed some cash and my passport in the safe, and added a jacket to the fleece I was wearing since it was chilly in Amsterdam. I took a book to read and my camera. No cellphones. No watches. That was it.

I stopped off at one of those tourist t-shirt shops to stock up on supplies. The glass pipes were expensive (around 20 Euros). I found a wooden grinder for 7 Euros and bought a lighter for 1 Euro. I decided to grind up my own weed and roll joints. Papers and filters were free in coffeeshops.

I walked into my first coffeeshop at around 5:45. It was the 420 Cafe and I first discovered it with Briana in September of 2005. I was on my way to Barcelona for a writing assignment and stopped off in Amsterdam for two days. Briana took the train up from Paris and arrived one night early. She wandered around the Damark and spotted the 420 Cafe down one of the alleys. She assumed by the name that it would be a place to score some weed and hash. She was right.

Considering it's location to Centraal Station, the 420 Cafe has reasonable prices. What I liked about it the most was that they sold NYC Diesel and it wasn't even the most expensive thing on the menu. Their drinks were low priced and they used to serve beer. Amsterdam enacted a new law where establishments that sold marijuana or hash could no longer serve liquor and beer. They went back to an old rule where only bars and restaurants served booze and where coffeeshops could only sell pot and hash and only serve non-alchololic drinks.

The 420 Cafe featured really hot Dutch bar maids and glasses of Amstel for 1.80 Euros. I had been craving both since my last trip 4.5 months ago. When I walked into the cafe, they had upside down glasses over the taps as one British tourist quizzed the blonde bartender why he couldn't get a pint of beer with his hash joint. She explained to him the new laws as he ordered a bottle of Coca-cola instead.

I wandered into the back and one of the the owners (who looked like Geroge Carlin and I'm pretty sure is an American or Cannuck) manned the weed counter. I didn't even look at the menu and asked for a gram of NYC Diesel. I sat down at the bar as I inspected my purchase and ordered mineral water. They call it fizzy water in Monte Carlo and England. They called it "water with gas" in Amsterdam.

"Water?" asked the barmaid. "Do you want that with gas?"

It's a weird question and I shrugged my shoulders. Gas it is. I really wanted a glass of Amstel to wash down the weed. I rolled a couple of joints and sipped my gassy water. An Irish guy sitting a the table nearby asked to borrow the wooden grinder. When he returned it he asked to take a look at my book. I had about a hundred pages left of The Tender Bar a memoir by J.R. Moehringer. Nicky had bought it on her way to Amsterdam last November. Fitting that I should finish it while I was there a few months later.

I walked down towards Dam Square and noticed that I had not really eaten all day. I grabbed frites with mayonaise from one of the stands and ate a half of ham and kaas sandwich on a baguette. Total price for dinner was around 5 Euros. The sun was still out at 7:30pm. I wandered over to Grey Area on Oude Leliestraat (Quickie Dutch lesson: Oude Leliestraat = Old Lelie Street) to pick up some of my favorite strain of weed but the smaller coffeeshop was closed. Fuck.

I whirled around and walked back to Dam Square. I popped into an internet cafe and sent an email to my brother and Nicky. I told them that I arrived safely in Amsterdam and would be avoiding the internet until I got back. I wandered into one of the overpriced cafes and pubs off of Dam Square. I didn't care. I was thirsty for some liquor. I sat down at the bar in the Euro Pub. I drank a pint of Bavaria beer for 5 Euros. The guy sitting next to me looked like and sounded like Hank Hill from King of the Hill. He was from Texas and in town for a day before he headed to one of those runaway Soviet republics. He was sent in to close a big oil deal.

I bought him a round and he bought me two in return. I had four beers in total as we talked about the pros and cons of business travel. He's been on the road for almost twenty years and he said it made him have a stronger love for Texas, especially his home. We also talked baseball for a bit. Afterwards my last beer, I said good-bye and told him to walk around the corner and get a blow job from a Romanian hooker.

I headed over to Pink Floyd coffeeshop and did not find any Buddha's Sister. I settled on the Mako Haze. It was better than average and I smoked one joint before I went around the corner to take a piss. All those beers caught up with me and I felt a good ratio of being stoned:drunk.

Nicky told me that I had to visit Barney's. It was a block or two down the street from Pink Floyd and we never managed to wander over to that street. Barney's cafe is on the corner and next to that was the coffeeshop. Both served amazing breakfast according to word on the street and several guidebooks.

Barney's was popular because it was one of the only places in town that sold the strain that won the infamous Cannabis Cup two years running. In 2005, a strain called Willie Nelson won while last year it was G13. I bought a gram of Willie Nelson for 11 Euros and found the only empty seat in the place against the wall next to the vaporizer. Barney's was packed tight with people getting lit up. I rolled a joint, smoked 2/3 of it, then hit the street. I walked around for about a half hour through the Jordaan district while I finished off the joint.

I found myself in the Rokerij. They have four shops in all and I had never been to the one of Singel Street. It was very dark and decorated in a Picasso meets Africa theme. Since it's a chain, the prices tend to be a little more expensive. I ordered a water with gas and bought a gram of Laughing Buddha. By that point, the biggest drawback of rolling joints was that you couldn't get the full taste of the strains, like you could in a pipe or a bong. I made a note to find a cheap pipe the next day.

It was around 11:15pm when I noticed the clock near the bathroom. I expected it to be about 1 or 2am. I had no way of telling time and kept wandering around. I was exhausted and headed back to my room. I decided to rest up for a bit then either start writing or go back out. I figured I'd get an hour nap. That didn't happen.

* * * * *

The first time I woke up was at 7am. I had slept for seven straight hours and that had not happened since I got back from Australia and slept off a month of hangovers at Nicky's. I had been logging insane hours in Monte Carlo and barely slept. My body told me something... that I was in desperate need of rest. I was also bummed out because I had less than a day in Amsterdam. I decided to price return flights to New York on Friday instead of Thursday. I figured they would be outrageously expensive but had to check anyway.

The first time I called Delta, they told me the fare differential would be about 150 Euros plus another 150 Euros as a change fee. I told them I'd think about it and hung up. I took a dump, jumped in the shower, smoked a couple of hits and then called back. I decided to stay an extra day. That's when I found out the price changed... in my favor. Not only was it less, it cost me about 130 Euros in all to change it. Talk about a nice swing in my favor.

I had to find a hotel room for another night and checked online. I found something around the corner for 90 Euros and the couple of hostels I looked at were booked. I went downstairs to get a rate and that's when they told me I had a credit. Apparently I booked the room for three nights and canceled one night online when the EPT Championships were extended a day and I had to stay in Monte Carlo through Tuesday instead of Monday. But, the Victoria did not get notification of the cancellation so they already billed my credit card for three nights instead of two. Since I had paid for three nights already, I didn't have to go through any trouble of getting the extra night.

It would only cost me 130 Euros to stay an extra 24 hours. Best deal I got all trip.

I wrote for a bit and by then it was closer to 9am. I grabbed my iPod and walked down to the bakery near Dam Square for breakfast. I ate a plain croissant and pocketed a chocolate one. I wandered over to Grey Area which was still closed. I later found out it opens up at noon.

I discovered a cheap souvenir shop that sold me a glass pipe for 8 Euros. I walked up to Barney's which was open early. I bought one gram of the G-13, the latest prize winning pot, from a guy who looked like Eddie Vedder. The G-13 tasted pretty damn good. Not even 10am and I was baked out of my tits. I ordered an orange juice from the girl at the counter who looked like a hipper version of Winona Ryder (circa Reality Bites) asked me about the book I carried. I let her thumb through The Tender Bar and she joked that she should write one about working in coffeeshops.

I walked through Jordaan district again. Instead of night, it was in the day and I cranked up my iPod and listened to a couple of Phish bootlegs. That neighborhood features plenty of smaller cafes and art galleries. It was not very crowded, just a couple of locals and very few tourists. I'd pick a random street and walk along the canal, checking out the houses and stopping every few moments to sit on stoops to munch on the croissant and think.

"This would be a great place to live someday," was the thought that kept running through my mind.

I found myself near the Leidseplein after my detour through Jordaan. I sat down at one of the cafes and drank a beer while I read my book. My waitress was the Dutch version of Rachel Ray and I expected her to whip something up for me in the back. She didn't and left me alone.

I wanted to smoke and walked into the Rokerij a few blocks away on Leidestraat. I picked up a gram of NL50x Haze and drank a hot chocolate as they played a couple of Elliot Smith songs. A table of French guys with one hot American chick next to me had troubles rolling a hash joint. They asked for my help and I did my best. They were smoking tobacco and hashish and I offered them a toot of weed and hash in my bowl. They offered me a hit from the joint I rolled. I normally avoid tobacco, but I did not want to be rude so I took a couple of hits.

The hash made me hungry. I was starving and ate a bowl of pasta Bolognese at one of the Italian joints next to the Rokerij. It cost me 8.50 Euros and I left 10 in all. I listened to a Grateful Dead bootleg from Winterland in 1977 as I walked through the flower district and over to the Red Light District. Groups of Russian teens, old Japanese women, and middle-aged German tourists were wandering through the hooker zone gawking at the day workers. The Red Light District has become more like a freak show than anything else.

I found the Jolly Joker coffeeshop and took a pic for the Joker. I wandered inside and decided to just buy a drink to cut down on weed expenses. I had enough of a stash by that point and didn't need any more product. I drank a coffee up in the loft area and smoked tough while I finished the book.

I walked back to my hotel to drop off my book, my iPod, and a large bottle of water that I bought. I also dropped off excess herbage and just carried a little. I added a second jacket because it was getting chilly and slipped a pad and pen into my pocket.

I wandered back over to the 420 Cafe. Another hot Dutch barmaid said hello as soon as I entered. I ordered water with gas and sat in the front window. I smoked while a family of four stood in front in the alley and watched. The kids were 6 and 9 years old or somewhere around there and their parents let them watch. The father carefully explained what was going on before they walked away.

I walked over to the Grey Area for 4:20. It was finally open and I avoided the high ticket items and bought the Grey Mist. For 8.50 Euros a gram, it's the best buy in Amsterdam and by far my favorite strain. The Grey Area is super small and features mirrored walls with stickers on them. There are three small tables and a tiny counter along the wall with three bar stools. You can seat less than 15 people there and a total of 20 people can be in that space at once. I was surprised to found a spot along the wall as I fired up the Grey Mist and stared at the stickers.

The coffeeshop is owned by two Americans and they have plenty of famous bands and musicans stop by. The Willie Nelson picture is hilarious, if you can find it. And the picture of the guys from Phish hanging out at the Grey Area always gives me goosebumps.

Two wasted American college girls sat at the small table near me. They struggled to take pics of each other. At one point they handed the camera to me and I snapped a couple of photos for them. They asked me how to get to some club that I never heard of before.

I left the Grey Area and wandered back through Jordaan past the galleries and over to Pink Floyd. Nicky and I spent plenty of time there in November. The music was good with penty of classic rock. They have three stories which means plenty of room to hang out. I also like crowded coffeeshops or multi-level ones because you can get away with getting high in those places without buying their product. I'd just buy a drink (water, juice, coffee, hot chocolate) for under 2 Euros and sit in the corner to blaze up.

I sat next to a 40 plus year old German woman with her teenaged nephew and his girlfriend. They were fun to talk with and we must have bullshitted for an hour or so. They invited me to dinner and I declined. I wandered back down to Dam Square and bought frites and a half of ham and kaas sandwich. My second consecutive five Euro dinner.

I went back into my room to rest for a bit and checked my email. I told Derek and Nicky that I was sticking around another day. I watched a little Dutch TV and they had an interview with Flava Flav on a local station.

I chatted with Nicky on Skype for a few minutes and decided to go back out and buy magic mushrooms. That's when Wednesday got even more blurry. I picked up Thai happy mushrooms at La Canna and popped a few as I chased them with a Kit Kat bar. I wandered around the city for a couple of hours. I got a beer at Kadinsky's cafe which is right across the alley from their coffeeshop. The had La Chouffe which is a Belgium beer I was told to drink by a woman I met in Monte Carlo.

As the shrooms kicked in, I stopped off at crowded hash bars where I didn't buy anything, but found a corner to smoke in and check out the scene. That included Dampkring, Kandinsky, and Abraxis. The music being played at those coffeeshops were an interesting mix and featured random fusion music such as Euro-techno-house-hip-hop or then you'd hear old school reggae.

I walked into the Free Adam coffeeshop and it was packed with rastas. I had not been there since my first trip to Amsterdam with Senor. The prices was expensive with overpriced hash and bud. I settled upon the cheapest thing on the menu; a chunk of Nepali hash. A fat black guy with the longest dreads I had ever seen weighed it out for me.

I sat near the front window and smoked a little of the Nepali hash and ended up giving the rest to a Spanish guy sitting next to me. He handed me a copy of Homer's The Iliad. It was an English version and he said I could have it in exchange for the hash. I agreed and we laughed for five straight minutes when we realized that we had variations of the same name. He was a Pablo. The shrooms were definitely working.

It was close to 2am when I wandered down Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and stopped at Resin coffeeshop. I had not seen the place before and I loved the name. The place was empty and I bought a gram of AK47 and some mineral water for 10 Euros in all. I sat down and smoked a bowl before I decided to bust out the Grey Mist. I finished the rest of that off and read about fifty pages of The Iliad before I left. I realized that the Resin was the 11th coffeeshop I visited and smoked in that day. I was super tired and needed one more to tie my record. That's when I pushed myself to stay awake and walked down the street into Double Reggae. It had the mural of Jim Morrison on the window and I bought a bag of something I had no idea what it was. When I'd wake up the next day, that bag was the only one I could not account for since I had been carefully labeling my bags.

I stumbled into my hotel and carefully tried to recall the 12 coffeeshops I went to. Barney's. Rokerij (Leidestraat). Jolly Joker. 420 Cafe. Grey Area. Pink Floyd. Free Adam. Dampkring. Kadinsky. Abraxis. Resin. Double Reggae. I also bought shrooms at the smart shop attached to La Canna, but never went inside to smoke. The list of 12 coffeeshops was the last thing I remember writing before I passed out with my clothes on.

Paul McGuire is a writer from New York City.

Emilio Estevez Loses His Tooth

By BTreotch © 2007

"Being a big brother is tough work!"

Those were the words Emilio Estevez announced to the house as he wiped his forehead and walked through the sliding glass door leading into the kitchen.

"Whaaaaat?" said Emilio's mom.

Janet Estevez heard him say something, but never followed up, thinking if it were truly important, Emilio would have repeated it. Besides, she was occupied; this was June of 1971 and there was major news involving a family friend. One of Howard Hughes' DC-9s had run smack dab into a F-4 Phantom jet fighter somewhere just east of L.A. killing 50 people.

"So much for that Big Sky Theory..." Uncle Joe Estevez mumbled to himself.

Four days later, the U.S. would end its trade embargo against communist China in the midst of their fight against the North Vietnamese. Personal electronics would never be the same. Four minutes earlier, Emilio Estevez was beating his kid-brother Carlos while he was hog tied and strapped to the top rail of their swing set with cheap-itchy yellow rope. Charlie Sheen, like those little Chinamen, would never be the same.

"So much for that Domino Theory..." Uncle Joe didn't say that, though he probably should have.

Papa bear Martin Sheen had just finished filming his third picture, the satirical anti-war piece "Catch-22." When Emilio asked his father what "Catch-22" meant, Martin sighed, "It's a no-win situation."

"I thought you said there are only two types of people - winners and losers..." young Emilio was confused; it would not be the last time.

"No, well yeah, that's what I said and that's true. But, but look at our current situation with those monkey fuckers in Vietnam. Bunch of guys in black pajamas jumping out of holes - you don't know who's who! You going to shoot at all of em' Emilio? They don't wear name tags you know. Could ask who they are, but you think they speak English?" Martin had lost his train of thought and tried to sum it all up, "Lookit... It just means you're damned if you do damned if you don't."

Emilio was still confused. He was also nine years old and had recently acquired a fondness for torturing his younger brothers. It's not that he's an asshole - he's a real nice guy- he keeps his necked shaved and wears black socks. But this is not Coach Gordon Bombay were talking about, this is a nine-year old with two younger brothers and a real big set of teeth. There are no DUI convictions, no community service, no gold medals, and definitely no brothers on ice, skating on scholarship. We're talking big teeth on a rich kid who was small for his age. A grill worthy of a nickname.

If it wasn't for the maxillary central incisors getting so out of control, being called "Bucktooth" wouldn't have much meaning, or at least it wouldn't have the same meaning. Your dentist may call 'em E or F, or maybe 8 or 9 (you can do the math, it don't add up, then again dentists aren't the brightest of the bunch - the med school equivalent of P.E. teachers, perhaps). Charlie called them "Emilio's big toofs." But "Bucktooth" had plenty of meaning to Emilio – he even refused to watch the Little Rascals reruns because just hearing Buckwheat left a certain sting on him. Charlie loved Buckwheat, and loved to run around the house yelling "O-Tay! O-Tay! O-Tay!" This would of course only infuriate Emilio. One night after 30 minutes of receiving non-stop Indian burns to both forearms, Charlie decided "enough is enough, Emilio." (It was actually pretty cute the way he said it, sobbing with spit bubbles coming out his mouth and bright red forearms.)

Paleontologists and police use a tooth to identify fossils and the fire-charred; Charlie, tapping into the simple sadistic sibling emotions building from his constant ass whippings, decided that revenge would best be served upon Emilio's big toof!

Martin Sheen wasn't much of a handyman, when given the choice between drama and shop at Dayton Ohio's Chaminade High, he didn't think that was much of a choice. Hell, Martin even ran off to New York City at 18 to pursue a career on Broadway (after borrowing a hundred bucks from his priest, but that may be a whole other story). Yeah, Martin never made a door, let alone a picture frame, but he still had the tool box one of his nine brothers had given him when he married Janet. Charlie removed a hammer and nail from said tool box then hid them under his pillow. Later that night, Charlie snuck into Emilio's room, climbed carefully beside his brother's head, lined up the nail to Emilio's right deciduous maxillary central incisor... tooth E... number 8 – it would have been cool if Charlie had said "E for Emilio" right before bringing the hammer down, but Charlie was only five and lucky enough to make contact with the nail, let alone make a funny like that. The yelp exulted from Emilio's mouth was wet with blood, full of fear and woke up everyone (except Uncle Joe – but he lived in the basement, two stories down).

It was lost on Charlie that by knocking his big brother's tooth out he had actually done him a huge favor. The reconstructive surgery gave Emilio a new set of teeth and enough self-confidence to ditch the Sheen moniker and strike out on his own, taking his grandfather's name to the stage. That cranky Spaniard, Francisco Estevez would have been proud.


When filming that masterpiece of teen tragicomedy, Lucas, Charlie was asked by Winona Ryder from where he was gathering such inspiration. A rather pretentious question, this was Winona's first feature film and it seemed like the type of thing you say to another actor. Charlie replied that he was modeling "Cappie" after who he wanted Emilio to be growing up, but never was. That vulnerability got Charlie laid on the set for the first time. A few hours later, in true Morrisettian irony, Charlie found him self chasing and beating Corey Haim with his football helmet.

"Come here you monkey fucker!! It's no win situation Haim!! MONKEY FUCKER!!"

BTreotch is a chemist and artist from Tampa, FL. He is currently living in Antartica.

Stuck in Monte Carlo

By Otis Dart © 2007

"Alright, MacGyver, what are you going to do now?"

I actually said it--out loud--to myself. To my right was a comfortable sofa covered in thick pillows. To my left was a cushy chaise and ottoman. Behind me--oh, lord, behind me--was the Mediterranean Sea. Someone would say later, "If they tried to recreate the color of this water in Las Vegas, people would say it looks fake."

It was actually the sea that I had stepped out on the balcony to see. I'd only been on the ground in Monte Carlo for a few hours. The moment I crashed into my room at the brand new Monte Carlo Bay Resort, I'd fallen into the most comfortable bed in the world. It not only rivaled, but kicked the soft ass of the Westin's Heavenly Bed. Monte Carlo Bay had only been open for a short time, but it was clear that it was among the best properties in all of Monaco. The designers had also designed the luxury Wynn resort in Las Vegas. 'Nuff said.

So, with only a few hours to sleep before an evening appointment, I missed out on the giant flat panel TV on the wall, the high-tech bathrooms, and the other amenities in the room. I only wanted the bed. I'd slept for three hours, taken a shower under the biggest shower head in the world, and gotten dressed. With ten minutes until my appointment (a cocktail party where I knew I would be introduced at 7:30), I decided to take a look at the Mediterranean.

The door was thick triple-pane glass and had the oddest latching system I'd ever seen. Turn the lever 45 degrees and the top of the door leans into the room like a giant window. Complete the turn to 90 degrees and the bottom of the door pops out and one can slide it open like any other balcony door.

Closing doors behind me has become sort of a habit since I became a father. Open doors lead to lost kids and I'm too tired to organize a search party or explain to the neighbors that we don't frown on nudity at Mt. Willis. And so, as I stepped out onto the balcony, I pulled the door closed behind me.

The sun was going down and the Mediterranean shimmered. Absolutely gorge--


I remember thinking, "That was a funny sound. Almost as if the door...locked."

I looked at the high cliffs, listened to the waves crashing on the shore, and thought, there's no way that door locked. Think of the liability issues. People would get locked out on the balcony all the time. The higher-strung castaways might jump from this third story ledge.

When I turned around, I didn't really expect to find the door locked. It seemed an impossibility. And yet, well, yeah. It was locked in mid-position.

Over the next 30 minutes, I did the following things:

* Took off my jacket and tried to slide my forearm in between the door and the frame
* Nearly cut off my arm trying to extricate it from the door
* Kicked the door like a cop trying to bust into a drug house
* Wondered if the scuff marks from my shoe would show up on my VISA when I checked out
* Stood on the ottoman and tried to take the door rails apart (this came immediately after I called myself MacGyver)
* Wondered if the maid would notice my footprints on the ottoman
* Yelled "Hellllooooo!" over the balcony like Jerry Seinfeld talking in the belly button voice
* Threw an empty can of Diet Coke off the balcony in the hopes somebody would call security about the asshole who was throwing stuff off the balcony
* Wondered if I would survive if I jumped
* Realized I would die if I jumped
* Wondered if I could call my wife and explain to her how to call the hotel and get me out of the jam
* Spotted my cell phone on the bed inside the room and wondered, if I had it, why I wouldn't just call the hotel myself?
* Tried to rip a light fixture off the wall because I thought there might be a phone inside a the box (there was a phone in the bathroom!)
* Kicked the door three more times and hoped someone would call security about the asshole kicking his door
* Said out loud, "Well, I'll have to spend the whole night out here if I don't think of something"

And that's when it all became crystal clear. None of the people I was there to meet knew I was in town, nor did they know when I was suppose to arrive. What's more, the wife knew I had landed safely and wasn't expecting to hear from me for another 24 hours.

That's when I freaked out a little.

And that's when I got a running start at the door, put my shoulder into it, and knocked it off its rails. Apparently, 170 pounds of stupid is enough to break even the toughest Monte Carlo entryway.

Funny thing I found when I got back inside: the door now wouldn't close. All I could think was, "Well, at least I won't get stuck out there again."


Two hours later, I went up to my room to change into a different shirt. A guy in the hallway said, "Bon soir, Monsieur." I gave him a howdy and found room 316.

The door to my room was standing wide open.

As I stepped inside, a girl looked from the door, to me, and back to the door. She said something French into a walkie talkie. I realized, the dude from the hallway was now standing in the room as well.

"We seem to have a problem with your door, sir," the girl said.

"Funny," I said, "I had a problem with it, too."

I tipped the guy who took my bags to a new room ten euros and vowed to never look at the Mediterranean again.

Which is a vow I broke as many times as I could, but with the door always open.

Otis Dart is a writer from G-Vegas, SC.

Confessions of a Man

By Sigge S. Amdal © 2007

I should have asked her for a date. Any date at all. 4th of March, 6th of April, didn't really matter. As long as we could go and have a dinner, or see a movie or something. It's not like I'm craving a relationship, I've got too much to do already, but it stung inside of me knowing that I'd already lost a chance. A chance. Singular term. There could be more coming.

But I had her worked up in a period of heat, we were flirting like backyard cats in the upper middle-class, when the rain started to fall.

Why had I waited for so long? It was good as it was, sure, great excitement for the both of us. At least I hope she had that feeling too. Now I would never know unless I could break my own barrier of procrastination.

Just sit and wait till life ebbs out like a stranded whale waiting for its body's internal collapse.

And why was I doing this? Fiddling my fingers when my life was waving goodbye from the leaving train? Melancholy Sundays all about the one that got away.

Another example brought forth by free association.

Mountain trip, two thousand and five years after year nought, with my family. We'd already done the mountain. Five days of climbing and walking. After days like that you feel strong enough to take on anything. You feel like a man.

Until that moment when I was sitting outside the station having a cigarette and writing down some thoughts, when a princess latina walked by me with her friends. We exchanged several glances. Tourists, no doubt, but I was one too.

She was clearly drawn to me by something I wouldn't know, while I only wanted to kiss her, to see what would happen to those soft, brown eyes. Would she close them? In contentment or melancholy? Sixteen or twenty-six? I have no idea.

Being a mountain train station there were really only two ways to go: up or down.

She was going up and I was going down.

We met several times while waiting. One time she was standing so close that I could've touched her. She turned to me and looked me straight in the heart, as if asking me to do so. But I didn't.

Two years later I'm in a similar situation, except that this time the waiting has gone over months, and I am not bound by circumstances to go either up nor down. I have a choice and a say. I don't deny that I did back then as well, but the sea of opportunity lies vast before me today, and only an idiot could fail to see it.

Still I'm just standing there, on the shore, just looking. As if I'm waiting for something. Doesn't that make me the bigger fool?

It makes me a coward.

There is nothing I fear and detest more than failure. I drive myself to the depths if I fail in anything I've set out to do. Bipolar personality disorder? Nothing as fancy as that. It is my ego. All is well when my self stays out of it.

And well it was, for a pretty long time. I saw hundreds, thousands of girls, and I knew in my heart that the earth was filled to the brim with them. What more could a man want, than being born on such a planet? Selfless and bold I threw myself into her arena. I grew accustomed to her waiting me, our flirting, her smile and those eyes. She made me feel at home in her presence.

All of a sudden I wanted her, and not only that; I wanted her alone.

Suddenly all the millions, billions of women out there meant nothing. The fact I had cherished and kept close to heart a short while ago made me happy no longer. It became too apparent; there was only one of her. In all of history.

My feet collapsed at this engulfing equation. She was as embossed throughout my thinking, and reality seemed pale and indifferent. I almost threw up out of sheer fright. What was this again?

Shaking hands? Was I feeling failure or falling in love? Either way I didn't like it.

Like a mother who shields her baby from the dangerous and the frightful, my self awakened to steady the ship, and in the captain's seat was my ego.

It shook some dust from its jacket, and reprimanded me for having buried him for so long. Degraded to a deck boy in my own life, I took orders from any faculty that opened its mouth. They were all in the negative, and they undermined my sense of self-esteem. Authority was lost, chaos erupted, and a pair of binoculars replaced my open mind.

I could see very far ahead, linearly, but not the breadth of reality. With binocular vision you can see cliffs and storms, the only things to stand out from the horizon, but you cannot see the now.

The now – mother of all possible futures – yours to command as yours to obey.

The lookout only obeys, and he does not see anything but cliffs and storms, serpents and waves.

The captain relied too much on experience, and arrogantly refused to read Mother Nature right.

Love has never worked for me, but I've always worked for love.

Is that some kind of poetic destiny or a simple mind-trick to put my hopes into an early grave?

If I were to trust my experience alone, the horizon would seem very bleak.

Revolt! Revolution!

Act, and act from love, not from fear!

Fear be the hangman of dreams, the curse of the weak, and a paved road for the greedy and the mighty who desire nothing by power and rule, like the male ego. Like my own ego.
The tender spring upon thy tempting lip
Shows thee unripe, yet may'st thou well be tasted
Make use of time, let not advantage slip;
Beauty within itself should not be wasted:
Fair flowers that are not gather'd in their prime,
Rot and consume themselves in little time.
~ Venus and Adonis, Shakespeare

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

A Grand Day Out

By Susan B. Bentley © 2007

The day hadn't quite gone according to plan. We'd reached the great magnificence of the Grand Canyon at midday but, with the sun filling in all the shadows, no dark against light, it just looked like a big, blank hole in the ground. We'd walked around for a while, had an overpriced lunch surrounded by screaming babies and countless fat moms, sweltered in the mid-July heat. By the time we were driving back, we were one big mismatched family vacation bundle of hell. Mark and Martin were playing around in the back - with my near constant shouts of "will you two just shut the fuck up" falling on deaf ears. Andy wasn't any help - he just stared ahead, hands gripped tightly on the wheel, driving through the pitch black with his beams on high, hardly having to lower them, there was so little traffic.

This was supposed to be our honeymoon but Mark and Martin had caught up with us at our motel in Flagstaff, grabbing me at the breakfast counter with cries of "holy shit, what are you doing here" and "oh my god, you should've seen this stripper, man, we're totally gonna hook up when I hit New York." Jesus. The pair of them had run round Vegas like Hunter and his lawyer, strung out on mushrooms, searching for hookers and only sobering up for the time it took for Elvis to pronounce us man and wife, wahah. Now, I had them in the back of the jeep acting like two-year olds who'd been fed too much sugar, which they had.

"What's his problem?"

Andy squinted at the rear-view mirror. I turned in my seat and so did the terrible twosome. Two bright lights punched the darkness behind us, fast approaching. White beams into the back of the jeep.

"The hell?" Andy was losing his already thinned out patience, "I can't go any faster."

The road was single lane and gently winding, with a solid centerline and nowhere to pull over.

"Well, he can't overtake so he's going to have to wait." His fingers turned a shade paler on the steering wheel.

Mark started cackling but Martin shoved him, "shut up, it's the Hitcher, man, or Duel! Andy, dude, be very careful, you'll end up new wife-less. Suse, prepare yourself, yeh? You're gonna get ripped apart!"

Both Andy and I turned around then, "Martin, shut the fuck up!"

He sat back and went quiet, we all kept silent, listening to the revs of the car gunning right behind us. I was now seriously scared. How far were we from Flagstaff? I hadn't seen any of those emergency phones on the side of the road in ages, what the fuck were we going to do?

I only realised we'd all been holding our breath when the car shot past us at the first break in the line, revving off at well over a hundred, lights fading into the distance. The cackling recommenced now that the B-movie dragster had vanished.

Ten minutes or so passed, listening to Mark and Martin discuss the best way to jump off the Grand Canyon. Torchlight appeared up ahead, waving slowly in the middle of the road. Andy slowed down and then stopped, rolling down his window to talk to the guy with the torch. It was pretty obvious what had happened. On the other side of the road sat this German guy's car with a huge dent on the bonnet and his family sitting in the car, wife and children looking wide-eyed and pale. The bleeding carcass of a moose lay next to the car, dark patches of blood over the centerline. As Andy talked to the guy about our lack of cell phone and how we'd call the police as soon as we hit town, the rest of us were busy gawping at my side of the road. Down a little embankment sat the Duel guy's car, spun round to face us, completely wrecked, the front bashed in, windscreen pushed out and shattered on the ground, headlights broken, the interior dark. I didn't want to ask about the driver, I couldn't see him anywhere though I heard the German guy tell Andy that everyone was okay. Where the hell was he if he was so okay?

We left the accident behind us with promises of calling the cops and take cares. As the German family disappeared from the rear-view mirror, Martin was the first to say it, in unusually hushed tones, "ghost car, man, ghost car."

"Ten more minutes and that would've been us," Mark looked equally in awe of the drama we'd just confronted and, yeah, probably narrowly escaped.

I didn't tell them to shut the fuck up this time, my hands were shaking too much, I just let them prattle on about gored up bodies and killer truckers, all the way back to Flagstaff.

Susan B. Bentley is currently working on a novel that has to be finished by her 35th birthday or all hell'll break loose. Having previously lived in Berkeley and London, she now lives by the sea in Brighton, UK, but dreams of St. Kitts on a daily basis.

City Of Sins

By Clay Champlin © 2007

People head to Las Vegas for two reasons: salvation or condemnation. Those looking to be saved from their mundane Midwestern lives bask in the perpetual glow of the strip or gawk skyward at downtown's Freemont street experience. Those who've seen or done horrible things are attracted to the glow of the mega-casinos, but soon realize they are more suited for the city's shadows instead of its neon. These doomed people have nowhere else to go, and, in a town where anything is possible, it's the only place where they feel they still have a chance.

The Western is unlike any other Vegas casino. A half mile away from the sanctity of Freemont street, the neighborhood looks more like Compton than a resort town. Once inside you'll notice the lighting is more suited for a supermarket than a gambling hall. Billion watt fluorescent lights illuminate a gaming floor that consists of 20 or so table games and a hundred slot machines. The hardwood floor is thick with lacquer making clean up of puke or blood a breeze. The dealers look like extras from a zombie movie, and the air is thick with cigarette smoke and despair. Just off the gaming floor, and out of the blinding lights, is a surprisingly large u-shaped bar. The wooden structure is filled with those so far down on their luck they can barely scrape up $1 for a draft beer. Sitting at the end of this bar, just about every night, is Johnny. Buy him drink and he'll give you the unofficial tour of the Western.

First, he'll point out all of the $25 whores. Your first thought is whomever is serviced by these women is getting ripped off. Johnny's favorite working girl is Lisa. She'll tell you she's 27, but looks 40, and, depending on how much junk she's just smoked, she's affable and surprisingly charming. When she leaves Johnny will explain that Lisa only gets $10 out of the $25. Her pimp gets the rest.

At some point Johnny will excuse himself to go to the bathroom, and, like the majority of the transient patrons at the bar, he'll take his wheeled luggage with him. Before he goes he mentions that if you want any drugs the toilet is the place to go, but this part of the tour you can figure out for yourself. In one of the two stalls you'll always see two pair of feet and someone saying, "Fuck that. I ain't paying you for this shit, motherfucker." It's best to do your business as quickly as possible and get out.

Johnny resumes the tour by waving his hand towards different parts of the casino while telling small anecdotes: "Over there I saw some guy get knifed. I think it was over drugs. Over there three guys jumped another guy because he didn't pay his hooker. They broke his back with a chair. And over there I saw a pregnant lady shit out a kid." You'll ask Johnny how he knows so much about such a dismal place. He'll then spin a tale that's as surreal as the building you're in, and makes less sense.

Fifteen years ago Johnny was small time crook in Texas. He liked stealing cars, and a Mark VIII was his vehicle of choice. Eventually he gets busted. He goes to jail, and gets ass raped. ("Only once!" he'll insist. You don't believe him.) Upon his release he somehow strikes a deal with a prison official. When prisoners get out they're given all of their stuff back and $87 for a bus ticket. Johnny gets contracted to meet the ex-convicts outside the jail, and, for $87, he'll take them wherever they want to go in his new Mark VIII.

His passengers, all of whom are black (or, as he racistly refers to them, "rug-heads"), are then driven a few counties away and "dumped in a fucking ditch." Johnny says the prison had been getting shit from the local community because the newly released colored prisoners started taking up residence in their happy little town.

Johnny had a good deal: drop a car load of freshly freed jail birds off in the middle of nowhere, "and what were they going to do? A bunch of fucking rug-heads in stolen car. They got busted as soon as I left. I didn't fucking care. I was getting paid. Paid good, too." But all good things must come to an end.

When some newly elected, do-gooder politician saw misappropriated funds in the prison system, Johnny was fired. On his last run of "dumping rug-heads in a ditch" he was busted. Charged with a few counts of grand theft and aiding and abetting. His options were jail time or getting out of Texas. He's been sitting at the end of the bar at the Western ever since.

To believe every word that came out of Johnny's mouth would be foolish, but truth prevails when you ask him why he decided to expatriate to Las Vegas. "I can eat, sleep and get drunk for twelve bucks a day. Another ten and I can get Lisa to blow me." He'll stop, look at the rest of the crowd at the bar and take a drink of the beer you just bought him. "Just ask anybody in here. They'll tell you the same thing. Where else are we supposed to go?"

Clay Champlin is from Chicago and shoots dice behind the Aldi at 49th and Kedzie to pay for his cot rental at the South Side YMCA. He also has a blog called