August 13, 2007


By Paul McGuire © 2007

"I think this is a scam," Bodie said as he took a big drag off of a joint. "Ya know, like one of those pyramid scams you hear about on those investigative news reports."

"Think?" I said. "I know it is."

We sat in his car and listened to a demo of his band while on a ten minute break at work. We snuck outside to the parking lot to get high.

"I should probably stop using my own name on the phhhh...," he said before he started a coughing fit.

"Yeah, I stopped using my real name," I said. "I tell them that I'm Martin."

I knew Bodie for about two weeks, the same amount of time we worked together for a call center in a dreary office building located on the outskirts of Seattle. When I first arrived in Seattle a few weeks earlier on the Fourth of July, I didn't have a job. I found a place to live in less than three days, but it took almost two weeks to find work. I sent my resume to a several places and applied for a couple of bartending jobs. No one responded.

I saw an ad for a job at a telemarketing firm in the Seattle Weekly. The ad said that they had a dozen positions available and that they paid a salary plus commission. I faxed them my resume and received a call the next day. After pounding the pavement for two weeks looking for a job, they were first the place that offered me an interview.

I had done plenty of phone sales and telemarketing in the past and felt good about my chances. I wore the best clothes that I had brought with me to Seattle, including a Jerry Garica tie. I was interviewed in a small one room office near downtown by a woman with flowing blonde hair. Her hotness distracted me. She reminded me of Natasha Henstridge from the Species movies. She flirted a lot with me, something I thought was odd, but I let it go. She told me that she had been working with the company for over four years. I seemed like a perfect fit, she said several times before she hired me on the spot.

"We're going to be working very closely together," she cooed as we filled out some paperwork.

Initially, I thought they were a legit enough company to give Natasha my social security number. I needed a job and had no reason to believe that they were illegitimate. I eventually found out that she told Bodie the exact thing. And she lied to both of us. I was seriously bummed out when I discovered that she was just a recruiter who purposely mislead me. That's when I knew something was rotten.

The call center was just south of the Kingdome (SoDo). When I arrived for my first day of work, I was greeted by a surly woman that looked like a Goth version of Rosie O'Donnell. Great. I had to take orders from a Goth bull-dyke. In most of the places I lived, it was weird enough to be a lesbian or be a Goth. I quickly discovered that Seattle was a bastion for the super weird. You needed to have layered eccentricies in order to stick out among the masses of freaks. Goth-dykes with foot fetishes might freak people out in conservative cities and small towns, but in Seattle, that puts you in the core group of "normal people." After all, Rosie Gothdyke held a steady job which is something that not too many people did in Seattle.

I was assigned to Rosie Gothdyke's team and not with Natasha, like she promised. The damn flirt. I fell for it. Angered at first, I kept bugging Rosie Gothdyke. I guess I touched a nerve with her because she snapped, "She never comes down to the call center! Get over it."

I met Bodie in training along with Ruth, a born-again Mormon middle-aged mother from Bremerton. She was the perfect employee: always on time and never asked questions.

The call center was located in one massive conference room with a smaller room off to the side where the manager's office and a series of file cabinets were located. Fifteen banquet tables with phones and scripts cluttered the room. Twice a day, starting at 9 AM, a shift of workers would come in and make calls for six hours. Then another group would come in at 4 PM. There were about fourteen people assigned to the afternoon/evening group. I was one of them.

The job was simple. Upon arrival, you checked in with Rosie Gothdyke who handed you a list of new contacts and old contacts that you were cultivating. Then you sat down at your phone station and made calls. Using a script, you followed along and tried to hook them in. If they objected, you had a prepared comeback. By the second day, I made my first sale and threw away my script. My former experiences on Wall Street were enough for me to do the job. Scripts were for potheads like Bodie or conformist Jesus freaks like Ruth. By the end of my first week of work, I had the second most sales in the company.

We were paid by the hour for about $1 above the minimum wage. However, I was there because of the commission bonus for the number of sales we got every week. If you made a couple of sales a day, your weekly income could be profitable. There were other bonuses too for random contests like $10 per day for the first person to make a sale. If you didn't sell anything, you barely made more than someone nuking Filet-o-Fishes at McDonalds.

The odd thing was that no one worked there for more than two months. A guy named Pete held a tenure of seven and a half weeks. The turnover was high for a company in business for several years. Why such a high attrition rate? Either the telemarketers couldn't pull their quota and were fired or they simply didn't like it anymore and quit.

Everyday, Rosie Gothdyke was training two or three new people. And everyday I'd show up to discover that another person quit or disappeared. By the third week of work, Bodie, Ruth, Pete, and I had the most seniority.

I started getting suspicious. I asked a lot of questions about the product we were pitching and I didn't get any answers from Rosie Gothdyke. We were told as much as we needed to know... or to reveal to the potential victims on our lists.

It didn't matter if we were selling vacation packages, land in Arizona, or health club memberships. We were paid peanuts to drum up business while the fat cats on the top of the scheme collected most of the dough. Although I knew were we implicated in a scam, I could always claim ignorance to the federalies.

The job was just a job. I knew it was a pyramid scam and didn't care. It was a way to earn a paycheck while I figured out what to do with my life or until I could find a higher paying job. Morally and ethically I knew it was wrong, but I also knew that I had to pay rent and other bills. After a tough drive cross country with Senor to move out all my shit to Seattle, my car was in horrible shape. It nearly died in Jackson, Wyoming and we were shocked when we successfully traversed the Rockies in one piece. The car made it to Seattle but still had issues with about six hundred dollars in necessary repairs.

Aside from my friends from college that lived in the area and a few of my roommates that I shared a big house with in the U District, I had not made any new friends. Except Bodie. He was your typical Seattle neo-hippie circa the late 1990s with long hair and a beard, he looked more like Jesus than the clean cut photo on his South Dakota driver's license. He dropped out of college and dicked around with a bunch of musicians in Portland, before he moved to Seattle and started a new band that sounded like a third-rate Grateful Dead cover band.

Bodie was a decent musician and a horrible telemarketer. But he was a bright kid who knew a lot about drugs and where to score them. He had a vast knowledge of the effects of almost every pharmaceutical drug on the market. Prior to my meeting Bodie, I had a novice education on pills. After a few conversations with Bodie, I had a quick tutorial on various pharmacopoeia.

He came over to my house one day where I lived with seven other people in a gigantic house. He made a beeline for one of the bathrooms.

"Any medicine cabinet in the Western world is a junkie's paradise," he said as he rifled through the shelves looking for bottles.

"Nope. I can't use this. It's an anti-depressant. This here? Anti-acid medication. This isn't too bad," as he handed me a bottle of diazepam.

Bodie kept pulling out bottles and tossing them into the sink. He only kept two bottles. The diazepam and a bottle of Percodin.

"I'm a fan of Percocet, Percodin, and Vicodin," Bodie explained. "Any form of codeine is what you are looking for. Pop one of those every four hours after washing it down with a beer, and you're golden. Mostly everyone gets something like that once a year from their doctor. They take the pills for a couple of days then stop. What you have is a neighborhood filled with half-filled prescription bottles."

He also told me where I could score pills in Seattle and which skater freaks on the Ave were legit and which passed off extra strength Tylenol. His girlfriend used to take heavy dosages of Klonopin. She quit but he had been getting her to keep up the prescription. He would sell a few solo pills to the runaways on the Ave or college kids who wanted a quick high.

"But the best shit you can score aside from heroin is Oxycontin or what he kids call Redneck Heroin," Bodie said. "It's tough as shit to get. So let me know if you can find a reliable source."

He told me that the high was time released ad a couple of pills could keep you high for up to 12 hours. If you snorted Oxy, it kicked in faster and gave you a slightly better high. We went into my room and we divided up the pills. It was an even split. He kept about two-thirds and I got the rest.

* * * * *

Bodie and I squirted Visine in our eyes and headed back inside to work. When we got upstairs, a middle-aged guy with glasses and a Seattle Mariners baseball hat stood in the doorway to our call center and blocked our entrance. He screamed obscenities at the top of his lungs. Rosie Gothdyke tried to calm him down by threatening to call the police.

"You fucking cunt! You screw me over and then say you're gonna call the cops? Go ahead. Call them. That way I can tell them how you've been ripping off your employees. And don't get me started on those bogus vacation packages."

"Just calm down. You can discuss this with Bob," Rosie Gothdyke continuously said.

"Where's my money bitch? You've been fucking me over for two months," the guy responded.

"Talk to Bob. He's on his way. Please wait for him outside or I'll call 911."

The disgruntled former employee left and Rosie Gothdyke told everyone to get back to work.

When our shift ended, the angry guy was still outside waiting. He walked over to me and introduced himself as Clay. He said he used to do my exact job until he quit. Then he asked questions about my paycheck.

"Are you getting your bonuses?"

I had only received one paycheck up until that point and all but one bonus was on there. Rosie Gothdyke assured me that it was an error and said it would be corrected for my next paycheck.

"That's what they always say," he said as he pointed at the building. "Just wait until you get your next check. They will pay you for the missing one, then probably forget to pay you for half of your bonuses this time around. And then the check after that, they'll fuck you again. And again. Those fuckers owe me at least four grand in back bonuses. Why do you think they never have anyone who works more than two months? Because they are lying scumbags who don't pay out bonuses."

"They can't do that," I protested.

"They can and did. They're sneaky fuckers too. They say that their bonuses are not necessarily determined on number of sales but rather it's up to them to determine if they want to pay them out to you. That's what Bob told me the last time I complained. That fucker is a sleaze ball and I'm going to get his ass thrown in jail."

At that point, a Seattle PD squad car rolled up. A cop jumped out of the car and told Clay to keep his hands in sight. I walked away as they began a heated discussion.

Before the cops showed up, Clay managed to tell me some background on the owner. Roberto "Bob" Ochoa was busted in Texas during the Savings and Loan scandals of the late 1980s. He resurfaced in the mid-1990s hawking fake sports memorabilia in San Diego. After that fell apart, he was back to his old tricks in Seattle with a pyramid scheme. His business was not illegal per se, but he definitely flirted with unethical business practices.

A couple of days after the incident, we were paid. I opened up my paycheck and Clay's prediction ran true. I was paid my hour slave wages plus the old missing bonuses, but only half of my current bonus sales were paid out. I made 14 sales and was only paid for 7. When I brought this to Rosie Gothdyke's attention, she apologized and assured me that I would get paid in a couple of days for my missing bonus. A couple of days later, I asked her again and she promised me that I would get any back bonus on my next paycheck.

Bodie had about one sale per week, so he barely noticed a difference on his paychecks. When I asked Ruth the Mormon about her check, she agreed that there were missing bonuses. But she believed that she would get paid like Rosie Gothdyke promised.

"Why would they lie?" she honestly said.

I knew what was happening and there was nothing I could do about it. At that point, Bodie went on a serious cough syrup and diet pill bender and he was no help. He was just waiting to get fired and fucked around most of the time on the phones. We'd sit in the back of the call center and as soon as I got my one sale of the day, I'd mess around with Bodie. Most of the time we pretended to be on the phones, but we were actually talking to each other or we made long distance calls to our friends outside of Seattle. We got caught a couple of times by Rosie Gothdyke. Bodie didn't care one bit. And my work demeanor had drastically changed. If they were going to be unprofessional and fail to pay me on time as promised, then I was going to act as unprofessional as possible. You get what you pay for.

At the end of our shift one night, Rosie Gothdyke said that she was going to separate me and Bodie. She said that Ruth and a few of the new employees complained that we were fooling around too much. Bodie was sent to the morning shift while I was given a written reprimand. Total bullshit. As soon as I got home, I printed up a dozen resumes and mailed them out the next day.

A couple of days later, I got a call from Bodie around 10 AM. He had gone into work and found the door locked. He tried to call the office from a payphone and there was no answer. I told him I would call the number that Natasha gave me and meet him down at the office.

I called Natasha and the number was disconnected. I went downstairs to the living room and found a copy of Seattle Weekly. The same ad that I originally answered was in the Jobs sections, except that it had a different number. I called it and Natasha answered. She pretended that she didn't know who I was. I told her about the office being locked and all the crap that happened with Clay and myself and all the missing bonuses. She hung up. When I tried to call back, the line was busy. She wised up and took the phone off the hook.

When I showed up at our office, Bodie had parked his car in front of the building. He was waiting for me.

"Everyone went home," he said. "They showed up for work and no one was here to let them inside. They left."

Bodie and I went back inside the building. We tried to open the door and it was locked. Bodie said he knew how to pick a lock. I told him he was full of shit. We bet $20 that he could get the door open. He used a credit card. Nothing. He used one of my credit cards. Nothing. He ran out to his car and used a paper clip covered in marijuana resin from his pipe. Nothing. That's when he took two steps back and kicked the door as hard as he could. He did it a second time and I heard cracking noises. He kicked the door a third time and it flew open.

The call center was dark. The tables were there except all of the phones were gone. We walked into the office and the file cabinets were empty.

"Jesus man, they got out of here in a hurry," Bodie said. "I guess they fucked us over."

"Bastards," was the only thing I could say.

Bodie wandered around looking for stuff to loot. Aside from a few empty files cabinets, folding chairs, banquet tables, and a water cooler, there was nothing of value left over to steal. Bodie grabbed two folding chairs and headed for the exit. I had to urinate, so I whipped out my penis in the middle of the darkened conference room and pissed over the floor.

Paul McGuire is a writer from New York City.

August 2007, Vol. 6, Issue 8

We're back with the last issue of the summer featuring some of your favorite writers.

1. Pyramid by Paul McGuire
I quickly discovered that Seattle was a bastion for the super weird. You needed to have layered eccentricies in order to stick out among the masses of freaks. Goth-dykes with foot fetishes might freak people out in conservative cities and small towns, but in Seattle, that puts you in the core group of "normal people."... More

2. Cross-word by Sigge S. Amdal
Her hair was in explosive disarray across the pillow like the blood spurt pattern from a shotgun blast. It was slightly blond, streaked with brown and very beautiful. It looked like the crossroad of infinite options where only a handful suggested returning to the bed. She was fast asleep... More

3. Meeting Mama McGrupp by Change100
I had yet to meet Mama McGrupp. Pauly assured me it was for a good reason. All I knew about this woman was that she was five feet tall, chain-smoked, had a wicked New York accent, was overly fond of Amaretto, and never had anything nice to say about anyone... More

4. Kansas Clouds by Susan B. Bentley
Click. I got a photo of Kat just before she gave me the finger. Lying back down, I moved the lens across the sky, trying to capture a cloud on its journey. I sat up and took a picture of the track ahead. Nothing but mud and dust, bordered by fields of corn slowly moving in the breeze, nothing but empty for miles ahead... More

5. Summer Story by May B. Yesno
Friends are a difficult thing. As a matter of fact they are almost impossible. Difficult to find for the first thing and just as difficult to keep - especially in a mobile society... More

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

From the Editor's Laptop:

Welcome to the August issue Truckin', which features veterans such as May B. Yesno, Susan B. Bentley, Change100 and everyone's favorite Norwegian writer... Sigge S. Amdal. I also penned a short story about a bad job that I held when I first moved to Seattle.

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 everyone for wasting your precious time with Truckin'. Until next time.


"Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before." - Mae West

Meeting Mama McGrupp

By Change100 © 2007

"So, how should I introduce you?" Pauly asked, as I drove down Flamingo toward Caesar's Palace. "As my friend? My girlfriend? My roommate?" His mother was in Las Vegas for the Fourth of July weekend and we were meeting her for dinner at Trevi in the Forum Shops.

"At this point, do whatever you want, Pauly. Whatevvvvver is easiest for you" was my reply.

Look, there are no questions as to the status of our relationship. We're together. We have been for well over a year. Pauly has met my family a number of times. He's eaten my father's BBQ, watched the Yankees with my mom, treated Mandy to beers and Mexican food. But that's mainly because he's spent a helluva lot more time in Los Angeles than I have in New York.

Well, that and my parents are "normal" (his words).

Over a year in and I had yet to meet Mama McGrupp. Pauly assured me it was for a good reason. All I knew about this woman was that she was five feet tall, chain-smoked, had a wicked New York accent, was overly fond of Amaretto, and never had anything nice to say about anyone.

"Whatever you say, don't tell her you're Irish. Even a little bit. Just stick with German. She hates Irish people because of my father. She could also blatantly insult you at any moment, so be prepared," Pauly warned.

By this point I was terrified. I almost hoped he would introduce me as his roommate or colleague. I'd be more likely to avoid a barrage of potentially loaded questions.

"Mama's on the warpath" Derek said as we walked up. Pauly mumbled a response laced in a sort of shorthand only brothers bound by over three decades of struggles with this force of a woman could understand. My stomach had been on the floor since we'd parked the car at Bellagio and walked over the bridge to Caesar's Palace. I could see her staring at me from ten feet away. I turned on my Hollywood smile.

"Mom, this is my friend Nicky," said Pauly (ohthankGod).

"It's a pleasure to meet you Mrs. McGrupp" I said as I extended my hand. I got a limp, cold handshake in return. Pauly's aunt and two of his cousins were with her and they seemed far friendlier. We adjourned to a large round table indoors.

I sat between Derek and Pauly, figuring that was the safest seat at the table. I ordered a glass of Shiraz and Mama McG got a whisky sour-- the first of several.

As I glanced over the menu, Pauly's cousin Meg asked me about working at the World Series. I gave some short, happy answers that didn't give away a lot while Mama stared at us from across the table, sipping her drink. After that, I buried myself in conversation with Derek, trying to avoid eye contact with Mama. She looked suspicious and annoyed.

I ordered a nice Chicken Marsala. Pauly and Derek both got the Veal Parmesan and Mama had the lasagna, deciding that she couldn't order the veal, too, since both of the boys had.

"I'll give you a taste of mine when it arrives, OK Mom?" said Derek, attempting to placate her. She mumbled something unintelligible.

"I met your boss today" Mama said to Pauly. "He said you were a good writer."

"He's a great writer!" I piped up.

Mama looked at me like I had stood up, climbed atop the table, and urinated into the bread basket. My face flushed scarlet and I took a long sip of my Shiraz as I looked around for a hole to fall into.

"The Rio was nice. I thought it would be really seedy where you worked. But it's nice. Not as nice as the Wynn, but it's OK."

"You're thinking of Binions, where the World Series used to be. That's downtown where it's really sketchy" Pauly explained.

"I couldn't find a matchbook there-- I looked all over for a matchbook and tried all the bars but they didn't have any. I want to get one from every casino."

"Well I'll make sure to pick one up for you."

"We went in that, that Poker Expo thing ? And they were spraying this cologne I liked, but he wanted to get out of there so I couldn't get any" she said, glaring at Derek.

"Do you want me to get you some of the cologne?" Pauly said, his patience fraying.

"No. Forget it," she spat.

Thank God the food arrived. The chicken was tasty and it came with some lovely fresh green beans-- at least $200 worth if we're talking in Pauly veggie prop bet terms.

Derek, as promised, sliced off a nice piece of his veal parm and reached over to place it on Mama's plate.

"No! I don't want it! Don't do that! You hate it when I mess with things on your plate, so don't you do it to me!" she barked, out of nowhere. Derek put the veal back on his plate with a sigh.

I must have looked a little shocked at this outburst so Derek leaned over and whispered "Dude... this like, isn't even a 1 on the Richter Scale." Wow.

Mama and I didn't really say anything to each other after that. I finished my meal and she downed three more whisky sours. She didn't touch her lasagna, claiming that she had "lost her appetite" after the veal incident with Derek.

"Here, you eat it," Mama said, passing her plate to Cousin Meg. Meg accepted the lasagna with a smile.

"I'll share some with John, too," she said, with a nod to Pauly's other cousin at the table. She sliced the lasagna in half and picked it up with a fork and knife, ready to set it on his plate.

Only it never made it to his plate. Almost in slow motion, the lasagna slipped from the fork-and-knife hold and fell... straight into her purse. Meg buried her head in her hands.

It looked like she might cry, until she started to laugh. Hard. The entire table, even Mama, cracked up as she pulled bits of ground beef and marinara-sauce-stained papers out of her bag.

"So, does anyone want dessert?" inquired the waiter.

"Nojusthebillpleasewhenyougetachance," said Pauly before anyone could interject.

Sixty-five minutes after arriving at Trevi, we made our escape. Mama bid us goodbye with little interest and left with Derek and the cousins to go get show tickets.

Pauly charged out of the Forum Shops in his New Yorker walk that requires me to nearly jog to keep up with him. He blasted past the Caesar's poker room.

"No poker?" I asked.

"No. I need to get off tilt."

We headed back across the bridge to Bellagio. We passed their poker room, the gaming pits, and at least two bars before I realized where we were going.

Gelato is the cure for Mama-tilt. I got Oreo, he got Mint Chip.

"So, now you get it, right? The hell I have gone through with this woman for over thirty years?"

"Pretty much."

"And she wasn't even that bad tonight."

"That's what Derek said."

"So you've met her, you happy now?"

"Yes. And we don't have to do it again, I hope for a very long time. But there is one thing though."


"You do look a lot like her."

"Oh God..."

Change100 is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.


By Sigge S. Amdal © 2007

Her hair was in explosive disarray across the pillow like the blood spurt pattern from a shotgun blast. It was slightly blond, streaked with brown and very beautiful. It looked like the crossroad of infinite options where only a handful suggested returning to the bed. She was fast asleep.

No. This had never really happened.

I was walking along the streetcar tracks, an hour past midnight and the night was extraordinarily quiet. There had only been a few passengers on the last train but the screaming emptiness had escaped attention until I got to the bridge only the brave, drunk or dumb dare cross at nightfall; not a single dealer in sight.

Was there a drought? Couldn't be. I hadn't heard anything and even if it had been the parks and bridges would still be crowded by junk sick users. None of them either. This suggested one probable solution as I felt a cold coming, pulling my scarf tighter together; some shit was brewing.

The patrolling police looked worried in the relative safety of their cars. One followed me for a couple of blocks before it moved on to the next possible suspect. The last few days I'd been subjected to various instances of unwanted attention due to my hair being cut back short. Yes, you didn't have to be a dog to smell a storm coming. The police had good reason to look worried, too. A week earlier, five of the most prominent members of a ruling gang, all brothers, had been jailed in an attempt to permanently cripple the operation. They were all looking at thirty to life. Someone would have to fill the vacuum they left behind, and nothing is random in the apparent chaos that is the reasoning of underdogs. Some were told, others disappeared, new faces appeared behind the scenes; another shadow curtain to the interiors of Oslo's underworld. Dealers just don't have Sundays off.

I looked across the street and in the general direction of her café. I knew she would be working late. It was late. I was there. I could easily... no.

I turned my nose back homeward. She knew where to get hold of me if she ever wanted to exploit the option.

I looked at the road ahead of me and I noticed with a smile that it was coated in gold, voluptuous in diversity, rich in detail, drinks and women. My memory had ceased to be a volume of retractable steps. Instead it had become the ultimate freedom of having no history, no regrets and no shame. Also the ultimate boredom if I didn't watch myself closely. There are those who have options and there are those who make them. I was both, depending on the present state of consciousness, so trivially true of everything that it's barely worth mentioning.

Was I being followed? I turned around.

Some jerk off suit-clad know-better son of a bitch decided to shoot his bike across the street right in front of me. 'Fuck off!' I proclaimed. I was fooling myself to be afraid. Must be tired, I thought, glaring thoughtlessly at three women getting into a cab. Ménage à quatre. Damn.

There was always the jeweler's daughter though. The jeweler's daughter did not have any name even though we had been flirting for years, ever since I moved in there. She was currently being put through the traditional arranged marriage, dating a twice-as-old while looking at me through the window when the night was over. How her family resented me I would probably never know.

By now I had certainly fallen to the friendly-position because I never acted upon my erections. Except for the immediate physical self-satisfaction of course. The jeweler's daughter. Like a beautiful Bollywood movie star save for the annoying song numbers. Looking to me to one day open her silent pregnancies, quoth the raven. It had been reading Rimbaud apparently. Damn silly bird. It was my conscience crying out, but tremendous fear of being sucked into another endless abyss of awe turned me off the lifetime opportunity especially crafted for the crazed and deranged. Would I too whip a horseman through the streets of Paris to try and locate the whereabouts of Satan? That would surely make my mother proud.

I rounded the corner of my street remembering all the other hopeless nights I had done just the same. I think many suicide candidates just try to get death over with in order to get on with life. The terminal paradox of the thoughts you really can't finish because you aren't strictly thinking about anything; you're fighting a presupposed construction of ideas, the structure itself, and the so-called answer will only emerge when the structure has collapsed, bridges burnt, and a new truth has crawled out from the ashes. Instead of killing myself I would just get some sleep.
Most pains in life are treated with food, rest and intense, masochistic masturbation. If those don't help you can always look for God. Try Paris.

Indoors, jacket off, no mail in the mailbox. I hereby return to the unreality I set out to begin with; Her hair was in explosive disarray across the pillow like the blood spurt pattern from a shotgun blast. It was slightly blond, streaked with brown and very beautiful. I lifted up the sheets and lied down beside her. She was fast asleep. I stroked her arm and side and she turned around to let me hold her. For a while I looked into the impossible statistics of her hair's internal composition. Then I closed my eyes to sleep with the warm of fulfillment only a sleeping beauty can invoke, when you are the last human to fall sleep in the world, and she is lying right next to you.

I would smell her hair forever.

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

Kansas Clouds

By Susan B. Bentley © 2007

"I think we're stuck."


I looked down at the tire as Kat walked away. It was stuck in a three-inch layer of diarrhea coloured mud. The side of the car had the same colour spattered up the side, like a toddler's unfortunate accident or me after too many beers. Kat sat down on the side of the track, dusted off her hands. Kat was a big girl. If she couldn't move the car, I wasn't sure who could. She hung her head down and stared at the crud on her sandals. She mumbled something.


"I said 'stupid, frickin' ghost towns'."

"Oh," I kicked the wheel and leant against the hood of the car. Pulled myself up, lay flat out on it, staring up at the sky. It was a hot day but there were puffy white clouds zipping past, like an old movie, all fast shutter speed and no sound. I turned over, leant over the edge and grabbed my bag from the ground.

"What are you doing?"

"Recording the moment."


Click. I got a photo of Kat just before she gave me the finger. Lying back down, I moved the lens across the sky, trying to capture a cloud on its journey. I sat up and took a picture of the track ahead. Nothing but mud and dust, bordered by fields of corn slowly moving in the breeze, nothing but empty for miles ahead. I put the camera down and checked my jean pockets.

"Bum a smoke?"

Kat looked at me like I'd grown a second head, "you do realise we could be stuck here for hours?" She threw the pack at me, then her lighter.

"Then I'll smoke reaaally slowly."

"I may well have to kill you soon."

I blew out a smoke ring, kept staring at the horizon.

"Surely, in the interests of continuing the species, I should kill you? More meat on your bones."

Kat sighed and leant back, stretching her pudgy legs out, "I'm hoping I'm all gristle."

"Mmm, tasty."

"You'd really do it, wouldn't you? You'd eat me."

I coughed out a laugh, "Hhoney, you're really not my type."

She threw a handful of mud at me.

"Watch the camera!"

"Jessie, this is serious!"

I leant back and pulled my cell out of my front pocket, waved it at her.

"No coverage still? Jesus."

"You wanna walk back to the interstate?"

"Nope, I wanna find my ghost town but I think that's a wash now."

Kat pulled herself up and joined me at the front of the car. She leant back and we sank into the mud just a little bit more.


"Shut up," she grabbed my cigarette out of my hand. The breeze picked up and the smoke blew back in her face, her hand coming up to wave the plume away. "It's probably a mile or so thataway." She waved her hand in the direction the car was facing and I reached out and grabbed the cigarette back. "But..."

"But, it might not be, it might be the invisighost town, just like those other two. TripTik sucks."

"No shit. Over a thousand miles and only a giant ball of twine and an Elvis museum. Not a ghost town in sight."

"The museum did rock though, you gotta admit that."

"My Mystery Train-er Tots were heavenly."

"Exactly, and you can't beat a fifteen foot statue of Vegas Elvis in the middle of nowhere, belt a-glistening in the sun."

"Sure can't."

We both lay down, the hood creaking a little but holding under the strain. We were at least fifteen miles from the interstate and we were going to have to start walking soon, we were just delaying the inevitable.

"'Nother smoke?"

"Why not."

The wind was really picking up now, clouds rushing by, the sound of the breeze catching in our ears, no other sounds, just that effect where, if you cupped your hands to your ears, it sounded like waves crashing on the shore.

"What?" I took my hands away from my ears.

"I said 'what are you doing?'"

"Thinking about the sea."

I cupped my hands round her ears so she could appreciate the waves amongst the tall fields of corn, the surf crashing against the shoreline in the middle of Dicksville, Kansas.



"Ya wanna start walking?"

"Not especially. You?"

"I'm thinking snack time first, build us up for the long haul back."

I jumped off the hood and rummaged around on the back seat. We had enough old Easter candy to last us until Christmas, a side of beef in a cooler courtesy of Kat's mom and a ton of pork rinds, our nod to The Sure Thing. I waved a pack out the car door, "Pork rinds anyone?"

"Shut up."

I grabbed a bag of Goldfish from under the front seat and a can of warm coke.


Kat tapped the top of the can.

I stuffed a few goldfish in my mouth and walked to the middle of the track, listening for any noises other than the wind. Nothing. I looked up, chewing, held my arms out and started spinning on the spot, opening my mouth and singing a note out to the breezy clouds.

"You folks need some help?"

I stopped spinning and clutched the guy in front of me as my brain kept going round and round. Kat pulled my hands away from him, an old farmer in a cap that read Tom's Dry Goods'. He had the blackest moustache I'd ever seen. Kat beamed at him as I held onto her arm, the clouds and the track and the mud still spinning around too fast. The farmer shook Kat's hand and she smiled at him, her chubby cheeks widening.

"Yes sir, we surely do."

Susan B. Bentley is an aspiring writer who's lived in Berkeley and Brighton but dreams of St Kitts on a daily basis.

Summer Story

By May B. Yesno © 2007

An evenings interview with non-entity life styles. File: Background. Expense: Research. Quality: 2HC; Dubious.


Friends are a difficult thing. As a matter of fact they are almost impossible. Difficult to find for the first thing and just as difficult to keep - especially in a mobile society.

Massachusetts and Boston, in a summer of youth. The summer of separation from hearth and kin. Many events to educate, to celebrate and to carry into age for polishing and fondling and re-creating youth. And this is such a tale. A simple thing, yet worthy of the energy expense bearing it to advanced age? I'm not entirely sure. Yet it is one that I know will travel with me to that destination.

The beginnings of the friendship are obscured. I'm not aware of an event, could not even attach a place to the incident of my meeting and subsequent friendship of these two men. I do know that one owned a car; which in itself was an attraction, my family being without one. As I remember, my friend owned a black and yellow Ford Crown Victoria convertible with an automatic shift. I also remember that somewhere in that long summer of never ending enjoyment I had occasion to drive that car some distance with a willing female, destination Keg Party. I also remember I took that car over the one hundred and ten mile per hour mark on a back country paved road.

It began to rock and roll pretty badly just after passing the one hundred mile per hour mark.

Looking back on it, it could have been just me realizing that I had very limited driving experience - like none at all; it was only the second time I had ever driven anything, and perhaps, that I did not have a drivers license. The license stuff had to wait for some period of time.

There were a lot of things about that summer that were firsts. I was introduced to alcohol that summer. And discovered what the Screwdriver and Purple Jesus were made with, and what the phrase "It is all good" really meant, at least as it pertained to drink. That other stuff had to wait for the professional ladies of Europe. I was a late bloomer. Strange that, considering I was always near college towns. But my friends were pretty well-heeled, with good connections, to use the vernacular of the day. Most of my other men friends wore slacks and quality shirts, not jeans and Tees; the women were proper, meaning they wore shoes without bobby socks and the quality of their clothes was such that my monthly pay was less than a week's pocket money. It was also the first time I ran into the real life definition of "Snobbery," and learned how unspoken guidance can save personal bruises as well as social tranquility.

But I was young and these were my friends and all was good.

There came a day, in the middle of some week or other, that we discovered the following weekend was a Blue Moon Event. That meant that we were all receiving the weekend off, together.

It was during that planning session that I learned "it is only ninety miles to Boston" meant that it was only ninety miles if one owned a car. We planned and the Friday afternoon came. We left. Our Summer Day of beautiful weather lasted. We arrived in their home town of Boston with daylight left and I was treated to a wonderfully blue, green, and grey view of the harbor and town. Well, parts of the town. All trimmed and separated with mud flats, rock and raw soil cliffs. That night was given to youthful debauchery and pub crawling. Youth reared its head the next morning.

No hang over. We did, however, sleep our fill.

There were only two events planned for the day. Swim. And a most curious visit. The visit was to occur prior to the swim. I was briefed twice that morning about that impending visit. The first by the owner of the car, who was the leader of the group. I had noticed a certain agitation in his behavior for a time before he briefed me, and there were un-explained absences in the hour prior. Be that as it may, the briefing was explicit and succinct. We are going to see a woman and a kid. Don't say anything. Don't react to anything. Don't say anything. My other friend said the same thing. He did add that when I saw, I would understand. Still, I was unprepared for what eventually faced us.

We piled into the car in front of their house and were off. Quiet streets, busy streets. Around a tree lined street corner and up an alley. And we parked. We parked, I discovered, about two houses down from our destination. We walked up behind a tool shed and an incomplete fence. I saw a quadruple clothes line, partially filled with sheets and personal items. There was a woman hanging clothes there. When my friend scuffed his foot on the alleys gravel she looked toward us and started to step out in greeting. She stopped when she glanced toward the house and called someone instead.

I had followed her glance and noticed a man arriving around the corner of the house - not from the back door, as one might expect from an owner. But from the side along the service walk. He stopped at the corner of the house and examined our group, and when he noticed that my other friend and I had seen him, he became interested in the fascia of the houses upper levels. He remained in that posture for the duration of our visit.

The woman's soft call had caught the attention of a child playing near the rear door, and brought him to her. She gently turned him and nodded our way. The kids face brightened and he walked toward us. That is when shock set in. The kid was the image of my friend. No "looked like", no "what he might look like later"crap. Absolute. The only thing different is the kid didn't get bigger the closer he came.

As the kid was enfolded in my friend's arms and as the two hugged, I glanced toward the strange man and observed that he had gone rigid. It was very difficult to refrain from exclaiming my astonishment. The visit was brief. And, I think, totally unsatisfactory for all concerned, as the woman visibly restrained herself from joining the kid in the greeting embrace.

We resumed our planned day. The swim, which my friend the car owner did not join being engaged with the beaches beer bar, was a comedy of youthful stupidity. My other friend and I set out to swim from the beach to the Boston Light House. Some seven miles. The life guard refused to let us go much beyond the three hundred yard mark, outside his mental confines of "The Beach." So, we relaxed on the sands. The sparkle had gone from the day though. I honestly don't remember much of the rest of the day, or the evening.

On the Sunday I was waken and told that they had a thing to show me, so we eased our way through breakfast, taking the time between breakfast until after normal church finish to wind our way to a different area of the shore. As we approached the yacht club area, I experienced my first close up sight of small sailing craft. They were wonderful things. All the colors, and the quiet voices of on-lookers, the lack of noise from the craft. The sun glinting from the waves. A world away.

What happened there, that day is another summer story. One which I regret losing, as I found a girl, and a level of people I sincerely enjoyed; not to mention a host of other possibilities.


Authors Note: Cat: two (2). I detest professionally half trained pre-functionary foreplay. HC equates to Hollar Caller.

May B. Yesno is a writer from Fresno, CA.