October 05, 2007

October 2007, Vol. 6, Issue 10

And we're back...

1. AlCantHang and I Walk Into a Bar... by Paul McGuire
Whenever you walk into a bar with AlCantHang, you're immediately assuming full responsibility for your actions. You always know what you are getting yourself into. There's no false pretense. You will drink and drink and drink and drink as life unfolds around you. You surrender to the flow of the liquor... More

2. Morrissey by Betty Underground
I did my usual, obvious, snooping about, inviting myself in to use the powder room after the long drive. I knew my way around. I knew what it looked like the last time I was there. I was looking for signs. Girl things. Grown up girl things. A woman's touch in the decor. Pictures of the happy couple. Anything. Nothing... More

3. Driving to See Mama by John "Falstaff" Hartness
Well, there was six of us in that car, and we'd been drinking and smoking cigarettes since we left base, so when Briggs rolled down that window, all that smoke just chimneyed up out of that window and that policeman had to jump back... More

4. A Mawmag's Dream by Sigge S. Amdal
I was flirting, no, I was dancing with my own future's certain death. And why? There was no love to speak of. Love can come later in some cases, I know, but if there's nothing, no great emotion to ride on – why on earth was I still dancing? ... More

5. What Might Have Been by Sean A. Donahue
The struggles of life are few and far between. We walk through life looking for the elusive, looking for the elite, or looking to be the elite. Sometimes in our search for what we want, we find what we really need. But we are too self absorbed or blind to see it... More

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

From the Editor's Laptop:

Welcome to the October issue Truckin' which features a gem from Falstaff and includes returning authors Sigge S. Amdal and Sean A. Donahue. This issue contains another installment of Existentialist Conversations with Strippers in a piece titled AlCantHang and I walk Into a Bar.... And we also have a story from Betty Underground. She's making her first appearance in Truckin' with an impressive showing by hitting a home run on her first submission.

If you like these stories, then please tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes a few seconds to pass along Truckin'. The writers certainly appreciate your support. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list.

Thanks to the writers who exposed their souls to the world, and did it for free. Thanks for inspiring me and taking that leap of faith with me.

Thanks again to everyone for wasting your precious time month after month with Truckin'. Until next time.


"Life is all memory except for the one present moment that goes by you so quick you hardly catch it going." - Tennessee Williams

AlCantHang and I Walk into a Bar

By Paul McGuire © 2007

A fuckin' rooster woke me up.

Monday morning. My head viciously throbbed with a category three hangover and my body was riddled with dehydration. I managed to avoid puking, chugged the rest of the bottled water and quickly popped two Motrin followed up by one generic Vicodin.

I sat down at the table near the window overlooking Duval Street. I looked through my digital camera in a scene out of Memento where I slowly pieced my life back together using a couple of random images, mostly taken at the Irish bar. The strip clubs we’d ventured to had a strict no photography policy. Sadly, there were no shots of that debauchery.

I grabbed the wad of cash out of my pocket. It looked healthy until I unfurled it and began counting. Wait, were did all the hundreds go? All those twenties were replaced by singles. What the fuck? I did some quick math and figured out between the Irish bar and the two strip clubs, I had blown about $420.

A tour trolley stopped in front of the hotel. I looked out of the window and a guy on a microphone pointed to the hotel. He muttered something about this being, "a historical landmark almost as old as Key West itself."

One woman snapped a quick photo. I wonder if the tour guide stopped his trolley at The Classy Joint or The Dive and said the same thing?

* * * * *

Key West. It had the vibe of a Caribbean island without the color. The streets were flooded with sunburned white people clutching souvenir bags and digital cameras. The AlCantHang Compound (ACHC) was off the beaten path, down a secret alley off a side street, definitely away from tourist central.

A few hours after the Sunday arrival, the guys hung out in the pool while I sat in the shade with AlCantHang and Big Mike. We drank and swapped Amsterdam tales. Most of the crew eventually wanted dinner. AlCantHang's primary objective was booze. They went for food while we walked over to Irish Kevin's, a tourist magnet on Duval Street which was an AlCantHang favorite.

From the view outside on the street, Irish Kevin's was located in the first floor of a two story structure, but from the inside, only one humongous space existed. We wandered inside the narrow bar, maybe three tables or four tables wide, with high ceilings. It was one of the longest bars I had ever seen running almost the entire length of the property which was at least thirty or forty yards.

A guy in a blue t-shirt and cargo shorts stood on stage with am acoustic guitar. He played popular cover songs like Jack and Diane and Sweet Home Alabama in a wacky manner. He interacted with the audience and encouraged them to sing along and participate in his random goofiness like busting on people from New Jersey, changing the words to the songs, and guilt-tripping pedestrians to come inside and get shitfaced with everyone else.

It was exactly 8:08pm when I entered an Irish Bar in Key West with AlCantHang. Whenever you walk into a bar with AlCantHang, you're immediately assuming full responsibility for your actions. You always know what you are getting yourself into. There's no false pretense. You will drink and drink and drink and drink as life unfolds around you. You surrender to the flow of the liquor.

One of our friends described AlCantHang as a walking party. And when the party plops down at an Irish bar, you're knee deep in the depths of a serious mind-altering drinking binge. The best you can hope for is that your liver manages to escape with minimal damage and that the hangover the next day won't be devastating where you're clutching the porcelain god at sunrise with the worst case of the dry-heaves that you've had since the earliest days of the Clinton administration.

I knew the three basic tenants of the AlCantHang party-like-a-rock-star rules.
1. Pace yourself.
2. Drink lots of water.
3. And eat as much as possible.
I followed two but not the third. I drank on an almost empty stomach and by the sixth or seven beer, I got hit with a sledgehammer. We were seated at the end of the bar next to a kid, who barely looked old enough to drink. He was with his pretty girlfriend and they sipped some sort of rum and coke drink.

The musician on stage asked who was in the military. The kid raised his hand and said he was in the Army. AlCantHang quickly bought him a shot. That's when he discovered that the kid and his girlfriend lived in the town next to AlCantHang's. Small world.

Enter the Germans. Originally we thought they were Irish since they knew all the words to Irish Rover. As soon as the song ended, they screamed out, "Johnny Cash! Joh-neeeeeeeeeeee Cash!!"

The Krauts were fans of the Man in Black and over the next hour, they constantly screamed out his name. In due time, AlCantHang bought them shots. One German kid almost hurled when he downed a shot of Jim Beam black label. He told us that he'd been in America for two weeks and saw a bunch of cities, but none more fun than Key West.

AlCantHang pulled a $20 out of his wad and rushed up to the stage. He tipped the musician $20 to play Johnny Cash. Ten minutes later, he busted into Folsom Prison Blues.

"Since I got tipped $20 to play Johnny Cash from AlCantHang," the guy on stage said. "I'm going to play two songs."

The Germans went nuts. The entire bar sang along. Inside of a couple of hours, AlCantHang became the King of the Bar. Even the owner was buying him shots. If you've done any drinking under the AlCantHang Experience, you fully comprehend his magical powers.

The rest of the crew eventually joined us for a round or three in the back of the bar while a second musician took the stage. He was a black guy from New York City. He had some sick chops and was twenty-times the musician as the goofy guy, but he lacked the charisma of the first guy.

That's when AlCantHang said, "Time for some tits. And ass!"

Like Moses parting the Red Sea, AlCantHang darted through the crowd as the drunks in Irish Kevin's made a path for him to the front door. We walked fifteen meters and we reached the establishment that I will call, "The Classy Joint."

Editor's Note: I have been informed by my legal counsel to omit the actual name of the gentleman's clubs and change the names of the strippers in order to protect the innocent. Like they are giving me their real names anyway? I also refer to the first strip club as "The Classy Joint" because there will be a second establishment mentioned in this post that made the first place look like the Spearmint Rhino in Las Vegas.

The Classy Joint is located at the top of a slippery wooden staircase. Previously, thousands of horny men and other wayward and desperate souls made the same climb. The cover charge was $5 but I got in for free since Lewey flashed his VIP card, which gave him and a guest free admission. I realized that the entire crew had VIP cards with the exception of me.

Big Mike scouted out a spot. The space was fairly large with a stage in the middle of the room with two stripper poles on opposite sides. Twenty or so chairs were around the stage while a long bar nestled against the back wall. There was a hallway off to the side which led to the Champagne Lounge. Next to that was a room with group of red velvet couches where the adult entertainers performed their infamous exotic lap dances under the sultry hues of red, purple, and pink neon.

We set up camp near the stage. One or two of us would take turns sitting at the stage and tipping the girls $1 bills. Except the AlCantHang crew were serious ballers. They were tipping a minimum of $5 or $6 and up to $20.

That was their game plan. It was the first night in town and they made it known that they were in Key West for a week. What at first seemed like they (well I guess it's the collective 'we') we recklessly splashed money around, it was all done on purpose to establish the fact that we were not cheap tourists looking to see some ass for next to nothing. As Big Mike explained, we were conditioning the natives. That way the next time we ventured inside, we got quick and attentive service. (And that would happen when we returned less than 19 hours later.)

Overtipping became the norm and within minutes our crew captured all of the attention of the talent in The Classy Joint, even though it was crowded for a Sunday night. Everyone became secondary to the AlCantHang Experience. Big Mike took care of our waitress with a sizable pre-tip. The attractive Cuban woman was dressed in a tight red top and she didn't look as skanky as the pieces of naked meat on stage. That made her the most sophisticated lady in the club.

"How come you don't dance," asked Big Mike.

"I'm a mommy. Mommies don't dance. Would you like to see your mommy dance?" she said.

"Are you kidding me? The fuckin' whore? I'd love to see her actually get off her lazy ass to make a dime," Big Mike said.

The majority of the strippers were average looking. They would be working a second-tier club in Las Vegas or working the pole during the day at one of the bigger clubs if they got lucky. However, in Key West, the strippers in front of us were the cream of the crop. They were some of the better looking pieces of ass in town, and still had the wild reputation of Key West strippers. The word "dirty" comes to mind.

Most strip clubs in Las Vegas implement a strict hands-off the dancer policy. The majority of the girls at the Spearmint Rhino or Crazy Horse Too don't shower you with special attention unless you shower them with $100 bills. It's all business for the Las Vegas girls and if you want any sort of extra attention or groping, you have to fork over big bucks for an adventure in the VIP room. Of course, that's the biggest scam in Las Vegas next to the 99 cent shrimp cocktail.

At the Key West establishments, all you have to do is pay $20 for a naughty session which includes (and not limited to) crotch grabbing and getting your face used as a punching bag as the ladies slap their poorly designed fake-breasts into your face.

Sure, we all had fun. But our primary goal was to make sure AlCantHang had fun celebrating his 40th birthday. And he did. Of course, we lost Lewey for some time. He disappeared into the back and didn't come out. He fell into the strip club black hole. And when he finally reappeared he had stumbled out of the back with messy hair and a wry smirk on his face.

I befriended a stripper from the Czech Republic, who stood about five-foot ten with dark hair and natural breasts. She reminded me of Phoebe Cates and had a tattoo of a scorpion on her ankle. What looked like four cigarette burns peppered the inside of her thighs.

By the second lap dance, we had been discussing lesser known Milan Kundera books like Identity as she stood upside down on her hands and rubbed her shaved crotch on my chest.

"Your country was invaded by the Soviets," I rambled on during the fourth lap dance. "They set up a puppet government that eventually crumbled after the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. Your formerly behind the Iron Curtain nation-state was broken up into two republics and instead of staying behind in your new land of freedom, you fled to Key West where you strip for a bunch of old farts who are in town for a few hours when their cruise ship docked. Or you're grinding away for horny servicemen on leave taking every cent of their slave wages that our government pays them?"

"I like the warm weather," she cooed. "And I'm trying to earn enough money to bring my mother here."

Of course, she was trying to sell the old routine, "I'm only let potential serial killers and politicians pull my hair and fondle my breasts for $20 a pop so I can bring my mother to America."

She was a hustler, and a decent one at that. The vixen almost had me convinced. But I've been around the block a few times and been to enough strip clubs that I could write a book about it. The American bimbos use law school or business school as their faux cover. The foreign ones like to bring up their mothers and highlight the hardships in their motherland. This one was down here to hook a big whale. Perhaps a lonely and well off retired businessman with a yacht and multiple million-dollar homes.

"Everyone loves their mothers," I said. "Don't you love money?"

"Of course," she said as she continued to dance to a random hip hop sing with fellatio lyrics.

"But do you love money more than your mother?"

She paused and said, "I love them equally both."

"But your mother is still washing dirty underwear for tourists in Prague, right? Because if you really loved her, she'd be in paradise with you, washing dirty underwear for tourists in Key West."

She didn't blink and tried to get me off the topic. She grabbed my junk for four long seconds and twisted my nipples until I begged her to stop.

I don't recall how long we spent at The Classy Joint. I was shitfaced drunk when I left the Irish bar and drank steadily at the strip club. We finally left and walked down the street. We made a turn down a dark alley next to a couple of abandoned buildings. A faint pink light could be seen and that was the strip club on the other side of the tracks.

The Dive was a step down on the stripper food chain. A couple of rungs. It reminded me of those horrible and sad clubs in shitbag towns and third-rate cities where career strippers end up when they hit 40 or on their last breaths before they croak from a speedball OD in the tiny bathroom of a no-tell motel freaking out the chubby married business man from the Midwest who hired the strung out vixen to suck his toes for $20 a toe.

"This is the place where Key West strippers come to die," said Landow in a straight face as we walked inside.

There was no cover charge. For obvious reasons. The place looked the basement of my fraternity house, except with a stripper pole. There was one dilapidated stage off to the left and a tiny bar to the right. Several old guys sat at the bar. Two of them had girls sitting on their laps. One was atrocious looking as her double-D sized boobs spilled out of her top. The better looking one seemed out of place until she smiled and I realized that she was missing three teeth. I didn't want to touch anything because I was afraid of contracting an STD.

As soon as we walked in, the best looking dancer in the club wandered up. She looked gorgeous at first glance, but underneath the lights, the wrinkles gave her away. Twenty years ago she was the hottest stripper in town. The Dive is her retirement home.

"Aren't you AlCantHang?" she asked.

AlCantHang told her that he was and she mentioned that one of the girls they knew was due to dance on stage next. Years ago, the crew befriended a stripper. I guess we'll call her N. When N saw AlCantHang and his crew, she bubbled over with excitement.

For the next hour or so, they all caught up over a couple of beers as I watched the various dancers take turns running to the bathroom to rip a few lines before it was their turn to dance.

The Dive was sketchy because they cut off all songs at the 2 minute and 10 second mark. I counted. So if you got a lap dance, you got cheated. The standard lap dance at traditional clubs is about three minutes or so. I refused to go into the back room with those ladies. At some point you have to draw the line somewhere. For me, it was The Dive.

Paul McGuire is a writer from New York City.


By Betty Underground © 2007

I make no excuses, or try to hide the fact that I don't trust him - haven't in a long time. Still, the business of us was left somewhat unfinished, and I admit I was overcome with curiosity when he called to offer an extra ticket to the show. That, and I was one really bad idea away from a trifecta for the week, how could I pass up the chance!

I was bored. Itching to get out of town and into my head. A long, heady, drive would give me just the fix I needed.

After more than three hours of driving, I finally hit town. With great caution, I maneuvered my car towards the 2.7 million dollar house tucked back off a secluded road in Mission Canyon. No fancy gates or walls protecting what he has worked so hard for. Just a one way dirt road, a questionably safe bridge and a gravel drive-way keeping door-to-door salesmen out.

He was outside when I arrived. Busying himself with something obscure and unnecessary so that he could catch an early glimpse of me. Or was he hoping to head me off so I didn't see what was in the house? OR he heard NIN ripping the bass from my car speakers. Telling when your playlist to get you in the mood includes NIN's Head Like A Hole. I am just sayin.

He looked more handsome than I remembered. He stared. I hate it when he did that.

"I liked you better as a blonde."

"I like me better as a brunette."


I did my usual, obvious, snooping about, inviting myself in to use the powder room after the long drive. I knew my way around. I knew what it looked like the last time I was there. I was looking for signs. Girl things. Grown up girl things. A woman's touch in the decor. Pictures of the happy couple. Anything. Nothing.

"She moved out 2 months ago." He wasn't stupid, he knew what I was up to. "Do you think I would have invited you if she was still living with me?" I flashed him a look. That look. That sideways look of mild disgust, and relief. He is not exactly known for being completely faithful, but knows I, more than anyone, can sense these things and would have quickly caught her scent if she was still there.

I dropped my bag in the guest room upstairs, closed the door and changed. I had been sitting in the car for 3 + hours and needed a fresh outfit and a fist full of Vicodin to make it through the night.

In the kitchen, on the counter were two wine glasses and an already opened bottle of '89 Brander Bouchet. Our wine. Still my favorite bottle of red but for reasons that extend so far beyond him and the memory of us. I was thankful for some liquid courage. I needed to calm down. I was all over the place. Eyes darting around the house, still uneasy about being there. I moved from room to room. Sat in most every chair but avoided my most favorite chair. The leather one. The one that I had so often draped myself in, wearing only my panties and wife-beater during those talks that took us well into the morning. It faced his bed.

I love this feeling. It is a drug. The feeling of having no idea what comes next. Of being absorbed with trying to figure out his next move. I simply can't help it. I don't have an eating disorder, low self-esteem, a drug habit or an alcohol problem. What I am is a rush junkie. If I wasn't deathly afraid of heights, I would jump out of a plane. But I am, and so I leap into oblivion where the men are the sky, my instinct the parachute, and I will wait until the last possible moment to pull that rip cord. Free falling into them. That is my rush. What does the ground I hurl myself at represent? Life? Commitment? Reality? You decide.

With the exception of the glass he had, I might have consumed the rest of that bottle of wine by myself. With that, we were off. He still drives the BMW 740L he bought nearly 7 years ago. Cute. He could afford an upgrade but prefers the older styles. The 1974 BMW 2002 he bought in high school is still in the family - his little brother has it in storage to use when he is home visiting from Spain.

The venue is not far from his house, but the road to get there is precarious. Good thing he was driving, better thing I was drunk since I was still having trouble calming my nerves. He has always fancied me a bit of a lush, making it perfectly acceptable for me to request a beer before heading to our seats.

"They will bring us drinks. I have box seats."

See, now that is just cool. I had no idea! I see those box seats, largely empty, and never knew the benefits attached. Foolish people, why would you NOT use them. Pffff.

I couldn't tell you who opened. I couldn't tell you much about the set he played. I can tell you it generally sucked, but with an ego as big as his, not terribly surprised. The white noise of confusion that filled my head drown out most everything around me. The time flew by, in slow motion. When the show was over, it was only a tad past 11 o'clock and I was trying desperately to figure out where the nearest bar was as I followed him back to the car. I paid exactly zero attention to where we parked but was keenly aware of the location of the taxi stand if things had gone south.

"Where to now?" I asked.

"Home," delivered without the lift in his voice that would signal a question.

Back at the house I was still uneasy, but drunk. It helped. Still wearing my shoes, heels click clacking on the Spanish tile floor. Klunking around the wooden deck that wrapped around the entire house, suspended over the Sycamore trees. It made him uncomfortable. "You planning on making a run for it at some point?" He asked.

"In these heels? Not likely. You want me to take them off?"


The tide was shifting just enough in my direction to catch the wave. He was now uncertain about what would come next. He was the one having trouble calming his nerves. Crawling out of his skin. Both of us afraid to stop talking or moving, fearing our clothes would suddenly fall off and we would drown in the emotion of each other.

The next few hours were a blur of laughter, pool, beer and silliness. A place we historically gelled in. The place where I couldn't stop looking at him. Swimming in the pools of his eyes. He couldn't walk by me without reaching out for me. Natural. Calm. Still in the back of my mind, the remnants of previous storms remained and I desperately wanted to know why I was there. Why I wasn't there a year ago. Why, after so many years, so much dancing around us was this the time.

Why didn't I ask him? Because I am addicted. Addicted to not knowing what will come next. The rush of uncertainty and even though I swore to never speak to him again, swore to never be in this place again, I can't help myself. It is my vice. It is the devil inside me, wanting the things I can't have. Wanting to break through the walls built around their egos. I spend every day making smart, logical, adult decisions. I like having my reason torn down.

I can say I was there for answers, but I was there because I needed a rush. If I wanted answers, I would have been asking the hard questions, but I didn't. I have learned that asking, "Why wasn't it me," gets you no answers. No real, honest answers. So I didn't ask, and just fell into it. Into him as the night grew darker and eyes became heavy. I had to be up early. Had to get home. The girls would be expecting me for Sunday Bloody Marys in the city by 3pm.

He went missing for an extended amount of time. When I went looking for him, I found him crashed out, buried under the down comforter, in the bed across from that leather chair. I crawled in, the warmth around me, and sunk into the feather bed. Sunk into the memories. Sunk into uncertainty. Sunk.

Then, I pulled the rip cord.

The phone rang, it was my mother. It was 7:43 am. My iPod had been set to play all tracks, including the Berlitz "Learn to Speak French," I suspect. But it was NIN that came screaming out if it as I scrambled to locate my phone. As I answered, the room came into focus. I was home. My home, not his. He had crawled into my head, disrupting my sleep and curdling my dreams.

The best rush? A dream that leaves you with no regrets come morning.

That's a lie.

Betty Underground is a writer, probably stuck in an airport, dreaming of being home.

Driving to See Mama

By John "Falstaff" Hartness © 2007

This is a story my father told me, in the best re-creation of his words I can devise. The year is 1950, the place is Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh, IN.

So this ol' boy Briggs come into the barracks one afternoon and says "Johnny Bob, you got any money? They're giving out three-day passes and we got a quart of liquor and a tank full of gas, but we ain't got enough money to get all the way to Asheville. If you got enough money to get a tank of gas in London, Kentucky, I can get more money in Asheville."

Now this was 'long about the end of the month when didn't nobody have no money, so I told him No.

"C'mon John, I know you always got a dollar or two ratted away, count up your change and see how much money you got."

Well, I did have a dollar or two stuck back, and I had two dollars in my pocket, and when I counted up all my change I had $5.30. We decided that was enough for a tank of gas, so off we went. We had us an Oldsmobile 88 convertible, and it was February, so we had the top up, and the windows rolled up, and as soon as we pulled out of the base, Briggs tore the top off that quart of liquor and threw it out the window.

Well, we got to London, Kentucky, and we filled up, and it cost us four dollars and a quarter for a tank of gas. Now I had $5.30, and that's all the money that was in that car. The other boy had done spent all their money on that quart of liquor and the first tank of gas. So we bought another quart of liquor, on credit, from that store in London.

Now I always did wonder why that ol' boy let us have that liquor on credit, but come to think of it, there was six of us, all of us big men, all of us MPs from Camp Atterbury, and all of us about half drunk. Hell, he mighta been a little scared!

But the funny part of the story is this - Briggs had it in his head that that Oldsmobile was the fastest thing ever been made. Now this road from London to Asheville would go from four lanes to two, then back to dual lane for a little while, then back down to two lanes. And we're clipping along right real good on one of these dual-lane parts when we saw lights in the rear view. I think they were red lights back then, but it don't matter, it was the police.

Well, Briggs said "What kind of car is that that thinks they can catch me?" We told him it was a Chevrolet, and that ended that. Briggs stepped on the gas and thought he was gone pull away from the police car. Well, that didn't work out so good, and the faster Briggs went in that Oldsmobile, the closer that Chevrolet got. I tell you, he couldn't get no farther apart from that police car than I am to you. Well, he kept going 'til he finally got scared, and said "I guess I gotta pull over."

Well, there was six of us in that car, and we'd been drinking and smoking cigarettes since we left base, so when Briggs rolled down that window, all that smoke just chimneyed up out of that window and that policeman had to jump back.

"Damn! Smells like y'all been brewing whiskey in there!"

Well, he made us all get out of the car, all six of us. And then - now Briggs was a big man, about 6'6",250 lbs. and he didn't have no gut on him. He was just broad through the shoulders, a big man. And Briggs, he just starts to sob, right there on the side of the road. And he's just weeping, and out he comes with this.

"I'm sorry officer, but my buddy Warren here's mama is dying and we're just trying to get him back to Asheville so he can say goodbye to his mama. We just gotta get him back to see his mama before she dies."

Now Warren was an orphan, and never knew he even had a mama, so this was all news to him! And that policeman thought about it for a minute and finally he said "I don't know if I oughta believe that sob story, but if I take you in and lock you up, and then I find out it is true, well then I'd feel like a real heel. So if you'll let the soberest one of you drive, I'll let you go."

Then he comes over to me, and says "I don't know if you're any more sober than they are, or if you just handle it better, but if I let you go, will you drive?"

I said "Yes sir, and I'll drive carefully." And damn if he didn't let us go!

Gold, Pop. Pure gold. He told me he's been telling that story for 57 years, and it's still funny. I agree.

John "Falstaff" Hartness is a hillbilly from Bullock Creek, SC and now lives in Charlotte. Check him out at Poker Stage.

A Mawmag's Dream

By Sigge S. Amdal © 2007

I was flirting, no, I was dancing with my own future's certain death. And why? There was no love to speak of. Love can come later in some cases, I know, but if there's nothing, no great emotion to ride on – why on earth was I still dancing?

It was the thought, the simple idea of love, family, laughter, whatever all of it is; the purpose of life, from a rational point of view. But I'm not rational, as here demonstrated, and I have other purposes. Greater purpose befalls man like sunrays lick the life of our planet; it engulfs everything and belittles what other sources of light you encounter along the path.

I shall not shit on that idea, but no less should I think of life as either-or, there will be more women, more emotions and one day, who knows, love too. Whatever happens, I have shit to do. And when you can make a difference, because you have an impact, the choice has already chosen you.

What a ramble.

As I mused on this, on my idle walk among the varied exotic trees in the bowels of the botanical garden I wondered, sniffed after the memory of having done all of this before. The impact, the doubts, the truly sweet dreams, the confusion, the confessions and the same particular questions. I couldn't remember, although it certainly felt like it.

You see I have the short-term memory of a Philippine prosimian primate called Mawmag. A very small, very quick tree-dwelling monkey with huge eyes that make it look like it's trapped in a somewhat constant state of totally dumbfounding surprise.

"Whoa! That tree wasn't there five minutes ago!"

"Shit. What do you know?! I have hands! Excellent. Let's climb the tree."

"Uh oh. Where did the tree go?"

"Check out the hands! And a jungle! Whoa! That tree wasn’t there five minutes ago!"

Several Paris-dwelling original surrealists in the peripheral circle surrounding Breton invoked a continuous life of surprise, some restrained to the mere fantastical arrangements of objects, which certainly empowered the frequency of artistic impressions but seriously degraded the continuation of an already fragmented memory, or, the validity of memory perceived to be. Choice or chosen, the result's the same in all its richness, except the Mawmag can catch birds mid air, a feat ascribed but a handful of surrealists.

Life surprises me like trees in the jungle. I move rapidly between branches, whistling a tune I thought that I heard somewhere, only to stop suddenly! Perplexed and dumbfounded at the sight of a new orchid. Or one I saw five minutes ago without noticing. Or one I forgot I had already noticed.

I sit down at one of the benches overlooking the giant step formations above the Edvard Munch museum, and I light a cigarette. Every five minutes of my life involves a bench, a sunset and a cigarette. And often the feeling that it would be nice meeting someone nice. No more weaklings, players or poseurs, please. I peer through the evening clouds to the last rays of sun that reflect wholly artificial in the yellow paint of giant construction site insects around the new opera house. How would a Mawmag monkey deal with the situation?

I swiftly scan the area.

It certainly would be up in one of those trees. I look down, and what the hell! I have hands! With the overcoming feeling of great purpose and adventure I undertake the relatively dangerous journey up on of the smaller trees until I'm almost settled in, next to the noisy nest of a magpie family. Almost.

At one critical point of the journey I miss my grip and fall down.

Next thing I can remember, I'm lying on my back and a female jogger with white earplugs is standing next to me. From where I'm lying she's pretty nice.

"Are you all right?"

I wait until my lungs have breath to spare, and I smile: "Sure! I'm a mawmag monkey!"

She smiles back.

"You sure are."

All of a sudden I'm walking home with a new melody stuck on forth verse between the space of my ears, with a brand new phone number in my pocket, and for some reason that I cannot rightly comprehend I’m walking with a limp.

The perceptive reader may have noticed by now that the original voice and storytelling of the dignified, reflecting monologue this all began with somehow faded away and disappeared. And the perceptive reader is right. The original voice was heard to wander off into the woods mumbling something about bass fishing and greater purpose. And if you aren't satisfied with that, you might as well join him, because you must be a serious person and there is nothing more serious than bass fishing with a purpose.

... I mean, come on, what did you expect? I'm a monkey, for crying out loud.

I don't have any morals. What do you know? I have hands!

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

What Might Have Been

By Sean A. Donahue © 2007

The struggles of life are few and far between. We walk through life looking for the elusive, looking for the elite, or looking to be the elite.

Sometimes in our search for what we want, we find what we really need. But we are too self absorbed or blind to see it.

Again, I think the big guy upstairs has it right. You want A, I'm going to give you B and you're going to hate it, but its better for you in the long run. You want B, I'm going to give you A and make you hate A, though A is better for you.

So I look back and examine, "What Might Have Been."

I once thought that marrying my high school sweetheart would have been the best for me. But we had just those moments together and though we can look back and see what we had then, we can never go back and see what could have been. We reminisce on old stories and jokes but cannot find common ground now. I used to be able to talk to her about anything but it seems awkward now. Both of us have closed that chapter on each of our lives. We were good then, but not now. Somehow, the big guy got it right.

I once thought that marrying my high school crush would have been the best for me. We once met up in a hotel room in Bedford; her wish was to show me that she was the best for me and that my ex-wife would have been a mistake. Wow, what a mistake I thought I first made. How I looked back during the first couple years of my marriage and thought I screwed up, I should have married her. But then I see my daughter Shelby and my son Ryan and though Angela and I have moved on and apart, the love and the commitment of our love will always be shown in these two wonderful kids. Again, the big guy got it right!

So now I look back and wonder why my last serious relationship failed. I allowed myself to fall for someone who wanted to run my life and not love me for who I was, mistakes and all. I thought that walking away was a mistake. But now I get comments and letters and I see what a mistake it was. I see her as the troubled young woman that will still be my friend even though she hates who she thinks I am now.

Sometimes you just can't argue with three for three.

I could show about the friends and family who remind me about who I am.

"Always try to help others, but never help yourself," my mom brought up the other day.

"I never think about myself, just about others because it's who I am. It'll pay off in the future," I replied.

But now I wonder what does the Big Guy have in store for me next? I am always in a wondering mood, what pitfalls, and what great successes does he have in my future.

I could ask for the Cliff Notes version of what's going to happen, but I don't think it's out yet. I think that Mom saying I need to explore who I am and what I can do for myself is first and foremost on my mind. Some nights I look at the ceiling and wonder what will happen to me tomorrow.

I guess I just will have to take a chance and get out of bed in the morning to find out!

Thanks for the ride big guy. I'm leaving the directing to your hands, I'm ready for my cue Mr. De Mille.

Sean A. Donahue is a freelance writer, radio personality and poker player. He is the author of Instant Tragedy which looks at his life and those who he has touched and been touched by. He is divorced with two children and lives in Lubbock, Texas.