November 06, 2008

November 2008, Vol. 7, Issue 11

Welcome back to another issue of Truckin'.

1. Jupiter Four by Paul McGuire
Cal never had a chance. After one season of winter ball in the Dominican Republic, he walked away from baseball. He was miserable down there. His Spanish was bad. He caught a nasty parasite and his girlfriend constantly begged him to come home.... More

2. A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Conviviality by May B. Yesno
The voice crackles and chatters. The sum and substance of the call is an invite to play with resistors and transistors and bread boards, hot solder and imagination. One of the customers wanted company. His wife was off chasing her particular dreams of sustenance some six hundred miles away across two mountain ranges... More

3. Luna Moth by Betty After Dark
Then you flipped me. On my back. Crawling on top of me. Hovering over me, you pushed my arms above my head. I imagined you had tied me up. You fumbled. We giggled... More

4. The Green Chip by Jonathan Bennetts
In just over twelve months Alex had hit rock bottom and it seemed like he had been there forever. He plummeted headlong into being a hopeless drunk who'd lost everything; his sole reason for living now was to raise five bucks daily for his quart of Orillia Tiger Ruby Red Port wine... More

5. Pizza and the Party by Matt Moon
I tried talking and joking with Brittany but she was giving one-or-two-word responses. She was not digging me. She'd rather stare out the backseat window than associate with me. That was very unfortunate. I was really hammered and she had some cute aspects to her. I kept trying to progress the conversation but failed miserably every single time.... More

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

From the Editor's Laptop:

Thanks again for wasting your precious time with Truckin'. The November issue features two new writers, Matt Moon and Jonathan Bennetts. We also have two veteran scribes returning in May B. Yesno and Betty After Dark. And yeah, that's a sultry dirty story from Betty! I also added a bit of fiction to the mix for this issue.

Please tell your friends about your favorite Truckin' stories. The writers definitely appreciate your support.

Also, if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list, well, please shoot me an e-mail.

Thanks to the writers enough for writing for free and exposing their guts, blood, and soul to the universe. Their art and dedication inspires me and I hope it inspires you too.

Be good,

"Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command." - Alan Watts

November 05, 2008

Jupiter Four, Part I

By Paul McGuire © 2008

She looked like she had been living in Europe for a while. Eight months? Nine? Almost a year? She dressed like a European with elaborate French scarves and an Italian purse, but all her mannerisms gave off strong vibrations that she was an American.

Duncan knew her for about a week. He met her outside a church in Barcelona when he was sort of lost and unsuccessfully trying to read a shitty tourist map that he picked up at the airport that did not label the dozens of smaller ever-winding pedestrian streets. She offered her help and he quickly accepted. Her sharp Midwest accent gave her away.

They hung out for three nights in a row during Duncan's short vacation in Spain. They would meet for a late dinner and walk around El Born hanging out at the various small bars or sometimes just sitting outside in one of the plazas. The conversations drifted back and forth between their times traveling in Europe and occasionally dug deep into their pasts.

"Io? So you were named after one of Jupiter's moons?" asked Duncan as he sipped a beer.

"Perceptive of you," said Io. "Most people have no idea. Not a clue."

"I know a bit about moons. When I lived in Portland, there was a poster on the back of the bathroom door that listed all the different planets and their moons. If I didn't have anything to read when I took a dump, I'd read the map. I got a crash course in astronomy."

"That's sort of disgusting and disturbing."

"Sorry about that."

"Don't worry. You know what's really disgusting and disturbing? The names of my brother and my sisters."

"What do you mean? No fuckin' way... Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto? You're bullshitting me."

"No. I'm serious."

Io showed her passport to Duncan which confirmed that her name was indeed Io. She handed me Duncan her phone. He looked at few different entries... Ro, Gany, and Cal.

"What's that bullshit?"

"The names of my brother and sisters."

"Ro Gany Cal? What are you guys a hip hop group from the 1990s?"

"You didn't believe me. There's proof. Europa, Callisto, and Ganymede. And here's the shocker. My mother? Her name is Jupiter."

"Makes sense. She's the center of the universe and her children revolve around her.

"You have no idea."

"So do you get along with them?"

"Sort of. But not really. My father was fighting cancer ever since I can remember. He was constantly in and out of hospitals and always recovering from a surgery. We always struggled for money which was made worse by my alcoholic mother. For a while, Cal was the rock in the family. He really kept it together until his life completely unraveled. He had a chance to be a major league baseball player but that never materialized."

"Cal was a ball player? Was he any good?"

"Cal was the best athlete in our school. His problem was that he couldn't throw a curve ball."

"Fidel Castro couldn't throw one and ended up overthrowing Cuba and ruling it his way."

"Well, Cal also had a weakness for the wrong women. He met a girl in college that was his downfall. She was pushing him towards a life outside of a career in sports. In all fairness, Cal had a very slim chance at a career in baseball. At best he could squeak out a feeble existence for a few years in the minors and hope to get lucky. But Cal never had a chance. After one season of winter ball in the Dominican Republic, he walked away from baseball. He was miserable down there. His Spanish was bad. He caught a nasty parasite and his girlfriend constantly begged him to come home. He was doomed. He quit the game and tried the real estate business. His girlfriend's father was big into real estate and set him up with a job. But that never worked out. He spent more time at working buying and selling sports memorabilia over the internet. When he figured out he could make three times as much money on the trade show circuit, Cal quit his job."

"And I'm guessing it didn't turn out too good?"

"Not at all. His girlfriend broke up with him. He had a bum arm so he constantly got prescriptions from his doctors. He started abusing those heavily and got super addicted. Pills let to heroin and he blew all his money on junk. Then he got involved in a fake memorabilia scam involving autographed baseballs from Hank Williams."

"You mean Ted Williams? The greatest hitter of all time?"

"Yeah, Ted Williams. Didn't I say that?"

"Actually you said Hank Williams. But it doesn't matter. I get it. Cal was a guy who had big dreams but those dreams never panned out because he let a chick get in his way. The tragic result was a morbid addiction to drugs as he tried to run the ol' Ted Williams faux autograph grift."

"Yeah. Now he just got out of jail and is living in a halfway house in Tuscon. I think he's working in Starbucks and studying to become a plumber."

"And tell me about your sisters."

"I have two sisters. My twin sister is named Ro, but Gany is the non-twin."

"Wow, you're a twin?"

She shook her head and sighed.

"Gany, the non-twin, was the oldest and always struggled to find herself. Her true self. In many ways, we're constantly on that journey but Gany took it to heart more so than the average person. She went through different phases. When she strayed towards religion it didn't shock her friends. In the previous year alone, she attempted and stopped veganism, lesbianism, and Hinduism. When she gave Christianity a twirl after 9.11, everyone thought she'd get bored with it in a few months like she had done in high school with the clarinet or the debate team, or during college when she was really into swing dancing, Dave Matthews Band, and yoga classes."

"Swing dancing and Dave Matthews?"

"Yeah, it was the late 1990s. Anyway, she got really involved with the church. She married a preacher's son and moved to Colorado. They weren't in some runaway cult or some sort of ultra-right wing religious right zealots. There church was Lutheran based but with one twist. Their community was bracing for the Armageddon. They dispatched to small mountain towns in Colorado and in parts of Idaho and Canada preparing for the worst. Their goal is to ride out whatever apocalyptic storms come their way. And when it's over they will spread God's word to the people left behind. Gany thinks she is one of the chosen ones given the task to repopulate the earth and start over from scratch. God's chosen ones. Gany was chosen. And once she was chosen, no one ever saw her again."

"So why do you have her cell phone?"

"Oh that's not the cell phone, that's the church's number. If you call that, they will know how to get in touch with her. She used to send me these long letters explaining her thoughts on politics and government were eventually leading up to a massive world war that will trigger some sort of nuclear explosions and people will die and if they don't then the government will release some sort of virus that will kill off 90% of the population. She had these absurd ideals of current political situations all over the world. She tried to convince everyone in the family to move to Colorado because that would be the only safe zone."

"What's in the tap water in there?"

"That's it. She doesn't drink the public water system."

"Real mountain streams. Living off the land. Nothing wrong with that. She believes in something and she feels as those she's preparing the world for goodness even though she is in completely whacked out Waco cult up in the mountains somewhere waiting for WW3 to begin. But her intentions are noble. That's far more admirable that the guy running the rat race trying to make money so he can buy more stuff and breed consumers that will sit around and buy more stuff. You should admire that trait in your sister."

"I do, in a way. I always wondered what she would do when she snapped out of this phase. But it seems to have taken hold. She was an eloquent writer. Probably the most talented person in the family when it came to being able to express yourself. That's why it seemed so odd that she was the most open thinking out of all of us and felt as though God chose her to fulfill his word at some time in the future. Her outlook is bleak but feels that she's going to be the light amidst the darkness."

"OK, so your older sister is a Jesus Freak living up in Colorado prepping for the apocalypse. Your older brother is a washed up ball player con artist. I'm dying to know about your twin. Tell me about Europa."

"Europa? We call her Ro. My twin. The ying to my yang. She's the actress. She always wanted the center of attention. I think it comes from being an identical twin. She always needed to be more noticeable than an exact replica of me. And my mother is the most theatrical person you will ever meet. She's the most energy sucking person on the planet. It was as though. She and Ro were constantly fighting for everyone's attention, especially when my father was the sickest. It drove my father insane. No wonder he wanted to die. And it turned my mother into the stage mother from hell."

"How so?"

"She moved my sister to L.A. the summer before our senior year in high school and we really couldn't afford it. I got stuck in Wisconsin at home with my sick father when Ro got to live the great life in California."

"So is she famous or something?"

"She struggled for a long time and only booked one cereal commercial in three years. My mom had her audition for everything around town. Then she ended finally caught a break and ended up on a reality show."

"Which one? Maybe I've seen it."

"You probably never saw it before. It was called Good Girls Bad Boys."

"Oh my God! That's why you look so fuckin' familiar. Your sister is Ro Hume from Good Girls Bad Boys? Holy shit. Your hair is shorter and a different color but holy shit."

Io rolled her eyes and finished off the rest of her beer. She waved at the bartender but he ignored her.

"Sometimes the service is so slow in Europe," Io said hoping to change the topic.

"Oh my God. She was my favorite character on that show. I can't believe she slept with three of those biker dudes. Wait a minute, didn't I see her on TMZ before I left for my trip? Isn't she going out with that guy from the Real World? The paraplegic Republican?"

Paul McGuire is a writer from New York City.

The Green Chip

By Jonathan Bennetts © 2008

An ancient greasy seaman's cap shadows the gray stubbled wreckage of his face. He is fifty two going on eighty two, stinks of stale alcohol and unwashed sweat and his dirty clothes had never seen better days.

His name is Alex and he resides in the gambling Mecca of Las Vegas.

Today he's propping up the wall of Caesars Palace on the Strip, panhandling or begging if you prefer. He is a loser, in fact Alex is a two time loser, a drunk and a degenerate gambler. He's been humiliated, spit upon, arrested, imprisoned, beaten up, and hospitalized several times in the charity ward.

He arrived here ten years ago on a seven day junket, an all-in Nevada sightseeing trip. It was a treat for his wife Evelyn and his five-year old son Mathew who was the apple of his eye. Alex was a really neat dresser then, had a great job as a company accountant at General Motors, a lovely house in Detroit, and great friends and neighbors. He had everything going for him.

The first five days they toured. Hoover Dam, a side trip to Lake Tahoe, the silver mines, and 48 hours visiting Disney World which had Matt screaming with delight. The last two days were for free time, happy times in Las Vegas.

Alex had done a little reading about gambling and knew that craps paid the best odds. He knew all about seven and eleven being winners on the first roll, making a point, the pass and don't pass line, playing the field, pressing a bet, all the odds on the hard way. Somewhere deep inside of him, there had always lived the exciting idea that he could and would be a natural craps shooter. That he could and would one day make a fortune if given the chance.

After all, he was a wizard with figures, fractions, percentages and had a very logical mind. He had even worked out a system which was just about foolproof. He'd never told anyone about this fantasy; it was just one of those things you sort of sit with and bring out now and again to check if it is still good. Well it was indeed--one might even say it was excellent. He just needed to refine it a little. So, finally, Alex had his chance. He told Evelyn he was going to play for just a little while on the tables, kept it vague, and gave her a quick kiss.

"So how do you play this amazing game, Craps?" asked Evelyn with a sweet smile.

"Well honey, it is fairly easy. You roll two dice on a table and if a seven or eleven comes up on the first roll you win whatever you bet, but if you roll craps--double ones or sixes--on the first roll then you lose your bet. However, there is a third option. Let's say you roll a five-three. That's eight, so now you keep rolling for another eight but here comes the kicker-- if you roll a seven before the eight, then seven is now a loser. But if you get your point, rolling the eight first, then you're a winner and get to roll again. On the table you can bet on a player either winning on the pass line or losing on don't pass.

Evelyn smiled fondly at him and ruffled his hair, "That's enough, my hero. I don't understand a word but you just go and make our fortunes and I'll see you later for dinner."

Alex wandered casually downstairs to the casino and his fate. He was off and running, and after sixteen hours of exhilarating wins and desperate losses, he was broke. He'd lost every cent he had. Evelyn had long since given up and gone to bed. It was about then that Alex went crazy. He moved into a sort of supernova gambling frenzy because he knew, he absolutely knew that he would beat the system and triumph at the craps table.

All his years of rigid control and civilized living just up and flew out the window. He took big lines of casino credit because his credit background was impeccable and they fell over themselves to give him extra lines. Within four days he had emptied their joint bank accounts, trashed his credit cards and lost something like $52,000 plus.

Seven loser, craps loser, seven loser, on and on. Win maybe one time then back to craps out, sir.

During his brief breaks for a couple of hours of sleep, Evelyn begged and pleaded for him to stop but to no avail whatsoever. He swore his luck would change-- it was just a matter of time and she would see he was right by God. He explained this as though it were implacable, impeccable logic and was furious that she couldn't seem to understand this.

The fact is, she no longer recognized him. He was like a crazy man possessed, and she was frightened. She tried one last time, even shaking him, screaming at him.

“Alex, for God's sake! What about our son, our future!”

He ignored her that time, stormed out of the room and it was the last she saw of him.

That night Evelyn could stand neither the pain nor the strain any longer. She took Mathew and herself back to Detroit and her mother’s house where she broke down trying to explain what had happened. Her father got the message early and swung into action to salvage any family assets that were still standing.

Alex's descent was spectacular even by Vegas standards. Within six weeks he had lost every cent he could beg, borrow, or steal from his friends and workmates back in Detroit. He'd gone through about $120,000 of casino credit before his cards were blocked. Tried every single combination of pass, don’t pass, play the field, play the point, go for the hard way, the easy way, everything he thought he knew about winning at craps and it just didn't work.

GM actually sent somebody down to confront him in the seedy rooming house he was staying in, but Alex simply couldn't understand what the guy was saying. All he could say now was a mantra which he repeated endlessly.

"Just one more swing at the crap tables and I will finally make it and hit the gold."

Needless to say, his fortune wasn't made and he was still losing. His family and friends cut him off completely. Then one day it was all over. He was destitute. All the casinos had banned him and his luck was terminal.

He moved into the Mission with two squares a day and no questions asked. Fred, another street bum at the Mission told him that pan handling could pay well.

"Just don't get caught, the cops and security are red hot here."

Then he offered Alex a drink from his bottle of Orillia Tiger Ruby Red Port wine. Told him it really did the trick for the blues, solve all they problems man, make everything just tickety boo. Charlie was dead right, it did.

Alex was down so far it looked like up when he greedily swallowed his own pints of Orillia Tiger Ruby Red Port wine. It killed the pain of losing everything at first, then it killed the pain of living as a bum.

In just over twelve months Alex had hit rock bottom and it seemed like he had been there forever. He plummeted headlong into being a hopeless drunk who'd lost everything; his sole reason for living now was to raise five bucks daily for his quart of Orillia Tiger Ruby Red Port wine.
It was a balmy evening, the town was jumping, Las Vegas was alive and kicking. From behind some bushes, well out of sight of the Caesar's Palace security guards came a furtive mumble. It was Alex.

"Spare some change please? Will ya spare a dollar for a guy down on his luck?" He'd collected a grand total of three dollars and eight cents in four hours.

Most people passing his spot either didn't hear him or couldn't see him. Alex was a lost soul. He'd already had two mild heart attacks. His whole body shook with tremors and his face twitched badly. Just another three bucks, enough for his daily quart of Tiger Red oblivion.

Along the pavement, two immaculately dressed men approached his spot. The elder one in his late sixties, silver haired, elegant, the other twenty-five or so, arrogant spoiled face, long blonde hair tied off in a pony tail, solid gold necklace and platinum wrist band, both of them obviously wealthy.They were deep in conversation.

"Change, spare some change mister?" Then, "Hey buddy, spare a dollar?" said much louder than the first time.

They both stopped, stared, discovered Alex, then recoiled in unison.

"Dirty bastard" said the younger one.

"Now, now Peter" said the older. "You really must learn a little kindness, a bit of tolerance and love for your fellow men."

This was said with such contempt and arrogance it woke Alex from his stupor. He looked at them and they looked at him.

The younger man smiled, "You're right, of course Uncle Andrew. Definitely a fellow man."

Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a handful of gambling chips and found a black and gold $1,000 chip. He held it in front of Alex.

"Is this worth my tolerance?" He shook his head and changed it for a red $100 chip. "Is this worth my kindness? Nah, I don't think so." Then he found a green $25 chip and waved it slowly in front of Alex's haunted eyes.

“Yep, love of my fellow men, yes indeed. Now if I had a five cent chip, that's what you'd be getting, you stinking bum but you're in luck ‘cos my uncle truly loves his fellow men and a $25 is the smallest I've got, so mind you don't lose it.”

Viciously, he threw the green chip at Alex who flinched as it hit him in the face then fell to the ground. Laughing uproariously, both men marched off into the casino.

Alex was stunned at what was happening. He had a really bad headache yet suddenly, his mind was waking up. He felt cleansed somehow and was thinking clearly for the first time than he had in many years. Why had the two men been so cruel? It was their absolute and utter contempt which had gotten through to him, brought him back to life. He picked up the chip and its greenness seemed to glow in his hand. He felt warm all over as though he'd taken a double hit of Tiger Red.

Thoughts ricocheted across his brain then began to center on just one word…craps.

The most money he ever had was about seven bucks, just enough for his daily bottle of Orillia Tiger Ruby Red Port wine. The green chip seemed to jump in his hand, it was at least nine years since he last gambled and this thinking was crazy.

What about today’s Tiger Red? Jesus, he had enough for three days of oblivion and he needed his fix now, yet something was profoundly different. He had stopped shaking and felt completely calm. It was a miracle, what was going on here. The blinding desire for oblivion had vanished, he truly was alive again and somehow he knew that his world had shifted on its axis and he was being given a last chance.

If he bet the green chip the Gods would be with him. He knew this with total certainty but now his real problem began. How to get into Caesar's and actually bet the green chip?

Three hours later, Alex emerged from the Mission clean-shaved, showered and reasonably dressed. His friend Charlie had given him a marine-style haircut and loaned him his only clean shirt. He had swiped a pair of decent looking jeans and shoes from a passed out drunk's suitcase. For the first time in years he didn't stink too badly and actually smelled of clean lifebuoy soap. He both felt and looked different and by God was ready to rumble.

After watching the great glass doors of Caesar's Palace for about ten minutes, finally all the doormen were engaged in boarding or disembarking the enormous liner-style limousines pulling in and departing. Alex sidled through the doors, his heart pounding. He clutched a large, clean white envelope with a name printed on it. Just in case he was stopped, he could say he was delivering a message.

It was Saturday night and the casino was jammed with supplicants to the great Caesar. Quickly Alex scooted down the main hall, and then past the infernal racket of the slots, steered through the crowded blackjack tables and when he saw a security guard looking at him, he waved the envelope high.

"Message for Mr. Edmonso" he shouted. The rest was drowned out by the casino noise as the guard nodded OK. Then he saw them, the mystical kidney shaped crap tables, four of them, all with large crowds around them and lots of action. The decibel and crowd level was loudest at table three and as he wanted to stay undercover so to speak, that's the one he chose.

He inserted himself into the mob and finally was close enough to establish a spot near the shooter, a beautiful young model with an urchin cut and wild green eyes. She had just thrown the dice and as they rolled down the table she jumped up and down and screamed.

"Oh my Lord a ten, please, please, ten, ten, give me a ten!"

On the pass line she had about $1,000 riding in stacks of chips.

"Just this one time sweet baby Jesus give me a ten!"

The Lord or sweet baby Jesus gave her a seven and she crapped out. The long rakes swooped down and did the vanishing trick with most of the chips and a few small payouts. The model said a quick "screw you dice."

"New shooter coming out!" The red dice rattled along the table pushed by the rake neatly depositing them in front of Alex.

"New shooter!" he said again.

Hands trembling, Alex picked up two dice, gave them a brief shake, and put his $25 chip onto the pass line. He was about to roll them when a low, piercing voice spoke over the noise.

"Get that bum outta my pit right now, he's banned. I never forget a face."

It was the same pit boss who had him banned all those years ago.

Alex was filled with shame then anger, almost in tears.

He waved his original green chip in the air. "I've got my bet right here and by God, I want to bet it!" he said, his voice quivery, yet very positive.

“I'm entitled to one lousy bet after all these years.”

"Get him outta here, now. Somebody call security" the pit boss said again.

There was a small ripple at the other end of the crowded table, then that same vicious voice, now slightly slurred with too much bourbon.

"Well I'm damned, thought I recognized that voice. It's the old drunk. Hey old feller, come to give us lessons have you? Teach us how to shoot craps, you jerk, with my money? What a fucking nerve. Tell you what, you old bastard. You put that $25 chip I gave you on the win line and if you win I’ll give you a hundred bucks and I'll eat my tie, you drunked-up loser."

While some of the crowd was laughing at this exchange, a voice said, "Let’s get on with the action here, can we?"

It was then that the silver-haired man next to his nephew spoke.

"Let him roll Charlie" he said to the pit boss. "He's a stone cold loser and it won’t take long."

There was a ten second pause. Then, because the pit boss was no fool and knew that Kandross could buy the casino if he wanted to, he spoke.

"Certainly, Mr. Kandross. Place your bets ladies and gentlemen, get your bets down.”

The table sprang back into activity with a buzz of anticipation. Who was this strange guy holding the dice? Probably a loser from the look of him. Alex had listened to the different voices with astonishment followed by shock then fear. What the hell was he doing here? This was crazy when he could be falling into sweet oblivion with enough Tiger Red to last him the whole weekend.

The green chip seemed to tremble in his fingers almost as though it had life.

Alex straightened up, shook his head, wiped his eyes and then he smiled revealing a row of horrendous blackened teeth, two missing from the front. Yet it was a beautiful smile for all that. His eyes were serene at last his demons had departed. He looked down the table, at the sneering faces of his tormentors and smiled again. He was Alex the Amazing Craps Shooter.

Carefully and with great dignity, he placed his green chip on the win line, the pass line, the magic square where he would show them all his mastery of this great game. He picked up the two dice again, and shook them tentatively.

"Seven for the green tiger eyes" he said, and without a moment’s hesitation threw them down the table.

The left one bounced off the end wall of the table and came to rest. A six. The right one rolled off the end, spun on a corner then finally settled on one. A perfect seven, a winner, and he now had $50. Back came the dice, Alex picked up and down they rolled, tumbling, bouncing. Four and three, another perfect seven winner.

The Rakeman's voice boomed, "Another winner. Straight seven first time, seven's a winner."

He now had $100 and it was then, right at that moment, that Alex knew, this was it. It felt like a huge jolt of electricity supercharging his system and now his shivering was from confidence rather than misery. In rapid succession he made ten more perfect passes, either with a natural seven or whatever point he needed. Four the hard way, ten the hard way. It seemed like he was challenging the Gods of dice.

The green chip had multiplied, Alex now had $51,200 stacked high in front of him on the win line. He came out of his trance. Where was he? Oh right, the green chip. There it was resting alone, just on the edge of the pass line. Green, so incredibly green.

Then he heard the angry voices from the other end of the table overriding the high buzz of conversation around him.

”Table limit reached sir, table limit reached.”

"He's just rolled twelve natural passes, its freakin’ amazing," screamed the same urchin-cut model. "Go tiger, go, go, go, you've got ‘em on the run and I love you sweetheart!"

She pointed down at the two chip racks in front of her containing about $18,000 then gave Alex a swift hug and a big smacking kiss on the cheek. On his other side an elderly white-haired preacher with a bulbous red nose and a huge stack of black $100 chips shook his head reverently and informed him.

"Take your money and run my son."

Almost all of the crowd were with Alex on the pass line with only Kandross and his nephew on the don't pass line. Meanwhile, the pit boss was standing in the middle looking utterly stunned when the same vicious insistent voice came at Alex.

"Hey old man, betcha can't do that again. What you got there, ‘bout $50,000? I'll give you 100 to 1 odds you can't do that again."

There was real hatred and disbelief in his voice now. Alex looked down the table at him and smiled again. The whole table had gone quiet, the pit crew motionless, watching this exchange. Then the silver haired Kandross spoke in a low sibilant whisper which carried right around the crowd.

"Shut up Peter." There was fury in his voice. He looked at Alex. "You don't know me, but I know you. You're a born loser and we both know that. Most people in life are losers. So apart from loser what’s your other name?" he sneered.

"Alex, sir."

"Well, Alex you're really something special, one of life's major losers. You smell like shit and you look like shit, you're dying on your feet yet somehow you figure you're making a comeback for Christ sake. Well I'm about to prove you wrong and in matters like this, I'm never wrong."

Alex remained silent and calm.

"Charlie, what’s the record for straight winning passes on a craps table? Do you understand Charlie, the world record? Here in Vegas, Europe, anywhere?"

The pit boss looked at him with a strange expression.

"Well Mr. Kandross, Hollywood Jack Davison is alleged to have made 34 straight winning passes at Binions in August 1979 but I know for sure that Stanley Fujitakis ran the table for three and half hours right here in Vegas at the Hotel California in 1995 and finished with 27 winning passes and I can swear to that ‘cos I was one of the pit crew. Why do you ask sir?"

"Because I have a proposition for our Mr. Alex here. Get me your chief; I want to talk to him."

The pit boss made a quick call and within minutes Max Rollins, the crap tables crew chief, and two senior casino executives arrived.

The blonde model turned to Alex. "Do you know who that guy is?" she said, pointing down the table. "He's Kandross, the arms dealer and he's worth about a billion bucks. I met him once and Jesus, he's frightening.”

Alex was still in his dream state and simply nodded.

Max Rollins spoke, "Mr Kandross, how can we help you?"

“I've probably donated about ten million to this casino and now I want something in return, it’s very simple.” He glared at Alex and continued. “This bum has just cost me about $150,000 bucks and I have a little proposition for him so I trust you'll agree to it. He just made twelve straight winning passes so I'm willing to put my marker for a million dollars on the don't pass line. All he has to do is bet his $50,000, keep rolling the dice for another sixteen straight passes, and beat the world record set by a Stanley Fujitakis which stands at 27 straight winning passes according to you. If he does it then he gets the million and if he doesn't then I get his $50,000 and you throw him out of this casino. Mind you, if I'm any judge of character, he'll take his cash now and head back to the street where he belongs and get stinking drunk until he's broke again. So what’s your answer, Mr. Alex? Sir, you got the balls for this? Let’s see a real gamble here. I doubt that you have it in you because you're a born loser but you roll sixteen more winning passes and the million bucks is all yours" he taunted.

Now there was complete silence at the table, with everybody looking at Alex. Almost all of them around the table knew it was a total sucker bet and even the pit crew looked uncomfortable. The raw odds were huge, impossible, something like twenty million to one.

Alex looked up from his green chip and the preacher said, "Do you know the true odds son? It's a sucker bet, you can't possibly win."

There were nods of agreement from the crowd. They had all made money from Alex's incredible roll but they didn't want to see him lose everything to this arrogant son of a bitch who was openly insulting him.

Alex looked directly at Kandross. "I'm not a loser anymore sir," he said and there was a crisp, new note of authority in his voice.

Of course he knew the true odds, he was an accountant. But that's what gambling was all about--beating the odds, like he’d always known. He was a natural craps player wasn't he? From somewhere deep inside him a sensation of pure freedom washed over him. And he knew he could and would do it, beat this Fujitakis record. He knew now, he knew absolutely beyond all doubt that this was it, that finally he would challenge lady luck and beat her. He might even destroy her and declare victory over this monstrous Kandross and his sneering nephew.

"I accept your wager but I'll have it in writing and witnessed please."

Kandross nodded and a brief look of triumph flitted over his features.

“Charlie, have that written up on my marker and witnessed."

"What a dumb bastard, knew he’d go for that sucker bet" his nephew shouted.

There was dead silence, then a burst of shouting and excited cheering from the crowd. The executives conferred briefly then Max Rollins spoke to the pit boss.

"OK, Charlie, the bet is in order, take it away now.”

Charlie addressed the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a unique bet and we are declaring this table private. If you wish to observe, please do so quietly, otherwise you may play on the adjacent tables.”

Nobody moved. Almost without exception they had all been betting with Alex and making much more money than he had. They had watched the drama being played out before them with a mixture of astonishment and incredulity. When they heard the announcement there was a loud buzz of indignation as they were now out of the action. Slowly it subsided, except for a low murmur of excited comment. By now, word of the bet had spread through the casino and the crowd was six or seven deep in places.

"I want this whole table cordoned off please." He nodded at two security guards who quickly encircled the table with a white cord on brass stands.

The pit boss put up his hand and addressed Alex. "Do you understand the terms of the bet? You are playing solely against Mr. Kandross and only you will roll the dice. Your chips stay right there on the pass line and if you succeed in rolling a further 16 straight winning passes you will receive the marker now on the don't pass line for a million dollars. However, if you fail and roll craps or don't make your point your chips valued at $51,200 will be transferred to Mr Kandross. What's your full name by the way?"

"Alex Campbell,” said Alex still with that same strange dignified smile revealing once again his stained gapped teeth.

“Are we in agreement gentlemen?”

Kandross and Alex nodded simultaneously.

"Right, let's get this show on the road” he hesitated. "And good luck to both of you."

He shook his head ruefully. This poor bum didn't have a chance in hell. He nodded to the stickman. "Same shooter coming out."

Five sparkling new red dice arrived in front of Alex. Almost indifferently he picked out two and clicked them together. The white haired preacher looked at him intently.

"Are you sure my son?"

Alex nodded.

"Then God bless you and y’all go get ‘em tiger!"

Alex reached down and found his original green chip. He held it in front of him, turning it slowly between his fingers. It seemed to glow with a strange, deep green luminosity. Gently he placed it back on the pass line, slightly to one side of his stacked chips. He straightened up and his whole being was radiant with energy and confidence. He was, after all "Alex the Amazing Crapshooter."

It was beautiful to watch, he was in a supernova state but this time it was the real thing. His heart rate was steady and his throwing action effortless. The two dice sailed down the table, bounced off the backboard and there was the first winner-- a four and a seven. Fifteen to go. Again he hurled them down, a five and a two, another natural. He made four more winning naturals then chased the point successfully eight times in a row before he stopped to ask how many more he needed for the record.

Then he became aware of the powerful roar of the huge crowd. It shocked him, almost bowled him over. While he was rolling he hadn't heard a thing, but now it was overwhelming.

As word spread almost the entire casino came to a stop. The word was out-- someone was close to breaking the world record at craps and winning a million dollars.

Caesar's was jammed and the people at the back were frantically demanding, "How many more to go? C’mon, what’s going on? Has he made it yet for God's sake?”

Then it was relayed back through the crowd. “Just two more and he's done it. He’s on 25 right now.”

Charlie the pit boss couldn't believe it. The bum might pull it off. Kandross and his nephew couldn't believe it either. This was not supposed to happen.

"Still two more to go old man,” snarled the nephew.

Down the table Alex picked up the dice, he whispered "Tiger Eyes" and threw them a perfect five and two.

“Seven's a winner!” called out the stickman, another natural winner, just one to go.

The crowd was screaming, the urchin-cut model fainted and Alex started to pick up the dice when a terrible pain lanced through his chest and he crumpled slowly to the floor. The pit boss was out of his seat and at Alex's side in two seconds; the preacher cradled his head and started to recite a prayer for the dying only to be interrupted by the snarling voice of the nephew.

"You lose, you lose you dirty old bastard, knew you'd blow it" he screamed.

He smiled triumphantly at his uncle. Alex heard the voice from a long, long way off. Where was he? This was the same vicious voice he had listened to when he was panhandling. All he wanted now was to sink into oblivion and turn off the terrible pain in his chest.

Then he was shaking his head as the pit boss waved smelling salts under his nose.

"C’mon Alex, breathe deeply" the pit boss whispered fiercely into Alex's ear. "Get up and roll you bum, Kandross has had this coming to him for a very long time now. He treats everybody like shit, always getting dealers fired, never tips, insults all the girls here. He hates everybody and sure as hell hates you. The management all rush to kiss his ass and he gets away with murder. Now finally there's a chance to really stick it to him and his prick of a nephew so c'mon Alex, one more roll. Just one more.”

"Help me up," croaked Alex.

The pit boss and the preacher hauled him to his feet. The pain had subsided a little but he had trouble seeing straight.

The entire crowd was completely silent, hushed. Then Alex picked out the features of his tormentors, one face contorted with hatred and the other full of contempt and triumph.

Alex fought to stay upright.

Kandross spoke, "Looks like I was right, loser. Knew it all along. Told you I was never wrong about people."

Alex was using every ounce of will power he had, fighting to stay upright.

“Got to prove them wrong, just got to."

He fumbled for the dice.

"Stand back!" someone shouted, “Give the man room!”

The huge crowd watched in stunned silence as Alex, sweat beading his forehead, scrabbled and fought and finally lifted the two red dice. Just one more throw, that was all it took to be the greatest Crap Shooter in the world.

He shook the dice weakly and tried desperately to throw them. Once, twice. He had no strength, could barely lift his elbow. He concentrated on one last agonizing attempt. He pulled back his elbow as far as it would go and looked down at the solitary green chip standing alone, the source of a miracle.

It was then he felt the strong hard grip of the pit boss on his elbow.

"You can do it, Tiger."

His arm seemed to propel itself forward of its own volition. He let go of the dice, they had to hit the back wall of the table to be legal. One die caromed off the side then just kissed the end wall and came to rest, a six. The other wobbled its way along the table, almost expired before the wall, spun on its axis then ricocheted from the side to the end wall, spun again on the bounce then finally, absolutely, settled, showing a wonderful, a stupendous an incredible one.

"Seven a winner! Natural seven a winner!" was called out as the place erupted with screams, laughter, crying and cheers.

Alex promptly fell down again onto his back. As he lay there, a glorious grin spread slowly across his face. This grin said everything.

Charlie the pit boss leaned over him, winked, and said.

"Way to go, Tiger."

Jonathan Bennetts is an ex rock and roller born in the UK. He sang with Bob Dylan in London and has lived in over 20 countries for at least six months. He currently lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He's halfway through a book, "Excerpts from the Life of a Street Singer."

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Conviviality

By May B. Yesno © 2008

Cold. Always cold. The ponds and lakes were ice. Literally. Then what would you expect in November in the Great White North.

Lonesome. Always lonesome. Another season of holidays without. Without special company. Without just everyday friends around.

Then the phone rings. "Yeah," I say, "What you want?"

The voice crackles and chatters. The sum and substance of the call is an invite to play with resistors and transistors and bread boards, hot solder and imagination. One of the customers wanted company. His wife was off chasing her particular dreams of sustenance some six hundred miles away across two mountain ranges, and she, for sure, wasn't joining this dude. Not where we were. Not away from the warmth and glitter that existed where she was hanging.

I don't remember all the circuits we built that day, or whether we accomplished our goals. We talked about most everything under the sun, sipping beer and being. From time to time one of the co-workers would drift around and talk got long.

Long enough, in fact, that the boss man came around.

You can talk about being lonesome all you want; about not having family or intimate friends and being a hundred miles from nowhere and all of that, but there is one fellow that has the lonelys more than most. In the course of events where you're all in the same boat like that, personal like, it's the man that hires and fires and appoints the work schedule that's the most lonesome. Especially, I guess you could say, when he's single and lives next door to a worker bee in a duplex, and the snow is six feet deep and the wind is blowing thirty miles per hour.

The boss man even took vacations by himself. He'd hire a float plane, have it land him some place on a river picked at random from the map, and schedule a pick-up two weeks hence. I have a picture somewhere a pilot took of the boss man's camp from the air. I noticed a small round ring in that picture, set on the ground over by a bush and asked the boss man what that was. He bummed around in the closet of his place and pulled this thing out. It was a hollow ring, with padded edges, with five little legs about eight inches long with rubber tips on them. When he offered it to me he said he didn't like to get his pants cuffs dirty.

It took a minute for the suggestion to sink in, and I declined to handle the item for examination, though I did ask, "Why pink?" He laughed.

You get men that are used to lonesome together; the talk eventually gets around to food. I suppose there's some things more important than women (which brings to mind an old joke about how there's two things about them. Ninety percent of the time you're out of work and broke, and the other ten percent you're in the hole.) Anyhow, the talk about food isn't always about the eating, but the ingredients and time to cook. Usually there's some give and take as to seasonings and various combinations of stuffs making up the same named dish.

This particular day I've been talking about, when the boss man came over, he asked me in passing if I'd had the traditional stew. I denied I had, which was only true being somewhat put off by the very name. I'm not all that prudish, but I'd gotten in trouble a time or two using that word. Seems some get downright offended by it. Anyway, like I said, he asked in passing and the talk drifted to camping and motivations for doing that when most of our living was done in almost like conditions. Boss man eventually went on home, and my friend and I carried on with a dart game or so.

My friend usually waxed my rear at the game, me thinking all along I was a pretty good player, what with having learned to shoot darts in England and all. I attribute his reach to what beat me. He stood about six and a half feet high, with arms half again as long as mine. Meant he got closer to the board about every shoot too, because he had a habit of leaning over toward the board. Or so I think that explains it.

In there someplace, between my friend getting a phone call from his wife and me ranting about the dart gods forsaking their favored child, the boss man poked his head in the door and announced that he was cooking Thanksgiving dinner-- details later-- and he pulled his head back like a turtle. We all waved at him and carried on.

I didn't give it a thought over the days following, just skunked along doing what needed to be done. I had no way of knowing that the boss man's announcement had created a mild wave within our group. I was the odd man, being of a different skill set and only contracted to these guys-- though we all depended on one another to do the job-- which was the boss man's thing you see. He was a company man through and through.

Well, Thanksgiving came and my buddy came by with a ride. I gave thanks as it was a three mile hike for me if he hadn't. When we got to his place I found the other co-workers and their families there, everyone already doing the prep work of setting up tables and things. One of the women told me to go give the boss man a hand with the cooking. She said that with a mild secretive smile on her mug, so I was prepared for most anything.

The boss man had three pans of stuff steaming and bubbling while he was wrist deep in two or three piles of material. The knife he was wielding made a click, thumping to beat all get out. There wasn't a lot of bloody meat. Most of it was gray or just red. Anyhow, he stopped singing to himself long enough to tell me to get lost--he didn't need any help, he was doing fine.

The short of it was, dinner was finally served. Grace was said, beer was hoisted, friends present and absent were saluted, the overseer of the universe was requested to monitor the economy and the food was passed.


That's it. Just soup.

Not a word was spoken. Everyone was quiet as a mouse. I got all the side glances. Every time I looked up, no one so much as glanced at me.

I picked up my spoon and nine people stopped moving. Uh huh! The old mind freed up and pages in the data banks flipped by. I knew some collection of . . . ah, I had a guess. Act on it, don't act on it? So, calm and cool as my sweaty brow would allow, I dipped a spoonful, rolled it around in my mouth, paused, did it again and exclaimed.

"Son of a gun."

And the entire table breathed again. Boss man said, "No. Son of a bitch. It's Son of a Bitch Stew. That's what you're supposed to call it.”

Well, things went on for some while after that. A bit drunk here, a bit of serious conversation there. Finally it ended. I thanked all and set out for my place, thinking during the walk. I concluded that was a great bunch and I was happy to be associated with them.

But I hated that stew. A lot.

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

Luna Moth

By Betty After Dark © 2008

Today, I am wearing my skinny jeans. The ones that fit snug against my body, with a little stretch to allow movement. When I cross my legs I can feel the slight swelling still there between my legs. The memory still holding even as the stubble grows, poking through the fine sheer fabric of my panties.


I had shaved fresh for you. For me. Knowing the heightened sensitivity the exposed, smooth skin brought. From those times I touched myself. The thought of being touched by you, there, sent chills through me in the shower. Getting ready for you, I indulged myself. With my own fingers, imagining yours where mine touched.


That night, you had started it. Asked for it. I was tugging on the ties on either side of my bikini bottom. You asked me why. I didn't say, but I was nervous before you.

"I know how we can kill some time" you said.

My first exhale as I tilted my mouth towards yours was audible. A sigh of relief. A release.

First, my fingers danced lightly on you.

"How do you do that?" you asked. Touch you without touching you. Only the tips of my fingers brushing the almost undetectable hair on your skin. Soft as the legs of a Luna Moth crawling to safety. Waiting for her wings to dry, and harden.

It's how I always touched. Dream-inducing, but in the right places. Titillating. It quickens your breath, and makes you move to me. Asking me with your body to touch you there. "Here?" Your moans say "yes."

Then you used yours. Pushed them inside me. One, Two. The first time you pulled them out quickly. I gasped for air, for pleasure, and you raised them to my mouth. To suck the taste of my own self from their tips.

You pulled at my hair. I whispered, "Eat me. Please." Wanting your breath on my pussy. Your tongue flicking and circling my clit. Again, you plunged your fingers inside me. One, two, maybe three. I could feel the knuckles. The tips pushing and pressing hard against that spot. The one that makes me shudder.

I pressed your head hard against my pussy. Almost smothering you. So close to the edge. You kept taking me there, and then backing away. Tensile. I squirmed and asked you to not stop. I was there. On the verge. "I am coming." I squealed. Unable to contain my voice. Primal noises echoing off the hotel walls. The glass door. Filling the room.

My body jerked up. The spasms uncontrollable. You moved from me. Spent yourself, I clenched. Tightened the walls deep inside me. Holding the orgasm in. Bearing down on it. Forcing it up again. The spasms continuing even as I rolled on top of you to take your cock into my mouth. You brushed my hair away, straining in the dark to see. I rolled my tongue up around the shaft. Pulling my cheeks tightly around it. Sliding it in and out of my mouth.

I wanted to make you come right then and there. There in my mouth. Conflicted because I didn't want there to be an end. Not yet. I knew if I pushed up on you, allowed to you slide slowly inside me, I could prolong it. I was lost in it. The fucking. On top of you. Pushing you hard and deep inside me. I made myself come again. You made me come again. Pushing my hips down onto your body.

Then you flipped me. On my back. Crawling on top of me. Hovering over me, you pushed my arms above my head. I imagined you had tied me up. You fumbled. We giggled then you pushed inside me again. Both of us breathing hard. Guttural exhales escalating in volume. I pulled my legs to my chest. I wanted you deeper inside me. In the mirror, I watched you. Your back arching. Pushing through me.

A light smack on my ass and you told me to turn over. Quickly, to thrust into me from behind. When you exploded, I felt it. The throbbing release. The collapse of fulfilled desire.

There was an aggression in how you fucked me. I felt commanded by you. Wanting to give power over to you. Wanting to take it further.

Wanted, more.

Only after mating, does the female Luna Moth take flight.

Betty After Dark is a writer who now lives in Montana.

Pizza and the Party

By Matt Moon © 2008

I was at this Eastmont Catholic party Joe brought me to and I was hammered. Some generous fellow was quite liberal with his Jack Daniels and I felt very, very warm inside. I smiled continuously but the party was coming to an end. Joe was jabbering with this girl who kept touching him. A little push here, a grab of the hand, drinking from his cup of beer. The girl had a friend named Brittany with an "i" (who doesn't know there's an "i" in Brittany?). The four of us were talking and drinking.

"Is anyone else hungry?" Joe asked. "I'm starving!"

"I'm hungry too," the girl said.

So the four of us piled into Joe's automobile and hit the streets, as Joe transported us to some fine dining establishment. I tried talking and joking with Brittany but she was giving one-or-two-word responses. She was not digging me. She'd rather stare out the backseat window than associate with me. That was very unfortunate. I was really hammered and she had some cute aspects to her. I kept trying to progress the conversation but failed miserably every single time.

"Pizza!" Joe said. "Pizza would be damn good!"

"Oh yeah," the girl said. "I love pizza."

There was one pizza establishment with dine-in open until three o'clock in the morning. It was ten minutes away near a local college campus. Joe drove us there and double-parked and we went inside the place. We sat down and there were television sets everywhere. A re-run of Star Trek blared into our ears.

"I hate television" Brittany said. I bet she hated a lot of things.

"It makes people stupid."

"Before its invention," I said, "science-fiction writers described it in detail and proclaimed it to be the ultimate brain-control device."

She drank her water and turned to her friend. "Why in the hell would anyone want to go out to eat with friends and family and have a big goddamn television in their faces?"

"Yeah," the girl replied, "that is weird."

"I knew this would come in handy," Joe said, as he pulled something out of his coat.

"TV-Be-Gone" I laughed.

Joe received it from his little brother on Christmas. It was supposed to turn off every television made after 1989. The box didn't explain what technological innovation occurred which made 1990 television sets different than 1989 television sets.

Joe then pointed the tiny keychain contraption and the TV turned off. Silence filled the air. I laughed. Everyone was smiling. We ordered our pizza and the waitress-type employee turned on the TV.

"They must be watching the program" I said. "No one else is in here."

"Can't they see we don't want that goddamn thing on?" Brittany said.

"Maybe they don't know we turned it off."

"They know. How could they not know? We're the only ones in here. Maybe she should have asked whether we wanted it on or off."

The television turned off. A minute later, an employee turned it back on. Soon as she returned to the kitchen, it went off again.

"You know," I said, "those who end up suffering from Alzheimer's disease watch a lot more television than those who end up healthy in their elderly years."

No one responded. No one gave a shit about what I had to say. Joe asked the girl if there were any more parties happening that night.

"I just don't feel like going home yet," he said.

"I bet I could find one."

And the girl started dialing and gabbing with every single motherfucker on her cell phone's list of numbers. Some guy came up and turned on the TV. Immediately, it went off again. The guy turned it on and watched it for a minute. Then Joe turned it off again.

"Piece of junk!" the guy yelled. And he turned it back on. Twenty seconds later, it went off.

"Goddamn motherfucking piece of shit!"

The guy went irate. He kicked over a chair and threw over a table. He turned the television back on and it immediately turned off. The guy screamed something -- perhaps in a foreign language -- and he grabbed a chair and slammed it into the television screen and the TV fell off the wall and shattered on the floor. Sparks and smoke filled the air. Some employees came out to calm him down but he went at this girl's throat and threw her on the ground and spit on her and kicked her in the stomach and the cops came and pepper sprayed his eyes and beat him with nightsticks and the guy screamed and cried. They handcuffed him and dragged him away to somewhere. The girl sitting next to Joe told us about a party at a frat house nearby and then our pizza arrived. We ate and then drove to the party. Joe parallel parked about two feet away from the curb and we went inside this house and there were a decent amount of people. Keystone Light cans were being provided so we drank them.

"Creative writing? That'd be so awesome" some girl said. Somehow we ended up in a conversation circle.

"You would think that, but I'm certain no one else in the class smokes pot. All they do is drink Starbucks while talking about writing and how they love Starbucks and how unathletic they are."

The guy kept talking. He was one of those Jack Kerouac wannabe motherfuckers, who get high and ramble some first-thought-best-thought bullshit that I would read in those throwaway free literary newsletters. The more the guy talked, the more I knew that he sucked at writing. He was one of those guys who wrote cheesy, artificial, phony bullshit that just pissed off anyone with half a brain. I didn't care if he ended up selling millions of books. I knew he was absolutely awful. But Brittany didn't possess my keen senses and she was all gaga for this guy. I finished my beer and went back to the refrigerator. I drank and ended up talking with some girl.

"Do you go to school here?" she asked.

"Oh yeah."

"What's your major?"


"Me too! Are you going into education?"

"Not sure."

She kept talking. She had glasses. She was one of those nerdy girls who were slightly attractive. Ones you would get all up on simply because you wanted to see her less composed and less academic. You don't know anyone until you've seen them devolved.

Things were going well but then a friend found her.

"Well, I gotta go," she said. "See you around." And she was gone.

I drank two more beers. I wandered around from conversation to conversation. I'd listen for a while and try to interject myself into the conversation, but no one would respond or ever make eye contact with me and I'd eventually feel stupid and leave. After a while, I went to the upstairs bathroom and pissed. I looked in the mirror. Maybe it was my hair. It was all flat from wearing a hat all day. It was cold outside. I should have worn my hat to this party. It had to be my hair. I washed my hands and splashed water on my hair and tried to comb it with my fingers. Someone banged on the door.

"Hurry up in there!" some guy yelled.

He banged some more and I finished up my hair and dried it with a towel and opened the door.

"What the fuck were you doing in here?" he said. He pushed me aside and walked to the toilet. Mid-pace, he unzipped his pants, lost his balance, and hit his head on the side of the bathtub.

"Holy shit!" Two guys in the hallway burst into laughter and pushed into the bathroom.

"Blake is fuckin' wasted, man," the Chinese guy said. "You gotta take a picture." The other guy took out a digital camera and took some close-ups.

"He hit his head pretty hard on the bathtub," I said.

"What a fuckin' klutz" the Chinese guy laughed.

"Hey Charlie" the photographer said to his unresponsive face. "Know how to walk or just read about it?"

"He's bleeding pretty badly," I said. "It's all over the tub."

"Alcohol thins the blood, baby!" The two guys clinked their cans and chugged.

"He could be seriously hurt."

"Nah, man. He's fine. He does this every week."

The guys kept laughing and taking pictures so I left and went downstairs. That English major girl had returned and I went up to her.

"Thought you were leaving?"

"Yeah, well the party we went to was pretty dumb."

"That sucks."

"Yeah. Is your hair wet?"

"Oh. Yeah. Some guy spilled beer on me."

"On your head?"

"Yeah. So I washed it." Then she gave me the most horrified look I'd ever seen directed toward me. The most horrible expression in my entire life. I was one of those smelly homeless guys who bathed in public bathrooms.

"The guy was really drunk. He fell and hit his head upstairs. Hit it right on the bathtub. I think he might be dead."

She looked at me and then looked around. "I think I'm gonna get another beer."

"Oh yeah. Me too."

I drained my beer. I went with her to get beer and then went over to some of her female friends. After listening to them talk for a long time, I realized the English major wasn't even looking at me. I was the creepy guy following her. I walked away and drank the beer. Joe and his girl weren't anywhere to be found though his car was still parked outside. The Brittany girl probably left with the phony fuck writer. Pretty soon the party had winded down and the only people left were a bunch of guys standing around talking about drinking and football. We were the losers. The rejects who couldn't even pick up an ugly broad lingering around at the end of a party. I drank another beer. I wanted to die.

I went outside and the wind was blowing twenty miles per hour and it was freezing. I tried to see if I could sleep in Joe's backseat but the car doors were locked. So I lay across the hood. I laid there and tried to sleep. It must have been twenty below. I was going to die out there. I was going to freeze to death and I didn't care. I decided that if God let me freeze to death than there probably wasn't much in store for my future anyway. But after a while, I thought about the possibility of a squad car seeing me before I died. And I thought about what a hassle it would be to get arrested and have to call my parents and hear them bitch at me.

So I rolled off the car and went back inside. Joe had probably already fucked that girl somewhere upstairs. Fucked her and passed out. I rinsed out a glass beer bottle and filled it with water. I drank one and a half bottles of water, felt sick, and vomited outside. Then I went inside, drank half a bottle of water, and passed out on the couch. At some point one of the frat boys said I couldn't sleep on the couch and made me sleep on the hardwood floor. I didn't care. I just crawled off the couch, lay on the hardwood, and used my arms as a pillow.

Matt Moon is a traveling mouth band music-maker. And so are you.