The End

 

Popcorn & a Movie

by WC, cHughes, The Grit, The Desktop, Jess, Lord Crimson & Sarah Flanigan

Marvin shook his freshly-popped popcorn into the big, orange bowl. The one with the crack in it. He put a movie in the player and settled into the big, easy chair. “Ahhh.” And that was the last thing he remembered.

When he awoke, he saw his popcorn scattered on the living room floor, the bowl upended at his feet. The television was off and the house was silent. Except for one sound – a kind of scratching-tapping. “What is that?” He struggled out of the chair and shuffled down the hallway. The sound grew louder as he neared his bedroom. He stopped at the closed door – funny, he didn’t remember closing it, in fact, he never closed it. His heart jumped in his chest with each scratch-tap, his vision blurred with anticipation. “Stop being an ass, Marvin,” he scolded himself and threw open the bedroom door…

There he was. How he got into the house was unknown, his reasons for being there, not so mysterious. Marvin hadn’t seen him in four months, yet he was there, larger than life. Marking the wall, rhythmically with his penknife. Staring.

“Why are you here?” asked Marvin.

“I’m here for you. Because of you, what you did. See these marks? These are the days I was without light, because of you” replied the familiar stranger.

“It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t even there- how can you blame me?” plead Marvin, growing increasingly alarmed, sweat beading on his brow and running in rivulets down his spine.

Marvin looked down at the man, from his face to his hand, bony and scabbed, grasping his carving tool, then to his face again. Traces of the young boy with plump, freckled cheeks were nowhere to be found in that face, not even in the eyes. Marvin didn’t know who this person was, but he sounded like his son Mitch, if Mitch had swallowed a handful of pebbles.

Mitch looked up at Marvin. His eyes, dark and vacant, smirked at Marvin. His father looked scared. Good, thought Marvin. Now he knows how I felt.

A pale, scarred hand clasped his cheekbones with the dexterity only a blind man could possess. Bony fingers swept with tremulousness yet prescision over Marvin’s jaw. They flowed delicately up to his ears, then made a curve so they could feel out the tough ridge that was his brow. Mitch’s hand digressed from his father’s face, and stood at ease at his side.

He knew his son was blind, but it felt like he was always looking at him. It was almost as if he could still see with his mind’s eye.

Feeling his ritual scars tingling under his shirt, Marvin quickly realized what had to be done. It took a moment to type a special number into his cell phone, a number too secret to be stored in the device’s memory, but the call was answered almost instantly.

“Go.”

“This is Z984K. I need immediate support at my apartment.”

That being enough, he hung up. To his son he said, “It’s good that your gift survived the torture. Don’t worry, you will have revenge.”

Mitch smiled at his father, the way blind men do and let go of a little moan.

Marvin didn’t know if he was onto him or not but he knew he only had to stall for a few minutes longer and then he would be safe.

“Where the hell are they,” he said aloud without meaning to.

“Who?” Mitch was suddenly alert.

The door bell rang…

***

Marvin remembered it- that day was branded into the wormy lobes of his brain forever.

It happened four months prior to the day. Marvin was a drug dealer in Washington, D.C.- he took it upon himself to distribute his product to the masses, to “free their minds” from reality.

Things had been going well for the past few years. There was just one problem for him. The problem dressed himself flamboyantly in a white pantsuit, and surrounded himself with a smoky aura and an even smokier entourage. He was the crime lord of D.C., a fat weasel of a man who had a face to match the color of his soul – scarred and vehement.

***

Mr. Smith hung up the phone, then typed the ID code into his terminal with one hand, while pressing the button that summoned his assistant with the other. He scanned the information on the screen while he waited for her to knock once and enter.

“Sir?”

“We need an investigation team at,” he pressed the print key and nodded at the printer, “that address, at once. Send a cleaner team too, just in case. Give them the ID of the Supervisor on duty with the most experience, then send that person here for instructions.”

Smith leaned back in his leather chair and studied the information on the screen, while his assistant made her exit. This matter was listed as “settled.” It’s sudden emergence as an active case was going to cause problems. Lots of problems. Not to mention a long night for the man at the worry desk. He briefly thought about allowing himself the luxury of loosening his tie, but decided against it.

***

As she shut the door behind her, Allison’s lips went crooked with satisfaction. She needed to reach her contact. Now that she had Marvin’s address, things would be simpler. It was almost over now.

Allison grabbed her purse and walked quickly to the restroom, taking care to look casual. She couldn’t afford to draw any attention to herself – they were too close. A quick call to Hammer and then comply with Smith’s orders. She still must get that crew over there. She had to play the part until it was truly finished.

“We’ll show these bastards,” she thought as she dialed her contact, a thin wisp of smoke known to her only as “The Hammer.” She wasn’t sure how he’d gotten such a name. She chuckled inside when she was first presented to him. So tiny, he was. Then she stopped once she looked him in the eyes – like venomous snakes.

Allison still didn’t know exactly why he was called the Hammer, but she had her ideas. She sent him a message. It took five seconds and she returned to her desk.

To her cover.

***

Marvin grew increasingly restless – they should have been there by now. He had a time getting rid of the girl scout and her mother, trying to sell him cookies. “I’m a diabetic, I tell you,” he said and slammed the door in their surprised faces.

“Father?” Mitch stood just a few feet from him in the hallway. Like an evil spectre back to haunt his life. He still held the knife at his side, silent and menacing.

“I was just going to make us some coffee. Have a seat, I’ll bring it to you when it’s done,” Marvin stalled.

Mitch stepped closer to Marvin, grinning like a hungry cat. “I’ll go with you. I love the smell of fresh coffee brewing.”

Despite his hurried gait to the kitchen, Mitch was on his heels and never wavered. Marvin went straight away to make the coffee, while Mitch found a chair at the kitchen table.

“So, it’s been a hard road, eh son?” Marvin asked, his back to Mitch. No reply. “I said…” he turned toward Mitch – who stared blankly at the ceiling his throat sliced open and gaping at him. “What the…”

“You’ll get the same, if you make a sound,” the Hammer whispered in his ear.

Marvin’s eyes darted from Mitch to the the blood stained knife the intruder pointed in his direction. He suddenly realized that his life was also about to come to an end.

The intruder stared at him with eyes that were like ice on fire. Suddenly with the movement of a cat, the dark figure leapt toward the open window and was gone as fast as he had appeared.

Marvin continued to stare at the window and wondered why he was still alive and why Mitch had two smiles.

***

“It’s done,” the Hammer hissed into the phone and the connection was broken.

Allison smiled and buzzed Smith on the intercomm. “Taken care of, sir.”

Smith grunted an acknowledgment and the intercomm went silent.

Allison made another call, to D.C. and told the man with the penchant for white pant suits where he could find his nemisis. She hung up the phone and hummed to herself absent-mindedly. All was right with her world. No loose ends and that’s how she liked it.

***

Marvin was still struggling with Mitch’s body and the blood and mess in the kitchen, when Fat Weasel burst through the door with his goons.

“Take care of it,” he told his men.

Marvin’s shoulders slumped, admitting defeat. He raised his hands over his head. “Get it over with, then.”

Weasel’s men made quick work of disposing of Mitch’s body and cleaning the kitchen and were gone in a wink. He gave Marvin a smirk. “Go eat your popcorn, old man. And stay the fuck outta my business.”

Marvin let his arms go limp to his sides. His eyes locked with Weasel for a long moment. “Care to stay and watch? I’ve got Pirates of the Carribean.”

The End

Well, there you have it, folks – a completed gang story. Again, I want to thank christine, desktop, sarah, brit, jess & lord crimson – for their contributions (and please visit their sites, great stuff there). I had a blast. Hope you did too.

WC

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Must See TV – Are We Being Scammed?

This is a long vid, folks – and if you’d prefer you can go to youtube and watch it in parts – but I would highly recommend you settle back and watch it all in one sitting.

While the Global Warming debate rages and the ‘greenies’ get more and more whacko, this documentary offers some rational and sane facts and opinions. If only for the sake of balance,  you owe it to yourself to watch it. And don’t go to that ‘I don’t have time place’ because we all know that we waste endless hours on video games, and other dumb crap that has no importance whatsoever.

(HT to  mbatm27 )

 WC

Time To Embarrass Mom…

Sorry folks, I just couldn’t resist – it was too funny not to post. In fact, believe it or not, it reminds me of a real life story from my childhood and it goes like this…

One winter morning (I was about 13) my little brother, CE was outside with his buddy Jimmy playing war. No big deal because he was always outside playing with Jimmy no matter the weather, much as you would expect of an 8 year old.

My bedroom was in the back of the house and had a back door, with a window, that led out to the back yard. Mom and I were in my room chatting about something or another and for some reason Mom looked out side. All the color drained from her face and see ran to the door and pulled it open. She screamed for my brother to come in immediately.

I had no idea what was going on or why my mother was so non-plussed but was quite intrigued. My little brother hurried inside and said, ‘What’s the matter?’

I almost died. Around his head he had wrapped a kotex, which he also colored with ketchup or something red and I suppose he was make believing it was a head bandage or something, given that he was playing war.

I had to keep digging my nails in my closed hand to keep from laughing out loud. So it went like this:

Mom: What is that on your head?

CE: It’s a bandage.

Mom: Where did you get it?

CE: (pointing to me) Her closet.

Mom: Take that off right now!

CE: Why?

Mom: Because I said so!

CE: Oh man!

Mom: Right now, young man!

He took it off and handed it to her and she almost passed out.

Me: What’s that red stuff?

CE: Ketchup.

That was it, I fell over laughing and even Ma joined in. We couldn’t even speak much less answer all of my brother’s demands to know what was so funny.

Nothing like making the most of what you’ve got, eh?

Life is funny sometimes, doncha think?

WC

I’ve Got a Branch, Let’s Make a Tree! 12 days of xmas #12

For many years I had the best room mate ever. Let’s call her Buffy. We met while we were both working at a cute, little dive called New York George’s. It served tacky New York Diner food and was a very popular place, especially considering it was tiny and had no real designer ambience to it. What was fun about the place was that everybody was a wise guy and the customers really delighted in being harrassed by the waitresses. Which of course, was right up our respective alleys.

Now Buffy is a very cute girl, who is very tall, has big feet and a laugh that can split your eardrum if you get too close to her when she lets one rip. She also has a heart of gold and I love her like a sister. Truly family in all the really great sense that that word can conjure.

We became fast friends and I convinced her to become my room mate and share the house I was renting from a friend (henceforth known as the Psycho-Lady). The house was cute and pretty comfortable but it was basically in the ghetto section of Pasadena. Which may not exist now but did then. We were the only non-ethnic folk in the neighborhood and I guess were regarded as a sort of oddity although no one ever hassled us, nor did we feel unsafe – it just was what it was.

Both Buffy and I are Christmas nuts. We would die happy if we could permanently live in a Hallmark card. Buffy has her own collection of glass reigndeer ornaments which she has been collecting since she was a child. These are like gold to her. And they are amazingly beautiful – the first time I saw them I think I let out a little orgasmic Christmas gasp. Even today they sparkle in my mind.

Needless to say, like every other year before it we were excitedly anticipating Christmas. Our favorite time of year – an excuse to act like a couple of big dopes, eat lots of great food that is bad for you and your thighs and santa hats, reindeer ears and lightable Christmas ornament earrings – what could be better?

Well, this year was a bit different. For reasons I can’t remember, we decided to work retail sales at shopping malls over the holiday season. We’d both done it before and for some reason we thought it’d be different this year. Dreams of big commission checks and taking a couple weeks off at the beginning of the year spurred us on. Also, Zelda got in on the act. So, the three of us signed on with Gold Exchange.

Oh yes, you read it right – Gold Exchange. Now can you imagine the tacky shit we were hawking from a place with a name like that? I know, I know – we were adding to the evil propagation of commercialism, but hey we needed the money and wanted presents, so….

Either our memories were really selective, we were out of our minds or we were just getting too old for this shit but man, it kicked our asses. For that six or seven weeks we just worked and slept and barely had any fun at all. With the schedule we had there was no time or energy to tend to things like trees, decorating, Christmas movies or anything. Luckily we were working in shopping malls, so buying gifts wasn’t an issue.

Anyway, Buffy and I were kind of glum because we weren’t being able to dramatize our insane love for Christmas and we knew we’d be way too beat to try to put a Christmas dinner together. And at the time, I guess we didn’t have any Martha Stewart type friends so we were pretty much on our own. But Zelda piped up and said her roomie was a Martha Stewart type and did all that Christmas junk every year and we had only to arrive on time and we too could have a big Christmas dinner and enjoy and admire the whole Christmas ambience created by another.

Well that kept us going all the way through the selling season – which was hideous and exhausting. And through til Christmas morning. We got up and had coffee and toast and exchanged gifts and chatted. But then we noticed the time was ticking away, tick, tick, tick. Still no word from Zelda. Hmmmm. We started getting those knots in our stomachs. As if the Grinch had been by the night before and we just hadn’t noticed that it was really December 26th. I called Zelda a couple times but no answer.

Our stomachs were growling and we were starting to get really bummed out. Finally, the phone rang and it was indeed Zelda. Yay! Christmas was saved! Except…Well I guess Martha Stewart roomie decided she wasn’t into it that year (and hadn’t mentioned it to Zelda) and they decided they were going to order some deli samiches and did we want to come over and do that.

Well no fucking way did we want to do that. So then there we were sitting in the living room completely bummed out, with no tree, no food, no hope. We were sad – big time. Then I said, ‘screw this shit.’ There was no way we just weren’t going to have Christmas. So, we jumped in the car and went to the local grocery store.

Of course it was slim pickings, no turkeys to be sure – but they had chicken, and instant mashed potatoes, and stuffing mix and corn. No pumpkin pie but I think we got twinkies or chocolate cupcakes or something. So, we paid for our stuff and went home.

While I started dinner, I told Buffy to get out the ornaments and lights. She squealed with delight. She strung lights on the walls, put ornaments out on every flat surface – now we were having fun. But we didn’t have a tree. We HAD to have a tree. Oddly enough about a week before we’d had some pretty bad wind storms – so bad in fact that a huge branch got snapped off the Wisteria tree in the front yard. I told Buffy to get the Christmas tree stand ready then went outside. After some looking and thinking and finding a hacksaw I found a branch that had some shape and might fit in the stand.

I brought it inside and we managed to get it to stay upright with some jury-rigging, spit, chewing gum and prayers. We strung it with lights and hung a few ornaments, plugged everything in and turned off the lights. “Ah….” it was Christmas after all.

Dinner was ready and though chicken isn’t turkey and the potatoes were kind of soupy and our tree was really just a branch I fished out of the yard, it was grand. Just as we sat down to eat, “It’s a Wonderful Life” came on television and we both let out a hoot. It was the finishing touch to our chia pet Christmas.

Ironically, of all the many Christmases I have celebrated in my life, this is truly my favorite. Because it was our spirit and spirit alone that made it happen – despite all the many pitfalls. And the utter spirit of play of Buffy who was with me all the way in making Christmas happen. And I really loved that little tree more than any other because it proved that even a lowly stick could be something beautiful. In fact, I loved it so much that this year I found an even bigger stick and made another ‘unique’ Christmas tree – it’s pictured above.

For me, Christmas isn’t what other people make it for you, it’s what you make it for yourself.

Thanks for reading (putting up with) this series of memorable Christmases. Much of it was probably too warm and fuzzy or just plain boring – but hey, that’s my life.

Merry Christmas everybody.

WC

At One With Nature

Have you ever met a tarantula? Up close and personal? I’m not talking metaphors – I’m talking big, black, hairy and scary TARANTULA.

A few years back, I lived in a little cottage – they call them guest houses out here – but truth be told they are simply converted garages in somebody’s backyard. I really liked this place, it was just enough room, had a private entrance and even a garden plot behind the house. The landlords lived in the front house, Sue & Bob – they were nice folks and became surrogate parents during the years I lived there. The nicest people you’d ever want to meet. We co-existed in residential bliss until Sue’s mom passed away. Suddenly, they were stuck with two homes. It was too much on their limited income, so they opted to move to her mother’s house and rent their house to their son, Fred and his wife Ethyl.

What a culture shock. They were the epitome of weird. No class, no sense and they didn’t have two IQ’s to rub together. Let’s put it this way, Zelda started calling them the Clampetts.

Residential bliss chucked out the window, I was left to my own devices. If the A/C broke or the plumbing backed up, I would have no landlord coming to my rescue. They had no interest in me or anything I might say or do or need. Rather, they decided they were going to ‘fix up’ the place. They started (but never finished) all manner of projects. The one for this story was the ‘pruning of the fruit trees.’

While I was at work, Jed & Ellie-May whipped out the ol’ chainsaw and massacred the fruit trees. What were once trees in full bloom had become pathetic sticks – sad & distraught. Okay, it bugged me but I knew eventually they’d grow back. What really got me was that for reasons known only to them, they piled the branches and debris at my front door. Naturally, since I didn’t anticipate a 4×6 pile of tree limbs on my doorstep, I tripped and cussed my way into the house. I called but of course, no answer, nor did they answer the door. Screw it, I would deal with it the next day.

The house was stuffy, so I propped the screen door open to get a little breeze going. I sat down at my computer and started to work on my latest piece. Eventually, I craved a snack – so I grabbed a bag of cashews and a diet coke from the kitchen. As I made the short trek back to the living room, something furry grazed my ankle. I screamed. Nuts flew up into the air and scattered, soda saturated the shag carpet. I froze.

I saw something dark and rather large scurry. Mice don’t move that way, I thought. My stomach knotted. I inched toward the black shape. It moved a little. I moved a little. I squinted in the low light and bent down to get a closer look. OMG! It was the biggest spider I ever saw. We faced off, my two eyes to his forty-two eyes – neither of us wanting to blink. I eyed the extra large Webster’s dictionary on the shelf – I knew I could take him out with it. But I didn’t want to be scraping bug guts off the carpet for weeks and truth be told I didn’t have the heart to squash the poor guy. Creepy as he was, I was sure he’d simply made a wrong turn into the house, since the Clampetts had chopped down his home in the apple tree.

I had to do something though. I couldn’t let him just hang out. I tiptoed to the kitchen and grabbed a can of RAID. I knew it wouldn’t kill him but maybe it would dope him up enough for me to get him out of the house. When I came back, he was gone. I turned on more lights, I looked, I squinted. No Mr. Spider. Damn! So, like a fool, I fired up the RAID and sprayed in and around the bookcase. I knew he must be hiding in there and it was all I could do.

I forced myself to return to my work, reasoning he’d come out eventually. Not five minutes after I sat down, there he was slowly crawling up the wall in front of me. I grabbed a computer disk box, emptied it and coaxed him into the box with a ruler. I closed the lid. I had him but what the hell was I going to do now?

Again Jed and Ellie-May refused to answer their phone so I went outside and called out to my neighbor. “It’s a tarantula,” I screamed. “Aaaarrrggghhhh!”

Marti, being the mother of two sons took the box and quite calmly and opened it. “Well, what do you know, it is a tarantula,” she said mildly amused.

“Get rid of it!” I insisted. “Please get that thing away from me.”

Marti shrugged and walked across the street and let it out in the open field. I was relieved to be done with it and went back into my house. I heard Jed and Ellie-May, now totally interested – yakking about the big old tarantula. A lot of oohs and ahhs. But I was done with it.

By the next day, thoughts of the big spider were gone. Order had been restored to the universe. As I made my way toward my house, I noticed something on their porch. I stopped, squinted and moved in closer. It was a terrarium, sitting on the porch steps in the full sun of course. And what do you know, Mr. Spider was in there. Of course he looked different now. He had essentially become spider jerky. Guess Jed and Ellie-May were looking forward to some real home-cooking.

WC

We Just Wanted Pizza….

Back in the lean days, I used to room with my friend, Zelda. And I ain’t kidding, lean doesn’t begin to describe those days. It was the old living on beans and rice and Kraft Mac n Cheese. Know what I mean?

Anyway, we lived in this little ranch style that had seen better days. The inside had been made pretty livable but the yard was – well, let’s put it this way – to call it a vacant lot would be flattering it. Okay? Vast wasteland. So, we decided it would be a most excellent idea to start a garden. We were broke but not without imagination. We would grow our food. Yes indeed, we would return to the fruits of the Earth just as our ancestors had. And besides it was a whole lot easier than trying to seed a lawn.

We got a bunch of seeds from the bargain bin at the local home center and off we went. Sowing seeds, left and right – right and left. We dug, we raked, we hoed and we even ho-hoed. Then we got one of those cheap twirly style sprinklers and knew in our hearts, our garden would be bountiful.

Well stuff started to grow all right, but it was mostly weeds. Still we persisted and eventually we started to get a sort of lawn sprouting. One day, I saw something strange and exotic on the ‘lawn.’ It was beige-ish and sort of marbled. It scared me. Yes, I admit it was spooky.

I called out Zelda and pointed to the ‘thing’ and said, “What is that?” Well Zelda didn’t want to go near it either. We stood at the edge of the patio and contemplated. Finally, Zelda got a shovel edged near it and scooped it up with a bunch of dirt. She put it in a box and we examined (from a reasonable distance) it. I had a big light go on in my noggin and I realized, “It’s a snake egg!”

Our eyes got wide. Ooooohhh, a snake egg. What would we do with it? We didn’t know, so we left it on the back porch for a couple of days. When we came out again, we noticed another snake egg had been laid and was in the lawn waiting for us. Zelda grabbed the shovel again, scooped it up and gently placed it next to its sibling in the box.

We went inside and pondered what to do with the eggs. We didn’t want to destroy them but didn’t want to grow snakes either. Can you say eeeeooooowwww? So we called the Wild Life Station, reasoning they’d be happy to come out and take the snake eggs off our hands. Nope, they weren’t interested. Neither was the Human Society, nor the local pet store. And then the ‘aha’ moment came to us. We would call an exotic pet store to see if they wanted it. Somewhere along the line we decided that it must be the eggs of a mama boa constrictor or some other really big snake cuz those eggs were ginormous. Bingo! We called the only exotic pet shop we could find and the owner was very interested.

Oh how thrilled we were! We were going to sell some wild snake eggs to the exotic pet store owner and order pizza. Maybe we’d even have enough for a beer or two! Yipppeeee!

We waited and waited. He was an hour and half away and it took time. Finally he arrived. We let him in the house in absolute glee at the thought of a double cheese, pepperoni dinner. My mouth was watering as we took him to the back to the little home we’d made for our little baby snakes. He went straight to the box, picked it up, examined, put his face practically in it. We held our breath. How much would he pay for them? Could we get two pizzas? Our heads spun. Finally, he put down the box and looked at us.

We nodded to encourage him to speak.

He shook his head and smiled ever so slightly.

“Well, what do you think?” we asked.

“Ladies,” he said, “these are mushrooms.”

“What?” we cried in unison.

“These are mushrooms, ma’am.”

We were quite shocked and apologized profusely for having brought him out for mushrooms and off he went. I’m not sure, but I think he was doubled over his truck for quite a while before he left.

So much for being of the earth and its bounty. What sad excuses for farmers we were! We would not be growing food or even snakes any more. Drat! Drat! And double drat!!!!!

We were damned pissed! (actually we were laughing our asses off) We wanted that pizza. We really wanted that pizza!

WC