Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dirk and the Bubbas

Dirk looks up at the clear autumn sky as he's dragged through the leaves, thankful that they're dry and even more thankful to be facing upward. The Bubba brothers had spotted him across the street from the gas station buying a pop science magazine and with but a glance between them decided it was Dirk's turn, and so now they each hold onto an ankle as they saunter along bantering about nothing in particular.

Totaling about 580 pounds of mostly meat between them, they had grown up in various foster homes till they were found useful at Esco's service/junk lot on the edge of town.  From a shortened form of their last name that no one seemed or cared to know they were used to being called the Bubba Twins. Those old enough to remember Hee Haw might picture Junior Samples with a buzcut and in stereo.  All they had was each other, no one else mattered, except when they needed amusement.

For his part, Dirk was a senior in high school, the very same one his captors had left behind as soon as they turned legal, as far as the state was concerned, and thanks to robust builds landed jobs throwing truck parts and old girders around. No one knew where they lived per se, they just showed up every day.  But Dirk's ACT scores and advanced pursuits had gotten attention from MIT among others.  Somehow it didn't take him long to realize that this ordeal would be over soon enough, and then life would go on.

When they finally get to some old shack in a small clearing hey sit Dirk in a chair among not a small stash of just about everything one can scrounge in a backwoods county.  Bubba Alpha, we'll call him, instructed Bubba Beta, git that thar rope while ahh proceed to arrange for tha enter-tainment.  Bubba the lesser then kneels next to Dirk and starts to tie him to the chair, but Dirk doesn't resist.

Daddy Bubba eventually rigs up some kind of car battery to an old portable CD player and turns to Dirk and grins as the bass line to Madonna's Like a Virgin starts up.

Hey boy, think you gonna git laid 'fore you turn therty-fahve, he starts in with a tobacco-stained grin as his counterpart starts to chuckle.  Well that thar purdy sawwng is on ree-peat so u gots lots a tahme ta thank about thar ahh reckon, yeap. So the Bubba-squared proceeds to head out the door, each with a rickety pellet gun, and secure it with a padlock.

The thing is, Dirk had lots a tahme while being tied up to spot what he needed sitting in plain view around the shed.  That, and, it seems his congenial hosts had neglected to check his pockets for, let's say, a swiss army knife.

It was getting toward dusk when the twins had enough of pinging small furry animals and headed back to see how their prize had fared, although, the expected Material Girl Marathon was not to be heard.  Well, this situation calls for words.

Y'all don't reckon tha bat-try done run out?

The other one just stares at the door with a quizzical look.

Bubba Prime digs out his key and undoes the lock, looks at his brother in the eerie silence, and gently pulls the door handle.

Dirk is along a secluded lane just over a mile away when the explosion startles birds in the brush overhead.

The local sheriff rules it accidental, and then life goes on.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


A lump of clay, a nation, a young person. A philosophy, a temperament, an environment. We all have to start out somewhere. The stage is set. Some turn to friends. Others to learning, maybe clubs and activities, becoming leaders and followers. And invariably there are those of us that turn into ourselves.

Juche ideology has been dubbed as North Korea’s middle finger to the world. Melodious chants that decry America notwithstanding, they’re in it for the haul, going it alone in Orwellian bliss. Proles starve if they can avoid the work camps and the Pyongyang privileged justify it for the cause. Outsiders cannot partially-photograph the Great Leader’s graven image as people cry out in worship before him like a tent full of holy rollers. Ahh but we all have to start out somewhere.

The green idealist, naive, intellectual yet insecure and socially unmotivated, with an appetite for apathy, is no stranger to the ol’ bunker hunker in a world that doesn’t get it, with little more to offer than sneers and grinning idiots with their lameass comments.

At church they tried, more or less, to teach us the righteous path, yet, in the end the choices are all our own.

Sometimes even those who love you don’t have the full picture.

Sometimes we bite the hand that feeds us.

Sometimes we throw out the baby with the bathwater.

After all, how would the Wizard of Oz have turned out had Toto never gotten curious about what's behind the green curtain?

Every revolution needs a leader, even an unlikely one standing at 5-foot- something. Purge the dissidents. All associations deemed a threat to her reich were hereby annulled. Funny how surrealism takes a while to sink in.

I had gone into isolation a few years before so why not now? Sure is hard to live in the moment when your head is so well furnished.

Dad took a video during a snowstorm just after Christmas, and as the eyes witness it piling up outside the ears get a conversation with my mom, oh how confused and withdrawn I had become. Later on he evidently asks me to climb atop a two-cord stack of firewood and throw some off for the garage. Ground zero in the year with two eights. It’s all over my face, wincing to aim for the pile eight feet below, within eyeshot of someone’s house that I had betrayed just a month earlier, carelessly opting instead to place my trust in someone who had simply not yet earned it.

I answer Dad's questions bluntly, with few words. Jonestown party of one. If the punch don’t kill ya it has a bitter twinge that lingers in the mouth for years if not decades.

Still, we all have to start out somewhere.

Over time her music becomes my music, her friends become my friends, her worries become my world until the second wind gradually picks up, the cold war thaws a bit, and eventually there’s no choice but to drop my assumed sense of duty and walk away with what I still have left.

Freedom can be a vacuum at times, but then, some things are worse than emptiness, such as never letting go.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Twas here i came for things various, and sundry. To learn. To labor. To laugh. To live. And if all else fails, to love. All around are furnishings and windows and bodies and ficus. Conversations ebb, tide in the sea of someones, as is written, nothing new under the sun.

The lady, stroked with water colors, in the middle of the room. She's in all the rooms. Dressed to the nines in pastel wool and chiffon, nothing ever moves, save the eyes. They go as i go, about my business, with no more to offer than Mona Lisa herself sneaking a peek from the netherworld camouflage, foundation and blush.

When i finally shake her hand she offers just enough muscle to make the connection, leaving me to work the pump, and toil at her dainty heft.

That gaze. The latest fly in the sap. Janie come lately, etched into the phosphors sans haste, gateway to possibilities, as stars dot the heavens, that never shall be.

So what? Even as years pass, n'er you hardly even spoke, that charge in the air, you felt it, perhaps you both, has a substance, has a life, a name.

A story.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Sophie plays with her dolls as her big sister’s boyfriend rings the doorbell. But Sophie doesn’t like him. He has a gruffy face and messy hair and wears white tee shirts and a red bandanna and drives a bad old car and listens to loud music. He comes over when her mom and dad aren’t home and they go in the bedroom until they get tired. Then he sits next so Sophie and gives her a candy cigarette and tells her she’s got pretty curls and makes her smile.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


some gambler
lost his lucky deck
and the drunkard
just ain’t thirsty
your stoner next door
but no jones
this cagey brawler
can’t throw a punch
a backstreet drag king
running cheap gas
skirt-chasing pilot makes approach
on a drooping windsock
just some vagabond
who can’t find the horizon
but if you got
do it anyway

Saturday, January 22, 2011

'40 Year-Old Virgin' blames failures on Tony Danza PSA

FAIRFIELD, CONN (Goiters) - A real-life Forty Year-Old Virgin claims that a late 1980's public service announcement triggered a pattern of "romantic dysfunctionalities" during his teens. The ad, entirely a close shot of actor Tony Danza urging young people to not rush into sex but wear a condom if they do, ran in heavy rotation on MTV and other stations during a crucial time in the life of Maynard Snerdley.

"It has taken years to come to terms with this, and it's not easy to talk about."

Despite that fact, he continues.

"We all know that adolescence is a confusing time, and there was Tony telling us to hold off on the nookie and gee willakers, when you think about it, who am I to argue? This man has obviously made some mistakes in his life. I mean, just look at where his career went after Taxi."

Snerdley cites a combination of counseling and even more counseling to help turn things around.

"My therapist led me realize that I'd been distancing myself from women after a certain point. When the relationship reached a critical stage I would become less likely to shave, even for several days. Well golly, what gal wants to have steel filings grind against her face and neck? I bet it's just awful. "

This of course refers to Danza sporting short, bristly whiskers in the ad.

"I guess a light went off in the doc's head one day, then he played me the video and I was like holy macaroni, that's it!"

This was confirmed by his psychiatrist, Dr. Gimmie Cash, who added, "Yep. Holy macaroni."

With his wall-building days now behind him, Maynard is pleased to announce his recent engagement to a lady that, if you can believe it, "looks a LOT like Judith Light," who starred opposite Danza in "Who's the Boss?" for eight horrific seasons on ABC.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


When I ask a question I don't want an answer. Tell me a story. Make it a long one. After a while you'll get used to it. Then maybe, just maybe, I won't have to ask.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Bowling is for Thursday night. Bowling. Nay the sport of kings yet the boon of restless souls in a home town, to exercise body and mouth alike between ten white pins and and a few brown longnecks. Bowwwww-ling. Booyeah.

Her gaze became fixed, the fruit fly in resin, even though I could swear she'd never looked my way.

As an unspoken code we try to keep this a guys night, about half are married, group therapy, now available without prescription. We have a couple of leaguers but the rest of us can hold our own. My average is creeping up into the high hundreds, although in a twelve-lane venue it's getting harder to concentrate on the game lately.

Slender build, honey sun-bleached drapeage, either natural curls brushed out or maybe last spring's perm and some kind of button-up top, and there's bound to be a couple spares beneath those baggy diamond-hipped jeans the girls wear nowadays. She means business, rolls with a considerate kind of confidence and a prose from beyond her years, doesn't leave many standing. A couple of her decisive strikes have given me pause while lining up my own shots. There are always the same four gals in her group.

One night Harry, our bald-headed grandad, catches me looking and word gets around. After nailing a sweet Brooklyn strike in the third frame he gets an arm around my shoulders.

"Intelligence reports have confirmed she's been sneakin' some peeks too, champ." I just shake my head and sneer.

Next couple of frames are kinda rough so an offering is taken for another round, my turn to represent. Right before I embark someone bumps my arm and for some reason I look up just as she's headed for the restroom.

Brown eyes, that shouldn't be, by some counts at least, or maybe it's the game throwing off my gyro. After we pass I wonder if I can ever believe what I just saw. She had whispered "hi"after I smiled, as if under distress before ducking into the latrine. At the counter, awaiting the tray of fresh troops, I actually wonder if I should warn the other women not to go in there for a while.

Instead, it seems the place is kinda sparse tonight, probably the cider fest drawing most of the folks with rugrats.

On the return trip she emerges and smiles this time, nearly choking on a giggle.

All clear, I thought.

We finish the night with scorecards no better or worse than any other. I get home and things feel different, taking a moment to get my bearings as if the furniture had moved. After a shower and shave Carson seems a bit more chipper than usual. Good for him.

Next week the ladies are a no-show and things feel normal yet, I'll allow, a tad empty. Then a special league event forces a break, but finally it's all in place again, she wears a thin sky-blue cardigan, not that I notice. Lately I'd worked up to an 18 pounder and tonight I hit some kind of stride with the thing, landing on a not-too-shabby 216 once the dust settles. Didn't pay for any food or drink that night, and the resulting hubbub earned us a visit from the ladies league who had started a frame or two ahead of us.

"My name's Charise," she assures me with a dainty handshake, somehow grossly out of phase with all the cannonballs fired from that arm somewhere in the annals of my periphery. Her name is Charise. The world around us is of grins and glances, it knows what I know.

"So you're from around here?" It turns out yes and no, as the story unfolds I get the hint of a greater conspiracy from far beyond our respective teams, our poor tired mothers, the silhouette pros of the sport, double agents extraordinaire, leap from the upper walls and draw their sidearms, taking aim from behind pool tables, hold it right there Mister Bond, how kind of you to pay us a veesit. She talks fast, almost frantically, as if there's an egg timer on the bill of my ball cap. New intelligence is in, the eyes are brown, all sources confirm, dark binary stars to planetary freckles, and the (orange?) blush makes it all hard to parse. I gradually perceive her aroma, a finely-tuned ratio of powder, perspiration and AquaNet.

Conversations extend into the parking lot to be punctuated by slamming doors. I sit and take a few deep breaths over the steering wheel of my '82 Cutlass, staring into what's left of the sunset over the shopping centers. The car is just starting to produce upholstery dander, having sat outside every day of its life, the dust dances in twilight with the sweet autumn air.

Her name is Charise. It may just as well be dammit.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

world where

Shed a sea of blood and the world is better, for every noble cause under the sun, all of which are right. Why dream? Deputy Fife takes aim. With a lone bullet gonna make Mayberry a place where one can break wind without some dooshjob redneck stealing headlines about his lack of wit. We bash each other over the head with a book while healing whispers proximity, old white men in suits selectively adapt a mute button, and that once proud sense of belonging shrivels into a maudlin caricature of itself, ridiculously wanton in its attempt to exhume former glory. Now Barn' done got excited and shot the floor again. Drag 'em in here and turn 'em into one of us. Compunction is a tsunami caused by an epic event no one remembers. We cannot change so they must. Go us. For God's sake we blow up fruit stands to keep the dream alive. Better put Otis back in the cell before he starts making sense. Dreams are for dreaming.