I once took notes for goats on boats. They asked me “Will this one float?”
I said “Hopefully.”
I once took notes for goats on boats. They asked me “Will this one float?”
I said “Hopefully.”
Jake was catching his breath from his drunken sprint down the dilapidated hallway of the Plaza Hotel. Jake was stoked to be in Las Vegas for the first time and had squashed any plans for holding back and taking it all in. Hell, he dropped forty-two dollars between the closing of the taxi door and the check in desk. It was a penny machine that had cows and spaceships on it. Before Jake had left for the Dane County Airport his grandmother, Virginia, a regular winner in the Oneida Casinos, gave Jake a hundred-dollar bill. “Take this Ben Franklin and feed those one-armed bandits Jakey, and make sure you rub them and talk to them. I was in Vegas once and it paid for my college tuition and a back rub from Richard Pryor, but that’s a story for another time.”
Jake had saved for a while and was in Vegas for a buddies bachelor party. Giraldo Roberto was not one of Jake’s closet friends but he was invited because Giraldo was marrying Jake’s older sister, Pam. They actually got along just fine and even went to a Packers game together; which holds a lot of power friendship wise. Everyone was in a hotel down on Fremont street, but Jake was the only one in the dumpy Plaza.
As Jake showered in the wake of the evenings activities, he drank a whiskey seven and sang the words he knew to the rock and roll tunes playing on his phone. “And you hear it, telling you beware… Like a rainbow in the dark, yeah, you’re a rainbow in the dark!” Jake loved all rock and roll but he derived most of his internal drive and views on the world through the words of Ronnie James Dio. Mr. Dio was known for throwing up a few fingers that many folks construed as the devil’s horns. Jake often threw these same fingers up in photos or moments of heightened ego.
Jake stepped out the sliding doors of the Plaza as the limousine pulled up with the other 9 participants in the weekends festivities. Everyone knew Jake and the consensus was that he was cool and would bring added fun with his wildcard antics.
In third grade Jake set off a firecracker in his Catholic School science class… third grade! Of course there were outside influences that shuttled this boy from wallflower to class hero. The 6th grade boys allowed him to play football with them, and their leader, Angel, gave the firecracker to Jake on the bus ride in from Chatterstick. In Jake’s mind it was an obligation now, an “US against them” moment. Jake also thought that getting a love letter back from Susie with the box marked “Yes” was inevitable after such a brave act of defiance.
“Jakey!” everybody yelled as the gang ushered in the energy of hope and the unknowing. “Tiities! Titties! Titties!” was the chant started by Greg, the gregarious guy from Freedom. Greg was the known leader regardless of who was penciled in for the spot on any given event. If Greg was there, he was the leader, period.
His spot was solidified after he took a beat down from a policeman for defending a homeless man from getting his ass kicked. When the police arrived they could not make heads or tails of the situation and performed a group macing accompanied by blunderbusses dancing. After a night in the clink Greg walked out to news crews and a standing ovation from the towns folk, who all helped out the homeless man during daylight hours. Reginald Sladberger was the homeless man’s name. He was there and hugged Greg… instant town hero.
As the just shy of a dozen crew awkwardly climbed out of the free limo, they paid twenty dollars each to get in the front door of Shady Slims Butt Naked Club. The cashier, in turn, handed the money over to the limo driver. “Here ya go Ed, keep those deprived boys coming. We will take care of you. There is a big convention of computer geeks at the Hilton, don’t forget those cock wallets.” Ed laughed as he stashed the quick hit in his faded alligator wallet that his brother gave him 7 years ago.
Vernon was the high roller of the group and quickly paid for VIP lounge access for everybody. Vernon’s family had invested in Proctor and Gamble generations ago and were now able to spoil friends without fear of ever going broke. Cigars were lit and a toast to the bachelor was celebrated by all as they hoisted their whiskey sevens or whiskey cokes in the air. No booze was served in the totally nude joints so Greg and Vernon each stashed a bottle of whiskey that would get this Wisconsin crew through the first hour.
Jake wasn’t shy and hit sniffer’s row, as Greg called it, right up by a nude woman that danced to Marilyn Manson’s Beautiful People. Jake could not even fathom the awesomeness that Vegas offered at every turn. The woman’s name was CFB, which she told Jake stood for Closed Fisted Bitch. Jake asked if he could just call her Claire. She let out an exhaustive, deep breathed laugh; one that had been waiting to come out for 3 years. “Claire, that’s funny. Can I call you Phil Mc Crackin?” She laughed at her third grade humor, but Jake did not catch the innuendo.
“My name’s Jake, but whatever. I like your tattoos, especially the dragon with the crook and flail. Did you get that somewhere in Vegas? I am looking to get one. A tattoo, not really a crook and flail.” Jake was excited as he thought he might go back to work with a new tattoo.
“Crook and flail, you know your Egyptian deities Jake?” Claire seemed intrigued.
“I know some shit about some shit,” Jake replied, trying to be modest.
All of a sudden Jake feels a punch in the arm. It is Greg and he has a pretty good buzz going. ” Hey pussy, take the nipple off your drink. Here is some more whiskey.” Jake slammed his drink, then slammed the second drink just as fast. Jake did not want to be the sandbagger of the group… anything but the sandbagger. Even passing out was better than sandbagging.
Jake turned around and Claire was gone. He was upset and quickly did a 360 degree chair swivel, peering into the dark corners of the club, looking for any sign of Claire. He sees a tattooed finger floating in the darkness, asking him to come behind the black curtain. He stands up and stumbles a bit, tripping over some chairs and spilling some of his drink. The guys saw him going into the mega VIP area and started shouting “Jake! Jake! Jake!”
When Jake went through the curtain, there was Claire… and Horus… yes, that Horus. Jake was staring at the first Egyptian Pharaoh… he pissed his pants and dropped his drink. There was no glass breaking and Jake glanced down to see why not. “What the hell is going on?” Jake’s eyes were flooding from pure fear as he stared at where the floor should be… only there was no floor. Below Jake flowed water and fire. Statues of thousands of people were carved in ice. The statues would melt, then just reappear again. Horus walked over to Jake and touched his shoulder. Instantly Jake was calm, and had the realization that the life he knew was over.
“I’m fucking dead, aren’t I?” Jake was ready for any answer Horus would give him.
“Not dead Jake, just suspended in time”, Claire stated for the record.
Jake had forgotten about Claire being there. “Oh, well that’s cool… in opposite land! You crazy woman, why have you brought me here?” Jake was speaking in hysterics.
“Actually Jake, you brought us here. Before your birth you set up this exact moment. You asked your son to be here and to bring the power of healing to you.” Claire was to the point.
“You mean, I am Osiris?! That’s some crazy bullshit! I am just a Wisconsin boy! I love the Packers and cheese curds. I just want to go back with my friends. Please don’t kill me.” Jake was calm but still very scared.
Horus laughed heartily and spoke for the first time. “You are not Osiris mom, you are Isis. This whole male/female thing with humans is confusing. We are all both, in energy and in soul. When I am done speaking you will have a massive headache, but it will pass quickly. I will speak no more after this. I love you, and remember, you wanted this. You actually pleaded with father to come down here. You have your healing power now, you will have to figure it out on your own though. If you choose to discard your abilities, there will be no punishment. It’s all entirely up to you.” With that Horus was gone, Claire was gone, and Jake found himself in intense pain.
Just as quickly as the pain came, it left and Jake walked out to his buddies from behind the black curtain. “That was fast quick draw McGraw!” Greg yelled out at Jake. Jake felt the urge to learn more and his buzz had entirely left him. Jake’s mind was thirsty for knowledge but knew this was a big deal for Roberto.
Jake stuck out the night with the boys, until everyone seemed to disappear into the arms of the Fremont Street casinos. Jake was walking, and still wondering what the hell had happened. Healing powers… what the hell does that even mean? I was or I am Isis? Come on man, this is too much. Jake was standing at the cross walk and the green light gave everybody permission to cross and continue on their respective routes. As Jake walked into the Plaza lobby, there was a man having a heart attack. The paramedics had not arrived and nobody was helping the man. They were just standing around and one hipster chic from Denver was doing a snapchat while standing there.
This really pissed Jake off, that no one was helping this man. Jake figured he might as well see if he had any “powers”. Jake knelt next to the guy, and for reasons he did not understand, he put the thumb of his left hand on the gentleman’s head, right between the eyes. His other hand he held over the man’s chest, about 3 inches away. Jake closed his eyes. “Holy shit” passed through his lips as he saw Horus and Claire right there, smiling. Claire dropped some shiny looking… well, stars is what they looked like. Like someone had blown up a star and stored the pieces in a pouch. Claire blew a kiss to Jake and winked at him.
“Open your eyes silly, before the situation gets weird to those humans.” Claire whispered to Jake.
“Oh yeah” Jake said. With that, Jake opened his eyes and the man was looking right at him. Jake jumped from being startled. “You scared me mister!” Jake said to the heart attack man.
“You saved me young man. Thank You! I feel great.” The man was Walter Wittberry from Manhattan, Kansas. He has 6 kids and a wife that has stuck with him through thick and thin. Walter thought about her in this moment, then called her. “Coco dear, it’s time for me to retire, I am coming home tomorrow.”
Coco had no idea what prompted Walter to retire, but she was thrilled — even if this great news arrived at 4 a.m. Jake saw the importance of healing and was stoked to be part of something much greater than himself… or herself. It would Jake a while to work everything out in his head, but his heart knew that everything was cool.
As Jake closed his eyes in room 13333, he laughed to himself. “Closed Fisted Bitch, good one Claire. Goodnight dear.”
Vincent was whistling as he walked down the dirty back of the infamous Dongba Pass. The trail was notorious for spirit sightings and encounters with off-planet entities. Vincent often made fun of the folks that turned up in Rosie’s Cafe with mystical stories and celestial ramblings. He once interrupted Frank Bean as he was informing the patrons of his encounter with a blurry being from Burgoliquid. Frank had just finished stating that Burgoliquid was not so much a solid planet as it was a place within a moment within a thought. Vincent saw how intrigued the individuals were from the stories inception… and this bugged him. He wanted the encounter, he wanted to tell the story.
“Nice one lean bean, tell us some more about the moment Frank furter.” Vincent was not well versed in sarcasm and although he was revered for his heroism during the burning of the Hack Seed Company building, the locals shushed him, even little Maggie Blippo. Vincent sat back down and pushed his fork slowly through a slice of lemon meringue pie, so as not to allow the fork and plate to collide through the crust. He was so interested but never looked directly at the story-teller.
Vincent incessantly tried instigating meetings with aliens, spirits or even animals, but his efforts always fell shy of damn near interesting. He would tell himself that he did not care, but he knew better, his heart was an informant. At his humble home on Henry Louis Aaron Avenue, Vincent would light incense and try his best to recite mantras in foreign tongues, all while staring at a maze of triangles and lotus petals. He often had visions but could never transcribe their meaning or message. Tenacious in his efforts, Vincent felt he was moving up on the trail’s encounter list, due to his relentless meditation.
The only light Vincent could see was the sunlight that filled the spaces between the leafs and branches along Dongba Trail. Having traversed this route nearly 423 times, Vincent knew it would be dark soon… very dark. He did not care. Today was the day he refused to exit without a story or a major injury. Vincent took a slug of potent coffee from his father’s Marine Corps canteen. Dad’s friend Marty always hooked Vincent up with a free canteen of coffee that he brewed for his clients at the local bookstore, The Lethargic Lamb. Marty would always say the same words as he poured the coffee in the Corp’s canteen: “Ain’t nothin’ but heroes in that family, runs in the blood.” If any of the old Veterans were in attendance they would just nod their heads and mumble a series of tones that could only be deciphered by birds well versed in semaphore.
Midnight was tracking the footprints of 11th hour seconds when Vincent heard someone, or something approaching. A twig snapped right behind him and Vincent instantly found himself in a karate pose, even though the only instruction he was ever given in this art was by Marty, who himself had no training. “Who goes there?” Vincent was a bit scared and demanded whatever was there to show itself, or else.
“Hi Vinny my boy, ya miss me?” A voice chuckled. There was only one person that ever called him Vinny, his father.
“Holy shit pops, you scared me. What are you doing out here?” Vincent seemed to not be phased at seeing his dead father. Quite the contrary, he hugged him and asked what was new with him. As Vincent’s own words struck the center of his thoughts he laughed.
“Not much is new son. I applaud your efforts and your continuous meditation. Your unique vibration allowed me to find you, specifically, in a labyrinth of unfathomable magnitudes. So now we have this brief moment together. I can only allow you 4 questions and 2 statements. It’s too complicated to explain. There is no time limit though.” Vincent’s dad was all smiles.
After a few seconds of thought, Vincent asked his father what it was like on the other side of life. “I knew that one was coming. On this side you just know everything, but none of it is necessary. Most of the knowledge is so irrelevant in the massive scheme of the OM. The Humans are barely a blip in the entire makeup of it all, but are damned interesting to many of the entities. Oddly enough, the ability to eat and drink fascinates them the most. Speaking of drink, hand me my canteen Vinny.” Walter was thirsty for some of Marty’s coffee and he took full advantage of his ruhumanized gifting. He also knew he would be scorned when he returned if he drank or ate nothing.
As Vincent handed over the canteen, he asked his second question. “Why did you not fight harder in the hospital? You could have made it. You were my best friend and I feel so lost without you.” Vincent felt the overpowering hand of grief move right through him. All the sadness from 6 years ago was resurfacing and Vinny flat-out cried.
Walter held his son close and he also cried, which was downright crazy for a returning being. The entities that were witnessing the event were stunned because they had absolutely no emotional attachments. Tears were as rare as a triple eclipse on Burgoliquid. “I was shown the outcome if I survived son, and I would have been a fraction of what you remember. Yes, you would have still had me around but my wounds that I sustained from the fire were too grave and…” Walter paused. He felt overwhelmed and dizzy.
Then Walter felt a rush of star power flooding into him. He dropped to his knees and Vincent witnessed an event that had never taken place in the human realm: Walter was being granted a relife by entities with extreme powers, entities he had never met. It was given not out of emotion, but out of the consensus of thought in a billionth convergence magnitude quadrant spliced split atom explosion… this never happens.
Light burst out of Walter in all directions but Vincent was fixated on the intense beams shooting out of his father’s eyes. There was a sonic boom, then all fell quiet. Vincent looked at his father and asked him what just happened. His exact words were: “What in the name of a hollering hedge hog just happened? Speak to me poppa! Speak to me!”
Walter opened one eye and looked around. He had a massive headache and the coffee had served an eviction notice to the last meal he had eaten… 6 years ago. Walter knew he was human again and was not sure if he was thrilled about it… until he opened his other eye and saw his boy looking down at him. Walter then felt both of his ears pop and now all sound filtered into his mind. He heard his son’s voice and began to weep with sweet joy. “Help me up Vinny, I’m starving! Let us ramble down to Rosie’s and get some pie.” Walter’s words brought a smile to Vincent’s face, and together they walked down to Rosie’s Cafe.
When the tiny bell warned folks that another patron had entered, an interesting thing happened… nothing. It was as if Walter had never been gone. Vincent laughed as the two of them sat down to eat. “I have got the best story in the history of humans and I can’t even tell anyone!”
Walter laughed with his son. As the waitress greeted both men while pouring them coffee, she asked them if they had made any decisions on their choice of appetite suppressors. “Pie! Pie! Pie!” Walter exclaimed as he stomped his fork on the table. Everyone was laughing in the cafe and Mrs. Blitzski blurted out “Oh Walter, you’re always such a card!” This sent Vincent into side-splitting laughter.
“Why do they not remember dad?” Vincent asked.
“The sonic boom son, it pieced together those 6 years into the time continuum and now you and I are the only ones that know. So, Vinny, what is your last question?”
Vinny wanted to save the question but it just flew out of his mouth, “Does anyone else know? Anyone at all?!”
Walter stated that there may be one person that knew besides them, but he was not sure.
“Who?” Vincent queried.
Just then the bell sounds and in walks Marty. He walks over to the table and looks at Walter, then he looks right at Vincent and says “Fucking knew it.”
“Holy shit it’s hot,” Randy muttered out loud, with his eyes closed. Randy’s brain was drawing blanks as it tried to implement a tracking system on his current whereabouts. The only facts he could string together was that he was currently face down on what he felt to be cement or some type of stone. He could hear a noise that resembled a bird flying by, over and over. From the pounding in his head he figured tequila had played a large roll in his current state of lethargy and apathy. He tried feverishly to open one eye but that proved to be a most difficult task. Basically the only thing he knew for sure was that his name is Randy.
Now he heard buzzing, like flies, and his nose produced some evidence to the brain that he was near cow manure. He could make out the panting of a dog, and heard it start to whine like it was nervous. Then he heard a voice unfamiliar to him.
“Wyoming? Ya facker! I hate Wyoming. Ain’t never been here but I can tells ya, I facking hate it. Ain’t no humans sposed to live in this desolate ass shit.”
That shitty English and accent could only be one person: Chris Buttered Biscuits Quin. Randy’s brain zeroed in on everything, all at once — they had found him. Imagine the most validated “Fuck” you have ever given in your life. This was the alcoholic Minotaur mother of that Fuck. Randy had also deduced that tequila was not to blame, Buttered Biscuits Quin had hit him in the face with a shovel… typical Quin.
Quin usually sent his minions to handle tasks of reigning in rogue employees but he was bored. While he let the professionals find Randy, he wanted to embark on an adventure and prove to himself that he was still a viable threat to his enemies.
“You need a new shovel ass face” Quin laughed through his golden teeth. “Also, quit trying to open your eyes. If I remember correctly that will take 4 days, 4 days you ain’t got ya facker.”
Randy was pissed at himself. He knew Buttered Balls Quill, as he referred to Chris, had found him through his email account. Randy had received an email on his dormant account from his mother and the subject box read “Daughter needs braces”. Randy did not have a daughter. This was the code Randy’s mother was told to use if a major issue arose on their land or bank account in the township of Clevslamnickel. Without thinking, Randy responded and took care of the circumstances that had his mother in tears. When all was said and done, Randy had sent 23 emails in total, making it easy as pie to locate him on his ranch in Wyoming, which was titled under the pseudo company name of Barbarian Chested Chicken Lickers. He thought is was hilarious and knew nobody would ever find him there. Hell, he didn’t even have a single chicken on that ranch.
“Ain’t gonna lie Quin, I don’t want to die. I have no alternate scenarios that would benefit you enough to change your mind ’bout killin’ me. I don’t regret what I did, but I sure regret it was your tenacious ass that I crossed.” Randy had a fault, it was speaking the blunt truth in situations where a lie might serve as a better accomplice than truth,
“I admire your stupidity Randy. I will say that you are neither handsome or smart. Lucky for you I ain’t one to go after your whole family, just watching you suffer satisfies my evil muse.” Quin was enjoying every half second of this situation.
Randy knew big Bob was coming by shortly for his weekly talk on world matters and philosophy type shit. Truth is, Randy brews a wicked cup of java from special beans that he imports from Kompot, a village in Cambodia, mainly know for its pepper. That’s black pepper, like for eggs and mashed potatoes, not green peppers, like for omelets. The Khmeri farmers would send some of that pepper with each bag of beans. Bob carries a .44 magnum and a first aid kit everywhere he goes. Randy knew that either big Bob or Buttered Balls Quill was going to die today. Whichever one lived would greatly affect his current short-term plans.
Quin was lighting a cigar with a hundred-dollar bill from Randy’s wallet when he heard the blaring of a song he absolutely despised. It was Stairway to Heaven and Quin knew someone was going to die before Randy. “Anyone playing that shit has to die!” exclaimed Buttered Biscuits Quin, and he meant it.
Randy lay there on the barn floor, smelling manure and listening to the barn swallows whiz by his head and the blaring of the music. Bob usually listened to Whitesnake, but Led Zepplin was not too far-fetched for him. Randy’s heart was pounding as he waited to hear the shots ring out in the cool November air.
Quin was blazing in no time and Randy counted 4 shots. “Please let there be return fire,” Randy was praying. There was none. Randy knew he had to get up but as he stood the realization that Quin had broken his legs hit him like lava incinerating a sapling. “Fuck… I am fucked, totally fucking fucked… fuck!” Randy’s painful cries floated through the dust particles that exploited the sun’s early morning entrance.
Randy then heard the barn door screech open on the rusty track. “My, my, my, you done pissed someone off young man,” a woman’s voice rattled in Randy’s head.
“Who’s there? Who are you? Don’t kill me! Please don’t kill me.” Randy could not place the voice, it simply was not what he was expecting and his mind went haywire searching for a match between the voice and his short-term memory.
“Now why would I kill a man I never met?” asked the scratchy voice. She sounded older. She was either in her seventies or spent her entire life smoking and drinking straight whisky.
“Who are ya mam? And what happened to Buttered Biscuits Quin?” Randy was calming down a bit, but still worried.
“My name is Beatrice Longfellow Kode, I am friends with big Bob. He told me to meet him here for the best coffee I have ever had and some polite conversation. From the way I was greeted I feel Bob may be an asshole or an assassin. I known him a long time, he’s my son. I ain’t got no will so I don’t why he is trying to kill me!”
“Beatrice, that man was here for me. It’s bad timing on your part, that’s all. I did not here you fire a shot, how did you kill him?” Randy was in pain but was worried about Buttered Biscuits Quin.
“I didn’t kill him and he ain’t dead. He slipped on some cow shit and knocked himself out. Those fancy alligator shoes have no place on a farm, ain’t got no traction. That boy is dumber than an uneducated rock.”
Just then Randy hears Whitesnake blaring and knows big Bob has arrived. “MAMA!!! Where are you? Holy shit toads, is that man dead? Stupid shoes he’s wearing. Ma! Randy!” big Bob made his way to the barn. “Holy cats Randy, you’re in bad shape. cow kick you?”
“Shovel kicked me Bob. Please call an ambulance and the police and tie that other dude up.” Randy passed out, it was just too much for him to handle and he was dehydrated.
When Randy awoke he was in the local hospital and big Bob was there. Bob explained that Buttered Biscuits Quin had actually died when he slipped in the cow shit and hit his head. The town was hailing Beatrice as a hero and she relished in it. Her bad timing had turned into free breakfast for life at the Hoof and Cow Cafe off of County road 6. The owners, Ethel and Chuck, figured she would bring in a large crowd, and she did.
Randy took a while to recover and never walked without a cane, but he was alive, by the miracle of Beatrice jamming Stairway to Heaven. Beatrice showed up every morning for coffee, and the two of them became best friends. They had so much in common, living being the most essential.
The following week went so slow for Gabe and his papa. Shane held little meetings with Gabe, every night, at half past seven. Topics centered around 3:33 pm and where they would both be on Wednesday. On a scale of 1 to holy shit, this had the needle in the red and vibrating frantically, as if it too were scared. All the meetings ended with an 11 second hug and the Fin men looking at each others eyes and saying simultaneously “Maybe we will go.” They really had no idea, and would not venture a yes or a no.
Shane woke up first on Wednesday. As he sat up in bed, he yawned out a “Holy shit” that was questioned by mama Fin. “Oh nothing” Shane giggled out. At the breakfast table Gabe was all smiles and this caused Shane to start laughing uncontrollably, which sent Gabe into the laughing frenzy circle also. They both knew they were going to be in that tower at 3:33 pm.
At 2:43 pm Gabe and Shane were mending a fence that a steer had seen fit to itch its back on. For two guys that were about to embark on a crazy adventure, they were both pretty calm. Gabe looks at his father and asks him if he bought any peanut butter. Shane smiled and informed Gabe that he had purchased 23 big jars of Peanut Smashers peanut butter. Gabe laughed and blurted out the Peanut Smasher song:
“We are your friend in any land, our giant peanuts are in demand, we are so creamy you don’t need jelly, just get us in you belly!” They both laughed.
It was 3:30 pm and the Fin men sat there in the tower with their peanut butter gift. Gabe was worried because there was not a cloud in the sky. It was now 3:33 pm and nothing was happening. Gabe turned to his father to ask what they should do. His father, and the peanut butter, had disappeared! “What the heck?” Gabe said anxiously. “I am the essential one!” Then, Gabe felt his body vibrate and he heard the wind whistle like a thousand Loons.
Gabe found himself at the head of a long, marble table. The table was blue and vibrated, like the envelope. When he was done looking at the table, he glanced up and saw Shane, floating in a giant teardrop. Gabe heard his father communicating to him… without sound. Gabe was a little freaked out but his father assured him everything was cool. Shane explained that the teardrop was a precautionary measure for older humans. “Pay attention son, look across the table.” Shane messaged to Gabe.
When Gabe looked across the table he saw something he could never erase from his memory: an elephant with peanut butter covering its trunk. “This is so good, and I can only eat it when I take solid form, which is not often my little man.” Gabe was blown away, his mind was exploding.
“What is your name sir?” Gabe politely asked the elephant in the room.
“It certainly is not Cilantro Pig Fucker!” voiced the peanut packing Pachyderm. Gabe was trying to act at a sophistication level far above his youth, but he lost control at the remark. With every laugh, Gabe felt more empowered with positive thoughts and kindness.
“My name is Ganoogle Port Lava” the elephant uttered, through peanut butter wisps of air. Seriously, he has gone through 17 of the jars already. This caused the entire room to smell like the inside of a peanut. “I can’t take it with me, so it all goes down now. The funny part is that I still fart in my other form and it disgusts the gods and entities to no end. I love it.” Ganoogle Port Lava had Gabe holding his sides.
“This feeling you have now Gabe, it has always been within you. The world has formed a shell over most humans so that they cannot tap into this powerful feeling.” Ganoogle had a serious tone now. “This meeting has been set up to relay a most important message to you Gabe.”
“What is it? What do you need me here for? I like it and I am having so much fun, but what is the message Ganoogle?” Gabe was feeling anxious.
All of a sudden the blue marble table had red lines, green lines, yellow bubbles and pink squares. Gabe and Shane were mesmerized at this very organic scene. “I talked with your father already. The 9 foot line represents a thousand years. If you look at the first yellow bubble, that’s you, Gabe. The yellow bubbles that follow you are all direct descendants of you. The pink squares represent challenges, obstacles, and general feelings other than joy that you will experience. It looks like a lot, but it covers everything, even being upset at a cashier, so don’t let it overwhelm you.” Ganoogle just finished up his twentieth jar of Peanut Smashers peanut butter.
Gabe asked what the green and red lines represented. “The green line is what happens if you listen to me. As you can see, it is straight and smooth. That’s not just for you, it’s for everyone you will ever come in contact with also.” Ganoogle knew the red line was going to upset Gabe, but it had to be explained. “The red line is what happens if you do not take my advice, and it is just advice… the most important advice you will ever receive. You see Gabe, your life will dramatically affect the genetic code of your entire lineage.” Ganoogle was pointing at Gabe with his peanut butter covered trunk, not knowing that the validity of his statements were being slightly judged on his messiness.
Gabe had to know why him? Seriously, this is so much pressure. What is the task? Will it take his life to a dark place of not making his own decisions? “Why me?” Gabe blurted out with the seriousness of a mother waiting up for her dating daughter.
“Simple,” Ganoogle stated. “You’re the middle of greater than and less than, the center of yin and yang, the dot that marks the halfway point on every map of every journey from life to death, from start to finish, up and down… you Gabe, are the balance.” Ganoogle let out a huge fart, simply not understanding how inappropriate that smelly gust of elephant ass was at this moment. Quite honestly, as the concerned author, I don’t believe there is a welcomed venue that smell.
Gabe had his face buried in his armpit, that fart was the worst thing he had ever smelled. It was worse than dad’s diarrhea smell when he had the flu, and worse than the smell of cleaning the chicken coop.
“So what is this crazy mission I have to do? What incredible feat must I live up to in order to tip the scale a fraction to the side of happiness, justice, and all natural law? I want to help you, the world, the universe, but I am a teenager with acne and I am bad at math. I don’t get picked last for sports, but I am fucking close.” Shane was stunned at all that was going on but the sewage language pulled him out of his trance and right back into father mode.
“Gabe, you never verbally swear! What gives?” Shane was nervous too.
“Well, I am scared dad. Scared of what I am about to face for the rest of my life. Scared for my family tree, mainly the kids I will have.” Gabe was sullen as he looked at Ganoogle and whispered “What must I do?”
As Ganoogle opened his twenty-second jar, he looked straight into Gabe’s eyes and said “Smile.” Gabe laughed at this request.
“That’s it? Smile? That tips the scales? Yin and Yang? The middle of every journey?” Gabe felt that a great joke had been played on him.
“Yeah! What the fuck Ganoogle?” Shane impulsively yelled out.
“You humans,” Ganoogle started “have forgotten the power that exists in a smile. In a lifetime of 70 years a smile will change the lives of millions upon millions of humans. It travels from face to face but it has to originate in the heart, after being granted by the soul. There is nothing more powerful and moving than the smile. If world leaders stood toe to toe and smiled at each other with intent, there would have been no wars. So smile you Cilantro pig fuckers! Smile!”
At that moment, the Fin men got it. The blue marble table only had a green line now and Ganoogle thanked them for the peanut butter, throwing the last jar to them. “I can’t take it with me, so enjoy!” And just like that Ganoogle was gone. The Fin men glanced around the room and admired art that the earth had never seen. Then vibration and the sound of a thousand Loons was entering and just like that the Fins were back in the tower.
Gabe asked his father why he had gone before him and Shane told him. “I was shown what happens to us in death, son. In order for you to keep smiling after I am gone, I must inform you of all that I learned. For now, let’s get down for dinner and hug mama Fin.”
Both of them smiled and life continued as normal life does, and they were conscious of reminding each other to smile. They both stayed true, and every once in a while one of them would say “Ganoogle farts,” and they would bust a gut laughing.
Gabe was walking in the cold stream again. Yeah, the “cold as balls” stream his grandfather wrote about in his journal back in 1953. The Fin family had lived on that property for 4 generations and none of the Fins had any inclination to leave the family farm… except Gabe. While every other Fin was content on raising kids, husking corn, drinking under the stars and waking up with roosters at the ass crack of dawn, Gabe had other plans… big plans.
Gabe saw clouds and recognized unique patterns within them. Sometimes folks glance up and see a bird cloud, one shaped like an angel, a frog, a dog, a fairy or a boat. Gabe, like his grandfather, kept a journal, a cloud journal. After his first five years he noticed a cloud that looked familiar. It was a cat playing with a ball of yarn. Right next to the cat was a row of cloud burritos, all perfectly rolled and ready to be eaten. Gabe remembered this unique combination.
Picking up a journal from 4 years earlier, Gabe turned to April 8th and looked at his entry: cat playing with yarn and yummy burritos. In parentheses he had written “pass the cilantro pig fucker. LOL” Gabe had what could most accurately be described as writers Tourettes. While an angel seemed to choreograph his discussions with adults and teachers, his writing often came inspired, but with a hint of sewage.
Gabe laughed at his entry and was blown away by repeat clouds, his first ever. His wheels were turning on what to name this phenomena. “Cloudpeat, recloud, cloud mirrors, kangaroo shit ass fucker fuck”, were just a few of the first to work through his busy mind. He would sleep on it. The days were the same but the exact times were off by 7 hours. Out of curiosity Gabe glanced at the following day from 4 years ago.
Elephant cloud with bags of rice clouds were the highlighted clouds for the day. There was plowed farm field clouds at sunset and wise man face cloud around 3 pm. When Gabe explained his findings at the dinner table, everyone was astonished, until Gretta showed her marble painting from nursery school. Great grandma praised Gretta’s pure talent and mapped out the young child’s future, all the way up to marrying a prince from another land and crushing the glass ceiling with her art. Great Grandma then blew a huge fart, which the family Fin had been taught to pretend never happened. If anyone laughed, they were doing dishes.
Gabe was not upset. With a large family you were lucky to get recognized at all at the supper table, period. As he excused himself from the table, his father, Shane, shook hands with Gabe and said “Heck of a find young man! Competition with a marble painting is tough, but I know you’ll be the first Fin to forge a new frontier. I Love you son.” Shane knew that a handshake meant a lot to Gabe, especially in matters of profound findings and accolades. But at bedtime that young scientist is getting a walrus hug, yeah, the Shane Fin patented walrus hug. There was an abundance of Love in the Fin Family, for all generations.
Gabe woke up and went straight to the tower him and his dad had built 5 years ago. It stood 14 feet high and had a set of binoculars for every direction. As Gabe searched the sky, he truly only wanted to see one set of clouds, the elephant cloud with rice bags. He dozed off somewhere between his second glass of cold tea and 5pm. When he woke up he went to the East side of the tower and had no need for his binoculars. The elephant cloud was huge and the rice bags were right there with it. Gabe’s jaw hit the floor.
Gabe screamed for his father, who ran straight to him. “What is it young man? Are you alright?” His dad never knew Gabe to cry wolf or to be boisterous… or even compelled to raise his voice.
“It’s the elephant cloud dad, and the sacks of rice clouds.” Gabe said half in disbelief of himself. He then pointed to the writing from 4 years ago. His dad was astonished and pretended not to see the vulgarity the accompanied the entry in his son’s journal. He did chuckle to himself though, elephant big nuts and sack of shit rice was… unique?
As the two of them hugged a strong wind came through, knocking them both down, and taking the journal to new heights. They watched as a tiny twister sucked that journal right up to elephant cloud. Now both their jaws were on the floor. Gabe was always buying neon colored journals because they were awesome and made him feel like his work was credible. This particular journal is neon green, and they could both see it in elephant cloud! It was just floating there. Total silence.
As the Fin father and son stood there, neither could speak. Elephant cloud had now morphed into tree cloud, and it was incredible as the setting sun caused the tree cloud to turn red and orange. The journal was now by the roots of tree cloud. When the sun set and darkness covered the land, the men slowly went back to the house. Both were confused, amazed and bewildered. Mama Fin had dinner waiting for them, but everyone else had already eaten and had excused themselves.
Not one of them had spoken a word other than “Thanks” to mama Fin for the food. Mama Fin brings a letter to the table, a most official looking letter with no stamp on it, just a postmark from Bhutan. The envelope seemed to be vibrating visually, but was still when held in the hand. Mama Fin apologized and told Gabe that the letter had come last week but she had forgotten to give it to him.
Gabe opened the letter inside, it was two pages. Shane was all eyes as the two of them read it together:
Dear Gabrial Lewiston Fin:
We most humbly accept your request to meet with us. Your father will also be allowed to accompany you, but he is the only one. If you tell anyone, the meeting will never happen. We know all. In your world, next Wednesday, you and your father will go back to the tower at 3:33 pm and be wearing clothing of great warmth. While it is not required and will hold no influence on the meeting, it has been requested that you bring peanut butter.
For now, drink lots of water and be well rested. Your father’s role is more important than he thinks and your roll is unfathomable, so show up.
Cilantro pig fucker
The Fin men figured to leave their collective jaws on the floor. Father Fin then says the first words either of them has spoken in three hours, other than thanks. “What’s the second page?” knowing that there is no way anything could stun the numb bodies they were inhabiting. Gabe turns it over. It’s the elephant cloud entry from 4 years ago. For reasons beyond their comprehension, both of them started clapping.
Mama Fin asks what the letter was about. In unison the Fin men say “Nothing”…
To be Continued
Samuel Donavan Terpinski, Gwen had never heard her great grandfathers full name, ever. Most of the eyes were dry at the ceremony, as no one really had cause to be upset that the crusty caterpillar was seeking refuge in another realm. He was downright ornery and never had a nice thing to say to anyone, ever… except Gwen. Gwen knew her grandfather was despised by the entire town of Plickrickton, and all for the same reason. A hell of a feat in these days of celebrated separation.
Gwen was the only one to drop a rose into the now occupied rectangular hole. Old Jimmy “Moth slapper” Jones let out a nostril snort that most folks agreed with. Others thought that even the crusty caterpillar should be given a bit of respect as he went to pay the ferryman. Gwen turned to the crowd and flattened out a scrolled piece of parchment. Gwen thought that folding and creasing paper was disrespectful to the trees that once held it in their bosom. “Would you want someone to crease your baby?” She once asked her second grade teacher.
Gwen wanted to hire a trumpeter for this part, and she could have, but there was simply not a soul that possessed such a talent within the city limits of Plickrickton. Gwen felt that clearing her throat would be too Hollywood and an M-80 would disturb the dead, so she lit 17 sparklers with a fiery cigar, the same cigar Sam was smoking when he was shot.
Sam’s favorite number was 17, based solely on the fact that he once went 17 days without a shot of Wild Turkey. It was actually in those limited days of sobriety that Sam would become the most hated man… human, in Plickrickton. Let’s get back to Gwen, I don’t want to miss her speech.
“Hello, and thank you for coming to my great grandfather’s funeral. I know most of you are here to piss on his grave after the ceremony. He told me that it was most likely the only way anyone would show up and welcomes all of you, pee or not. He requested plastic flowers anyway.” Gwen’s words caught some folks off-guard and tidbits of laughter rolled through the audience. “He wanted me to share some of his knowledge of you all that most likely you did not know he knew.” Now there was a silence among the attendees, a startled silence that was shattered by a crow calling to her friends.
“Davis Jerome, I know for a fact that you took all your winnings from the town poker game in 1977 and purchased all the new uniforms for the children of Saint Anne’s of Charitable Contributions.” This stunned sister Agatha, who arrived in 1979 and called Davis the devil for never donating anything to the orphanage. Sister Agatha was often vocal and verbally abusive to Davis in public, claiming she knew how God would judge him. Many of the folks stared at sister Agatha, who obviously now could not piss on Sam’s grave.
“Valerie Polbaree, in 1984 you gave a ride to a stranger on the outskirts of Plickrickton. You thought she was a wayfarer and gave her twenty dollars for food. That woman was a billionaire on ayahuasca, and was the anonymous donor that rebuilt our city after the great flood.” Valerie had no idea, but was all of a sudden a town hero. People at the funeral started hugging her and crying as they recalled the emotional hell the town suffered from the flood. Sam had people crying at his funeral!
One by one, each person that attended the funeral had their name read out loud and they were exposed for a stunning feat of generosity they had performed that no one else knew about in Plickrickton. By the time Gwen had finished, tears had been shed, laughter rolled through the crowd, and the earth had witnessed the happiest and most joyous of funerals ever, as stated by the earth itself.
All the attendees gathered around the hole and started clapping and singing “For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jelly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow… which nobody could deny!”
The damning deed that Sam inflicted upon that town was was so enormously outweighed by the joy and happiness that he had released, about other decent folks, that the town forgot all about it. They only remembered him for his kindness and compassion, which actually only existed within the confines of that parchment — the parchment that took years for Gwen to investigate and assemble.
Gwen stood alone as the sunset and before she walked away from her great grandfather she said only 3 words… Love You too.
Destiny was a thought that was never formulated in the minds of the folks who called Scaled Fish Den home. Not a damn person had ever left this town. There were no monuments of famous explorers or politicians, and no one ever tried acheiving anything. Intention was the only escapee and even that was a nasty, but well thought out plan.
Intention figured out early on that there was no purpose for it in Scaled Fish Den. She stopped going to town meetings and eventually was simply regarded as a recluse. The less Intention showed up, the better, was the general thought consensus among the townspeople of Scaled Fish Den.
Intention used her time wisely and plotted out the perfect getaway. In the 13th month on the 23rd day, intention weaved herself into the coarse fiber of a dead mule. In order to sustain the odor, Intention sent her nose on ahead of the rest of her whole. She put it in the tiniest of wagons and sent it with Dumpling, her acquaintance.
Dumpling is an entrepreneurial field mouse that was best friends with anyone willing to pay ridiculous sums of cheese for easy work. The best attribute about hiring Dumpling for any covert operation was his ability to keep quiet… Dumpling is a mute. He had gotten into a scuffle with a locust when he was young and on the booze. The locust pulled out a sharp thistle and with one flutter, took out Dumpling’s tongue. Dumpling regretted that the last words he ever spoke were a garbled series of expletives. Dumpling had a soft spot for Intention. He felt Intention was the only friend he had left… but he was still collecting the cheese.
Firmly woven into the dead mule, Intention played the long game. Every time a buzzard showed up, a little bit of Intention left Scaled Fish Den. Although not highly productive, Intention would hitch rides with flies, beetles and butterflies. The parts of Intention that were considered the most lucky were the ones that were couriered by butterflies. It would always be the scenic route and no turbulence whatsoever. It was referred to as the Angelic Float Express. Conversely, the flies were known simply as the Poo Poo Dumpster Deliveries.
Intention was almost entirely gone by the 15th month, but no plan is flawless. The last shards of Intention were heading towards fruition when a strong wind came up and altered the course of the carnivorous canary courier. The canary took refuge in a windowsill, the windowsill of Doctor Den. Every Den descendant became a doctor since the beginning of the family name. Doctor Den deduced that Intention was in the room and as a precaution, he closed the window.
“So you want to leave us?” the Doctor asked.
“Yes, I am sorry, but yes. I am the most unwarranted citizen of this town and I want to expand my horizons. I am dead here.” Intention was always calm, never flustered or pressured… never rushed.
The canary had no clue what was going on and absolutely no idea that is aiding and abetting Intention. For him it was fight or flight, and he was much more proficient in the latter. The canary bolted for the window and was met with much pane. For about 14 seconds his wings were unflappable. Then he heard the sound of a doorknob turning and without hesitation directed all his efforts towards that sound.
It was Miss Pants and the canary flew right passed her and out the open window in the lobby. Miss Pants informed the Doctor that the Whipplers had canceled and that no more appointments were in the daily log. Doctor Den, knowing Intention had no rightful place in this town, just smiled and thanked Miss Pants. Miss Pants returned to her desk to tidy up for the night and thought “What the fuck was a canary doing in there?” She never dared to ask the doctor anything though, it was not the Scaled Fish Den thing to do.
Now that every part of Intention was outside the city it was time to reassemble. Dumpling had set up a camp and kept his reputation intact as he presented Intention with her nose. Intention high-fived the tiny Dumpling and made its way out into the new frontier. Scaled Fish Den was officially free of Intention.
David could not believe he was falling to his death. Ideally water makes for a soft landing, but not from 11,042 feet. When David exhausted himself from screaming the profane words of his father, he fell into a passive thought process where seconds were attacked by dry ice and divided into millionths. This was going to take a while.
Oddly enough the first story line to appear on the big scream was his first crush. Her name was Mrs. Violet Violin, his kindergarten teacher. Whenever she read from the Book of Tall Tales her voice melted his tiny body, and any free floating thoughts of youth were useless to fight for occupancy. David would stay in Love with her until the third grade, when Suzy Abalone would ask him for help on her multiplication homework.
As the frozen seconds would shatter, they would land in a Pelicans mouth, melting and accumulating in 7 second increments. At that point the pelican would float upward, towards Venus, making sure to never make eye contact with the transient soul. Although 10 Pelicans would be most sufficient for this cause, 13 pelicans were requested by those in charge of these things. I was given many liberties in the telling of this incident, but revealing those in charge is not among them. Quite honestly, I could only offer you a guess that may be less reliable than saving a marshmallow from a volcano.
Dynamite. Of all the crazy events in David’s life, the time he found a stick of dynamite, fuse and all, was in his top 5 most awesome… ever. If you can believe it, David let out a giggle as this story rolled the tracks of his mind. He was 12 years old and like most boys his age he was clumsy, dorky and full of adventure. His buddy, Alex, was with him, as usual. Damn near inseparable until Alex would join the Marines and become a lifer.
While wading through a small stream, both boys identifying themselves as Rambo, David saw a tin box nailed to a tree. As he went closer to investigate he noticed it was a Casper the Friendly Ghost lunchbox with a tiny, yellow, plastic clip keeping it closed. David clicked it open and damn near shit himself. “Alex! Alex! get over here now! Oh my goodness!”
Alex came running to find David browsing a card deck of naked women from the late 1930s. Neither of them had parents or siblings that were forthcoming with any information on the female species and this was gold; a one way ticket to getting in with the Lowry boys and being cool. Alex spots the stick of dynamite and just points to it. David dropped the cards and his jaw simultaneously. The search was on for an enemy tank that needed to be halted.
After a quick recon, the tank was sorted. It was a dead tree that beckoned the devil’s fire stick. Both boys always carried matches, just in case. This was the most major “just in case” ever. After this day, both boys would always have matches on them or within reach when they slept. With the dynamite lowered into the hollow hull, the boys laughed as they both lit the fuse… and ran.They found cover behind an old pine tree that easily safeguarded both of them. There was a moment they thought it was dud, but then that old dead tree found its way to the heavens. That sucker turned into a rocket as the bottom was blown to smithereens.
The boys would add a few seconds to the time the tree was in the air each time they told the story. None of the kids doubted them because the entire valley heard the boom. It became the best kept secret among the children of the area, and the Lowry boys now had competition for coolest kids ever. Rather than admit they were being rivaled, the Lowry boys just accepted David and Alex into their treasured group.
Hold on a frozen second, David is saying something. Oh, ok. David wants that to be his last recorded story. He cannot see me but he knows I am here. He is all smiles and wants to enjoy his memory recalls in silence, with the Pelicans. I asked him if I could share any last thoughts with you all, but he was already deep into his next memory, the one where he ended up above the Roxy in Los Angeles and did a shot of tequila with David Bowie. Such a great story, but I must adhere to David’s wishes.
What if a title was typed on a whim and only served as the improvisational starting point for what followed? Huh, interesting. I will proceed.
Does PETA have scouts in all corners of the literature world? Maybe key words cause their computer alarms to blink and send shrieking alarms that the towns folk mistake as a tornado warning in downtown Pickelton. While the patrons of Pickelton panic, the actual message gets sent to a tiny apartment in uptown Denver, or Cap Hill as the locals refer to it.
Somewhere near the Jelly breakfast joint on 13th street, a young man sits in his window smoking a Marlboro that he bummed from a bum. The cigarette itself was well passed needing to be ashed. You see, Gordon had went into deep thought, back to his childhood on a small Wisconsin farm. The memories of trimming goats for the fair and the crush he had on all three of the Whippling triplets floated in and out of his Coffee induced thought coma.
Gordon forsook his given name of Vibrant Rainbow Catcher somewhere between third grade and getting his ass kicked for every time he strolled to the Whippling farm… which was everyday. The Hunker brothers would take time off from beating each other up, or wrestling pigs, to pound on the love stricken Rainbow boy, as they called him. Gordon felt the bruises and bumps were a small cost to pay to lean on the fence and drink lemonade with Katrina, the eldest of the triplets. Katrina never asked why he smelled like pig poo and Gordon never asked about her tattoo of Kermit the Frog in Merlin’s robe.
Katrina was 42 minutes older than Samantha, and exactly 3 hours and 33 minutes older than Veronica. She knew Vibrant Rainbow Catcher liked her the best, because of her seniority and all. Gordon would hold hands with Katrina on the school bus into town. He would never allow anyone to sit with him, not even Samantha or Veronica… unless Katrina stayed home due to illness or “SHIT!”
The wind had picked up in downtown Denver and blew the hot spark onto Gordon’s leg, jolting him back to present time. He noticed a blinking on his computer and went to check it out. He scrolled through his list of warnings and came across “PETA: Tiny Dancing Mice.” He was less shocked than the inhabitants of Pickelton, who had reached a thankful calm and retreated to their television dens to catch the last 12 minutes of Survivor.
With the push of a button, Gordon looks up this post and gasps. Then he sips on a Mountain Dew and laughs. “Well, holy shit, it all makes sense now!” He was, for the first time in his life, entirely relaxed. “It’s all fiction! The money thing, status, starvation, homelessness, greed!” Even the annoying prick at the DMV made sense to Gordon now.
Gordon sat back in his chair and wondered what Katrina was doing now.