Nightmare (6)


I’m in a poker game and it must be France (in the mid-1800’s?) because everybody’s speaking French and I can’t read the subtitles. I mean to say I can’t understand a word of what’s going on. We’re in a private room, on the second floor of a house, and the room is full of soldiers in Revolution uniforms and vagabonds, alcoholics who have never heard the word, and they’re all talking softly to get a sip of wine. Their faces don’t matter to me because I’m at the table playing cards against some General with a mustache and the only woman in the room: a raven-haired whore in a black scoop neck dress.

Everyone was watching us play, and the whore either loves me or hates me because every move she makes is designed to throw me off, to break my concentration or to show me she’s the one this is the last hand now and we’re everybody all-in. I’m holding a pair of nines and the whore pushes her entire pile of gold coins to the centre of the table, watching me with fire in her black eyes and licking her lips wet. She wants to fuck me or kill me or maybe both but the other men are watching us now, crowded around and whispering, to be close to the game they can’t play. And so we have to pretend.

I turn over my cards and the whore blinks in sympathy, sipping her sherry and smiling inside and revealing a straight, nine to the King. The crowd howls in shock and I’ve lost everything I’ve ever made (everything’s gone) and I’m finished. I point at her, and in a voice that comes from somewhere else I accuse her of cheating. The soldiers and derelicts are horrified, and they grab her by the arms, lifting her from the table, and without a trial she is convicted and dragged to the far side of this room, and stood in the center, the men gathering around.

Someone hands me a riding crop and ushers me toward her, the whore awaiting her punishment in scandalous grace, a blush in her cheeks and a resignation in her eyes, a martyr for man’s addiction to women. I lower the rusty zipper on the back of her dress, revealing her bare back, her cream white flesh exposed to the drooling animals, and I strike her with the riding crop, as hard as I’m able, diagonal from the shoulder to the small of her back because she has the only thing we need. She winces in pain but doesn’t make a sound the men stiffen and cheer me on. I bring my arm back over my shoulder and whip her again, the leather crack resounds like the applause of a satisfied audience.

Tears are falling from the whore’s eyes as I scar her back with repeated blows, the skin blistering and opening and bleeding in luscious drops. The men watching are rock hard, breathing heavy as the whore takes her punishment, holding her breasts to her chest and I fucking love it. And then the door opens and he walks in, a man in a hood with my face and body, and everyone parts as he approaches the General with the mustache, and in a whisper (quiet whisper but my voice!) the hooded man says that it wasn’t the whore who had been cheating- it was me! (I don’t know) I don’t know what to say: Who is this man that looks like me? When the men pull on my sleeves the marked cards fall to the floor, the Ace and the Queen and the Jack winking his one eye and I’m guilty and I’ve been discovered. The whore steps towards me, salty water and betrayal in her eyes, and slaps my face so hard I see white lightning.

I try to chase after the man in the hood but the soldiers are holding me, grabbing every part of my body for punishment, twisting my limbs in every direction and then

Church Stories

The priest raised the chalice: "In the name of the Father, Son & the Holy Ghost." He drank the cup of wine.
"You want another one, Father?" asked the bartender.
"Not yet," said the Priest, "this Cub Scout's still blowing me and I'm just about to cum."


Two brothers were fussing in church, slapping and pushing each other.
"If you don't behave yourselves I'll have to separate you," said their Mother.
Just then God liquefied her because of frequent masturbation.


Two nuns were walking down the street when their car broke down.
"Let's ask for help at the house down the road," said the First Nun.
So they walked to the house and knocked on the door.
The man who lived there opened the door and pelted the nuns with full-size Snicker bars.
Did I mention this was Halloween night? Most likely.


A young boy was sitting in church and decided to steal the money from the collection plate to buy a pasta-maker.
When the Priest noticed the money missing, he decided to lecture the entire parish.
"The perils of sin are the fires of Hell, the discomfort of eternal damnation. God will punish the wicked; and all thieves meet the same fate!"


A number of family pets had been disappearing from the neighborhood, and only Deacon Joe Farley held the key to the mystery.
"It is starting again, Father..." he whispered, making the sign of the cross. "The blood lusts... the hungers..."
I'm pretty sure that's when they threw him out of the 7-11.


An Old Woman went to church every day for fifty years, and one day the Priest asked her to give a reading from the scriptures.
She stepped up to the podium and began to spew the loudest, angriest filth that Man has ever heard... the profanity rattled the pews and shook the stained-glass windows. Mothers jammed ball-point pens into their children's ears to drown out the foul curses.
After the service the Priest ran up to the woman, humiliated, and asked her for some possible explanation.

"I'm a Jew, you stupid cocksucker."


A newlywed couple thought it would be hilarious to have sex in the empty church.
"I'm going to bang you toddler-style," bragged the engorging groom.
"I'm going to ride you reverse-rhino," cried the oozing bride.
When they got to the church they were both raped by the Maniac.
I just remembered there was a Maniac on the loose.


A Priest kept having his sermons interrupted by a flock of tweeting birds that had nested outside the church.
After the mass was over he pulled out his ladder and set out for the top of the steeple, climbing towards the large brown nest resting in the eaves.

"HEY, FATHER PERRY!" called a loud voice from the ground.

The Priest turned, partially. "WHAT!"






The Priest steadied himself. "OH!"

The sky, which had been turning gray all morning, rumbled with the faint sound of thunder.


The ladder, rickety, buckled. The birds looked up, sensing the approaching Priest.

Father Perry turned his head over his shoulder.


"HOW DO YOU MEAN?" shouted Mr. Grudzielanek, hands cupped to his mouth like a megaphone, "IT'S ME! MR. GRUDZIELANEK!"

The thunder rumbled louder in the nearby-sky... the birds gathered into formation, practicing violent pecking motions... the bottom rung of the ladder suddenly snapped, and Father Perry had to squeeze his arms around the outer rails of the ladder to keep it from splitting.


An Altar Boy was hungry, and helped himself to several Communion wafers before mass.
When the Priest saw this he decided to teach the boy a lesson by playing a joke on him.
"The Lord punishes those who eat the body of Christ before mass."
Did the Altar Boy throw up on him or something?


A husband and wife were experiencing marital difficulties and went to see the Priest for advice.
"Tell me, Father," said the Wife, "does the Lord wish for a man to come home every evening and spend time with his family? Is that not God's way?"
"Hear my side, Father," the Husband said. "Doesn't God want the working man to relax after a day of labor, to raise a glass with his neighbors and drink to His creations?"
The priest laughed, "There is no God."


Two nuns were eating each other out when one of them suddenly realized, "Today is Easter Sunday!"
"That's okay," said the second nun, "we'll go to the afternoon mass."


A little girl was eating Cheerios during mass, and spilling them everywhere. There were Cheerios in the pews, Cheerios in the aisles, and Cheerios all over the floor. The minister noticed, and decided to make a lesson of her in front of his entire flock.
He gathered up all the Cheerios she had thrown, walked over to where she was sitting and snapped her neck, killing her instantly.


A woman was selling brownies at the church bake sale.
"How much for a brownie?" asked an old man not named Mimbles.
"Twenty-eight bucks, Mimbles," the woman said.
He bought two.


A teenage boy had a crush on one of the girls in his parish, and asked Father Mulcahey for help in asking her out.
"No problem," said the Priest, "she's coming to the church social on Saturday. Get here early and I'll partner the two of you up for the three-legged race."
The boy could hardly wait until Saturday! He showed up early at the Church and saw the girl he liked- but the Priest was nowhere to be found!
"Excuse me," the boy asked the girl, "but do you know where I might find Father Mulcahey?"
The girl smiled softly. "Father Mulcahey threw himself in front of a subway train early this morning. And I find you physically repulsive."


A group of children was playing baseball in the church parking lot.
One of the boys hit a towering home run, shattering the window of the church.
The Mets signed the pitcher to a ten-year deal.


A Minister was at a funeral, giving a eulogy for an Old Woman he had never met.
"Florence was a good woman, a warm woman... and a wonderful mother."
"Her name was Rosalyn," shouted one of the mourners, and the Minister continued, embarrassed.
"Rosalyn was a wonderful wife and mother-"
"She was never even married!" yelled another mourner in black.
The Minister, out of sheer frustration, threw his shoe at the corpse.
Rosalyn sat up and looked into the camera: "That's the most fun I ever had since 1996."


A black motherfucker went to church and sat in the very front row.
"Why are you sitting up so close?" asked one of the church-goers.
"So that God can see me better," said the black man.
When the organ played the motherfucker sang louder than anyone else.
"Why are you singing so loud?" asked one of the church-goers.
The black man smiled. "So that God can hear me better."

Just then God brought Judgement on the church: he destroyed every sinner, every liar, every crook... he melted the priest for being a sex offender and the wealthy couple for beating their children bloody... he crushed the drug-dealers and hypocrites and disintegrated the vengeful bastards. When the judgment was over only the black man was left standing in the church.

Who is the motherfucker now?

Toys In The Bathroom

Like you don't have 'em too...

Chewbacca - Chewy was a prominent character in the Star Trek films, and one bad-ass Wookie motherfucker in general. My memory is a little hazy on his role in the movie but I'm pretty sure he was a half-grizzly bear/ half-Australian fellow who shot everybody in the face with his righteous flame-thrower. This action figure is fun to hold onto during those long, boring showers, and I once mistook him for soap and rubbed him against my body for seventeen minutes trying to get a lather going. We had a good laugh about it afterwards. (Me and Chewbacca)

MASK Stinger - This was an action vehicle from the short lived cartoon/commercial series MASK, and it is a truly impressive creation. This toy car can travel at over 85 miles an hour, provided it's in the front seat of a real car travelling over 85 miles an hour. It transforms from a Pontiac GTO into some sort of armored tank for destroying the neighborhood and its many babysitters. I play with this while I'm shaving since it leaves me a free pinky to work the straight razor. Another close shave for the MASK stinger!

Spikor - This tough customer came from either the He-Man or Strawberry Shortcake line of toys, and he makes bathtime fun. He doesn't do anything but sometimes that's enough. I like to pretend he's awash in a sea of sudsy water and my own tepid filth, swimming for his life and searching for a reason to avoid the drain. It's a metaphor most likely.

Walther PPK - Just your standard blowback-operated semi-automatic pistol. I like to shoot birds/pedestrians while I'm urinating, so I stand at the bowl with my Unit in one hand and my gun in the other, firing at random out the window. This little bastard came with a double-action trigger and single column mag, and one time I used it to shatter the spine of a old man taking a walk with his two grandsons. The guy's in some sort of motorized cart now and he has machines that do his eating and complaining for him. Circle of life? Well-said, sassafras.

Play-Doh - For those long dumps where you find yourself on the verge of pondering the meaning of life, the only answer is to roll with the 'Doh. On the bowl I have my hands free to be truly creative, and I make all sorts of amazing shapes and objects- snakes, donuts, snake-eating donuts and sometimes donut-eating snakes. The bonus is that the 'Doh is non-toxic, so it makes a great snack while I Lamaze my way through another difficult movement.

Some people read in the bathroom. I play with toys. And not just because I'm illiterate.



He thinks I don’t know. He thinks I don’t understand. He thinks my eyes are too dull, but everyone else thinks they’re too bright. Too hot or too white… and so I’m stuck between a hard place and some kind of rock.

He doesn’t think I see the evil, and the lies, but I do- I always have- and it’s always made me sick. Always I will fight them with every fiber of my being. He knows now that I can’t be killed with conventional methods. I doubt that will stop him from trying.

So let’s get back to work, start smiling and enjoying the day, and just know that if I’m ever forced off the road again or killed in a car crash it wasn’t an accident.

There are no accidents.

Return To Stupidity



Cicada Song


Cicada bugs
And fill your ears
With alibis

Turn your head
To the side
Shake out the lies
Of exercise

You decide
Make it bright
Do it right

And summer nights
That won’t divide
No paradise
No afterlife

Roll away with him
Roll away with him
Roll away with him
Roll away with him


My Time With Jackie


The hitchhiker got in the back seat, pulling her red hair back, pushing the sacks of clothes to the opposite side, rubbing her hands, squeezing her thighs together and smiling.

 “I’d really love to give you head,” she said, laying her bag across the seat, filling the car with a natural perfume, “but I got this winter cold, you know.” She sniffled, heavy, and James heard it, and could feel the smile spread across his face. Right away he liked this tough cookie, right away he was glad that he had stopped.

“My name is Jackie,” she said, as the car pulled away from the curb, “have I seen you before?”

She had memory.

“Yeah,” James said, “you were a waitress, at the Hodgepodge...”

“Yes! I hated that place!”

They began to talk, and somewhere between Orange and Beaumont the highway happened... when the road takes you over, when you surrender to the ride. The interstate pulled them both along, and after two hundred miles Jackie knew James and James knew Jackie. They began to know each other the way lucky people do.

After a rest stop there was room cleared in the front seat and they were beside themselves, looking at each other like looking in a mirror. The conversation was music: high harmony in the vocals, echo in the laughter. By the time they hit Houston words were no longer necessary. Somebody turned on the radio.

They could hear steel drums between the tolls, trying not to jinx it, trying not to think too far ahead. James put his hand out to hold Jackie’s and she didn’t even notice- it had been there all her life, or maybe just been missing. The piano was humming, the guitar was strumming when they looked at one another, sharing a secret, trying in vain to stop smiling. The car was driving itself, drove them both smooth over endless highway mile. The jazz-rock solo spiraled sweet through the speakers...

A drunk driver going the wrong way plowed into their car, killing them both instantly.

September Sunday

This is where it's at. I made it. I planned it. Forget the bagels, I’ll take toast if I don’t have to leave the house. I just brushed my teeth, and I even stained my shirt with paste for old time’s sake, and now I take to the couch for the ride of my life.

Sunday in front of the TV. Watch me land in s l o w - m o t i o n . . .

I'm not apologizing for any of it. This is what I need right now. No work, no family, no more conversations about why we don’t have more conversations, just… Sunday junk, which is perfectly useless, but hardly the end of the world. She is giving me the gift today… she’s made herself invisible. Baby I owe you one, or several, but we’ll crunch those numbers at a later date. Right now I am incommunicado. Let me live this day on Sofa Island, TV County, in the great state of Sports and Entertainment, in the lost sea of the living room, as baseball settles down and football fires up.


I have a glass of water, a personal oasis, and there’s ice in the glass, just hanging there, doing what ice does in a quiet kind of way. I'm charging through the channels, getting garbage, garbage, garbage. It’s good to have something you can count on. The sun is shining through the curtains but I forgot to have a kid and I’m not about to start a family at 11:30 AM.

Old movie, old movie, old movie… Sunday morning television is a punishment for not going to church. Remember God? Whoa! That is one busty weatherwoman… she’s gonna need surgery or have back problems for life. Stretching out my muscles, my shoulders and ankles and calves… so happy I put socks on when I got out of bed this morning because they feel so good on my feet and I would never have the energy for such an enormous effort if they were bare now.

Meet The Press? We’ve met… and we disagree frequently. Ah, pre-game. Are there any sweeter words? They’re warming up and I’m drifting off. Yeah, that’s the stuff. Sleep. Sleeping through a ballgame is the ultimate expression of freedom. This is still America, yes? Besides I got up kind of early for a Sunday anyway… I mean, where the hell am I going?

You couldn't even get me to roll over right now. It’s just not gonna happen. I can smell her burning the bagels but I do not even care. Not going to open my mouth today, not gonna say a single thing.

I’m taking a sip of my water. Oh man! The ice seems to last longer these days and it’s so cold, so fresh- this might be the best water in the world. The freshest. Wettest. Coldest. Even the sun outside is accommodating… he’s on a dimmer switch like he doesn’t want to blind me with his brightness. Such cooperation…

Listen to these bozos talk just like they know… coming back from an injury isn't easy! Maybe I won’t ever get off this couch… it's a definite possibility. I’m starting to realize my grandfather might have had the right idea. I have multiple games to watch, and some personal stuff to work out during commercials. So I’ll call in sick on Monday. I don’t care. Let them fire me. What is this…? A music infomercial? Are people still buying CD’s...? I love that song! I’m gonna buy this set if I can remember the number... The game is starting... Are you ready for this? I’m laying my head down... I’m closing my eyes... couch pillow under my thoughtless head. Fantasy numbers can wait until Monday... I’m taking a nap now...

I’m gonna waste this day perfectly... I'm not even going to



I think we're at that point in the relationship where the next natural step would be to devour each other's genitals

Did You Know? Gwyneth Paltrow doesn't shit

Spent the weekend teaching my dog to say awesome

This town has been coconuts since the prison break

Virtual Reality really seems to have stalled at the "giant helmet" stage

The nuns call me Soulpatch

Just ate my weight in Combos… please dial 911

You can judge the awkward at a birthday party by the number of candle jokes

Get this- the upstairs butler thinks I'm spoiled!

Parents of America, please relax: Your missing children were probably just raped and murdered

The clitoris is a myth, right?


Blisters On My Fingers

“Where have you been- I’ve been here for fifteen minutes.”

“White trash.”

“That’s where I been. With Elvis.”

“You were with Elvis? What the fuck are you talking about?”

"I just saw him. Him. Elvis Presley.”

“Would you sit down? People are looking...”


“Where were you?”

“I saw him. Jesus Christ. I saw Elvis Presley.”

“Which one? Wait- you saw Elvis or Jesus?”

“Jesus is dead you idiot. I saw Elvis. The real one.”

“You saw the real Elvis? What did he say?”

“He said ‘ELVIS!!!’

“He said ‘Elvis’?!?’ That doesn’t sound like him...”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, why would he say his own name? It’s too obvious.”

“No, he said it in a different way. He nodded and said “Elvis!” like how you would say it when you first arrived. He was confident he knew who he was....”

“I know who I am but I don’t walk around saying ‘Billy!!!’”

“Because nobody cares about Billy. So what are you saying?”

“I’m saying it doesn’t sound right...”

“That’s the way it happened.”

“And where did you see him?”

“At the sushi place. I was on my way out and he was just walking in. He was with this beautiful blonde.”

“But why would he say his own name?”


“Ego? He fakes his own death, disappears for 35 years and then he comes out of hiding for salmon and avocado? And he introduces himself to a total stranger by saying his own name?”

“There’s a lot you don’t know.”

“You know... I think I really like sushi. Like really like it- like I’m not just pretending anymore.”

“Yeah. Me too. And it didn’t happen right away.”

“Sushi is good. What do you say we stop off at Hokkaido for a little midnight snack?”

“I would say great minds think alike.”



“I'm just sayin...”


Dear Dad...


Dear Dad,

How are you? I am good. Remember that serial killer that’s been slaughtering everyone in the city for the last three years? They caught him I think. I accidentally saturated the Mailman with my garden hose (every day last month) and now he’s refusing to deliver our mail. I went down to the post office to complain but the postmaster said “piss-poor” and forced me out of his office.

Grandma’s pregnant, which comes as sort of a surprise. She won’t tell us who the Father is but Mom thinks it’s the butcher's boy. Aunt Lupe thinks Grandma might even carry this one to term. If she does have the kid she'll probably sell it for cigarette money, so the whole thing is what Ed Begley Jr. might call a "mixed blessing."

Did you ever leave word on who got the bottle of ketchup? I ask this because Hans and I have been coming to blows lately… he won’t stay on his side of the house, and I almost slit his throat defending the honey mustard. Also I forgot how to shave: If you could fax me detailed instructions it sure would help. Or you could even call me, if you wanted to. I keep your headshot on the wall so I can remember what you look like. It helps...

My aquarium membership expired… it's just as well since an octopus escaped from one of the tanks and has been terrorizing the tourists. He hasn't killed anyone important yet... he only seems interested in spreading the truth of 9/11 and using his tentacles to stun sheep. I can relate.
Some guy named Malfeasy keeps stopping by, claims you owe him $13.50. Should I pay him or call his bluff about burning the house down?

Do you remember that time I told you about converting the basement into an 80's-style video arcade and you agreed fully? It happened. So I did it. Scored 8,000 on Elevator Action but Hans won't let me play Q-Bert. Also can I borrow some quarters?

I’m not gonna lie to you, Dad- I’m lonely. I miss you. I'm thinking of gouging my eyes out just to fit in. 
How are things with you? Wonderful? I sure hope so. Aside from my crippling emotional pain I'm ready for the circus!

Well it’s time for me to get going… the Mailman's coming and I have to connect the hose. 

All my love…your son,


Blivio The Clown


The circus clown lit the blowtorch and took it to the bottom of his bare foot, toasting the flesh golden and smelling the preschool delicious.

The children of Mrs. Dolan’s class- sitting in semi-circle- watched in horror as Blivio charred his heel to a blistering crisp, howling in agony and pounding his thigh in futility. Just for a chuckle he reached out and scraped his fingernails across the blackboard- Blivio was funny like that. The heat from the butane torch was melting his face paint, his broad smile dripping upside down his face, the edges of his skullcap warping. He bit his tongue as the blood dribbled onto his white painted chin.

Mrs. Dolan- watching from her desk- wondered if this was the sort of thing that might traumatize young children. Luckily many of them had lost consciousness minutes ago when Blivio had stripped naked, passing around his saggy/fuzzy body for the youngsters to squeeze while he guzzled an economy bottle of Elmer’s Glue. Some of the more sensitive children had started to cry during Blivio’s profanity-powered opening monologue in which the clown had wept about the scarcity of vagina and encouraged random violence toward the elderly.

Blivio was a bold performer, but he would not be asked back to Career Day.


Good Gynecology


Have you recently made love with any barnyard animals?

Gina was confused.

Any romantic encounters with exuberant house pets?”

Dr. Smintz put his face between her legs, angling his head. “Have you ever lost consciousness at a petting zoo?”

Gina, her feet high in the stirrups, was starting to worry.

“Have you ever been manhandled by a college dropout? Ever been forcibly romanced by a circus performer?”

Gina peeked through her knees at Dr. Smintz, his eyes bulging above his surgical mask. She was laying back on the exam table, her business spread wide. The Doctor stood at the far end, gazing at her groin with reverence and contained terror.

“Have you ever agitated an epileptic?”

“What do you see down there, Doctor? What have you got?”

Dr. Smintz, concerned, just stared, his eyes never moving from Gina's pelvis al fresco. “Do you enjoy violent ballet?”

This was Gina’s first appointment with Dr. Smintz, who came very highly recommended. Her friends had told her he was “the best,” and even though his office was above an Arby’s she was overdue for a checkup.

“Have you ever abused any black-market vibration device? Ever drop acid on a mechanical bull?”

Smintz pulled a fresh pair of latex gloves over his original pair of latex gloves. He had yet to touch anything. The doctor was chubby and smooth. And he was puzzled.

“Tell me, Gina: Do you enjoy the films of Ridley Scott?”

“Is my vagina wrong?” Gina heard her voice quaver. Then, “Is she being blind again?”

Dr. Smintz sniffed, sincere. “Have you ever engaged in self-gratification during the shifting of tectonic plates?”

“What is it? What do you see down there? What is my vagina saying about me?”

“Miss Renta- a good physician does not rush to diagnose.” Smintz squinted, his nose itching. “This is a process of hit and miss. I hit, and then I miss. Then I hit again, and again- until something sticks. Most likely you have nothing to worry about. Now let me ask you a frank sexual question: how many of your former lovers have all of their original fingers?”

Gina was counting thumbs in her head when Dr. Smintz picked up his inter-office phone and punched two buttons. “Nurse Combs- please prep my inter-vaginal travel kit and cancel my appointments for the rest of the afternoon.”

Gina, nervous, sat up: “Dr. Smintz… are you telling me that you have to go… inside?”

Dr. Smintz lowered the phone to his chest and exhaled, heavy. “All the way inside.”

Gina’s vagina smiled, interrupting: “Can we get some Arby’s first?”


My parents always make a face when I introduce them to my prostitutes

There's a beetle in the mayonnaise, but who am I to ruin the Fourth of July?

Girls with three names: don't waste my time

If the cat didn’t want to drown in the pool he shouldn’t have gone swimming in the first place

Webster’s defines “dictionary” as “the book you’re reading right now, shit-for-brains”

So frustrating... someone left a baby on my doorstep and the garbage man doesn’t come till Tuesday

The best part about bullying is that we've finally found a way to blame suicide on someone besides the guy who killed himself

“Gonorrhea Relapse” is not an acceptable RSVP

Sex in the cemetery is fine but can we wait until my grandmother’s funeral is over?

Named my dog Fetch just to blow his little mind

How do you get the ketchup to spurt out of your neck like that?

Babe Ruth Vs. The Hot Dog Boy


The Bambino shit his pants in the top of the third but it wasn’t his fault- he had guzzled seven beer in the bottom of the second.

The bat boys were well-trained in how to handle this. It wasn’t the first time the Babe had befouled his trousers. The clubhouse wall in Yankee Stadium was lined with immaculate backup jumbo pinstripe uniforms- number 3- and a spray bottle of linen-scented perfumed water. There was also a stretcher, a Priest, and a stomach pump nearby, because you just never knew, not with Babe Ruth.

The bat boys set to work like a team of trained elves, redressing Ruth and reorienting him to Earth’s gravity while the Babe mumbled a curse on Calvin Coolidge. The moist towelettes on the floor of the dugout were stained with dark shame, and Miller Huggins- the Yankee manager- watched the scene with a mixture of sickness and disgust. At times like these Huggins just wanted to shoot the bloated oaf with the hunting rifle he kept in the back of his Model A. Unfortunately Yankee ownership had nixed the idea, reminding him of Ruth’s 171 RBI’s the previous season. They felt it made good sense to keep him around.

Babe had one finger up his nostril and the other in the air, wheeling in circles, humming a song with no melody, punctuating the tune with blasts of gas so powerfully dank that they singed the seat of his pants. One of the bat boys put his fingers to his nose to indicate PU, and little did he know that when the Babe’s bitter wind reached his lungs he would lose sight in both eyes for the next twelve years.

Just then Babe spotted the Hot Dog Boy, on-field, pushing his cart up the first-base line. Babe, always starving, raised five fingers to indicate “Five dogs, please.” The Hot Dog Boy was only seven, and his tiny fingers quickly went to work, prepping the wieners the way Babe liked them: with bacon and relish, ketchup and mustard, chili and kraut and slaw and seafood salad on top. Babe devoured the dogs as quickly as the kid fixed them, twice nearly choking on soggy bun, doing his best to avoid vomiting on the field for the second time today. The Umpire had warned him about that.

Huggins signaled the Hot Dog boy from across the diamond: two brushes down his forearm, a pinch of his earlobe and three staccato claps- the indicator- before swiping his pinky across his throat: Babe was cut off. The Hot Dog Boy- eyes wide- looked up at the hulking baseball god before him, still wolfing down his dogs and ordering five more with his free hand. The boy looked back to Huggins- pinky throat again- and the message was clear: no more hot dogs for the Babe.

“Gimme,” said the Sultan of Swat, swallowing.

“I can’t do it, Mr. Root- dey won’t let me sells you no more!” The Bronx, remember?

“I said ‘Gimme!’” howled Babe, furious and hungry.

Huggins shot the Boy a dirty look, and he swallowed hard, looking up as Babe's enormous frame blocked the sun from the sky. The Boy thought fast: “How about you hit me a home run, Mr. Root? If you hit me a homer I’ll give you hot dogs till you drop!”

Babe swallowed, huffing. He looked out at the centerfield wall and rustled the Hot Dog Boy’s hair, which had been falling out in stacks since he got the job.

“One homer and then all the wieners I can eat?” Babe smiled. “Okay, kid, you got a deal.”

Babe picked up his bat and waddled over to the box, taking his stance and a practice swing. The Hot Dog Boy said a silent prayer that his appendix would somehow magically burst and kill him instantly, while the plump franks soaked in their steam bath, bursting with flavor and anticipation. The fans greeted Babe with a round of applause as the pitcher Walter Johnson went into his windup.

The first pitch came sailing from the mound and Babe swung through, missing by a country mile and cursing in words too dirty for the papers. Some of the Mothers in the front row jammed ballpoint pens into their children’s ears in an attempt to keep the profanity out.


The Hot Dog Boy winced, crossing his fingers. The fans groaned in frustration.

Babe looked over at the boy’s cart, licking his lips. He was so distracted by the promise of brown mustard on sausage that he didn’t notice the second fastball come roaring past, and by the time Babe turned to face the plate the ball was already cracking in the catcher’s mitt. The sound echoed throughout the House That Immigrant Construction Workers Had Built For Him To Play Inside.


The Hot Dog Boy tried to swallow, his mouth too dry, his hands unsteady. If Ruth homered he'd demand more hot dogs, and the boy would surely be sacked. If the slugger struck out he'd surely take out his rage on the wiener boy, leaving the lad in a no-win situation. These were the days he regretted dropping out of grade school.

The sun was beaming easy on the stadium, just another day in a Summer so perfect that no one was keeping score. Babe dug in, kicking up dirt, and turned from the box to give the Boy a grin closer to a wink. Finally he faced the pitcher and reared back with his bat. Miller Huggins went into the clubhouse to load his Winchester.

Johnson checked the signs from his catcher, shaking him off once- twice- and then he saw what he wanted and smiled… He stepped slowly, going into his windup…

Babe Ruth, distracted and famished, wandered out of the batter’s box before the pitch left the mound, beating the Hot Dog Boy to death with his Louisville Slugger. The child was pulped beyond recognition, so not even his Mother could identify the remains in the morgue. She would later sell the body to Ralston-Purina for fifteen cents.

Back at the stadium, Babe took off his pants, sat down on the first base line and gobbled hot dogs until he lost consciousness.

The game was called on account of gluttony.

Almost Independence Day


The deaf girl- this tall boy said her name was Heather- she was gone by the time we got there. But that didn’t stop us, no one could stop us, couldn’t stop any of us from walking across the closed freeway, emerging from our homes in a trance, taking steps that took us closer.

One by one- sometimes in pairs- we made our way up the soft soil of the bank and the idea of getting as close as we could. Hearts fell out when we spotted her, alone in the blue, and now we knew shame. We were standing on the crest of the hill, staring into the Loquix River, rumbles and rapids tamed and metered, and still somehow unaware.

A Chinese man leaned over, squinting his eyes and wiping his brow, dwarfed by the trees above his head. Their branches intersected above the riverside, sticks of glass, forming crosses at complimentary angles. The crowd had gathered and we were part of it, we were all part of it, but there were no words and nothing to smile about. It was all about people we never really knew: a new community in the cool twilight. Down in the surf was Heather- or just what remained- helpless, agreeable to the flow, victim of the running, gnawed by snarling white, her yellow turtleneck inflated, full of water and lost forever, the light hiding some of the bruises. The girl was just exhausted.

Up and down the San Francisco Bay, way across the harbor, I take a glass of beer on a bright night, while Heather bends and loosens through endless streams and curls, slower each time, to infinity and pure surrender. And I can hear the fireworks.

I can hear the fireworks. I can hear them echoing…

Across the harbor I could hear the blind people delight at the lights in the sky, the crowd shouting out, way up and down the line, magic in the air: a celebration of ignorance. Way up and down the line, cheers in atmosphere of holiday, and her body turned in the water, drifting, bobbing, over the fall, dropped like a good idea, like a letter, slipping away before we ever knew, never needing an explanation. We all lost that day. We all lost everything.

And I can hear them calling, all the way from Oregon, where everything happens, where Heather comes and goes.

She doesn’t hear the fireworks or see the stars: she just had a swim. Across the harbor, up and down the line.

Way up and down the line…

The Blind Man & The Lemonade

{for Clarence}

I can tell that you are lying,” Andy said into his cellular phone. “Do you know how I can tell that you are lying?”

But by that time Carrie had hung up the phone on Andy, which was probably for the best since he hadn’t thought of a clever way to answer his own question.

Andy was angry about his relationship troubles.

‘It burns,’ he thought. Bad news, probably.

So Andy cinched his karate pants, slipping his cell into his pocket next to the Skittles. He checked his digital watch and wondered about the government. That’s when he heard the tapping.

Across the street in the park walked a Blind Man. He was wearing dark sunglasses, and a rainbow visor, and he was tapping a walking stick. His right hand was in the air, feeling for obstacles. His mouth hung open and his bare feet were missing socks and shoes.

“Assistance,” spoke the Blind Man emotionlessly, and Andy ran across the street.

“Assistance,” spoke the Blind Man again, and Andy took hold of his hand.

“Hello?” yelled Andy.

“Let go asshole,” said the Blind Man without feeling, and he pulled his hand away from Andy’s.

Andy blushed, embarrassed, and took a closer look at the Blind Man. This Blind Man was not your average Blind Man, he was a deviate. Filthy stubble poked out of his chin, and his breath smelled like a sour-milk smell- the way milk smells after it has gone sour. There was the name of a woman’s private organ printed in block letters on his T-shirt and he wore a tattered Army jacket.

“What can I do for you, Mister?” sighed Andy.

“Give me the information,” said the Blind Man.

“Are you Mr. Anthony?” Andy asked.

The Blind Man raised his cane over his shoulder and swung it down swiftly, striking Andy’s hip and fingers. Andy bit his lip to keep from screaming.

“What made you call me Mr. Anthony?” wondered the Blind Man without inflection.

Andy was still smarting from the sting. “That’s what it says on your cane: ‘Property of Mr. Anthony’”

The Blind Man smiled, a little bit, and said, “No I’m not Mr. Anthony, but he gave me his cane. It was a fair and legal transaction, I’m sure.”

“Well, what can I help you with?” asked Andy.

“No, I’m not Mr. Anthony,” continued the Blind Man.

Andy had lost his patience. “So long,” he said. But the Blind Man stopped him.

“Wait,” he said dispassionately, “I need a glass of lemonade.”


The Blind Man drew his cane back and struck Andy in the neck.

“Ow!” yowled Andy.

“Accidental,” spoke the Blind Man without conviction.

“Let’s get you that Lemonade,” Andy said.

And so Andy led the Blind Man through Anxiety Park, down past Matview Avenue and Dean Peeples’ Plaza, around the Galaxy Overpass, and under Milo’s Mile. And there at the end of the dirt road was the Lemonade stand he had been thinking about.

“I hope you have money,” spoke the Blind Man, and Andy said yes.

They approached the stand together, where three children of various ages were sitting about, fingers up their noses.

One of the children sneezed, a cosmic glop emerging from his nose and splattering his fingers and wrist.

“Nothing happened,” said Andy, and the Blind Man seemed to believe him.

“Want some Lemonade?” the Little Girl asked.

“Lemonade,” spoke the Blind Man colorlessly.

The girl waited until Andy had handed her the fifty before she stood up, walked to the back of the rickety stand and lifted a pitcher of yellow juice. There were flies buzzing about and the girl had to stand on her toes to pour. Lemonade spilled everywhere as she filled the glass, and a handful of driveway gravel stirred at the bottom. The girl placed the pitcher down and reached a filthy hand into the brimming glass, emerging with a long blond hair. She handed the glass to the Blind Man.

The Blind Man raised the glass to his lips and Andy could see he was nearly toothless.

The Blind Man drank, Lemonade spilling over his chin and onto his T-shirt and coat.

“Buy something or leave,” said the Little Girl.

The Blind Man turned to Andy. “Thank you for the Lemonade.”

“You’re welcome,” said Andy.

The Blind Man turned and walked away, up the long dirt road, tapping his cane in the dust.

“Assistance,” he said flatly.

Andy texted Carrie: “Let's see other people.”


Henry, First Burn

Mom and Dad got into the car, through the window glass, and the car pulled backwards from the driveway, leaving Henry home alone for the very first time. He didn’t understand it, couldn’t recognize the feeling, but there was something in his stomach going strong. He liked it, wanting to be here, almost as badly as he wanted to be with Mom and Dad, and he took a moment to wander the house, seeing things different, even though everything was where it had always been. But now the place was empty, and now the house was his own. He found himself at the stove top, turning the ring of the burner to ten. Ten was the highest. As far as it goes.

Mom and Dad were going where? To Aunt Mary’s? They never left in the middle of the day like this, and their clothes and their apostrophes said something else was wrong: Mom in makeup and a scarf, Dad in rusty overcoat. Henry was old enough to sense the lie... too young to untangle it. He watched the coils on the burner waking up, quiet rising black to bright red. Mom and Dad had warned him on the stove when they weren’t home: it was Rule Number One, the Rule of the House. The coils now, glowing wide and making hot, that Henry could feel it from here.

He reached out and placed his palm on the burner, fingers cooking quickly, roasting, going black and charred, hand meat fusing to the tenacious spiral, while the smell of his own barbecued beef made him hungry for spareribs. Henry’s eyelids fluttered, comic, and by the time he yanked his hand away most of the skin had been torn off, blood pumping to skeletal finger bone, mortified at being seen naked. A Jolly Roger. Back on the stovetop Henry's handmeal smoked to ash as it smoldered lazy.

The next thing Henry remembered was seeing Mom and Dad above him, yelling furious, reciting gospel, chanting chapter, and he closed his eyes with a smile because… just because… They could be so silly sometimes.

And then he went to sleep, saying a silent prayer that his eyes would open up again.

That Fucking Night


Oh, that night.

That night that night that fucking night at the diner.

We both knew what was happening, even as we left work, even as we drove down the road, even as we pulled into the parking lot.

Baby I have never seen lights so bright.

When we were radiating, like bells, like starshine

Like humming in perfect harmony

The fucking waitstuff wandered by for a contact high; smiling like we were new born.

And our food was fucking perfect, though I don’t remember eating.

I even (even I) recall the song on the jukebox: Mr. Mister with Broken Wings because I fucking hate that song.

But that night…

Oh, that fucking night…

And back at your place my hands found yours and they were
Intertwined before I could even make a move and
You were mine

I was yours

And I made you smile like you never have before

Glad to be blind when you

Made me smile like I never have before and we

Lost our identities in the most unimaginative way

And I heard Broken Wings even though

I fucking hate that song

But that night…

Oh that fucking night…

I’ll spend the rest of my days trying to forget (to remember) every detail of that night…

Oh that fucking night.


Top Ten Comments Overheard In China


10. “One more time: are dragons real or what?”

9. “Somebody stole the Golden Child!”

8. “Which one of us is me?”

7. “I solved pi again last night”

6. “You wanna give me a hand with this finger-trap?”

5. “Never let the Westerners know we can read binary”

4. “One billion people but none of us can drive”

3. “This Communism thing is a blast!”

2. “The lasers are blinding the children”

1. “’Eggroll?!?’ You’re a cliché, man!”

Ashli /Vs/ Death

Ashli had blisters on both of her thumbs, the result of excessive texting. They were swollen and scuffed, full of puss and bound to burst.

“Life is the bitch,” she said to no one in particular.

She threw herself down on her bed, kicked off her Crocs and started thinking about guys. Would she ever have the guts to… you know, do that thing? With a boy's thing??

That’s when Death walked into her room. A heavy presence, a sour stench...

Ashli pulled her hand out and sat straight up on the bed.“Who are you?!?”

Death answered in cold quiet. “I am Death.”

She cocked her head in confusion. “You don’t look like Death... you look like David Letterman.”

Death smiled. “I have assumed a form with which you are familiar.”

“But I never watch the Letterman show!”

“Nevertheless, Ashli, your time is arrived… your days on Earth are come to an end. I am here to claim your soul and carry it around in my sack of broken glass for all eternity.”

Ashli’s cell chirped an incoming message. “Look Mr. Letterman, I don’t know why you're here but I’m only seventeen and I don’t like older guys.”

Death blinked twice and straightened his tie. “I am not David Letterman. I have only taken his shape to-”

“Can you loan me dollars for a pizza?”


“Yeah. You can have some- if you like pepperoni.”

Just then Ashli’s dog Fuckup came running into her room, a yellow labrador with toilet breath. Death poked his bony finger at the beast and melted him. The room stank with the smell of stink and burnt fur and Fuckup was now just a puddle staining the carpet. Ashli held back the tears.


Death turned to her, furious. “No, I MEANT to do that.”

Ashli wiped the wet from her eyes. “Who are you and what have you done with the real David Letterman?”

Death took a deep breath. “Letterman is resting comfortably in his New Canaan townhouse and I   AM   DEATH!

He smashed Ashli’s full-length closet mirror to punctuate his point.

Ashli watched the shards fall. “My Dad is gonna kill you.”

“No more delay- you will come with me at once.”

“Why do I have to die?” she asked, adjusting her bra.

“It is your time, Ashli Vido!”

She stood up. “But I haven’t done it yet!”

“Done what?”

“You know… that thing? With a boy’s thing? That thing.”

“Are you referring to sexual intercourse?” Death was downright puzzled.

“You can’t take somebody before they have sex!”

Death paused then, thinking. He looked inward, discovering mercy, restraint, hidden in a fold of his dark soul. It was a feeling he had never known: he felt sorry for the girl.

It passed.

Death roared in a thunderous tone, “Get into my bag of broken gl-”

Ashli leapt across the room and punched Death in the neck, slicing his skin with her February birthstone ring. She gouged his eyes out with her thumbs, popping her blisters, oozing puss and blood into Death’s hollow sockets, stinging him so sharp that he cried out in pain. He staggered, sightless, stubbing himself on her nightstand, cursing in tongues.

Ashli grabbed his necktie and yanked him to the door of her room. She kicked Death’s ass with the heel of her pedicured foot, and there was an audible crack as her painted toenails shattered his spine.

Death ran down the stairs, out the door, humiliated, and Ashli shouted after him: “And you tell Paul Shaffer to kiss my ass!!!”

She took a deep breath, threw herself down on her bed, and started thinking about guys.

Would she ever have the guts to… you know, do that thing? With a boy's thing??


Car Crash In Sick City


I lost control, alone on the road, and I turned back hard to straighten out.

By then it was too late.

I remember the car driving off the road- 51 miles and hour- rolling over three times, and knowing that death would be the inevitable period at the end of the sentence. There wasn't any slow-motion, no heavenly light, no grand philosphical insight: just a split-second preview that I was about to die. And I was as ready as any man can ever be.

The car stopped tumbling when it slammed into a telephone pole, and I felt my face meet the spider-webbing windshield as it tore my forehead open and bloodied my scalp beneath my hair. I don't remember the airbags deploying but I've been told they did. I don't remember losing consciousness but I've been told that I blacked out, if only for seconds. I do remember the steering wheel breaking my sternum and the impact cracking two of my ribs.

I remember when the car finally stopped it took me a minute to understand that I was still alive: even with consciousness the physical sensations I was feeling were so foreign that it took me time to process. I was in the driver's seat, upside down, seat-belted in, hand to my blood-gushing head so that I might keep my eyes open long enough to find my cell phone and call for help. I was so soaked and sopping with blood I eventually gave up on finding my cell... I pushed open the car door with my feet and got out, learning new words for pain, but it was probably the smart move because the cracked telephone pole eventually broke and fell on the car, crushing it. If I had still been inside I'd have been dead again.

The first motorist who spotted me turned out to be a physician's assistant, and this Angel kept me conscious until the ambulance arrived and the doctor put 13 stitches in my head. She rode with me in the ambulance, made conversation with me while the paramedics were cutting off my clothes, and even in my traumatized state I knew she was one in a billion, knew I had to get her name right then or I'd never be able to thank her.

I never did.

And so it's a week later. I'm out of the hospital. I'm learning to walk and breathe again. I've spent time trying to find perspective, meaning, or a lesson in any or all of this.

I am lucky to be alive. I've been told.