Punky Brewster Vs. The Homeless Man

The Homeless Man sneezed, a deep sneeze, like a sneeze from the soul or maybe even deeper, and a hot glop of tuna mucous splattered Punky’s face. It was thick like paste, gooey like glue, and the glop stuck her eyelashes together, began to drip slow down over her nostrils and across her lips. She made spit to keep from swallowing, tried to scrape the gloop off by rubbing her face into the homeless man’s neck. She felt his beard stubble scratch against her soft freckled face.

It had been seven hours since the homeless man had abducted Punky from the toy store, duct taping her wrists and ankles together and dragging her by her hair down Wabash Avenue to the alley behind the Chinese restaurant. She wasn’t sure what he had wanted with her- she had no food or money. So far he had only urinated- forcing her to watch- and then laid on top of her to take a nap, pinning her down against the hard pavement, making her his mattress. Punky was stuck.

The spot the homeless man had chosen for their nap was in the puddle where he had made hot foul, and Punky could feel the back of her sweatshirt wet with his liquid shame. Her hair was matted with strands of discarded lo mein and clumps of egg foo young. She could feel the hobo unconscious above her, heavy, his hot breath on her neck, his skin covered in oil and human rash. She knew this was her best chance to get away.

Punky’s eyes wandered to the pile of trash at the foot of the garbage can beside her. There among the rats and pork-fried rice was a shard of shattered glass from a broken window pane.

‘If I can just reach it,’ she thought, ‘I could sever his jugular vein while he’s sleeping.’

Punky shifted slow beneath the sleeping street creature, inching her way to the jagged glass. She could already visualize the puncture, she could already taste the hot blood that would sluice out of his throat like a dam breaking bold, the taste of foreign copper on her tongue, her cheeks stain with tainted plasma, her senses befouled, her-

(cont. on page 43)

Tough Lunches of the 21st Century (Now Boarding)

Date: January 11, 2012
Location: Laguardia Airport Lunch & Launch

I took my Grandmother Bevertly out for lunch. She had the raw beef platter. I had nothing after I watched her munch and guzzle and spray bits of semi-chewed food into my iced coffee.

“The secret of life,” Bevertly said to me while devouring a flank steak, “is to live life to the fullest. You have to grab the bull by the h-"

“I’m sending you to Paraguay and you’re not coming back,” I said, putting her plane ticket on the table in front of her.

“No, you’re not,” she countered.

“Yes. I am.” I signaled the waitress for the check.

“Well why are you doing that?” she asked me, depositing a pickle directly down her throat.

“Because you’re old and annoying and you smell like yesterday's magazines. Plus you just won’t die.”

Bevertly’s flight left in fifteen minutes but as I shoved her through the gate I knew there would always be a place for her in my life.

Every Christmas I send her a postcard.

Well, I mean to.


Ten Tomix sat alone, naked and raw, in the Mos Eisley cantina, out of place, a kid in a poison store, minding his cold beverage, waiting for the meeting, hoping this next chance might be his good one.

Dann Mahal slithered into the booth, a pilot, slimy man with a bi-sci droid by his side. Tybee the robot was all neck and purpose, a Treadwell repair droid modified for action. Ten took a look at the bot- this Type-E had seen his fair share of farm labor. The unit reminded him of the robots at home, set to suck on moisture vaporators and never fully quenched. Ten guessed, took a look at the modified circuitry running up Tybee's neck. Someone had re-wired this robot good and plenty.

Someone who had needed a friend.

Dann Mahal sat himself at the table, make time to the music, the light bar from inside the booth wide, glowing him from below. And in that moment Ten Tomix- eternal child- suddenly felt like a father. It was time to grow up, to accept and assume the damage he had done.

He looked across at Dann, the man in his care-less clothes, every element meant to deflect, to beam to the farm boy in the plain clothes and beyond: "I'm good."

He saw through it. He did not care.

“So, how’s it hanging, boy? Scolly tells me you need a ship...?”

Ten, tasting adulthood, learning it was just child's play with your cards kept close, dizzy on the absolute blank of it, look up and down at this older man who considered himself rogue, untethered, free.

What is this free?

Ten Tomix, farmboy, fallen idol, sinner, looked across this table at the pilot, the freight navigator, and he watched Dann eating grain seed out the bowl on the table, working hard at looking casual. He could taste the man's desperation for employment, he could feel this fellow soul's scarcely-hidden greed.... but he forgave the sake of forgiving.. he ignored because he chose to be bigger.

“Yes, I need a pilot," spoke Ten Tomix. "Yes I do.”

Dann smiled. He knew he had a customer in the cockpit, and though he should have known enough by now to play it earnest, he could not help himself to steal a look at Tybee, who unfurled a sequence of notes syncopated and flavorful. Dann Mahal laughed aloud, rapturous in joy.

The pilot and the droid laughed in their individual styles. Ten waited.

Dann smiled and made snack. “Wonderful, wonderful... I happen to be a pilot. And who is it you want to find?”

Ten summoned. He felt something in his blood he had never known before. He looked at Dann and his robot. He spoke the truth.

“A droid. I’m looking for a droid.”

Dann threw his head back and laughed, truly amused.. Tybee made electric-symphonic howl.

The chords were scratched in permanence in Ten Tomix' brain.

“Droids don’t take off. This is not like your pet turtle, my friend. They don’t hijack ships and they don’t run counter to program...”

Ten nodded, slow and sure, let Dann's smirk settle slowly to ground.

“This one did.”

Dann Mahal laughed again, less sure this time, looking over to his droid, “You hear this, Tybee? Boy has a magic machine...”

The droid clicked and whirred in calculation, spitting a binary line of beeps and squeals back at Dann. The two of them were genuinely entertained, pleased.

They were also curious.

A Jawa approached the table, drunk, spitting up words as he rubbed Dann's arm up and down, a handful of necklaces draped across his shoulders, trying to make a sand.

Dann was annoyed, "I don't want to buy a necklace.... you got the wrong guy..."

The Jawa continued to plead his case, high-speed babble in his sales pitch, pointing to the necklaces and remarking on their craftmanship.

"I don't want one. I don't-"

The sound of a laser blast echoed through the bar and the Jawa fell down hard and permanent, a faint wisp of smoke unfurling from his belly.

Dann looked across the table at Ten, who sat for a moment with his blaster raised before carefully slipping it beneath his poncho.

Tybee emitted a low melodic gurgle.

Dann look at Ten Tomix, this boy he did not know, this man who might be his brother, and he was suddenly serious, the respect in his voice audible.

"You don't fool around do you?"

Ten shook his head. "I don't have time. I have to find this droid."

Dann cocked his head. “This droid owe you money?”

Ten Tomix took a sip as the Modal Nodes peeled hot squeals from their instruments, Bith music swell and fill up the hall depraved and rancid.

“No, he doesn't owe me money...”

Dann roll his eyes at Tybee.

“This droid... this droid I'm looking for... this droid killed my Mother and Father. In front of my eyes. This droid killed the Mother and Father who made me.” Ten testified in a voice slow and low.

Dann and Tybee waited for the punchline.

“And I'm the one who built the droid.” Ten looked up at them, guilt in his face, fear, and an anger barely contained.

Dann downed his drink. Tybee’s head unit pivot on its swivel, trying to assimilate the data, long neck up and down in confusion, in fascination, processing, binary circuitry almost bust, as he tried to install the information.

Dann looked in Ten’s eyes. Ten looked back.

Dann bristled, tired of these outer territories, ready for something more. He looked back at Ten Tomix with sights suddenly aligned.

“Well then...”

Tybee honk out a harmonious chord. Sweet above the din.

Dann: “I guess we better get after that bastard...”

Outside a female dune Bantha lashed a gashi shrub from a sand mound with her tongue, chew slow, while an old man and young boy arrived at the cantina in a speeder carrying their droids. They didn't look left or right.

They were on a mission.

Bagels & Nothing Else

How did bagels happen?

Who bagled first?

How much for a baker’s dozen?

Let’s learn stuff together.


Birth of the Bagel

The bagel was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1929. Legend has it that a local baker was trying to find a way to give his customers less product for the same amount of money. His solution was simple: hit them over the head with a baseball bat and steal their wallets. After several complaints he tried a new approach: stealing the hole from the center of a lump of bread. From that day forward life for Jason Bagel was never the same.


Meanwhile, in a neighboring state across town, Jonathan Philadelphia was struggling with his own problem. “I was a cream cheese salesman,” he recalls, “but back in those days I had no way to serve it. I used to push my cream cheese cart around town and sell it for a nickel a smear. I’d just glop it into people’s hands and they’d have to lick it off. [And they would have to] lick quickly, because nothing draws hornets and fire ants like cream cheese.”

Lives were lost to the furious insects whose destructive lust could never be sated. 

Oh, and some guy put cream cheese on a bagel most likely.

"Dad seems to be responding to the new medication"


Everyone knows about the poppy seed and sesame seed bagel, but there have been thousands of varieties tried through the years. The Gravel Bagel was deemed too chewy by most customers, and the Mud Bagel never quite caught on. The Horseshit Bagel sells well regionally, and the French people who live in France can't get enough of the Wine Bagel. Tres mucho guten!

Cocaine Bagels?

Yeah, but they lead to the hard stuff.

Were bagels to blame for the start of World War II?


Beat Bagels

In the 1950’s bagels took off as the happening snack for the beat generation. “I let the road take me wherever it flows,” wrote Jack Kerouac, “as long as we stop off for whole-dough on the way.”

Lawrence Ferlinghetti was once heard to exclaim, “Give me bagels or give me death. Also Pepsi's Cola.”

Legendary Spanish poet Alfredo Montenegro tossed off this ode to the holy bread:

“You bagel my insides good
Lox is the sweet
The sweet of the salty
Sweet days salty nights
Feed me bagel and taste my ramrod”

Bagels On The Moon?

Get out of my store.

The 70’s & 80’s

For a short time it was uncool for Americans to eat bagels or even to make love to them. This all changed in 1990 when President and shape-shifting lizard George Bush declared, “I have been known to enjoy a bagel or two in my day.” Suddenly bagel stores were overwhelmed with the request for more bagels, and non-bagel stores were bothered by a feverish public asking, “Where is your bagels at?” The answer to shopkeepers was obvious: start selling bagels you asshole.

They did. And please stop calling me names.

The Great American Bagel Chase

Cancelled on account of stupidity.

How Can I Get In On All This Bagel Action?

Not covered in this article.

Bagels In The Future

It was a wild ride while it lasted, but chances are that human beings will have fallen out of love with bagels by the late twenty-first century... their extinction will most likely be complete by the year 3000. After that people will eat food pills and vitamin pellets for their necessary sustenance. Also sex will take place under plexiglass. The bagel will exist only in hypothetical binary code, a stream of viral programming, represented by a series of ones and zeroes, with cinnamon raisin thrown in for good measure.

Eat while you can.

Nightmare (9)

I was riding down the road in Lafayette, Indiana. 

No, no it was Anadarko, Oklahoma: tornado country, and the storm was coming, just over our shoulder, cool breath on the back of our neck, inhaling eternal. Inhaling everything. It was the farmer and me in the pickup truck speeding as fast as we could, down endless farm road, telephone lines running quiet for miles. We knew it was coming, we knew it was out there, we were driving away from the tornado. Or maybe we were driving toward it.

The cloud, start off soft and sweet, start to spiral out of control when heaven connect to the earth in vacuum pipeline, interrupting the Summer day, break the work week wide. The funneling fury of the cyclone, growing behind us, gaining in speed and suction: the violent side of God. He pokes down his finger and breaks his own laws of gravity.

The tornado absorb everything it touches.

And we could hear the insects in the field as we sped away: a sound unholy and perverse, these creatures of pestilence suddenly gaining the power of speech. They spoke in nervous chirp, in throaty croaking, in extended static moan… they were pleading with us. They were asking to be saved.

But the farmer in the driver’s seat and me, we couldn’t save them, we had to save ourselves. The man was kind enough to pick me up, let me sit in, give me a fighting chance to survive. On the side of the road the bales of hay were lifting off the ground like cotton balls, pulled easy into the storming vortex without a sound. It was getting closer. On the floor of the pickup was a cloth babydoll. I didn’t ask about the owner.

The heat of the sun had baked us good, dried us out, and then- as fast as you can blink your eyes- the sun was gone. It was devoured by a massive dark cloud, and we watched as it chewed the star and swallowed, leaving us in a darkness deeper than night. And it seemed that the faster we drove the slower we moved.

I was riding down the road in Anadarko, Oklahoma: tornado country, and we knew it was coming, we knew it was out there. We were driving away from the tornado. Or maybe we were driving toward it.


Audrey’s first thought when Ricardo came into Bar & Grill- her first impression from the color of light in his eyes and his cock strut stride- her first thought was that he was a criminal, probably a killer, a sociopath and scoundrel, a liar, a cheat, and that the man belonged bolted behind iron bars or made to sizzle pretty on the hot seat of the electric chair.

And it made her spill her water.

She picked up the glass and took her tray- Manhattan neat and Rum and Coke- to the table with the boys from the bowling league. It was the first hour of a long night, and she could feel her head throbbing low from the shots knocked back on yesterday’s shift. She had promised herself today that she was gonna get up early, get downtown and buy that dress pattern her sister had told her about, see the new picture the paper said was so good, but here she was, back at work, barely make it on time, hung over the hard way and nothing to show for the day. She promised herself she would get it all done tomorrow, maybe stop by and see her little nephew Joey too.

There wasn’t much in the way of customers tonight- just some of the regulars- arguing about Ike or taking gin slow and steady, a muscular lesbian couple hiding in the back to lick their fingers away from buying eyes. It was a dusty bar in Gallup off Route 40, and every time one of the customers asked Audrey how such a beautiful young blond came to work in such a dive she said the same thing: “Buy me a bottle of champagne and I’ll tell you the whole story.”

That always ended the questions.

But this man who just walked in, this Ricardo, he was different. She smelled the danger. She liked the smell.

The boys from the bowling league were at the table in the corner, and Audrey had been trying hard to learn their names- Barney and Martin or maybe Bobby and Marvin- but they were so boring it made her head throb. They had been coming in for six weeks, same drinks, same conversations, same pantomime flirtations, same terrible jokes, but their names... she just couldn’t. She wouldn’t. They both looked like oranges been sat out too long in the sun.

She served them their cocktails, her blond hair spill over her shoulders and onto her warm breasts- exactly why she didn’t wear her hair up- and Benny and Melvin’s eyes took the ride from the silky strands of lemon to the powder-white skin of her cleavage, veins visible in the sweet of the meat, their eyes melting in the happy valley between, their minds trying in vain to guess the color of her pink.

Audrey laid the order out the same way she always did, the way she was taught: she picked up the empty glasses first, put them on her tray, and set fresh napkins down on the warped wood of the table. Only then did she place the new drinks down on top of the white squares, and it worked as it always did, that perfect moment between the empties removed and the next round landed when the boys looked at the table bare before them, helpless, out of color and conversation, waiting for the cold of liquor dull. She watched Bobby and Marvin’s faces, pupils dilate in anticipation, and she caught the relief on their faces when the glasses touch down. The boys smiled, and said something cute to Audrey that she forgot immediately.

‘They’re all just dogs,’ she thought, and then: ‘Good god I need a shot.’

She left the gutter boys to their alley babble, crossed the bar like a tiger taking attendance, rub her shoulder slow against Ricardo, who had sat himself at the bar, next to that suit salesman who was always in here. The salesman’s name was Carl. Or Mike. She stepped behind the bar.

Ricardo felt her brush by, touch her body to his, and he give her a dirty look like she was a housefly at a church picnic.

He hated her. And it gave her goosebumps.

“Business keeps me on the road,” Carl or Mike said to no one in particular. “Always business.”

Ricardo didn’t even look over, he just called to Gus, the barkeep with his face in the funny papers. Gus stood up from his stool.

“What’ll it be?”

“Whiskey,” said Ricardo, and Audrey mouthed his next words as he spoke them: “And leave the bottle.”

She checked herself in the mirror behind the bar, made pucker with her mouth and a frown at what appeared to be the birth of a wrinkle around her eyes. She slow paint a fresh coat of red on her lips glossy as she wondered what would it take, how much it would take to get this guy at the corner of the bar to fuck her hard in the back room. He was a thin man, angry hard, his clothes hang off him like they were borrowed- or stolen- and the jacket he wore over his work shirt looked worn. Beaten. There was spice in his blood- definitely Latin- Audrey could taste it from here, and his dark hair cast a black shadow over his eyes.

She walked over to Ricardo- less swing in her strut this time- and watched him take the shot glass to his stubbled face. Carl/Mike was clicking on the stool beside him, still casting his net.

“In my line of work you find yourself working around the clock... tick-tock.”

Ricardo, without looking over: “That’s wonderful.”

He downed the rye. She could see the shot hit his stomach. He needed it like she did.

“Buy a girl a drink, Mister?” She stood before him, looked at him with eyes open, no pretense, no games for this man who obviously didn’t play them. Her legs in black nylons made jangle as she tried to find the balance... she couldn’t hide the itch.

Ricardo looked over at her, cautious, for a long moment. Then his eyes fall back down to the bar.
“Get a glass.”

Audrey pull a rocks glass off the shelf, opened the icebox where she was greeted with a solid block making vapor. Gus was supposed to break it all down at the start of every shift but as usual he had more important work to do: he was sat back down in his chair, his head buried in the paper, his combover greasy falling down across his forehead.

Audrey took the ice pick and drove it into the glacier, chipping away, her honey behind making sway to the music of the jukebox. She knew he was watching- she could feel him between her cheeks. When she had cracked a few good cubes she used the tongs to drop them in her glass, turning around to put the glass in front of Ricardo.

She put her icy finger in her mouth. And she sucked.

Ricardo looked up at her, the fire ignite, traces of a smile at the sight of her lips going to work. Or maybe just the whiskey kicking in.

Audrey got bold as he poured her a generous shot. “What’s your name, Mister?”

Ricardo refilled his shot glass. “Ricardo. But you can call me JD.”

She held up her glass, let the ice cubes knock and spin in liquid orbit while they make the whiskey chill. She looked at him through the amber of the liquor. “Okay Ricardo."

He looked at her then, awake, alive again, and in that moment Audrey heard the pitch change, the record on the Rockola suddenly come up to speed, now the music playing right and bright and loud. She looked at Ricardo hungry and ready to be fed, and she thought to herself: ‘Gotchya.’

Ricardo raised his glass. “Here’s looking at you, doll.”

Their glasses met in mid-air, said hello in chime, and they drank together.

They both took the booze.

“Busy. Busy. I don’t even get to see my wife and kids.” Carl/Mike probably kept selling in his sleep. Cheap suits don't move themselves.

Ricardo turned to him, a dirty look, and then as an afterthought: "Shuddup." He turned back to Audrey.

She downed her drink and set the glass down. “Would you help me with this box in back?” She turned and headed to the back of the bar without an answer, leaving a perfumed sillage for Ricardo to follow, the first drops of anticipation already leaking down her thigh.

Ricardo waited until she was all the way back, until he could smell the seafood buffet, waited to make sure that fat barkeep didn’t see them go off together. He wondered in passing if the old man had any idea that he had only minutes left to live, and that he was wasting them reading the birth announcements in the local rag paper.

Before he went to the back he turned to the man next to him at the bar: “What’s your name?”

“Me? Carl.”

“You got a car, Carl?”

He nodded.

“Stay here. I think we can do some business.” Ricardo stood, left Carl at the bar, smiling into the bubbles of his 7-Up, took the walk to the back room of this strange bar, took a detour to take this waitress, to take her body to his, to commit acts of loving violence and violent love so profound they would require photo documentation.

In the back room, in the dark, amid the stack of liquor boxes Audrey was unpeeling her clothes, wondering if she would survive. She smiled.

If she did she’d make him buy another drink.

Grandfather Clock

In the white room, in the heat of August Summer, his head high on tales of brave Ulysses, in the white room did he rear back- his hand full of Louisville Slugger, lathe lumber approved by baseball’s Major Leagues- it was there in the white room with his fist taking hold of hard wood that he did he pull his arms back and smash at his grandfather's clock.

And destruction glorious.

And obliteration slow motion.

The shattering of holy glass in aftermath, the discordant concert of chime struck out of sequence, the interruption of pattern. It was perfect.

The clock, this old man, had stood here years untold, a complacent machine, smug in his superiority, assured of his self-worth and necessity, blind to obsolescence, the passage of time, the ride to the future.

A peacock in a feeding frenzy.

And the wood splintered superfine, breaking like bone, as he struck the timepiece over and again, in loving thrust, absolute crush, gears popping useless from their designated orbit, spring sprung loose like the curls of a girl on her back.

And forgotten like wrapping paper was every hour this clock had marked off, every rote melody recited for deaf ears, every badge earned for a generation dead or buried.

And he took the bat to his grandfather's clock, and he swung for the fences, and somewhere in the slaughter of a craft long-lost and useless, somewhere in the wreckage of the pendulum’s hopeless concenctricity, the madness of coaxial meter, somewhere as the second hands ticked away the moments like a leak in a bathroom sink, somewhere in the carnage he saw he had hit a home run.

And a mess of wood and metal sat helpless on the floor.

And the clock was no longer nothing.

And he dropped the bat.

And he left the room.

And he never wanted to know the time again.

Hunting For Sasquatch

I had one dream: to find and imprison the legendary Bigfoot.

Day 1 – I set up a hunting chair outside my house and I brought a box of Ritz crackers. I have a feeling Bigfoot would like Ritz crackers.

Day 2 – No sighting. I ate the box of Ritz.

Day 5 – No sighting. My wife said “if you don’t come back in this house I am leaving you tomorrow,” but I don’t believe her.

Day 6 – My wife left me.

Day 9 – No sighting. Where is Sasquatch? Not here. (So far)

Day 11 – Some people call him “yeti.”

Day 15 – I smell like a fish sandwich in a pay toilet. I require a shower and more Ritz crackers. Also I may or may not have kids who I need to feed. Bigfoot wins this round, but I’ll be back. Or maybe I’ll forget the whole thing. It could go either way.

One thing's for sure: I'll find that bastard someday.

The Lost Poems of Alfredo Montenegro, Pt. 2


More lost prose from the legendary Spanish poet

Toxic boxer play rocket soccer
Teenage boy in a high school locker
Cadillac applejack maniac heart attack
I will have the cheese sandwich
And some orange juice

I see you
And I love you
I love it
I love it
The way you drink my lemonade
And hide my car keys in your heart
Please don’t do that anymore
The lemonade part

Adorable doughball in my earlobe
Activate the candidate and take him home to masturbate
Old woman in your toilet water
Make love to your reckless daughter
Time to lie
Time to cheat
Return your purchase with no receipt

I am sinking in the stink
Dirty things you make me think
My licking stick
Is stinking pink
Make it sizzle with your cola drink

The sun is in the sky
In the right place
That is where he lives!
Keep us warm
Stop the storm
And scorch the neighborhood children

Elbow grease creates world peace
Hobo holds a press release
Throw magic at the bastards
Fly a plane to get there faster
And notify the love police

Buttercup fondle my belly
Buttercup garden my feet
Buttercup impregnate my woman
Is a tumble!
These thing can happen sometimes

Alphabet overhaul
Montreal bowling ball
A racket in the alley
A kitten you call Sally
But her name is Jessica

Bootleg flapjack pitch black knapsack
Jumping jack flashback Oklahoma Cadillac
I am the victim of cranial trauma
And require medical attention