Monday, December 20, 2010
“Allison,” I said, calling my assistant’s attention up from the sketch pad she insisted on bringing to work with her each day.
“Ms. Pembrooke,” she said, putting her papers on the counter. “Lovely afternoon, isn’t it?”
“Allison, where are my puppies,” I asked.
“Well, not here, obviously.” She gestured to the empty cages.
I closed the door behind me.
“Allison, please tell me they didn’t all run out on you.”
“Of course not,” she said. She looked down at her sketch pad, pencil turned backwards as if she were ready to erase something. “They teleported out.”
“It started about a minute after I got here. They all just kind of started to pop away one by one. It was interesting to watch. Pretty sure one of them winked at me too. I didn’t see the point in locking the door after all that so I’ve just been sitting here waiting for you to show up.”
“…I don’t understand.”
“I drew a picture of it if you’re interested. I’d been figuring something like this might happen ever since you hired that wizard; went around making everything all magic-like.”
“Allison, I think you’re lying to me.”
“Check the surveillance tapes if you don’t believe me.”
I did. She wasn’t lying. Each puppy disappeared in succession rather quickly. They all looked pretty smug about it too. The whole thing lasted about ten minutes at most.
“Why?” I asked. “Why would this even happen?”
“Well, my guess is that they didn’t like it here very much,” said Allison. “You gotta admit, it’s not a very comfortable place to live if you’re a puppy.”
Also there was a doctor. He advised me not to hire that damn wizard, but at the time I was like “No, it’ll make things so much easier, I swear.”
Thursday, August 26, 2010
“I know how to frisk people just fine thank you,” Mr. Hansel’s bodyguard began to check for weapons.
“Remember, you want this to be practical, but intimidating,” said Bromley. He laid his palms flat against the indoor brick façade of the night club. “Yes, you’re checking to make sure I’m unarmed, but this is also your chance to make me feel small; let me know I wouldn’t want to get into a physical altercation with you.”
“Look I really don’t need the advice,” said the bodyguard. “I’ve been doing this for a while, and you are not my father.”
“No, no,” said Bromley. “Never point out the fact you have any personal relationships, let alone family. It makes you far too accessible as a character.”
“Too accessible as a character?” asked the bodyguard, turning Bromley around by his shoulders. “What if I want to be accessible?”
“It would never work,” said Bromley, the bodyguard tightening his grip. “The audience would never be able to accept it.”
“On the contrary Mr. Bromley,” said Hansel, appearing from behind the loosely hung curtains. “I plan for all my employees to become as accessible as possible.”
“But that’s mad!” said Bromley, breaking away from the bodyguard. “Next you’ll be telling me their first names or their favorite Japanese techno bands. In a world where everyone is sympathetic, how will people know who to follow? You’ll never be able to do it.”
“Oh, Mr. Bromley, perhaps you are correct,” said Hansel, striding closer, his voice lowering to a vicious whisper as he put his arm around the shoulder of his bodyguard. “Though I feel it’s only fair to tell you, Derek here has really been getting into Fantastic Plastic Machine lately.”
“Noooooo!” shouted Bromley.
Also there was a doctor. Her name was Jennifer Hollider, her favorite candy was cherry starburst, she secretly enjoyed chance encounters with friends more than preplanned meetings, and even though she was utterly inconsequential to the overall story I MADE YOU FEEL FOR HER.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Instead their culture uses very long poles to beat back people who irritate them. It is wonderful.
I am telling you Eleanor: Switzerland is fantastic and you are missing out by not being here with me. Those freelance tour guides I ran into put together this information packet for me, and they have taught me so much. For instance, I had no idea Switzerland had freelance tour guides until meeting them.
I know in your last email, you warned me against being taken advantage of while traveling alone. Well let me tell you: These guys are money well spent. They’ve been with me nearly every moment of my visit and I haven’t felt safer. They own an inn out in the countryside where I’ve been spending my nights; it’s a part of their long-term guest program.
OH! Interesting fun fact: The design of a traditional Swiss inn is quite similar to that of the common American basement. According to my guides, it was the former that actually inspired the latter.
The love they have for this nation is indeed infectious. The food is more enriching, the sky is more lucid, the trees are better; I see nothing that particularly marks them as different from the trees at home, but I swear to you, they are somehow just better trees than yours.
I have to go now, unfortunately; I may not be able to email back for quite some time. Apparently laptops are somewhat of a taboo in their society and I have been asked to turn it over to them for the remainder of my stay. I feel horrible for offending them, but they used the poles on me earlier as part of a ritual cleansing process so I believe we are pretty much even.
Also there was a doctor. He was there to make sure the poles only hit me in my non-vital areas.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
“No professor would ever give a test with an unanswerable question, would they?” wondered Lizzie. Rather than chewing on her pencils, she had a habit of chomping them wholesale like a corn cob. She was now on her third.
She raised her hand and waited for Professor Flansburg to sidle over to her desk.
“I’m having some trouble on question seven,” she asked. “I think maybe I’m just reading it wrong, but I can’t seem to find an answer.”
“Well, what would you think to do in that case?” asked the professor.
“I guess write ‘no answer’,” said Lizzie, beginning to do so.
“Oh, no, no,” said the professor, “You can’t leave a question unanswered on the test. I’d have to take off for it.”
“Oh, then am I just reading the question wrong? Cause it really doesn’t seem like there’s an answer.” Lizzie had to push herself not to move onto her fourth pencil in mid-conversation.
“Well, frankly, there isn’t.”
“So then it’s a trick question,” said Lizzie, wondering if the left over pencil cores from earlier in the test could still be used to write.
“I suppose so,” said the professor, looking up at the chalkboard now.
“So then you won’t really be counting it?”
“Oh no, I will be.”
“What, but I- wait is this one of those things where the real test is standing up against the test.”
“No, the real test is the test.”
It was at this moment Lizzie started to regret ever having signed up for Sadism 101.
Also there was a doctor. She was a close friend of the professor’s and, being invited to visit the class on her day off, was asked to go from desk to desk and mess around with people’s papers as they were writing their answers.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Because if not, I think I am going to become a space explorer. They can’t stop me if they aren’t here. I’ll do it too. I’m not stupid, I don’t think I can just put on a jet pack, press go and all of the sudden be in outer space. I know you need rocket ships and you need to practice for a really long time before they let you do any of that stuff, but we live like thirty minutes by car from the Kennedy space place where they launch them all. I know cause my dad drove my mom and me there once, and on the TV in the car it took one whole episode of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends which I like more than Spongebob cause they don’t split it up into two small episodes like Spongebob. I know I can’t drive there but I can walk, and I know that’ll take longer that driving but one Saturday I watched a whole marathon of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and if I can get through that then I can get through walking.
Sometimes I dream about it. Once I dreamed I landed on Pluto, which I know everyone says isn’t a planet anymore but it was when my family went to the space place and it was when I dreamed about it. I was the only one there. I thought I was the first one there but then I saw a TV that kept playing home movies of people who were on Pluto before me. They were eating at breakfast tables and opening Christmas presents and doing a whole bunch of other indoor stuff like that, which was weird because they were doing it all outdoors. It was like they’d all been doing it where I was standing right now and then they weren’t anymore and it was just on TV.
Also there was a Doctor. He was on the ship and he told me I was okay.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
I ran into the water furiously, relying on momentum to carry me when my legs no longer could. I swam when I could no longer stand, and I floated on my back when my arms started to fade from feeling. In an hour’s time everything normal faded from feeling, but I knew what was happening. I could lift my head enough to see the pendant turn clear, and watched as it began to melt, flow back into the ocean I’d retrieved it from only weeks ago. And because I had earned its respect, I followed, the water accepting me and becoming me as my mind, my appearance and my identity diffused into a crystal-colored liquid. Then I too melted.
So anyway, Mark, Beth, that’s why I couldn’t make it to your wedding. I was the ocean. I hear it went nicely and I’m really sorry I missed it, but I mean. Come on, I was the friggin ocean. Cut me some slack. Maybe if you’d had a seaside wedding like I asked this wouldn’t have been an issue.
Also there was a doctor. I went to go see her about a week after I condensed and she said didn’t believe there were any long term negative health effects for what I went through, so if you guys want to give it a shot some time, it’s pretty damn amazing.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
So that is what I decided to do. I decided to stop the Earth.
It was going to be difficult, sure, but just how difficult I had no idea.”
-Detective Reginald Grant (9/14/81)
“So as it turns out, my whole ‘stop the Earth’ thing was kind of not a great idea. I spoke to some scientists last night and there were some things I wasn’t really aware of regarding physics that I now am. Long story short, I wasn’t able to prevent the trigger and the experiment’s participants are already beginning to display strange behavior.
I fear for the safety of the public where my actions have failed.”
-Detective Reginald Grant (9/15/81)
“Well, apparently, the public is going to be just fine. What I thought was strange behavior was actually just a boatload of people laughing at me whenever I brought up the supposed experiments. It was recently explained to me by my partner that there in fact, was no Lanesboro experiment and this was all done as a bit of a practical joke by the guys back at the station. Several people were in on it. Mystery solved I guess; I can certainly take a joke. My only grievance is that they couldn’t have found humor in something that didn’t waste both my time and resources as a valued member of the police force of this city.”
-Detective Reginald Grant (9/16/81)
“Okay so, hey, I’m apparently not a detective and actually just a guy whose friends lie to him a lot. There go the past five years of my life. Also turns out the police station was really not a police station and an Arby’s instead. It is maybe kind of my own fault for not noticing this sooner.
Also there was a doctor. I’d been going to him for the last few years for my police physicals but it turns out he wasn’t a doctor, he was just some guy they found working at the Arby’s.”
-"Detective" Reginald Grant (9/17/81)
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
“So it’s the apocalypse, am I right?” I asked.
“Yes, I would say so,” she replied. “At least, you know, if the news reports aren’t just screwing with us.” She noticed at my somewhat meager bounty. “Where are you coming from?”
“Houlden’s Mall. They have this bakery right next to an electronics store. I kind of just left without paying for the cupcake after the casher told me my life decisions were pointless and started to smash the pastry display with a hockey stick.” I paused. “I took the CD because it was the only thing in the electronics store I thought nobody would miss.” She didn’t seem to be judging me but I also didn’t think myself the best guy to read other people’s reactions today.
“I broke into someone’s house,” she said. “Like legit, just broke in and took the first two things I could find. I feel like kind of an ass actually.”
“Me too,” I said. I really did. I was kind of under the impression looting would be a guilt free activity as the end of the world approached.
We split the cupcake and spent the next few hours looking at the Polaroids.
Also there was a doctor. She happened to be walking by and we let her take everything else.
Monday, August 2, 2010
It's almost strange that I'd come into being knowing exactly what I was without knowing the manner of my existence. I wondered if all the Farmer Browns I'd heard about in math class ever questioned why five or six apples were so gosh darn important to keep track of in their little bubble universes when there were certainly a vast many other apple trees they'd be responsible for and several different time-consuming duties they would need to tend to were they actual farmers. I imagined whatever or whoever was explaining me must have done a good job setting me up or I would not be so self-aware.
I wondered what would happen to me once their explanation was over.
Also there was a doctor. He sprang up just as I was reasoning these things out, and I imagined whatever this thought experiment was supposed to illustrate was about to become terribly clear.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Click Here to Play!
Thursday, May 20, 2010
"No Children, it is none of those things!" I hit the mirror with my cane again. "And stop guessing L words, it is not an L word."
A boy in the front wearing a blank grey t-shirt raised his hand quietly. I ignored him and instead called on the boy next to him, flailing his arms around wildly and calling out very loudly for my attention.
"Is it Rumpelstiltskin?" He asked.
"How did you know that?" I asked.
"Cause the name of the story is Rumpelstiltskin," he said, leaning back on his palms.
To be honest, I hadn't really organized much of a lesson plan for the day. The white walled classroom didn't give me much to go on in terms of inspiration and the desks had been missing for about a week; they were supposedly stolen, but I was suspicious the students had found some way to hide them on me.
Also, I had really expected their regular teacher to come back by now.
"Well Zachary, I suppose you're correct," I said to the boy. "I will be honest with you all, I didn't have much else to do besides this story."
"Well Mr. Peters," said a girl in the second row, "this does happen to be an 8th grade Social Studies class. Maybe you could teach us something about that."
I took it into consideration.
Also there was a doctor. One of the shards of glass that broke off after I hit the mirror logged somewhere near my lower leg and I am pretty sure I had to go see her not long after the class was over.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
When I turned off episodes of Will and Grace, it meant something, damn it.
When I went into the kitchen and unwrapped granola bars, entire worlds of question were opened in all the major universities as to what implications the subtext of my movements had.
Then I moved to Seattle.
Please do not doubt me when I say it is a wonderful city. The people are kind and the space needle is as tall as I had hoped it would be, but something in the physics is different here.
No longer can I walk down the hallway of my office building holding a stack of papers without bumping into a coworker of the opposite gender and having said papers scatter hilariously to the floor as we lock eyes. No longer can I lose my wallet in a taxi cab and not have it returned to me the next day by an heartwarmingly adorable accident prone copyeditor who gets into the cab after I leave. When I am at check out stands, I fear going close to the take a penny leave a penny tray, dare my hand accidently meet that of a quirky, wonderful, 20 to 30 something looking for another chance at life.
I have moved to a Romantic Comedy, and I believe there is no way out. I could try leaving, but I fear I will only be setting up the plot for one of those long distance relationship movies. No, I am afraid I must stay here and make the best of it.
It might not be so terrible, adapting this new kind of life. I took my dog for a walk in the park the other day, and only once or twice did he find an energetic legal counselor on a journey of self discovery to accidentally tangle up in his leash.
Also there was a doctor.
I apologized on all three incidents and the rest of the walk went on uneventfully.
Friday, April 2, 2010
“A minor league baseball player?” asked Rupert. “And that will fulfill the prophecy?”
“Yes” said the ominous voice.
“Hold on,” I said. “Has anyone here even played baseball?” Of course, I had been playing in the minor leagues for years under an assumed identity, but that was before my life here, in the caves; it was a life I was not wont to share with others, and one I was reluctant to return to.
Clarissa nudged me. I had told her the first day we got here of my past, back when I thought it didn’t matter; possibly years ago now.
“Anyone?” I asked again.
Back when we had first entered the caves, back before our tour guide had abandoned us and the bioluminescent messages started to appear on the walls, I had known none of these people. Since then, we had grown close; we had learned how to survive together, how to avoid the entrancing darkness of the trap tunnels and various cave dwelling creatures.
“Charlie,” said Bethany, “you’re a baseball player, right?”
“What?” I asked. “Who told you that?”
“Oh, Eric did” she said.
“Eric?” I asked.
“Clarissa told me” said Eric.
“Well I didn’t think it was some kind of big secret” said Clarissa.
“Besides,” said Rupert. “You talk about it in your sleep all the time.”
“Then it is decided.” said the ominous voice. “Charlie Delton, you will fulfill the prophecy of the cave!”
“Aw, damn it.” I hit my hand against the cave wall.
Also there was a doctor. I would find out later he was also a minor league baseball player in his youth, he was just much better at keeping quiet about it than I was.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
He sits in his office chair and makes several existential realizations about himself and the people he considers himself close to.
He has heard of others finding themselves before, but never finding other people at the same time. He is perplexed as to how he should handle this latter part of his discoveries.
It is soon after he gets up from his cubicle, goes to the break room, and heats up a freshly vended cinnamon bun that he decides the best course of action would be to tell his friends of his conclusions. He decides to call them.
Perhaps it should be explained that this businessman has never in his life had any existential epiphanies. He does not know the proper etiquette involved in such experiences and, as such, does not know other people can consider it impolite when told astounding eternal truths regarding their own lives by others over the phone.
Perhaps it should be explained that his phone calls do not go well.
When he shouts: “Margaret, your boyfriend is using you to score free tickets to outdoor Folk concerts he is not even that interested in,” it does not go well.
When he shouts: “Enid, the reason you don’t like robots is because they remind you of several people you dated during your years of adolescence,” it does not go well.
When he shouts: “Quilbert, the reason you did not do well when you took the SAT is because you did not study for it, and not, as you have so eagerly told people for several years, because the people who grade the exam are not fond of people named Quilbert,” it quite clearly does not go well.
“Also there was a doctor” he says. “I am thinking the reason your name is Quilbert is because he was not at his most sober when filling out your birth certificate.”
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
“Oliver, we’ve discussed this, you need to use verbs in your sentences.”
“Erudite Untitled Game Show Concept, an outraged public indeed.”
“Oliver, has someone been letting you watch the television that keeps cutting out every few moments?”
“The unfortunate flooding, also with delicious cinnamon batter.”
“Oliver, this is not how people talk. You are educating yourself incorrectly.”
“Pink and bold, an understandable coffee pot mishap.”
“Oliver, I swear to you, I don’t know how this happened but I will someday figure out how to teach you proper syntax again.”
“You don’t need to start every damned sentence with Oliver, you know. My name is Herbert.”
“And… scene.” I said, turning towards the judges’ table. Normally, my surrealistic one act plays were less than well received when performed in anything approaching a public space, but I had a good feeling about this one. My scene partner and I got up from the floor as the judges deliberated. Two of them I did not recognize.
Also there was a doctor. He was my doctor, and also the third judge, which struck me as odd.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
“Clark, I am beginning to find your supposed truisms disagreeable” said Wallace, leaving the empty tent. He dropped the note on the wet ground and wondered where his travel companion had gone off to this time.
He noticed the previous night’s fire was still burning.
“Clark?” Wallace called out, curious how his friend had managed to keep the flames from extinguishing in the middle of a rainstorm. Wallace hadn’t remembered Clark leaving the tent at all the night before. The inside of the tent itself was dry; if Clark had left to keep the fire going, it seemed almost impossible he’d be able to avoid covering the blue nylon with mud on his way back in.
For a moment, Wallace thought Clark must have woken up early and found some dry kindling for a new fire. The more he looked, though, the harder it was to deny he was staring at the same firewood he’d been staring at several hours ago.
“Besides,” he thought “why would anyone start a fire this early in the day?”
Still, Wallace was wary, especially since, for the first time since waking up, he suddenly remembered he had put out that fire the night before.
Also there was a doctor. He stood amongst the trees, preparing to introduce himself in as dignified a manner as possible.
Monday, March 29, 2010
and who was kind enough to call this blog "quirkiness at its best." It was very kind of him and I wanted to say thank you publicly. (Although I am sorry I did not say so sooner)
NOW LET US STOP BREAKING THE RULES HERE. IT IS MAYBE BAD PERHAPS?! FOR MORALE?
Or at least, her connectbio says she’s a soap opera writer. People can hack those things pretty easily, so you never actually know when you pen them.
All I can do is watch from across the bar. She keeps ordering Seven & Sevens as a man in a posh LCD Overcoat continues to make double entendres about string theory. It is surprising how well I can hear them.
Suddenly they turn in my direction. My voyeurism appears compromised, until I realize they are just staring at the person behind me, who I soon find out has been staring at me for quite a while. I realize we are caught in a voyeurism triangle of sorts and find it quite exhilarating.
We light electronic cigars simultaneously, and spend a few hours staring at one another.
Finally, I say “This has been quite awkward” and leave, hoping they realize I was trying to be ironic.
Also there was a doctor. He was playing the bongos in a blue corner somewhere as I left.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Really I was deluding myself. The YUGO hadn’t worked in weeks, and there was very little chance I would move from the Super 8 parking lot without the assistance of a tow truck. Still, as I sat back in the driver’s seat, thumbing the felt lined steering wheel to the beat of Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome,” I knew Connecticut had yet to get the best of me.
In my mind I was already halfway to Nebraska. In my mind, the cracks in the asphalt melted together as my tires rode past. Of course, in my mind I also hadn’t spent February in Milford. And in reality, I still had to figure out some way to pay my already mounting motel bill before I could go anywhere.
Also there was a doctor. He wouldn’t tell me his name, but he seemed decent enough, so I let him hang out in my car.
Monday, January 18, 2010
"It is a purposely inauspicious start."
“But when do you suppose it’ll be finished?” I said. The rock-face looked as if it might collapse before Jerry finished carving what he wanted to call his legacy. “You wouldn’t be the first man I knew to spend his entire life trying to chisel Greta Garbo’s face into a prominent area of the Grand Canyon.”
“Really?” he asked, continuing to chip away at the area above what was starting to look like Garbo’s left eyebrow. “Cause-”
“I know some people.” The sun was particularly targeted that day. I stood nearby in silence for a while, taking small, meticulous sips from my canteen. The pick axe moved against the rock like a naïve guest at a rave party moved to the music; slow, but as an attempt to fit in rather than as the result of gratuitous amounts of drug use. And damn, how I wanted a glow stick. The year was 1925, and I, Helen Strambauer, would soon find my time machine broken, my husband missing and my current home in disarray. Even as I stood next to Jerry though, watching him delicately trace Garbo’s hairline, I knew this would be one of my more difficult adventures.
Also there was a doctor. He watched us from nearby, and occasionally shouted down instructions in French.
Monday, January 4, 2010
The crowd said nothing.
"And he um...he said that he'd write to you guys or something, so..." Danny looked at the ground. "I can tell you people don't believe me."
They remained expressionless, their stare silently fixed with Danny's fidgety movements onstage.
"Look, I didn't even want to be the messenger here. He sent me. I don't...I didn't even know any of you people until last week. I mean, yeah I lied before but...look the story is true. David is alive and he's doing exactly what I said." He stopped his hand from shaking. "If you don't believe me that's your...I'm sorry for interrupting your town meeting thing. I'm sorry. Mr. Mayor you can have your podium back." Danny stepped off the stage and started walking toward the back of the meeting hall.
"Danny, wait!" He heard a shout from behind him. He turned to see Jessica standing up, alternating between looking back at her parents on the stage, and at him.
"He's...He's not a mayor. The correct term in this case would be town supervisor."
"Just thought I should clear that up."
"Sure, makes sense." Danny left the meeting hall as Jessica sat back down.
Also there was a doctor. He was half-asleep though, so he didn't really catch much of what had gone on in the last few minutes.