Friday, September 9, 2022

A Bold Claim

Art c/o Jenn

"It was a beautiful Tuesday with friendly clouds in a bright blue sky smiling down upon the world right up until an unfriendly fireball frowned upon my house. By 'frowned upon' I mean demolished. It made the day substantially less beautiful for me.

"So a fireball came out of nowhere and destroyed the house?"

"Yes, more or less. I'm sure the fireball originated somewhere, but I can't tell you where, exactly, it came from."

"Right. Fireball out of nowhere. Not lightning, not a plane, but a fireball."

"I can write down whatever you'd like."

"No, it's fine, we just don't get many fireball related claims."

"I'm not surprised! One doesn't often encounter fireballs outside a rousing game of Dungeons and Dragons."

"Exactly. So. Were you in the domicile at the time of the incident?"

"Do I look flattened or burnt to you, sir? No, I was not in the house to my good fortune. I was near enough to see it happen, but far enough as to escape injury. Well, escape physical injury - my finances are another matter."

"Yes, I was just getting to that. It seems the house, being on the historic register, cost you a pretty penny."

"It did indeed - and the insurance was nothing to sneeze at."

"We set our policies based on replacement value, you know that. Speaking of which, I'm sorry to hear about your collection of heirloom jewelry."

"Ah, a great loss indeed. Handed down for generations. I thought they would fit in well with the paintings as I turned the house into a little tourist attraction. Alas, all lost - along with any future profits."

"Devastating, certainly. It would have been a nice addition to the town."

"My greatest regret is my children will never get to see any of it."

"Well, Mr. Business Cat, I don't have any other questions for you. Your claim is approved. Do you have any questions for me?"

"Do you tarry in the world of taxation?"

"A bit, why?"

"Is there any way to claim a trebuchet as a business expense?"

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Gen's Cell

 The torchlight was blinding. Gen sneezed a few times as his eyes adjusted to the light. It was the brightest thing he'd seen in weeks.

"Get up," a voice behind the light barked. He obeyed. Freedom, death, or torture awaited, but anything was better than the darkness. He was beyond hoping for anything beyond an end to the darkness.

Gen didn't so much 'get up' as creakily unfurl and lift himself upright. It was a challenge - the beatings, malnutrition, and general neglect had done a number on his physical well-being. The man holding the torch rattled the bars and insisted he move faster, but Gen was beyond this base motivation.

He made his way to the bars and was yanked beyond them. He was pushed and pulled and prodded up the dungeon's steps, not keeping the pace his captors demanded. Another person's mind would have wandered. Another person's mind would have questioned why and where and all the normal things. He focused on each stone on each step. He focused on getting his fingers into cracks in the wall so he could pull himself forward. He focused on his burning leg muscles - once able to propel him across battlefields an up siege ladders.

Eventually, a million years later, Gen arrived at a door he'd been through only once before. A guard asked if he was ready, and before he could process the question, the guard opened the door and another shoved him out into a courtyard.

The sunlight was blinding. After the shove Gen could only see his hands on the dirty path in front of him. The door slammed shut, but he didn't take much notice as he grappled with the assault of sensations. He struggled to catch his breath. He struggled to focus his eyesight - his sun-sneezes hadn't come yet. Noise and smalls and small sprigs of grass were all there, but they didn't penetrate into his world just yet.

After a beat, and certainly unready, Gen made a decision: he stood up. Hands and knees and exhalations were the workhorses of the effort, but he made it. A wobbly start, but he was a biped once more. Now to become human.

He surveyed his surroundings: behind him a small keep, around him walls and a few structures, in front (or near enough) a gatehouse. No people. No animals. Only one opening - out.

Gen made an uneven walk toward and through the gates, only to confront more abandoned structures. Black fabric and quick swipes of black paint were the decoration of the day. Remembering he should eat, he looked in a few shops. There was nothing.

What new torture was this?

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Just Fuckin' Weird

"Hey there... sexy."

Cargo shorts, anime tee, and a patchy enough beard to complete the look, the man standing at the desk breathed a little louder than necessary as he waited for the cashier's attention. She sighed.

"What can I do for you sir?"

"More like what I can do for you... later," the man said, contorting his face into the approximation of a wolfish grin. "If you know what I mean."

"Sir, this is a bakery," the cashier stated. The man paused.

"I'd... like to feel your buns?"



"I can call my manager over."


"Don't be sorry. Just don't be a creep. What do you want?"

"What do you want tonight?"


"What? That one was honest?"

"Sir, I'm a simple cashier at a bakery."

"But I'm- but you're-" the man paused.

"Ask me for some bread or pastries. Then pay and go."

"I'd like some bread?"

"Sure. White, wheat, whole grain, rye, pumpernickel-"

"Whole wheat please."

"Would you like me to slice that?"


"Okay," the cashier said and grabbed a loaf of whole wheat. She ran the slicer, pointedly ignoring the man at the counter. Only after she'd bagged it and stapled the bag shut did she speak again.

"This is the part where you pay and leave."

"Okay," the man said, defeated. A moment later and he was out the door.

The cashier's manager made her way to the counter and looked the cashier right in the eyes.

"You and your husband are fucking weird."

Saturday, August 13, 2022

One Cheeseburger and a Shake

 "Chzburgr-shek" the cheeseburger bot announced to the room.

"Here!" I cried out. The bot weaved its way through the crowd toward me.

"No, here!" Another patron called to the bot. It stopped.

"Chzburgr-shek," the bot announced again.

"I think it has mine," I said, directing the statement toward the other patron.

"Here!" she said to the bot, ignoring me.

"No, here!" I said. Something about how this person was acting was getting under my skin. Even if it were her meal, the polite move would be to acknowledge the other person (me!) and sort things out. I would have sworn I'd ordered before her, but online orders exist - or maybe she had a special request.  In any case, the combative stance was unnecessary and actively slowing down the delivery of one of our meals.

"Chzburgr-shek," the bot called out again. I read confusion in its monotone voice.

"Here!" the woman demanded.

"Ma'am, I don't mean to fight with you on this, but I think that might be mine."

"It's mine and I know it," she spat at me - an acknowledgement of my existence, I suppose. "Here!"

"We could compare order times or look at the receipt if you want, but I think that's my order. Here!"

The bot wheeled toward one of us, then the other, then back again. The woman didn't even look at me - her eyes were fixed on the bot.




I was beyond reasoning and wanted to win. The fight continued for a few more rounds before a neighboring table intervened - they made the sensible point that letting the woman win would get a second order out quicker. I relented and let the bot deliver the food to the woman.

"This isn't what I ordered!" she screamed, throwing the burger at the wall. As ketchup dripped down the wall, the salad bot came out of the kitchen.

"Sal'd" it announced. The woman glared at it. I glared at the woman.

"Finally!" she said theatrically. "Here!"

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Catching Fire

"So, would you say you have a burning passion for it?" the older man in the white suit asked, his face frozen in the most self-satisfied half open grin ever plastered upon a person. He inched a pointed finger toward me.

"An undying fire," I replied in the best Alan Rickman-as-Snape I could muster.

"That's the spirit!" my prospective employer ejaculated, punching me lightly in the shoulder as punctuation. "When can you start?"

"Whenever, I suppose," I said. "Things have been pretty dead at the office."

"Great! How about now? Things are pretty dead around here too!" More grinning ensued.

Sure, I guess - what's first?"

"Well, let's get a few forms filled out first," the man in white said, dropping his playful demeanor as he pulled out a few pieces of paper and gave them to me. I pulled a chair up to a table and got to work printing and signing and initialing.

"No W-4?" I asked.

That fucking smirk returned.

"Only two guarantees in this world," he said, handing me the final piece of paper. I tapped the side of my nose to indicate we were on the same page.

"Screwing with the IRS is playing with fire," I mumbled as I handed the completed form back to the man. This earned a heavy slap on the back and some words about being a natural fit. Some more paper shuffling ensued before he opened a side door and beckoned me in.

"Well, the best way to get started is to get started, he said. "Look but don't touch - I'll be back in a moment."

I took in the levers and buttons and conveyor for a minute while I awaited his return.

"Alright, let's turn ass to ash - and earn some cash! People have been dying to get in here," he said, wheeling in a cadaver.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Fourth of Boo-Ly

Nightmares consumed my sleep for weeks leading up to the event. They were relentless. I dreaded to even close my eyes for fear of the mental torture that might ensue. I didn’t think it could get worse. Then the first ghost came.

“Yo brah - you got any brews up in this joint?”

The apparition, fully formed and floating above my bed, had just asked me for beer. My brain rebooted.

“You okay there dude?” it asked me.

“Did you just ask for a beer?” I managed.

“Yah brah!” it answered. “Pibber if you got one.”

“What - who - what are you?”

“Oh, dude, I’m the ghost of the Fourth of July.”

“The ghost of the Fourth of July?”

“Yeah! Let’s get some brews and set off some fireworks before the others show up.”

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts

Art c/o Dawn Ann

"Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts"

The sign hung in a conspicuous spot on my house - namely at eye level on my front door. One could certainly say I was up front with my precautions. I'll grant this was about as enticing as a "caveat emptor" sign above a cash register, but it was honest nonetheless. It was pointless arguing with me about it - after all, I'd put up the sign.

"It's just a salad," she insisted again. I pointed at my sign. Again. She paused.

"But I'm not Greek," she said.

"Prove it," I said.

"What? Ugh. How?"


"Exactly what?"

"Everyone's Greek until proven otherwise. And those who can? Very possibly sneaky Greeks."

"Sneaky Greeks?"

"Sneaky Greeks."

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Six 'ricks

There was a bartender: Jess
Whose art was always the best
Whether ink on paper
or intellectual caper
She's an inspiration, I confess


Aly inspires both poem and prose
As she covers a body from head to toes
Whether in leather
Or boa (feathered)
She makes damn interesting clothes

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Peeved Pigs

Art c/o Jenn

"Sir, it's the pigs - they've gone mad."

"What do you mean mad? Like they're oinking more than normal or they've gained intelligence and have formed a mob to come and try to kill us?"

"The latter sir. Torches, pitchforks, the works."

"Well, that's no good."

"What do we do now sir?"

"Well, we're not exactly in Frankenstein's castle, are we?"

"No sir."

Flowers and a Cool Bandana (Guest Author)

As mentioned in the title, this is a guest post. Credit to Lauren.

On an alien planet, there's a world that's been taken over by robots. They were created to resemble their creators. The creatures that created them were somewhat advanced; a little more than humans. Eventually, one robot became sentient: he flew under the radar long enough for his creators to cause havoc on the planet and eventually go extinct.

This sentient bot continues to search the world for a bot like him and gets into some trouble when coming up against weapons that were created for destruction. He still hasn't found anyone like him, but he found a way to create flowers and found a cool bandana.

The Grumb

"I was here first."

"No, sorry sir, these two were already in line." The cashier gestured at the twenty person pile up that seemed outside the older man's regard.

"Fuck that! I was here first!" Spittle shot from the man's mustache on the 'eff'.

"Do you have a number?" The cashier nodded toward the 'take a number' device, then pointed toward the 'now serving' display.

"I don't need a number. Fuck your number. I'm number one! I was here first!" At this point, the people in line were growing restless. They were here for coffee and pastries, not a confrontation. Some were angry at the man for trying to cut in line, some just wanted the cashier to serve him in order to end the argument. Whatever combination of things they felt, none of them spoke up to interrupt the conversation.

Another Horsedreamer's Blues (Guest Author)

 As mentioned in the title, this is a guest post. Credit to Murph.

Face c/o Camilo, Horse c/o Mikey

BANG went the starting gun and they were off. The hooves thundered down the track, eventually reaching the first turn of the oval. Leaning out over the concourse were the front-row seaters, the career gamblers, the every-Saturday crowd. Tickets in hand, screaming. Above them were the casuals, first timers, folks out for a fun weekend. And far above them were the private boxes. The wealthy elite, the horse-owners. They who couldn't care less about the results. And above even them, perched up on the barristers, sat Camila.

Camila, a victim of those below.

She loved horses and always had. Despite all she had dealt with. Despite drunken fathers, stupid mothers, boys who can't tell one girl from another. Camila's story was precious different from a million others of the lower strata. No special distinctions, the oldest story in the book. No one cared and Camila knew it. None would come to save her and she knew it. But Camila loved horses.

And they made her feel free.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Zipporah was free, flowering forever.

Art c/o Michelle Perez

Zipporah appraised her situation - lost, lost in the garden. She had to escape - not just the maze, but also her pursuers.

There were three paths in front of her. To her left, flowers. The path smelled like love and salvation. To her right, coffee and chicory and licorice teased her nose. Straight ahead? Rotten death and nothing good. Zipporah considered her options.

She'd been running for days at this point and wanted only to escape her pursuers. She'd run deeper and deeper into the garden. She'd been enticed by the promise of salvation or bounty or even just the minimum that might keep her alive. She was done with it.

Zipporah chose death. She walked forward. She wanted the pain to end. The stench assaulted her. Enveloped her. Absorbed her. She felt as if her flesh sloughed off her bones. Yet she walked. She walked.

It was a full three days later before she was found. She'd escaped the pain. She'd escaped the garden. She'd escaped her pursuers.

Zipporah was free, flowering forever.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

New Orleans Public Library


Shuttin' Down

Due to Rain

That's Okay

So's My Brain

One Whole Day

Down the Drain

Friday, March 18, 2022

A Long Way Home

 It was a long way home. I'd done what I'd set out to do. I'm not sure how I'd wandered so far. Yet here I was, job done, a long way from home.

It'd all started some two months earlier. It wasn't much compared to many folks, but it was mine - a dozen cattle stolen in the black of night by brigands unknown. It was all I had. They were all I had. I set myself in motion.

Art c/o Kayla

Tracking had been easy - the growing herd made an increasingly large print upon the land as the thieves increased their take. The issue was with the confrontation. I was one man. One man against a multitude.

I'd timed my strikes. Snare a man while he was bathing - it was just bad luck that he got caught in a current. Shred a man who strayed too far from the group - there were wolves about; one needed to be cautious. Shoot a man during another raid - the price of doing business.


 "Under your jacket?"

The man, comically adorned in an oversize raincoat and wide-brimmed fedora, put his fingers to his lips. His eyes darted left and right. He leaned toward me.

"Yeah," he whispered.

Art c/o Nazia

I was entirely unsure how to react in this situation. I mean, I'd seen it in cartoons. Hell, even Sesame Street lampooned the situation in their "wanna buy an eight" sketch. Yet here I was, for real, a few feet down a dark alley engaging in an illegal deed. Participating in an illegal occupation.

"A whole empire?" I whispered back, still not believing.

"Sure, why not?" he answered.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Love, Money, or Respect

 "Love, money, or respect?"

The young woman looked at the hunched man for a moment before responding.

"I can't have all of them?" she asked.

"That's beyond my power," he answered.

The young woman pondered for a while, weighing things in her mind.

"Not to be Machiavellian, but what's the difference between love and respect?"

"Love - love is to die for someone. Love is to protect. Love is man's desire - someone so committed to another their life is forfeit. Love is something parents should feel for their children. Love is something few men receive after childhood. Love is something women expect from their partners and are willing to trick themselves into believing they're receiving."

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Jerk Off Into the Sun

 "Go jerk off into the sun."

My face involuntarily turned into the furrowed-brow, cross-eyed, slack jawed expression of incomprehension so characteristic of Tucker Carlson as a dull "wut?" escaped from my lips and nearly splat upon the floor.

"You heard me," Jane, the line to my squiggle, spat.

"Jerk off into the sun?" I managed.

"Jerk off into the sun," she confirmed.

I stood perplexed as she spun on her heel and left the bar.