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, September 3, 2022

Corn Hole and Joey Joe Jr Shabadoo (Guest Author)

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

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The stale heavy air rises curiously from the street vents. A deep sigh, and from the shadows a man thoughtfully strokes his wrinkled chin. "This city ain't what she used to be, my friend. Ain't what she was."

A second figure, bulky and imposing, adjusted his posture to slide against the cement pole. He was scratching his back. Grunting, seemingly in a disengaged sense of agreement, he lit a cigarette silently.

"This shit's been right fucked for a while- since the steel mills left, I reckon. Then the good houses crumbled, and in came the McDonald's," said the second figure. He took several more long drags on his stale cigarette, the old tobacco crackling and sizzling like a pair of Chili's sizzlin' Baby Back Ribs.

"Corn Pop, you know, my Pappy was a steel mill man, my momma was one of them wanderin' women who got pregnant and left my Pappy with the bill. Loose morals, sure, but I can't deny that her wild spirit runs in these veins. See?" He showed Corn Pop his ropey veins that stood in sharp relief to his liver-spotted but tough arms. Tough like a cut of old beef from a sun-baked steer left to scavenge in drought-stricken fields. 

He hoisted himself onto his grimy old Schwinn bicycle, and promptly toppled over, cursing in pain.

Corn Pop laughed slowly as he reached down to help up the old man. "Joe, you stupid son of a bitch. Did you forget to take your Centrum Silver again?" Joe stumbled upwards, briefly into the strong arms of Corn Pop.

"Fuck you, Corn Dog. I'm just thinking of ways to help. We gotta clean up this shit in Washington. Scranton fell, and Wilmington- as you can clearly see- is next. Kinda like them, uh, Sanctum Santorum in those Doctor Strange pictures."

They walked along Baltimore Pike for several minutes in silence, cars speeding past the pair trying to find footing on the ridge of crude drainage ditches. A Civic strolled by, sending a fine mist of oily water skyward. The pair turned into a parking lot as the sky lost its last traces of twilight.

The cold blast of air from the Trader Joe's quickly pushed past the humidity as Joe and Corn Pop stepped across the threshold. Suddenly, Joe stopped, and tapped Corn Pop on the shoulder. "That bastard. I can't believe he- he's here," growled Joe. "In MY fucking turf."

"Who," said Corn Pop, rummaging through the cheese selection carefully. He was reading the label on a wedge of gruyere. 

"Mitch. Mitch the BITCH," Joe spit. Corn Pop's eyes came alive. He reached for his night stick- collapsible, of course. Joe fingered the heavy steel chain draped around his waist, caressing the links between his arthritic fingers.

Mitch McConnell, seizing a head of Boston Bibb lettuce turned his eyes upward. He caught the glare of the two men, and his sagging mouth formed the words "Oh, fuck."

Wilting bunches of flowers, lavender plants, a bag of amaryllis bulbs, and tiny cacti of all sizes erupted in the sudden air like botanical confetti. Joe leapt over the evicted pile of navel oranges and grasped Mitch's collar while Corn Pop ambled to the exit.

Mitch was old as fuck. But the man moved like a turtle on high quality biker crank, and managed to shimmy out the door, just barely evading Joe's frantic grasps. Mitch's collar was finally brought back through the doorway of the Trader Joe's, while shopper quickly cleared the area. Joe held onto the whisps of hair barely attached to Mitch's scalp with one hand as collateral, his other hand around Mitch's shoulder, and Corn Pop accompanied them as they marched out into the humidity of the parking lot.

The group walked out to the last light pole; Joe turned Mitch around, and spit in his face. 

"You piece of shit, Mitch. You fucking cocksucker. WHAT did I tell ya? Huh?"

"I-I-I was just g-getting wine!" Mitch stuttered. "They have Three Dollar Chuck here!"

"It's TWO BUCK CHUCK, you chucklefuck! And you know they don't sell that shit here. Total Wine." Corn Pop laughed, shaking his head. "Go on Joe, he knows the price he's gonna pay."

Joe glanced back at Mitch's face, contorted in terror. The collagen had long drained from Mitch's skin, his oily neck skin dripping into his heavily starched collar. Slowly, Joe smiled a toothy grin, while Mitch's frail skeleton-like exoskeleton quivered in paroxysms.

"Whaddya say, Corn Cob? Should we re-introduce this turtle fuck back into the Delaware? Release this motherfucker into his natural environment? The Sierra Club would be all over this."

"Maybe a Duck Boat ride," mused Corn Pop. A dark circle started to grow in the crotch seam of Mitch's cheap Brook Brother's suit- off the racks, of course, with heavily crumpled shoulders resigning on his angular frame. He was hyperventilating unevenly, with damp grey cataracted eyes fixed on Joe's face. Lit by the harsh halogen parking lot lights, he waited.

Joe was staggering around, ranting, his ghoulish face contorted, and his lips hurled a heavy dollop of froth on Mitch's unblinking face. Suddenly, a Nissan Ultima with temporary tags screeched up next to the group in the now empty parking lot. 

A deep voice shouted from the driver's window: "Everyone inside! Joe, cut that shit out, throw him in the back." Joe scrambled into the front seat, brushing a pack of Parliaments onto the floor. Corn Pop and Mitch crammed into the back, and before the doors shut, the car was careening to the exit.

Joe held up the packet of cigarettes, and turned to the driver. "I thought you said you quit?" The driver laughed. "That's what I told Michelle. Thanks for taking away my menthols, by the way." Joe laughed tiredly, and turned to face Mitch.

"Thanks, Obama," sneered Joe in a sing song voice. Mitch was unable to reply, under threat of pain from Corn Pop's hand clamped around his thigh.

The Ultima ran through strings of red lights, launching over railroad tracks, and came to a skidding rest by the water's edge. An abandoned gravel lot with heat lightning silently watching from miles away reflected on the surface of the black river. 

"Mitch, my friend, ya really gotta get out," said Obama from the driver's seat. He was passively scrolling through Snapchat. Mitch, still unable to move, looked lightheaded and filled with barely contained vomit.

"Allow me, Mr. President," quipped Joe, swung his chain, and splintered Mitch's kneecaps. A scream of pain followed, as Corn Pop extracted Mitch from his seat, and threw the skeleton man into the gravel.

"I....wh-....what the hell did I...Oh, GOD!" sobbed Mitch. Blood added to the urine-soaked palette of his trousers, and spilled onto the macadam which cradled his face.

"Merrick. Garland," Joe sharply enunciated. "You know, Reagan was close to receiving the same fate that awaits you- tearing Jimmy's solar panels off the White House roof? Come on, man!" Joe through his arms up in exasperation. "This is OUR nuclear option."

"You can't...y-...FUCK you!" Mitch hissed. "Elaine is gonna hear about this. Don't you know who I'm married to?"

"I'm married to the AMERICAN PEOPLE, Jack! And you were, too! Then you bent overbeautiful Lady Liberty, railed her in the asshole and gave her the Clap. That was YOU!" screamed Joe. 

Mitch fell silent, defeated. "Hey man, it's time," Corn Pop said, as he gestured to the river. Joe sighed, suddenly sounding twenty years older. His expression hidden, as he looked towards the ground and shook his head slowly, then exchanged glances with Obama. 

"Ready?" Both men nodded, as Joe turned to Mitch. "No. More. Malarkey."