The Ascot

 

asc

 

Rebecca negotiated the enormous cart full of plastic bins around the throngs of nervous travelers. She took them out to the start of the security check point and dropped them off for the travelers to load with metal and electronic items. She returned to her station and gazed dully at the x-rayed insides of carry on suitcases, pulling out the ones that contained aerosol sprays and water bottles.

She tried to ignore the two coworkers that stood behind her gossiping about the people in the crowd. The bald one complained about all the dirty underwear she had to touch that morning. The toothless coworker commented that Rebbeca’s shirt was wrinkled.

Rebecca was about to go to lunch when she saw him across the room. He was standing at the end of another agent’s X-ray belt, looking for his luggage with vaguely concealed panic. He was tall and sharply handsome with thick blond hair that had been carefully tousled to look as though he had just emerged from bed. He was wearing a smug smirk, torn jeans and a silk jacket over a white tee shirt. He was also wearing an ascot.

Rebecca noticed that the agent working his belt did not even pull his luggage or pull him aside for a search. She thought that this was a mistake. They were supposed to search anyone who looked suspicious and there was nothing more suspicious than an ascot. The man collected his luggage and began to head to his gate. Rebecca decided to follow him.

The man walked with a purposeful strut, until he stopped and went into a bookstore. Rebecca stood near a table of books, subtly following his gaze. His intense brown eyes surveyed the magazines. She watched carefully to see which one he would pick up. She was guessing he was either a classical musician, a movie producer or a mental patient. In any case, she thought it best that he was followed.

He reached for a copy of, Vanity Fair, he looked at it for a moment, but decided on Down Beat instead. She smiled to herself; she loved jazz.

He walked to the wine bar and went inside. Rebecca realized she was stuck as she couldn’t drink on the job. She headed for the pretzel stand and watched him from a distance. He ordered a wine and swished it around in his mouth a bit before swallowing it down. Brown mustard dribbled down Rebecca’s chin as she watched him drink and chat with the bar tender.

“God, what a pretentious yutz,” Rebecca thought.

All of a sudden, the man seemed upset. He seemed to be asking the bartender a frantic question. He paid his bill and walked out into the terminal. He looked at the departures and then took a cell phone out of his pocket and made a phone call. He walked right by Rebecca as she quietly gobbled the last bits of pretzel and pretended to read a safety poster.

“Hi, it’s me my flight was canceled….. I’m not sure, the next flight to LA isn’t until 7:00. It looks like it’s Southwest.”

He hung up and headed into the airports day spa. Rebecca returned to work. On her break she told her boss that she would need to take a few days off as she had to go to Los Angeles. She said her only living relative, her aunt was sick. She bought a ticket on the 7:00 p.m. Southwest flight via Travelocity.

She finished her shift and headed to Ross where she quickly obtained a large backpack two blouses and two pairs of jeans and a week’s supply of undies and a toiletry kit.

She headed back to the airport just in time to catch her flight. The man in the ascot was sitting right up front,  flirting with a pretty young stewardess.

She took her seat in back and tried to plan an exit strategy so she would not lose him when the flight ended. She could pull out her badge and tell the stewardess that she needed a passenger list then she could find out the man’s name.

She waited until after the drinks had been distributed. She went up to the stewardess and said she had overheard something in a conversation that might have been suspicious.

She found out the name was Timothy Parker, He lived in West Los Angeles. She said the address over and over again in her head as she went back to her seat.

“Timothy,” she whispered. She was disappointed she had hoped it would be Holden or possibly Miles. She thanked the stewardess and sat down again.

The plane landed and she went to baggage claim in the hopes that he was there, but he was not. She took the train to a Motel 6 in East Hollywood where she enjoyed a sleep and a shower. The next morning, she woke and went to the address that had appeared on Timothy’s driver’s license. It was a gas station.

She stood outside, looking in for a moment. She went inside and bought coffee. She asked the man at the counter if Timothy was around.

“He sets stand up at 10:00.”

She looked at her watch it was 9:55. She went for a short walk and returned to the gas station. She noticed a long line of men standing in front of a brightly colored cart. As she got closer she saw a sign that said, “Ascots $5.99 2 for $12.

She got in the line and waited to get to the window for an hour and a half. She glanced around at the men in the line and noticed that the business had reached a huge demographic.

Burly men in construction hats and undershirts stood in the line sweating in the hot sun. Men who wore business suits over body hugging tee-shirts discussed the merits of this ascot stand verses the other in town. Pimply teen agers stood giggling at text messages and taking pictures of the cart. Rebecca found it odd that there were no hipsters in the line.

When she reached the window, Timothy poked his head out.

“May I help you”

“Yes,” she said. “Charging $12 for 2 ascots is not a discount. If one ascot is $5.99, customers will actually pay two cents more for two.”

“I never said it was a discount,” he said.

“Oh, okay,” she said.

Rebecca got an Uber and went back to the airport. She flew back to Portland and shot herself in the head.

In The Cell

pink

 

 

 

It was 2:00 a.m. and Marsha was just about to go home when her phone buzzed. There was a woman named Susan, just two blocks away, who was requesting an Uber. Marsha decided to do one more trip.  She arrived in front of a small brownstone to find a tall man of mixed race standing outside of the building. He walked towards the car and attempted to open the back door and knocked on it when he realized it was locked. She rolled down the window slightly.

“Hi, I don’t think this is your Uber, sir. I’m here for a woman.”

“Is her name Susan?”

“Yes.”

“That’s actually my girlfriend, I got a new phone and I don’t have Uber set up, so she just let me use hers.”

Marsha hesitantly unlocked the door. It seemed like a plausible story. It was very unlikely that a random stranger would be able to guess the name of the customer.

The man climbed into the backseat and confirmed that he was going to North Hollywood. Although it was late and she was tired she was grateful for the long trip and the large fare it promised.

They pulled out onto the street and drove in silence until they got to the freeway.

“I’m Marsha,” she said after a moment

“Okay,” he said with an uncomfortable glance out the window.

“Do you mind if I listen to some music.”

“No that’s fine.”

“Do you have a preference?”

“Anything is okay,” He said rather irritably.

She turned on a classic rock station and studied her charge in the rear-view mirror. He was very tall, nice looking and about thirty five. He was wearing a designer shirt and a nice pair of trousers that looked as though they were part of a suit.

She assumed the ride was some sort of a walk of shame situation. She smiled a bit to herself. Had the man met this Susan in a bar in Long Beach or had they met somewhere in Los Angeles and retired to her apartment? Maybe they knew each other and it was some kind of friends with benefits situation. Maybe they met on Tinder and it was just some random hook up. Maybe he was married and she was actually driving him back to his wife.

Marsha regarded her own flabby face in the mirror. She wondered if he was just in a bad mood or if she was simply not worthy of his attention.

She glanced back at the passenger and saw him reach into his pocket and pull out an iPhone. He began texting with someone. She noticed that the phone was pink. She had never seen a man with a pink cell phone before. He wasn’t gay. He said he had a girlfriend. He also said it was a brand-new phone. His gruff masculine demeaner made her wonder why he would have chosen pink.

“Are ya warm enough back there,” she asked.

“I’m fine,” he said abruptly.

The man had a deep look of concern on his face as he texted. He seemed to be involved in a very serious conversation. His hands were even shaking a bit. She wondered if the woman he was with had just woken in the middle of the night to find him gone. Maybe it was his wife? She felt rather cozy watching the drama unfold.

It was then that she noticed the red stain on his shirt.  Her stomach knotted. It was a fairly small stain, but it really looked like blood. Then she noticed another stain on his sleeve. She told herself that it might be just sauce, or perhaps it came from a cut.

What if he’d murdered the woman he was with? What if he had killed her and used her phone to call the Uber? Maybe he killed her and hid the body and then used her phone to get an Uber. It would be the perfect get away. When people noticed that she was missing it would looks as though Susan had run off on her own volition in the middle of the night.

She looked in mirror again to see that he had gone on Facebook and was posting something. She had to hand it to him; he was clever. Maybe he was posting something to Susan’s page of her saying that she needed a change or a break or something.

It occurred to Marsha that she had Susan’s phone number. All she had to do was call the number and if the pink phone rang she would know that her suspicions were correct. Then she remembered that if her suspicions were correct, he would also have her number. She decided she would drop him off and then call the police.

She turned the car onto the exit ramp and began to drive to the address.

“We’re almost there,” she chirped nervously.

“Okay,” he said.

The man reached into his breast pocket and Marsha’s hands gripped the wheel. What if it was a gun? What if he had seen her looking at him in the rear view, figured out that she was suspicious and decided to kill her?

Her heart raced as she drove down the street. She sped up and reached for her phone to dial 911. She felt a sharp thunk and water began splashing all around the car. She realized she had hit a fire hydrant.

“What the fuck,” The passenger screamed.

He leaped out of the car and ran down the street. When the cops arrived, Marsha attempted to explain what happened. She was handed a ticket and some information about rehab.

Marsha was fired from Uber. She spent the next week on her cell phone looking for a job.

 

The Optimist

InterrogationRoom

 From Craigslist 

Acting Coach – One on One (Silverlake) 

Working producer and acting coach seeking new clients.
Reasonable rates.

Gretchen sat in the small room gulping down the water that she received  after much begging. Detective Puzzleman sat across from her staring at her like she was a bug under a glass.

“Isn’t there supposed to be a good cop,” she asked.

“That’s only in the movies. Besides, the only really bad guy in here is you.”

“I already told the other guy what happened.”

“Tell me, but don’t leave out the truth this time.”

“It was the truth,” she screamed, fighting back tears.

Puzzleman sat down and crossed his arms. Gretchen blew her nose and began to tell her story once again.

“I came to Los Angeles three years ago to pursue my dream of becoming an actress.”

Detective Puzzleman fought a smile. The woman was thirty-five if she was a day. Stringy brown hair framed a chubby pale face. He tried to imagine in what she thought she might be cast.

“I had been so busy working that I couldn’t go on many auditions,” she said looking down at the floor. I’d taken a couple of audition workshops, but the casting directors never noticed me.

I was forever looking at the Craigslist talent section. One day, I came across Tim’s ad.”

“What was the ad for?”

“For the umpteenth trillionth time it was for an acting coach.”

“What made you think an acting coach would work if everything else hadn’t?”

“It was a very convincing ad. It said that we would have three one hour sessions together and then he would put together a reel just for me. It said he’d worked as a casting director for 20 years.”

“I would have thought he was a scammer.”

“I did at first. But, I looked him up on IMDB. There was a Tim Harger who is a casting director. There was no picture of him, but everything there was consistent with what he said. He told me that he was in-between agencies and it just seemed like he knew what he was talking about.”

“What were the acting lessons like?”

“They were amazing. He  found the perfect parts for me. An ex stripper in a gritty story about a murder in the 1940’s, a married woman in love with her boss and then there was the scene he wrote just for me about a young lawyer defending an innocent man.”

Detective Puzzleman made a weird snorting noise.

“Continue please,” he said.

“So anyway, I felt a lot more confident when we started to make my reel. We filmed  the scene he wrote just for me. Then he said he wanted me to do a scene with another actor. He said the scene was set in a coffee shop. He said that there was no way we could really afford to have a shoot in a coffee shop as it would have cost thousands of dollars, so we were going to do it ghetto style,” she said making air quotes.”

“Ya, mean just go in there and shoot it without telling them that you are shooting it?”

“Right, so his sister Jill, my scene partner comes over to his house and we rehearsed the scene…”

“So he didn’t have a studio space or anything?”

“Well, no, I mean he was just using his house, right then.”

“Where was this house located?”

“Downtown.”

“He had a house in downtown Los Angeles?”

“Well, his apartment.”

“I see. Did he have a dedicated room for this?”

“Well, I mean he lived in just one room.”

“He was in a studio?”

“Yeah.”

“And you believed he was a successful casting director? Was it a toney building, at least?”

“Well, I mean it was the Rossyln.”

“Oh, the lofts?”

“No.”

“The Hotel Rossyln?”

“Yeah.”

He just stared at her for a long moment. She looked down at the floor.

“Anyway, I didn’t mean to interrupt your story. Please go ahead.”

“Well, We rehearsed this scene from a play in which this troubled woman is thinking about killing her husband. She caught him cheating with her best friend and she can’t forgive him. My character has most of the dialog. Jill only had two lines. She asks me why I want to do it and how I want to do it.”

“What play was it from?”

“It was called Man Slaughter.”

“Who wrote the play?”

“Dorothy Parker.”

The Detective Googled the play on his phone to see that it did not exist. Gretchen rolled her eyes.

“What exactly were your lines?”

“You want me to do the scene for you? “

“I got some time.”

“Okay, well do you want to just call action or what?”

“Action,” he said with a mean smile.

“Up could you que me too. I mean after you say action could you say, ‘How ya been doin’?’

“Action, How ya, been doin?”

“Last night I was layin’ in bed and I was thinkin’ about her.. just her, not him. I started thinking about all the times I confided in her….ya know like when I told her about intimate details of our relationship and stuff. Did she go right back to him and tell him what I said?”

Gretchen played with an imaginary napkin. She seemed to be attempting to cry.

Detective Puzzleman pushed the Twitter app on his phone.

“So, I realized that as long as she was alive I was always gonna… just..I was always gonna be haunted by memories of that…that I was never gonna sleep again. I think I’ve had like twenty hours of sleep in the last six weeks. I can’t eat. I drink and it just it makes me so sick. So I got so crazy that last night I went out and I bought a gun, a shotgun, like for hunting.

This is where my scene partner said would say, ‘are you kidding’ and then I would go on.

I’m not saying I’ll use it or anything. I’m just saying I have it; ya know. “

“So you rehearsed it and then went to a coffee shop to film it?

“Yeah we did.”

“The wait staff wasn’t suspicious when they saw you guys filming?”

“No, we used IPhones, not cameras. People film themselves doing everything now a days.”

“I would think it would be a bit different if someone was filming you.”

“Jill and I filmed each other. First from her side and then from mine.”

“You used your own phones?”

“no, his.”

“I see. How long were you there?”

“About an hour and a half.”

“Did he ever give you the actual reel?”

“No, he didn’t.”

“What happened when you asked him for it.”

“He just kept stalling. After a while he stopped answering the phone.”

“Three weeks after this conversation was tape recorded Samantha Hodgens was found murdered at the Alexandra. You were seen on camera going into the Alexandra.”

“I went to meet Jill.”

“What a coincidence.”

“It was a set up.”

“By who.”

“Tim and Jill.”

“Why would they do that?”

“He wanted to kill his ex girl friend and rob her.”

“Oh come on Gretchen, admit it. You were friends with Jill, you started going out with her brother. He told you about his crazy ex-girlfriend who lived at the Alexandria and had a stash of cash and jewelry. You caught him cheating with her, so you decided to help yourself to the goods and eliminate the competition in the process. Fortunately, his sister knew how nuts you were and tape recorded a conversation she had with you at lunch where you basically confessed to your motive.”

“No, I met him on Craigslist, he did the coaching and introduced me to his sister. We made the reel and then I didn’t hear from him for a while. I ran into his sister outside of my building one day and she told me that if I met her at her room at the Alexandria, we could go to Tim’s apartment and get the reel. “

“Then where is the video you made?”

“They must have erased the video. She must have been tape recording me with the recording app on her cell phone. “

“We found a sawed off shot gun in a locker at the Greyhound bus station, along with a pair of diamond earing belonging to one miss Samantha Hodgens.  We found the locker key in your bag How did it get there?”

“I have no idea.”

Detective Puzzleman got up and told her that he would be right back. Gretchen bust out into tears.  She tried to tell herself that everything would be okay.  She wondered if she would go to jail.  She had a vision of herself rotting away. She imagined being raped and beaten and locked in solitary confinement.

She cried until she couldn’t anymore. She wondered when the detective would return. She imagined that he was preparing for her arrest. She wondered if her parents would get her a lawyer; maybe they would get a good one. Maybe she would have to go to jail for a while and then she would be exonerated. She imagined going on “The View” and being interviewed by Oprah.   Maybe someone would see her and see something in her that would bring her opportunity. She began to brighten as she heard footsteps in the hallway.

Novel predicts a Trump presidency

ppm
I wrote the novel Papaya Paltrow, The Psychic and The Time Machine. for the 2015 NAMO and released it in April of 2016 and I predicted trump would win the presidency. I was right about his winning. Will I be right about the aftermath? Please read it it cost a buck. It is not a great novel, but I fear that it may be accurate.
http://www.amazon.com/Papaya-Paltrow-…Meet Farrah Sniderman, the heroine of Eliza Gale’s mixed genre tale, Papaya Paltrow, The Psychic and The Time Machine. This Hollywood based, fake psychic finds herself forced to move in with a roommate in the valley after her business has gone belly up due to a scathing online expose written by her ex-boyfriend.While snooping through her handsome new roommate’s personal effects she finds a time machine in his closet. At first she thinks it’s a phony, but she soon discovers that it really can transport her back and forth in time.Instead of using the machine to kill Hitler, stop people from getting on the Titanic or prevent any other major disaster, she decides to make her own life better, by using the machine to travel to the past and make sure that she never meets her ex-boyfriend.
Once this is accomplished and her psychic business is alive and well again, she uses the machine to predict the future by traveling back and forth in time. Soon she is soon the psychic to the stars.

In the pages that follow, Farrah travels from one adventure to the next. She reads tarot cards and does psychic readings for everyone from A-list starlets and singers to Bernie Sanders himself. Everything is going great until she travels too far into the future and finds herself trapped in an America that has become a dangerous positive thinking theocracy lead by the heiress Papaya Paltrow.
.
Farrah’s journey through time is populated by a host of characters: the cynical starlet Tamera who doubts Farrah at first but eventually befriends her; the insomniac pop star, whose desperately wants a good strategy for humiliating her ex-boyfriend in public, a positive thinking cyber stalker, who thinks he can make a girl love him just by wanting her badly enough, a futuristic band of hippies who are traveling to San Francisco in 2041 to join the cities succession from America and most importantly, a sixty three year old version of herself.

 

Charlie Manson’s Greatest Hits Part I

manson

 

 

Oscar Tubington was a bastard: at least that was the general consensus. When he was 35 he impregnated his secretary Abigail and she had insisted that he leave his wife for her. He didn’t want to get a divorce, but Abigail threatened to go to the authorities about the cocaine that he often romanced his clients with.

His wife had been furious and attempted to sue him for fifty percent of his talent agency.  He hired a team of lawyers and she got a modest bungalow and child support until their ten-year-old daughter turned eighteen.

He and Abigail got married right after their baby was born and they had stayed married for some twenty years and had two more children together. Their marriage ended when Oscar’s car stalled out on the train track and he was killed by an oncoming Amtrak. He went to the afterlife and was sitting in the waiting room to see exactly what came next.

A woman’s voice called his name and he was lead to a small office that contained a woman who was so fat she resembled a lounge chair with a head sticking out of it.  She was sitting on a reinforced loveseat. There was a beanbag chair directly across from her and she motioned for Oscar to sit down. He fell gracelessly into the beanbag chair and introduced himself.

“I know who you are, Mr. Tubington. I’m your judge.”

“My judge? What do you mean exactly, my judge?”

“I get to decide if you go to Heaven or Hell.”

“What, are you fucking kidding me? You’re God?

“I didn’t say that. I said I get to decide where you go.”

“And who might you be?”

“I’m Karen Kraft. We went to Jr. High together. You called me fat and made fun of me because I had a learning disability. I was like ten pounds overweight at the time. As you can see, I developed a horrible eating disorder.”

“This is my fault?”

“You and your friends.”

“I was like twelve.”

“Yes, I know, but so was I. I gave you the benefit of the doubt, but you were a complete schmuck. You cheated on both of your wives. You emotionally abused your children and you ran a dishonest business.

“I gave to charity.”

“For a tax shelter.”

“I patronized the arts. I owned a gallery.”

“In Portland. You opened it there because you knew you could get artist and buyers to come from California and buy and sell art in Portland, because there is no state tax there.”

“So obviously. I’m going to Hell.”

“Not necessarily, you may be able to redeem yourself.”

“How?”

“Well, were running a little social experiment up here. You may be able to assist us.”

“What kind of social experiment?”

“Well, we’ve been doing a little study of history’s greatest monsters. We’re trying to find a common thread. We are particularly interested in the cases of Hitler and Charles Manson. “

“Why them?”

“They were both failed artist.”

“Oh yeah, I remember hearing that Charles Manson tried to get into the Monkees.”

“Well, that’s an urban legend, he was in jail at the time. But he did try to make it as a singer and songwriter! If fact that has to do with your assignment. In the world you were a talent agent, yes?

“”Yes! And a good one.”

“Well, we believe that if Charles Manson had been a successful artist, the whole Manson Family Murders may never have happened.”

“So what do you want me to do?

“We want you to travel back in time and make sure that Charles Manson gets signed to a record deal.

“And if I am successful.”

“You’ll jump through that hole and right into the delivery room where you will be reborn,” She said pointing to a hole in the corner of the office.

“And if I fail?”

“Hell.”

Oscar sighed. He signed the paperwork and agreed to go back in to me and see what he could do. He was dressed in an enormous aluminum suit. He leaped off what appeared to be a cliff.

Oscar awoke to the sound of an old fashion alarm clock. The room he was in was pitch black. He turned on the light to find himself in a cheap motel room. He took a shower and dressed in a wide lapel suit that had been laid out for him.

A delivery boy knocked on the door and handed him a San Francisco Chronical, coffee and a bagel. He looked at the date on the newspaper, it was March 22, 1967. He thumbed through the paper and saw that there had been a coup in Sierra Leone and that there had been an oil spill in Europe. He finally landed on the want ads and saw that an ad had been circled for a talent scout in the music industry.

Oscar picked up the rotary phone and dialed the number.

Empathy

toy

 

 

 

Justin Schafman stirred his drink and looked across the table at Edgar, his prospective client. He was on the hook, but he was a little hesitant. Justin could tell that this guy really wanted to be a well-known author, but the guy knew he didn’t really have any talent. Justin could tell Edgar hated his job as a customer service manager, but he wasn’t really very smart and was lucky to have the job.

“Look, Edgar you’ve got a really great book here, but no one knows about it but you and I’m guessing a few friends and co-workers. Now, I know it seems a little expensive, but you’ve got a pretty good job you work hard, right?

“Yeah…”

“And I mean…you’ve gotta spend money to make money right, man?”

“Well, that’s true but …I just don’t know if I would be able to reach my intended audience this way. I mean I don’t really write the most main stream stuff…”

“Well, that’s our job. Trust me, we have experts in this sort of thing. They can target the exact people who would be interested in your book. We even have a computer program that can pinpoint your dream audience. We’re even trying to have it patented.”

“Really,” Edgar asked?

“I’m tellin ya man, this is gonna be much more expensive a year from now. This is your chance to get in on the ground floor.”

Justin was very careful not to touch his face. He knew that that was a way people could tell you were lying. He reminded himself not to over explain and to seem relaxed. He tried to make his voice deeper and not to cross his arms.  He could tell that Edgar didn’t trust him, but desperately wanted to be able to believe the lies he was being told.

He saw the way Edgar’s eyes always wandered around the room, like he was always looking for something better… a way out.

A pretty woman with dark hair and green eyes walked by. Justin caught Edgar looking at her out of the corner of his eye.

“Look, man, can I fuckin’ level with you for a minute? I used to work as a manager in customer service. It sucked. The people in the office were a bunch of fuckin’ freaks and the customers were really annoying and my boss was this dumb dick who was always riding my ass and all I could think about was how I went to college for this?”

“I think that every day,” Edgar said with a sad smile.

“Well, when my buddy offered me this job I had reservations too. I mean, I hated customer service, but I worked for a big company. This was a startup when I came onboard. But sometimes you just gotta say fuck it and go for it, ya know? “

The two men were silent for a moment. Edgar contemplatively sipped the IPA that Justin had suggested. A homely woman entered the bar. She was pale as a ghost with lopsided features. She was short and plump and dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans. She ordered a drink and sat down with two other dumpy women.

“See those three women over there? They work in my office.”

“Jesus Christ,” Justin sneered sensing a bonding opportunity.

“The white haied one’s really annoying. She’s always messing up and she tells these stupid jokes…Me and my friend Jason call the three of them the wanker blankers.”

Justin laughed. “Dude, come on. You’ve gotta get out of that office.”

Edgar took a deep breath and signed the papers that were in front of him. Justin ordered two shots of tequila to celebrate. They kept ordering rounds into the night. They got louder and louder and Edgar told a few stories about the white, wanker blanker. She appeared to overhear and she and the other ugos got up and left. Justin thought they looked like the witches, he tried to remember the name of the play he read that had three witches in it in college, but he couldn’t.

After a bit, two girls walked into the bar and sat down at a table near them. One was tall and blonde with symmetrical features and killer legs. The other was petite and slightly plump, with a cute face with shaggy dark hair.

Justin opened by telling the tall blonde one that she would look great on a book cover. He told her that the next big author was sitting right with them.

“What’s your book about,” the short one asked.

“It’s about a man who goes home to meet his girlfriend’s parents who are both coffin manufactures. It turns out they are smuggling drugs in the coffins and they want him to join the family business.”

“H’mmm, sounds dark.”

“Oh, it’s very dark,” he smiled.  “All of my stuff is pretty dark.”

The men proceeded to chat up their prospective conquests. Justin observed Edgar as he told the girls  more about his book. Edgar was strikingly ordinary. He was just below average height, with dark hair that was beginning to thin out. He weight about 160 with a good amount of that weight resting in his belly. He wore a white shirt and khaki pant that appeared to have been procured in a discount store.

As Edgar divulged details of the plot to the bored looking honeys, Justin wondered how bad the book actually was. He had told Edgar it was great. He’d skimmed the synopsis and the first and last chapter. He hated to read and hadn’t finished a book since junior high. He could never really tell the difference between good and bad.

After a while the girls asked for rides home saying they were too tipsy to drive. Justin drove the tall blonde girl to a small cottage on Ash Street. He was a bit nervous, he knew she told him her name, but he had forgotten it.

She invited him up for a drink. As soon as they got up he asked to use the bathroom. He checked himself out in the mirror. His five o’clock shadow was at exactly the perfect level of thickness. It lined his strong jaw pleasingly. His thick brown hair was tousled to perfection. He was relieved to see the shirt he’d splurged on at Barney’s gave just the most subtle glimpse of the six pack he had worked so hard to obtain. He’d managed to strike the perfect balance of GQ style and heterosexual apathy.

He walked back into the living-room where the girl handed him a mixed drink.

“It’s my own creation. It’s called a Foul and Fair.”

The two clinked glasses and slammed the drink. Justin kissed the girl. He felt himself getting suddenly dizzy.

…….

Justin saw light, then a celling. He felt tile beneath his head and realized he was lying on a bathroom floor. He tried to sit up, but he couldn’t move. That’s when he saw her; the ugly, pale woman from the night before. She was standing directly above him.

“Morning, Justin! Did you sleep well? My name is Cate, how are you this fine morning? Oh that’s right, you can’t talk.”

Justin tried once again to move, but he couldn’t.

“I guess I should explain. On Friday night you and my asshole boss Edgar were in the bar down the street and you started insulting me and my friends. We didn’t like that and so we decided to retaliate. Wanker blanker, I mean really that expression is in the urban dictionary. Come up with something original. In truth we are witches.

Justin tried to speak again, but nothing came out.

“We went over to my house and we discussed what to do. We thought about crippling you both, making you spontaneously combust, but nothing seemed right. Well then Essie; my friend with the grey hair? She suggested that we turn you into something. Well, that requires an incantation, which requires research so we figured it would take some time. So, we turned ourselves into pretty girls and lured you back to our apartments. I took you to my place and Essie went to Edgar’s house.

Well, at first we were going to turn you both into maggots or something, but then Edgar started telling us about his stupid book. We knew you were a scammer right away and we discussed the possibility of just letting you screw him, but then you would just take advantage of someone nice. So we decided we would just turn you into something and that I would watch him slowly melt down at work.”

Justin tried to scream, but nothing would come out. He thought he was able to move his finger a bit. He felt an enormous amount of saliva in his mouth, but he could not seem to swallow it.

“So, while Essie did research, my other friend Tulley and I set upon the business of making you disappear with Edgar’s $5000. We put his check in the bank and withdrew it over a period of four days. Then we closed the bank account and packed up all your stuff and put it in storage. Your car has been stripped down and sold for scrap.

When Essie was at Edgar’s she stole his laptop and the only print copy of his screenplay. The dumb dick never copyrighted it.

Now Edgar is on the phone all day at work. It’s sooo funny. He is sooo anxious.

His book is a piece of garbage of course It’s like a rip off of the Soprano’s, Orange is the New Black and Six Feet Under without any wit or insight. However, it had a few good lines. We gave them to a nice aspiring screenwriter that we are helping. I wish I could be there when he sees his dialog in a movie.”

The saliva in Justin’s mouth had become almost unbearable. He tried again to swallow but he couldn’t.

“But, I digress. I bet you’re wondering what it is we turned you into. We decided you could do the least harm if you were an inanimate object. Justin Schafman, you are a toilet. You are located in a dive bar right near downtown. It was no easy trick getting you in here believe me. We had to break into the place. Oh, you’re in the men’s room.

Then Cate turned around. Justin tried to close his eyes, but then remembered he didn’t have any. What he tasted next was indescribably horrible.  Cate wiggled his finger and he felt like he was drowning in shit.

Cate left and Justin wondered how many years it would be before the bar would close or he would be replaced with another toilet.

 

Ghost in the Machine

cell

 

 

Becki Marshman awoke one morning to find herself trapped in her laptop. She was not wedged in between the keyboard and the screen as one might assume, but she was on the other side of the screen looking out at her bedroom. She saw her husband sound asleep in their bed. She called to him but, he did not awaken.

After a few minutes the alarm went off and Fred got up. She called to him again, but he didn’t seem to be able to hear her or see her. She realized that he wouldn’t know she was missing until tonight, as she normally got up and left for work two hours before he did.

He dressed and left for work. A few minutes later Daisy Mae, the family dog entered the room and plopped herself down on the bed for a nap.

Becki, sighed. She wondered what she was going to do with herself for the ten hours it would take for her husband to get home. She turned around and saw a long hallway with several doorways. She was delighted to find that she could move about freely.

She walked into the first door and saw her son sitting in front of his computer with a very intense look on his face. She wondered why he wasn’t in school. She looked down and to her horror she found that son’s pant were unzipped, she tried not to look at what he was doing. She ran out of the room as fast as she could.

She ran into the next room to find her daughters room on the other side of the screen. It was a mess as usual. Clothes were strewn all over the bed and magazines littered the floor. Used cups and bowls sat festering on the desk.

She turned around to leave, when she noticed writing on the wall behind her.

“Today Marsha France said I looked like a fucking ghost; everyone laughed. I wish I could make her feel how much it hurts. I’d like to make her look in a mirror while I vivisect her bit by bit till she is just to the point of death. Then I would not kill her, but leave her to writhe in agony for the rest of eternity.”

Becki’s heart jumped. She vaguely remembered meeting Marsha France’s mother at a school. She had seemed nice. Mrs. France had shown her a picture of Marsha and she was very pretty. She decided she would send her daughter to a psychiatrist.

She proceeded down the hallway to her husband’s office. He spent a lot of time in there and she suspected he was having an affair. She squinted into the darkness. She saw his Red Socks poster and the picture of her and the kids. She took a deep breath and turned around. She saw an insurance contract on the wall. She sighed with relief.

She noticed a blue button on the wall. She pressed the button and another page came up. It was a WordPress account called, MightyIvory. It contained what appeared to be a half written essay.

 
“There are no definite numbers, but there are approximately 5 million Jews in America. This is approximately two percent of the total US population. This is a very small percent of people. Of the one percent of people that have all the wealth that the liberals are complaining about all the time the Jews make up all of that one percent.

How has this small group of people become so overrepresented in the economy, the media and in Hollywood?…..”

Becki felt sick. She couldn’t help but nose around a bit more. She found that he had visited, “wherewhitepeoplemeet.com and was chatting with a heavy set young woman who work as a Mary Kay saleswoman.

She left the room and ran down the hall as far as she could go. She saw a bright light at the end of the hallway and she began to run toward it. Soon the light was very bright.

When she adjusted her eyes she realized she was standing in the break room of an office. There was a bounty of candy and cold packed food in the room.  There was also a short, middle aged woman with blonde hair eating crackers and vegetable pate.

“Hi, are you Becki,” the woman asked.

“Yes.”

“Cool, I’m Susan. I’m your sponsor…Sit down, have a snack you must be starving. I highly recommend the Frango Mints. “

“What is this place? Where am I?”

“Your somewhere inside the server. You’re inside the internet.”

“”Yes, but… I mean how did I get here and how do I get out?”

“Well, you got here the way everyone did, you died in an internet related accident.”

“How can someone die from the internet?”

“Oh, usually its texting, one guy got so into a video game that he starved to death. Another guy had a heart attack when he saw his daughter in a porn video.”

“So, how do I get out?”

“No one is exactly sure. Near as we can figure it has something to do with to do with facing reality or self-examination or some other such nonsense,” the woman said.

“There are very few distractions around here, “she continued.  Oh, you get an hour a day to eat and there are bathroom breaks and stuff, but mostly you just stare out at the people you thought you knew in your life and you see everything about them that they didn’t want you to know. Sometimes you overhear gossip about yourself. I hate that part.”

“But I mean. Well I just looked at my house and no one seemed to even notice I was dead.”

“Oh, well that’s because you’ve been dead for at least a year. There very backed up.”

“I see.”

””All this food is overstock from Amazon. You should try some. Really, it’s great.”

Becki snacked on some fancy nuts and coffee. After  a bit a guard came in and told them it was time to head back to work. Becki looked down the hallway and dreaded examining what was on the other side.

Johnathan Livingston Butterbeak

jls

 

Falling catfish from the sky hits woman in the face

 

Markman Bufferbeak was a seagull, but not an especially good one. While the other seagulls flew and fished gracefully, Markman rarely caught a fish and when he did he often dropped it. The other birds in the colony he lived in were not kind about it. They taunted him and called him Johnathan Livingston Butterbeak, they told him he would starve and that no girl would ever want to marry him.

It was true that he didn’t have much luck with the fairer sex, and he ate mostly breadcrumbs and fried fish sandwiches that were thrown at him by tourist. Eventually he met a rather dumpy bird named Mahwak who had migrated to his colony from Cabrillo Beach. She was nothing to look at and she nagged him constantly. They had produced six chicks in their two years together.

One day while out for an afternoon flight Markman saw another bird drop a catfish. He swooped down and grabbed it. He was on his way to present it to Mahwak when he narrowly missed flying into an electric wire. He fumbled and dropped the fish, squawking curse words all the way.

…………………..

Gloria Bortman was walking down the street when a catfish fell out of the sky and hit her on the head. She screamed when the slimy thing slapped her in the face. After she got over her initial shock she looked up at the sky. Fear seized her heart and she dropped to her knees she had never been a religious woman, but Jesus had just hit her in the head with a fish. She hesitantly picked up the fish and headed home to show her husband.

………………….

Markman landed at the colony with an empty beak and tears in his eyes.

“Where have you been? The kids are starving,” His wife squawked.

“I just…I had a fish, but it slipped out and I didn’t see where it went …and…”

“Jesus, Markman. You could have at least picked up some bread.”

“”Let me just rest up and I’ll go back out…”

With this she gave him a hard peck. Then another and another. A crowd began to gather.

“You stay here with the kids, I’ll go get dinner,”

She flew away leaving Markman to face the sarcastic smirks on the beaks of his contemporaries. Someone in the crowd called him Butterbeak.

………..

Gloria arrived at home to find her husband watching CNN and talking back to the television set while stuffing his face full of barbequed potato chips.

“Racist dick, last week you said you were against abortion.” He screamed sputtering potato chips everywhere.”

“Dwezel, I was walking down the street and this hit me in the head.”

“What, someone threw a catfish at you? Were you wearing your union shirt because I bet it was those scabs…?

“No, it feel from the sky it was a sign from Jesus.”

“What are you on?”

“Nothing, Dwezel…God is talking to me.,” she began to tear up.

“Oh come on there has got to be some kind of logical explanation. Maybe someone threw it at you and you didn’t see.”

“It fell from the sky I looked up one second before it happened and saw it fall out of the clear blue sky.”

“A plane probably dropped it…”

“There was nothing in the sky. Dwezel, I think God wants me to do something.”

“What?”

“Well maybe he wants me to fed people?”

“Catfish?”

“No, not just catfish. There was that thing in the Bible about loaves and fishes…”

“What did it say about loaves and fishes?”

“He fed people bread and fish or something like that. Jesus did a lot with fish. Believe me…I do know that.”

“So he wants you to feed the poor?”

She thought about this for a minute.

“Maybe that’s it,” she said with a shrug.

“So are you going to volunteer in a soup kitchen?”

“Maybe, he’s trying to tell me I should like, learn about food. Like taking a cooking class or something?”

“Well, maybe, but.”

“That must be it. Cat’s are curious. What do you do when you’re curious? You learn. Fishes are food, so that must be what he meant.”

She went online to look for cooking classes.

………………….

Marla Finblossom sat at the bottom of the ocean crying. Her friends and family surrounded her and tried to offer comfort. She had lost her husband Frank to a Seagull that morning. He swam too close to shore and the gull had grabbed him. She always told him not to go close to the shore, but he said that the food tasted better there.

She looked at her friends and the vast ocean and wondered where she would go next.

The Last Train to Hell

dol

 

 

Salton Greystone was on his deathbed. At the age of ninety three he had survived an attempted takeover of his corporation, four divorces and a fire that burned 30 percent of his body when he was 50 years old. The doctors were amazed that he survived the fire, but his family took it as par for the course. There wasn’t enough fire in all of hell to burn Salton down.

Salton sat in bed eating the greasy bacon and egg breakfast. He gulped his coffee and thumbed through Variety where he read an unflattering article about himself and his feud with his good for nothing son.

Salton had grown to hate both of his children. At first he hadn’t known what to make of them; slimy little alien looking things that had been presented to him after exiting his wife’s naughty. He was grateful that they had been born before all this nonsense about the father being present during the birth. He was perfectly happy not to see the vile creatures emerging from what had once been much sought after territory.

He had liked them for a little while. From the time they were six to ten they had been pleasant little distractions to play with and talk to a couple times a week. The girl was smart and had a sharp curiosity about daddy’s business. The boy was slow and plump and could be entertained for hours by the simplest of toys. Salton never imagined that they would grow into the greedy monsters that they were today.

He put down the magazine in disgust. He flipped on the television to find news of the election. He thought he heard the flip flop of unwelcomed high heels in the hallway.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Abigail Greystone began the morning on a bad note. She had fallen asleep in her office and awaken to the sound of the maid vacuuming in the hall. She showered and changed there without even going home. She had breakfasted at a random greasy spoon on the way to the hospital where the aspiring actor waiter had pretended he didn’t know who she was and flirted with her. People had been trying to play her with that kind of nonsense all of her life and she found it tiresome and insulting. Her driver arrived late and they had been stuck in traffic for over twenty minutes.

She sighed and tried to toughen up as she approached her father’s hospital room. She wondered if she would hear from Bubbles later that afternoon. Bubbles was the topless waitress for whom her father had left her mother. She had made a clumsy attempt at gaining control of the Greystone empire before the aging patriarch had caught wise and filed for divorce. Bubbles now called Abigail quite often, demanding the money to which she felt entitled. Abigail was in the process of attempting to get a restraining order against the psychotic bimbo.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Barb Platt sat on the end of her bed completely exhausted. She dreaded the prospect of working yet another double shift at the hospital. She realized she had no choice, she owed thousands of dollars in student loans to McKinley College and she only made thirteen dollars an hour.

Barb looked out the window of her tiny room at the Rosslyn Hotel. There was a bum ranting about Jesus in the cold morning rain. Barb sighed and headed down the hall to take a quick shower.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Walter Greystone left his hotel suite to breakfast at Circa 55. He ordered a fruit salad as was his custom when visiting Los Angeles. He came once a month to visit his father in hopes of a reconciliation, but the chances of this happening before the old man caught the last train to Hell were waning.

Just as he was about to take his first sip of coffee, Trisha walked into the room. He rose slightly to greet her. She gave him a peck on each cheek and told him he looked great. She looked great as well. Long dark hair framed her symmetrical face and cascaded down towards her soft curves. She sat down across from him and ordered a cup of coffee.

Although she was seven years his junior, Trisha was Walter’s ex stepmother; he had always adored her. He hated when his sister referred to her as Bubbles. She had been a waitress in a strip club briefly, in her early twenties, but she had gone on to a career as a set tutor for child actors. Walter had always found her quiet warm and enchanting.

The two chatted about this and that as they nibbled on their fruit plates. After a while the conversation turned to unpleasant matters.

“Have you talked to him on the phone recently,” she asked.

“Last week,” he said. “Half the time he says hello, ask me how I am and proceeds to tell me what a piece of shit I am. The other half of the time he’s so looped out on drugs or demntia he doesn’t know who I am, or thinks I’m still five years old.”

“It’s too bad you can’t just talk to him just when he’s in that demented state, he’d be more agreeable.”

“Right, maybe I should try to find out exactly what he’s on from his doctor and slip extras into his Frango mints.”

“Maybe.”

“Will he talk to you?”

“Only if Abigail doesn’t find out about it.”

“Good old Abby. She certainly does have him snowed.

“She got a restraining order against me. An actual restraining order.”

“Does that surprise you? Really? She’s awfully jealous of you. I mean you’re younger and prettier than her and you don’t have to work as hard for my father’s attention. I mean she was a straight A student, she was class president at Georgetown and an Editor of the Law Review and even with all that you were his main girl. Not that I can blame him….” He said with a sly smile.

She smiled back. The two of them decided to do some shopping before heading over to the hospital to see Salton.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Abigail entered her father’s hospital room to find her father angrily flipping from station to station.

“Hi, Dad”

“Hello.”

“Watchya watching.”

“All the shows that aren’t mine, thanks to you.”

“I’m trying my very best, dad. I’m fine and how are you?”
“I’m 92 and about to die.”

“Look I wanted to talk to you about selling Pensky. Trimens is offering us 140 million.” I brought the proposal,” she said handing him the papers.

“Why,” he asked.

“Why do I want to talk to you about it or why are they offering us 140 million?”

“The latter, of course.”

“Well, they feel that the company would be an asset to them and it has become something of a liability to us.”

“I don’t feel like talking about that right now,” he snapped.

“Well, I’m afraid we have to talk about it really soon.”

“Why is someone else going to sell it to them?”

“No I just mean that…”

“That what? That I might die and you won’t be able to profit as much?”

“No…I”

“Look, Abigail, you might as well know about this now. I’m putting Sunbees in charge for a bit.

“Sunbees!? What the fuck? How can you do this to me I’ve worked my ass off for this company and I….”

 

Their conversation was interrupted by the clanking of clumsily driven cart. Barb Platt, Salton’s least favorite PCA was there to give him his pills and his bath.
“We’ll talk about this later,” Abigail whispered hotly. She left the room as Barb got to work.

“How are you doing Mr. Greystone?”

“Alright,” he grumped, He set the papers his daughter had given him down and picked up the enormous cup full pills presented to him by the fat yutz  in the dull blue uniform.

Barb observed him as he took his pills. His chart said he sometimes tried to hide them as he didn’t like the pain pills. She wished he would offer her some of the OxyContin. She was sure that if she could just get a good night’s sleep she would feel more lucid when she had to work these double shifts.

After he silently swallowed the pills she removed his pajamas and began to bath him.

“Don’t get any Ideas. I like em a little thinner than you,” he slurred.

“Okay,” she chuckled.

“”You should try Jenny Craig or something.”

“I can’t afford it, Mr. Greystone.”

“Maybe just cut what you eat in half,” he said.

“Maybe.”

She finished up and headed off towards to the lounge for her coffee break. As she was putting the cart away, she noticed that Mr. Redstone seemed to have left some paperwork sitting on it. She picked up the document with the intention of returning it to him.

She glanced it over. It looked important. She thought that loosing something like this would not bode well in his mental competency hearing. She walked into the breakroom and threw it into the garbage can, just before the trash was about to be taken out.

She poured herself a cup of coffee and smiled wearily as she looked out at the rain.

Munch

mouth

 

 

Craigslist: Like Food? Wanna be paid to eat on camera?

 

Mary Beth arrived at Denny’s for her 9:00 a.m. appointment. She ordered some coffee and checked her phone nervously. The coffee arrived but the man who was supposed to meet her did not. She was just about to leave when she got a text message saying that he would be there in five minutes. Ten minutes later a harried looking man entered the restaurant. She waived at him.

He smiled and took a seat across from her.

“Hi, I’m James.”

“I’m Mary Beth.”

The waiter approached and he ordered a coffee. Mary Beth took a good look at him. He was about forty; short with curly hair and a pot belly. He wore a Nirvana tee shirt and jeans.

“So you answered my ad. Did you have any questions about what the job would entail,” he asked.

“Um” Mary Beth began. She looked around for fear that someone might hear her. “You would film me…like…eating dinner.”

“Well, really you would mostly be filming yourself.”

“Right, but I mean today….”

“Today, I would audition you. I will be auditioning girls for about the next week, for all three meals. I would then pick someone. They would come over to my studio and I would teach them how to angle their web cam on their mouth  just so..”

Mary Beth looked around the restaurant again. She thought the couple at the table behind them might be listening.

“After that, they would make one video a day for one month. We would put the videos up and see how they fly for one month. If the videos are successful, there would be more work.

The waiter came back and took their food orders. James ordered pancakes and eggs.

“I’ll have the same,” Mary Beth said.

“I thought you wanted the burger and fries,” he said, his eyes narrowing a bit.

“Oh, sorry…. right. I’ll have a burger and fries.”

The waiter walked away.

“Did you have any other questions?”

“It’s really $200 a video?”

“Right.”
The woman sitting behind James seemed to turn a bit.

“ And I mean the camera….”

“It would just be focused on your mouth.”

“It pays through Pay Pal?”

“Yes.”

They made awkward small talk until the food came.

Mary Beth took a bite of her hamburger and began chewing it.

“”Open your mouth just a little bit,” he said. “Not that much.”

She tried to comply.

“There you go. That’s it. “

This went on for five minutes until James finally excused himself and went to the bathroom. When he came back he appeared to be sweating. He devoured his meal and paid the bill.

Mary Beth and James walked out into the street. He said he would make a decision in one week. If she did not hear from him by then, she wouldn’t.

As she walked back to her car she wondered how she did. She wondered if there was still enough time to apply at Fed Ex.