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.”
“Well maybe he wants me to fed people?”
“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.
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.”
“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.
“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?”
“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.
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.
You have been blogging for five years to little avail. Your blog, “whatamIdoinghere.com” deals with your frustrations working as a high colonic technician. Your writing is witty and insightful you have tried to stay relevant by using the Urban Dictionary as a thesaurus. Your mom and your sister love your blog, but somehow it escaped the attention of the general public. Perhaps it is host sight you chose, you had seen so many less talented people become more successful than you. In five years you have had about a thousand hits and fifty followers. You have written a post a day, you deserve more.
You have always been hesitant to buy Facebook fans, but you are getting desperate. If people just knew about your blog you could get a book deal and quit your shit job. You have been through hell. You have overcome depression, you have had to eat ramen on numerous occasions and you once had a roommate that who constantly berated you.
You figure it is worth a try. Although people may know that the fans are fake, it might at least get them to go to your blog and have a look and once they do that, they will be hooked. Your mom says you are brave for sharing your life with others. Just last week your friend Jennifer said you were amazing and beautiful, didn’t everyone deserve to be amazed?
You go to a website that sells Facebook followers and retweets and you order 5000 Facebook fans. You write that night’s blog post and head to bed. The next day you get up at 6:00 am and head to work. After a long hard day of vacuuming out some really rancid buttholes, you come home to find a small crowd gathered around your house. As you approach you see that they are starring in wonder at your lawn. You get closer to see that there are oscillating fans all over your lawn, they appear to be battery powered and they are spinning at an astonishing rate.
You push past your neighbors to find your mother in the kitchen, curled up on the floor in a fetal position, crying her eyes out. There are fans everywhere. You got to your computer to see that fans are leaping out of your computer one after the other at a bewildering pace.
You go back to the kitchen and pull your mother to her feet. You locate her car keys as a fan flies towards your head. You run out of the house and to the car. A cop stops you on the way.
“Excuse me ma’am. Are these your fans? He holds up one of the fans and gets it to stop spinning with a stick. You see the word, Facebook written on each one of the blades. A fan hits you in the ass, cutting you. The neighbors begin to run away screaming as more fans fly from the house.
“I’ve never seen these fans before,” you say as you and your mother get into the car.
“Ma’am did you buy these Facebook fans?”
“No,” you scream as you start the car.
“Ma’am, I need to talk to you,” she cop says as you drive away. In the rearview mirror you see that his throat has been cut by a blade in a ghastly scene.
You speed towards the expressway followed by the fans which are hurdling after you. You manage to lose them. You drive to a gas station where you fill up the car and get coffee.
You get into the car and drive to a motel were you rent a room and turn on the news. A pretty blonde reporter reads your story.
“This bizarre story comes out of Denver, Colorado tonight. A computer in a house on Ogden Street began spitting out thousands of battery operated oscillating fans. The fans, which had, “Facebook” written on the blades, are now flying around the city causing injury and even death. The Washington Park neighborhood has been evacuated and the FBI is investigating the case. Tonight via satellite we are joined by Thomas Pinner who works with Strange Phenomenon Investigations in Scotland.
“Hello, Dr. Pinner.”
“Dr. Pinner, what could be casing this strange occurrence?”
“Well, Tracy there are several different thing that could cause it. It might be that someone ordered the fans, but did not select the appropriate method of delivery. It might be that someone ordered Facebook fans, with fans meaning fanatics and the software system simply misinterpreted the order.”
“Thank you Dr. Pinner,” The reporter said.
“No matter what caused the phenomenon, this event has taken a horrible toll on our city. School is canceled tomorrow, there will be no public transportation and the highways will be patrolled. The National Guard has been called out with orders to shoot the fans on sight.”
You order a pizza and explain what happened to your mother. She hugs you and tells you it is okay, you did nothing wrong, you are amazing. You smile to yourself, because you finally know it’s true.
I am a professional life coach that is here to help you achieve the best type of living for your life. If you want to achieve your goals, but always seem to be just out of reach , give me a call and set up an appointment
Byron Foghorn awoke to the sound of his neighbor playing Led Zeppelin and doing some sort of exercise.
He looked at the alarm clock it was 10:00 a.m. His head throbbed as he looked at the empty bottle of cheap vodka that he had polished off the night before. The taste of the potato based poison rested heavily on his tongue.
He picked up the letter from Jim and read it again, hoping that the words had changed.
Although I love you and have enjoyed our years together, I must tell you that I can’t see you anymore. I have decided to run for Senate and I cannot run the risk of indulging in our “game” any longer, it would be too risky.
I am putting my fate in the hands of GOD. I have enclosed a token of my appreciation which should help sustain you for the next several months. I will give you a job recommendation if you need one.
Byron put the letter down and went to the bathroom where he threw up. He took a shower, brushed his teeth and looked in the mirror.
“I am middle aged,” he said.
He sat down at his computer and went to Craigslist. He placed yet another ad for his life coaching services. He decided he would go over to the office and take a few selfies sitting behind the desk. He chose a nice shirt and a sweeter vest.
He climbed into the tasteful grey sedan and sat there for a moment. The 720 bus rolled by and he remembered riding it during those early days in Los Angeles. He wondered if he could go back to it. Three months; he had three months to make a whole new life for himself.
He drove straight down Santa Monica Boulevard until he came to a parking garage with a good rate. He walked over to the virtual office and got into the elevator. He felt a little scared as the elevator struggled to get to the third floor.
He arrived safely and began setting up his camera to take a selfie that would not look like a selfie. He took several shots of himself and sat at the desk for a moment wondering what to do.
He knew that one of the men who shared the office with was a publicist, he wondered if he could work out something for a discounted rate. He wondered if there might be a business card in the desk. He began looking through the desk drawers. He found a ruler, a bag of pens and all three door signs. All of a sudden he felt a sharp bite on his finger. He withdrew his hand to find a tiny man wearing a white shirt and black pants attached to his finger.
He shook his hand and screamed the tiny waiter fell to the floor.
“Hey what’s going on out there,” a tiny voice from inside the desk asked.
“Hey Sam are you okay,” another tiny voice asked.
Byron’s knees went weak and he collapsed. When he opened his eyes there were three tiny waiters standing on his chest.
“He’s alive,” one of them said.
“Get off my chest please. “
The waiters complied and Byron sat up.
“Who are you?”
“We might ask you the same question, this is supposed to be a psychotherapist office.”
“It’s a virtual office that I share with two other guys. I’m a like coach. Who or better yet what are you? “We’re repressed memories. We were living in this woman’s head, but we got vacuumed out we were gonna make a break for it, but we didn’t really think it through the stairs are too high for us and we can’t reach the elevator button. “
“I see,” Byron said, assuming he was dreaming.
“My name is Sam, this is Artie and Fred. Look, we are very hungry. Could you go buy us a sandwich?”
Byron went to a local deli where he purchased two pastrami sandwiches and two cokes. He decided that this strange episode he was having might be a sign that he should get some help. He wondered what the psychotherapist who shared his office charged. He stopped by the liquor store for a bottle of scotch.
He returned to the office and watched as the waiters devoured the sandwich. Afterwards the four men sat drinking scotch out of the soda bottle caps and talking.
“So what kind of oppressed memories are you guys? Why was she oppressing you? “
The waiters all looked at each other and chuckled.
“Well, this chick was kinda fat and homely, or at least she was when she was 16. She came into our restaurant and we were all daring each other to ask her out. She heard and her parents heard, we’ve been in her head ever since,” Sam said.
“What are you going to do now,” Byron asked.
“I’ figure I’m small enough to live anywhere I want.” Fred said. I’m going to Beverly Hills.”
“Well, I always wanted to be an actor, “Sam said. “But I doubt there are many roles for someone my size.
“That’s a defeatist attitude, Sam” Byron said.
“It’s a realistic attitude.” Artie said.
“Not really,” Byron said. “What you have to do is identify your advantage in this situation.”
Byron looked at the men and realized he had their attention; an Idea began to form in his head.
I represent writers artist and actors. I will get you booked. $67.00 will get you an introductory package.
Pikeman sat on the bus, grateful for the air conditioning. He had given himself a whole extra hour to get to his virtual office on Sunset Blvd. He tried not to smell the stench of urine and sweat that was present on the bus. He tried not to look at the old woman who had no teeth and an ugly scar or listen to the man who sat arguing with himself about a long ago debt.
As his perspiration froze and dried, he closed his eyes and tried to envision success. He would meet Peter and tell him what he could do for him. Peter would get excited about the idea and they would sign a contract together. He promised himself a victory drink at Bar Marmont.
He opened his eyes as the bus pulled away from the sad madness of downtown Los Angeles and watched the faces change as the 704 drove out of downtown and onto Santa Monica Blvd. Although it was an express bus, it crawled down the road past bums screaming the bible and begging for money and then buildings and houses with peeling paint and many children playing on the lawn. It drove by hipsters loudly proclaiming their disdain for what secretly comforted them and then the Beverly Center with its tourist and its wannabes. Finally it reached his stop, where maids and shop girls dismounted the bus to serve the wealthy and discontented.
He walked to his virtual office, He took the rickety elevator up to the third floor and quickly stuck his sign on the door. He walked into the bathroom, washed his armpits and brushed his teeth. He returned to his office and sat behind his desk reading the Hollywood Reporter that he swiped from the mailbox of a house, that was just three blocks away from the Wilshire Blvd. call center, where he secretly worked. He checked the clock on the VoIP phone that sat on the desk. He still had five minutes before His client was to arrive. He hoped this one would show up. He took a quick glance at the notebook that was left by one of the men with whom he shared the office. He wondered if it belonged to the psychotherapist or the life coach as he shoved it into a drawer.
He heard the precarious rumbling of the elevator gasping its way to the third floor. He instinctively straightened up, then remember to slouch again. He heard the the slow footsteps of a man trying to locate an office.
Pikeman’s heart sank when the man stepped into the room. He was slight and chubby and appeared to be about thirty five. He had teeth that would suggest that he was a smoker and a hairline that would suggest he was a worrier.
“Peter,” Pikeman said rising to his feet.
‘Yes are you…”
“Nice to meet you,” Peter said. They shook hands and sat down.
“So, you were a little vague in your e mail, what exactly brought you to me,” Pikeman asked.
“Well, I wanted a publicist.”
“What did you want publicity for?”
“But, Well, I mean what is it that you do. “
“I see,” Pikeman said wondering how he was ever going to get someone this homely and dull on reality television.
“I want everyone to know about it,” Peter explained.
“Well, we could try to get you on Big Brother or something. Maybe we could start by having you make some videos for YouTube. Can you do impressions?”
Pikeman asked wondering if he still had time to sell his plasma after the audience with this self-absorbed yutz.
“I don’t think you understand. I would never do reality television, in fact I arbore the.”
“ So what are you an actor…a writer? Do you play music?”
“I don’t do any of those things. I’m customer service representative in a call center.”
“Oh yeah, which one” Pikeman asked, “I’ve got a buddy who does that.” He wondered if this wasn’t some kind of trick; was someone trying to humiliate him?
“It’s a legal service in Santa Monica.”
“Yeah, well that can be tough work. I understand why you would want out,” Pikeman said, wondering how many more calls he himself could take before committing suicide.
“Oh, I don’t want out. Well, I mean I do. But, I don’t have any talent and I’m nothing to look at.”
‘That never stopped anyone before,’ Pikeman thought.
“I want all the people in my world to know I exist.”
“In your world,” Pikeman asked wondering if the man wasn’t schizophrenic.
“I want you to let the people I deal with every day know that I’m alive. The coworkers in the call center. My family members, the people on the bus, this really cute girl who works at the grocery store I go to.”
I’ll give you the $67.00, plus expenses and I’ll write you a letter of recommendation.”
Pikeman thought for a moment. He could create bunch of fake Facebook profiles and like everything Peter posted. He could photograph him eating at various restaurants and have a girl he knew who wanted to be a model have her picture taken with him.
“Okay, I’ll do it,” Pikeman said.
The two men signed a contract and Peter left. Pikeman, headed up the block to Bar Marmont. The $67.00 in his pocket made him a professional publicist; now all he needed was a drink.
I stopped a man walking in front of me.
“Excuse me, Sir I was wondering if I could borrow your GPS,” I said wondering exactly what information I was going to ask him to put in it.
“What happened to yours,” he said eying me suspiciously.
“I..I don’t have one.”
“Well, okay, but you should really go get yours, you only have four months ya, know…less really.”
“So what are we looking for?”
“Well, I’m visiting my sister and well, it’s a surprise visit. I went to her house and she wasn’t there. I need to find her. She’s my twin sister,” I said wondering if this information would help.
“Oh, okay, let’s have your finger.
I stuck out my hand thinking that he was going to take my fingerprint or something. He held it too the screen on his wrists. I felt a needle prick me. Followed by a spray. I looked over his shoulder. There was a picture of blood pouring into a test tube, followed by a clock Icon after a moment there was a picture of me wearing a red blouse and a black pants that looked vaguely familiar.
A picture of The New Beverly Cinema came up. A picture of a woman in a short skirt came up followed by a photograph of Beverly Hills. Followed by a clock that said 11:30.
“She’s at the New Beverly, she bought tickets to the 11:30 show of Boxes of Beverly Hills.
I thanked the man and caught a bus headed for Beverly Boulevard. I showed my ticket to the driver his eyes lit up and registered the ticket. My heart jumped; he was a robot, he looked like a man aside from those eyes.
The bus was almost empty save for myself and a couple of homeless people. I sat down on one of the rickety seats and one of the homeless people stood up.
“I may be down now but I will get back up. For it says in The Secret that, there is no such thing as a hopeless situation. Every single circumstances of your life can change! For I can have all that I really really want. For I shall pray to this universe to show on me all of it’s plenty for that I shall have a home with servants for that in all of its glorious bounty this universe shall bestow upon me a wide screen television,” he screamed.
I rode for about fifteen minutes and got off across the street from the cinema just in time to see myself going in. I attempted to buy a ticket, but I was told they were all sold out. I thought it very odd that an 11:30 a.m. show would be sold out anywhere.
I saw a Subway and went in for a sandwich I asked for a Vegie Max, but the girl didn’t know what I was talking about. There were no vegies behind the counter, only meat cheese and candy. I ordered a cheese and M&M sandwich and ate it quickly. I looked at my receipt and It only said, 14 purchase points.”
I left the shop and went looking for a library, I remembered there was one on the next block. I found it and entered. I asked the librarian where the encyclopedias where and she pointed to a small room which contained a computer, a desk and a chair. I hit the encyclopedia icon and a video of a man dressed in a suit and bow tie came on.
“Who is the President,” I asked.
“The President of the world is Apple Paltrow.
“Oh my God,” I exclaimed.
“God is good, God gave us money to help others aspire to have it.”
“What kind of economy do we have?”
“Economy is a jazz rap artist.”
I sighed. I walked back out into the street and towards the theater. A very long line of people was standing outside the theater. I looked at a digital list of movies that was on large sign outside the theater. There were at least ten movies listed and each of them had many showings. The run time was only fifteen minutes each.
I panicked, perhaps I had missed myself. I looked about to see if I could borrow a GPS. Suddenly I froze, there I was standing in the ticket line. I stood in line about five people behind myself and heard myself order a ticket to a movie called Tina Buys Lamps. I saw myself standing in the popcorn line and timidly approached myself.
All of my social media sites came up and my secret blog did not. There were ten good reviews on Yelp and two bad ones. We checked under images and found the same retouched picture of me that had always been there.
I went back to my personal e mail. I remembered that the in box went back further on that one month. Most of it consisted of updates about meet up groups. There was an e mail from an old high-school friend about her kids. There was a fourth of July party invite from my fair weather friend Mark.
I went to Meetup.com to see if I was signed up to go to any events. It turned out that I had been signed up to see Book of Mormon three days after my disappearance from social media.
“Maybe I should just get back in the time machine and go to a week before my last post.”
“What if it’s dangerous,” he asked.
“Do you think I was murdered? I think there would be some evidence.”
“Maybe you were abducted. I think we should investigate this further before you go back.”
“What do you propose we do?”
“For starters I could go over to your old place and see who lives there.”
“Okay,” I said.
“Just stay here, no going in the machine. I’ll be back in a couple of hours.”
While I waited I surfed the net. I looked to see that all the major news stories over the last year were still intact. I went all the way back in my Facebook profile, back to the very beginning.
I’d started it four years before moving into the Beverly Hills apartment. At first I just posted advertisements offering my party services. After a while I started posting articles about famous psychics through history and articles by self-help gurus. I had an official company blog on which I’d written several articles and I was the official psychic writer on the website Chat-her. I never had a personal Facebook, only the one for the business.
I looked for some evidence of why I would have stopped posting. Most of my post got about ten or so likes. I had some rather successful behind the scenes film industry people as Facebook friends and clients and a few minor actors. I looked through my friends and was impressed to see I had at least two hundred more than I remembered having. I noticed I was friends with Tamera Kelly the actor on Contemporary Twins. I was pretty impressed, she was becoming a big star.
Then I noticed the name Katrina Fuller in my friends list, the woman who had been e mailing me. I went to her page and looked at her profile. She was the wife of a reality show producer. She had attended Harvard where she received a degree in English. I was impressed. Most of my clients only had degrees in blow off classes from fake universities. I wondered why she had decided to hire me for her party. I wondered why I seemed to be avoiding her invitation.
I went back in her history, looking for clues. She didn’t post very much, pictures of a red carpet event here. A picture of her and a celebrity there. There was one picture of her standing with Tamera Kelly that was taken almost a year ago. I went back to October 5th of 2013, but there was nothing. I went back a little further to the date of her e mails to me. She had posted a comment or two about the difficulty of party planning. She had posted the song Bust Your Windows, which was about revenge and didn’t seem to fit in with her musical taste.
Suddenly I heard a rumble. I stood up and turned around the bedroom door opened and I saw someone who looked familiar; it was me, wearing a t shirt that I owned two years ago. I looked shocked when I saw myself I felt my knees going out from under me.
I left the Egyptian Theater after seeing Rear Window feeling incredibly depressed. During the film it occurred to me that no matter what, I would never ,ever look like Grace Kelly. It also occurred to me that I would never be as talented as Alfred Hitchcock, but mostly it was the Grace Kelly thing. I stopped for a slice of pizza and a beer when I noticed a fortune teller across the street. I really didn’t believe in such things , but it’s not like reality was offering me anything to look forward to, so I headed over to see if she could bullshit me into enough of a happiness coma to get me though another two weeks of selling snake oil to the elderly at my crummy telemarketing job.
I walked over to the shop and went inside. A small dog greeted me as I entered. I sat and waited in the reception area which consisted of a single fold out chair and a small round table with magazines on it. After a moment a dark haired woman, who seemed to have forgotten to wax her mustache came out and greeted me. She led me to a small back room.
“You have nice eyes,” she said attempting to butter me up.
“Thank you,” I said unmoved.
“So what brings you to me?”
“Shouldn’t you know?
“Don’t be a smart ass,” she said.
“Very well,” I said. “I want to know if my life will ever get any better or if I’m ever going to have a reason to live.”
“No.” she said
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I mean no, that’ll be fifty bucks, “she said.
“You want me to give you fifty bucks for that; are you insane?”
“You asked a question I answered it.”
“Based on what,” I asked indignantly.
“Based on this whole thing you’ve got going on.”
“What whole thing?”
“You plain and pale, you’re old and you have a big nose and you go to old movies and psychics by yourself on a Saturday night.”
“But, I mean …. I mean aren’t you supposed to give me like false hope or something?”
“You seem to be someone who thinks of yourself as to smart to fall for that shit. If I told you’d just talk smack on Facebook and I’m not your human kicking post.”
“So then, according to you I might as well just go home and slit my wrists,” is that correct?”
“Well, you could always just concentrate on revenge. You could make everyone whose ever treated you unfairly suffer.”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
“I have some potions that…”
“Oh no you don’t.”
“If you don’t want potion you could try the internet to get revenge. A fake Facebook profile? Maybe you should fine Jesus?
“Maybe you should asshole,” I said turning to leave.
“Where’s my fifty buck,” she asked.
“Sue me! I said walking out.
All of a sudden I couldn’t move. I was frozen with one foot out the door of the shop. The gypsy came and picked me up. She kept me in the shop for several weeks using me as a conversation piece and a coat rack. I was eventually sold to an antique collector from San Francisco. He had me shellacked and I currently on display in his dining room. I am called “loser on a stick as I am standing on a giant stationary parrot swing.
The collectors are all very fascinated by a sculpture that can talk. I like it here, much better than the call center I had been working in in LA. I am feed very good food several time a day and when they want to exercise me they take me to the park and spin me around on the merry-go-round. The maid washes me every few days and when I can persuade her two she gives me wine or pot brownies.
I’m not sure where everyone thinks I went, although I bet my landlord is upset. I bet they were happy at the call center. I’m not sure if this curse will ever wear off; I’m not even sure I want it too.
Kleinman sat across from Lucy Fisk his new boss at Fisk and Peterman as she greedily shoved Greek salad into her mouth while washing it down with giant gulps of the triple Sambuca that she’d ordered. Kleinman sipped daintily at his, as he was afraid to get drunk so early in the day.
“So, we’ve got this kid whose been working in our department. Some hipster from Dumbfuck, Goddamn Idaho. You know the type; He was the smartest kid in his high school class of twelve people. He thinks his an intellectual because he’s heard of Gertrude Stein even though he’s never read her, which to be fair is more than the other Dumbfuckians know. He started out as an intern and he banged Agnes so she went and hired him.”
“H’mmm, that’s too bad,” Kleinman said unsure of why she was telling him this.
“He messed up the Hacha Spice account, by fucking posting the fact that our “fan videos were paid for. Spacha Sauce got hold of It and it was all over Twitter. Agnes feels he should be given another chance, I say, bullshit fire him.”
“Wow, that is a really tough position to be in,” Kleinman commiserated trying to think of a way to change the subject.
“So I said okay, but if he screws up again he’s out and she said okay.”
“That seems fair.”
“I think it’s not fair at all, I mean he really fucked up. Kids today feel like they have to put their whole lives on the internet. I don’t get it, are they trying to get their identities stolen? Do they want to be blackmailed?”
“People are getting more tech savvy and less sophisticated,” Kleinman said feeling uncomfortable with the way the conversation threatened to become philosophical.
“Anyway, that’s where you come in. Ya see I have a little favor to ask. You better drink up, it’s a dozy.”
He gulped down his drink as she ordered two more.
“I want you to get him fired.”
“You want me to fire him,” Kleinman asked feeling quite dizzy.
“No, no I want you to get him fired.”
“Up to you.”
“I’ll get fired as well.”
“No, I’ll protect you,” she assured him.
For a moment he just sat there in his drunkenness, wondering what to do.
“Look, he should never have gotten his job in the first place. He gave Agnes some nauseating smelly artist bullshit about how he wanted to learn from an older woman; when really he was just a horny kid who’d fuck a dirty sock. He never demonstrated any talent for the job and we almost lost our shirts because of him.
“Is this why you hired me,” he asked not wanting to know.
“Not entirely, but we may need to trim the fat in six months if you know what I’m saying.
The pair returned to the office quite drunk. They pretended to work for four hours and went home.
Kleinman saw the kid in the elevator. He attempted to strike up a conversation, but it didn’t work.
He went home and looked at the want ads on Craigslist, but no one wanted a forty year old copy writer. He watched TV and wondered how he could get the boy fired without it being obvious.
He went on Facebook and looked the kid up and found him quite easily. There were several pictures of the young man enjoying himself at various event. Going back in the kid’s history he noticed there were several pictures of him with an attractive young lady with dyed red hair and a nose ring and then there were not. Kleinman chuckled at the fact that He’d listed a litany of famous novels as his favorite.
He started to friend the kid, but then he thought better of it. Something like that would be too obvious and may even be harassment.
He began to create a new profile a woman named Lolita, with pink streaked hair and a love of old movies. He found a picture in one of his own more attractive Facebook friend’s archived photo albums. He created the profile, sent a friends request and waited for the games to begin.
Belinda lay in bed staring at the ceiling. That morning marked her third straight month of unemployment. She was reviewing all the interviews she had in her head and wondering what she did wrong. Her benefits would run out soon and they weren’t really enough to live off of. She realized she should probably plan on going to sell plasma that afternoon.
She heard her phone buzz and she fished it out from under the bed and looked at the text. “I might not make it tonight…may have to work, Bill” the message said. For a moment she was confused; she didn’t know a Bill, it was obviously a wrong number.
“I really want to do this, would tomorrow night work?
She chuckled a bit she wondered what the circumstances were. He was Identifying himself, so whoever he was texting was obviously new in his life or he would be programmed into the phone he was attempting to text. She wondered if it was a date, or maybe a special professional meeting.
“Let me know,” said the next message.
She realized that she should text him and tell him he had the wrong number. She decided she’d do it as soon as she officially got up. She fell back to sleep for a bit. Then she got out of bed made coffee and took a shower. While she was showering she imagined what Bill must look like. She envisioned someone not very handsome, but very well groomed. Possibly the sort to wear designer clothes, go to the gym daily and get $100 haircuts on his balding head. She was sipping the coffee and looking at Indeed.com when she heard her phone buzz again.
She picked up her phone to see yet another message from Bill.
“Please do let me know if you’re getting these texts,” the next message said.
‘God, desperate much,’ she thought.
“I got them,” she texted back.
“Cool, is tomorrow okay?”
“Are you sure you won’t have to work again,” she wrote back.
“Yes, this was a one time emergency. Thanks for being cool.”
She wondered if he was being sarcastic or if he was simply trying to kiss her ass.
“It’s just that I canceled plans for tonight.”
“It’ just that I can’t do six. I can do eight if I drive like a maniac?”
“eight is fine.”
“Still want to go to Zorba’s,” he asked.
“Tots” she wrote back with a wink and a smile.
She went back to applying for jobs and surfing the net. She walked to Walgreen’s and bought some Dryel sheet which she used to clean her best interview dress. She put it on and drove to Zorba’s where she arrived at 7:50.
The bar was sort of dead that night two old men sat at the bar not speaking to each other. There was a married couple having dinner and talking about their lawn behind her and there were two women at a booth chatting quietly. One of them, a pretty, thin brunette was devouring an enormous piece of cake and appeared to be quite drunk. Her plump blonde friend appeared to be comforting her. Belinda attempted to eavesdrop on their conversation.
“It’s better to find out now than once your actually..” the blonde’s voice drifted off into the distance.
Belinda strained to hear what the brunette said, but only heard part of it.
“…took one look and walked out?”
With this a tall thin man with brown, thinning hair walked into the bar. He was wearing a nice suit and seemed to be in a big rush. He glanced around the bar looking right past her as he went. He walked over to the two woman.
“Bethany,” he said to the Brunette just as she was stuffing a giant piece of ice cream and fudge covered cake into her wide open gape.
“Bill,” she said when she could speak.”
“I’m sorry, if I’m a little late there was traffic and..”
“A little late, try two hours.” The blonde said. “I’m sarah.”
“”I thought we said six,” Bethany said.
“No, I texted you and told you I couldn’t make it until eight?”
“I never got it. Why didn’t you just Facemail me?”
“I don’t know I thought that since you gave be your cell I should just text, besides I…”
”You know what, Bethany exclaimed. I really don’t want to hear it. I’m really sick of cyber dates that I never hear from again. And every single plan being tentative, and saying lets hang out instead of do you want to go out with me? I’m sick of saying ‘it’s no big deal’ when it is a big deal. I sick of sleeping with people and acting like I wasn’t expecting anything. I ‘m sick of it! How dare you be two hours late, you dumb schmuck! What’s with the suit? You want everyone to think you have money? Learn how to spell if you want to impress people. I’ve never texted with anyone who made so many mistakes.
Bethany got up and through some money on the table. The two woman stormed out. Everyone stared at Bill. He checked his phone and pushed a button. Suddenly a National Anthem ringtone went off. Belinda instinctively turned to reach into her purse, but then realized she couldn’t answer it. Bill hung up and dialed again, this time when the Anthem played he looked around the bar, his eyes landing on Bethany.
He hung up his phone and the ring tone stopped. There was dead silence in the bar everyone stared at Bethany as he began to walk towards her.