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.

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.

 

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.

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.

5000 Facebook Fans

fan

 

 

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.”

“Hello, Tracy”

“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.

Land of Delusion 

don

16 year ago, when George W. Bush was running for president, I had a job in Denver working in a collection agency as a skip tracer. The atmosphere of the office was true to the stereotype of collections agencies. The collectors were undereducated, overcompensated alcoholics and drug addicts, who swore every third word, hated deadbeats and homos and carried concealed weapons in their cowboy boots when they weren’t driving their pickup trucks to the hills to murder some innocent animal. There were several people in the office who kept radios at their desks and they were all turned to Dr. Laura or Sean Hannity.

As you can imagine, they all loved George W. Bush and hated Al Gore even though Gore’s policies would have benefited them.

At first I thought they believed what they did because they associated the intellect and compassion exhibited by Gore with weakness. But, there was more to it than that; Bush was an idiot and a sincere sounding one. He had a limited vocabulary; he was severely learned disabled and could barely read. He believed everything his puppet masters   told him unquestioningly and this caused him to regurgitate the lies he was told with an earnestness that anyone who didn’t know any better was apt to believe.

Al Gore was brilliant and articulate with an awkwardness that was perceived as arrogance by those who were unable to understand him. George Bush had a slow wit, a quick temper   a short attention span. He was the idiot’s idiot. With his undernourished mind and his overfed Id, many people could relate to him.

I understood this. I’m not the brightest crayon in the box myself and I know what it feels like  to be condescended to or even ignored by people who are witty and smart and feel you are not worth their time.  When the intellectuals in the media were bewildered by Bush’s popularity, I understood that it had been a long time in the coming. When they said he would never be president, I was pretty sure he would be. Although he needed a boost from his brother to actually win the election, the fact that he got any more than a few hundred votes evidences the passionate frustration of then American dim wit and the defiance that they felt towards those who had what they wanted.

Intellectuals and businessmen alike learned something from Bush. They learned that no one is more powerful or pliable then the American dumbass.

Over the past 16 years American big businesses have turned up the volume on catering to the dumbass. We have made simple minded reality shows staring dumbasses which are watched by dumbasses. We have shows with clever rich people acting like dumbasses that are enjoyed by the dumbasses who love to judge any envy those dumbasses. When a dumbass sees himself on television or takes an interactive role as an audience member he feels validated.

Big business and banks picked right up on the dumbass’ need for validation. Anybody at all can buy Twitter and Instagram followers regardless of talent or hard work. People who can’t afford homes and don’t qualify for credit cards can now buy homes and get credit cards with ridiculously high interest rates.

Perhaps the worst exploitation of the dumbass is the fake college. I spent a year and a half working as a first party collector for a company that offered private student loans for students at “colleges” such as  Corinthian which offered fake degrees to poor disadvantage dumbasses for a high price. The degrees were completely worthless and some of the students were not dumbasses but, genuinely learning disabled. I spoke to people who could not spell their own name or give an address properly on a daily basis. Corinthian eventually went bankrupt and President Obama and The U.S. Department of Education have announced they will cancel $27.8 million in debt owed by the students.

There are similar colleges geared towards students interested in the arts. My mother worked in advertising for some 20 years. She took a teaching gig at Columbia College in Chicago one semester where she was told not to correct the student’s grammar and spelling as it might hurt their feelings. The “college” wanted the students to keep on paying the exorbitant tuition without actually learning anything. If a young egoist got his feelings hurt the college might not get any more money out of that student.

My mom quit after a year.

Although the business who do this are arguable unethical, the ultimate blame lies within the dumbass community. We could say no to these things and we do not. Praise feels good and we are addicted to the possibility and the promise of material success, social acceptance and power.

Now the election is upon us, and there is a very good chance that Donald Trump will be our next president. Some dumbasses like him because he appears to speak off the cuff. He is loud, crude, uncultured and insensitive and the dumbass community can relate.

It is all an act of course. Mr. Trump is in reality a sophisticated businessman who has made billions of dollars by knowing exactly how to manipulate people. He was fortunate to inherit millions of dollars from his family and he was lucky to have a name that is synonymous with domination, He is not the dumbass he pretends to be. Although the many mistakes he makes on Twitter would suggest he is uneducated, he is actually a graduate of Wharton Business School.  He knows how to use proper English and he knows that dumbasses don’t like that sort of thing.

He also knew how to use his name and his personality to make himself richer. In spite of multiple bankruptcies he managed to convince a major network to produce a show where he was the ultimate authority on business success. The show was everything reality television should be; competitive, cruel and sustainable. Mr. Trump came out looking all-knowing and streetwise. He made a big name for himself and his name; just his name, is worth millions of dollars when affiliated with a hotel or an airline.

Trump is the consummate American monster. He understands peoples need to feel good and how to exploit that weakness. He is completely vapid and out for himself. He is everything to which the American dumbass had chosen to aspire. He doesn’t give a rats behind about them or any of the people they are prejudice against. He will say what he needs to get elected. One he is elected there is no telling what he will do. The whole thing may be a prank for his reality show.

We dumbasses have alternatives of course. We can step aside and let the admittedly smart people take the reins and run the country.

Bernie Sanders is a graduate of the University of Chicago and has never hidden his intellect or his morals. Hillary Clinton is a graduate of Yale Law School who has had a good amount of success in business herself and has proven herself to be pretty good at getting people who are on opposite ends of the spectrum to talk to each other.

They are each quite progressive. Bernie has recently introduced many environmental bills into the senate and Hillary was the first Secretary of State to fight for international LGBT rights laws.

 

The trouble is that neither one of them can do it alone. Bernie is a socialist and we Americans are too delusional to be socialist. We gamble in casinos and play the lottery. One of our favorite show is Keeping Up with the Kardashians and our favorite films are fantasies which often take place in opulent settings. Our favorite books like Fifty Shades of Grey and The Luckiest Girl Alive center on wealthy successful people. American proletarians don’t care about proletarians because we refuse to admit we will always be proletarians.

 

I have had people on my interview blog tell me the most personal poo about their sexuality and psychological history, but they never want to talk about their job; it’s too depressing.

 

People don’t trust Hillary. Serving a diverse state like New York is a daunting task and she had to compromise her principals many times to please her constitutes as well as her financial backers. She has waffled on several important issues such as the war and immigration. She also has a vagina and we don’t like that sort of thing.

The only solution is to have Bernie and Hillary run together. Hillary will win her party’s nomination if she takes Bernie as her running mate, they may have the numbers to go to the White House. They balance each other out well. He’s not afraid to stick to his principals and she has made connections with businesses and foreign leaders around the world that can be beneficial to this country.

So, Bernie and Hillary, don’t be babies. Play nice with each other and you can win this thing. Anything else would be a dumbass move.

The Valentine’s Voyeur

 

heart

 

So Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching and once again you find yourself without a mate. You feel your singleliness is being polarized by the impending holiday.  The greeting card companies and candy makers in town seem to be flaunting their wares in your face; making you feel like a loser for having no reason to buy them.

You attempt to ignore it, but you cannot. In spite of all of your horrible dating experiences and the fact that you are single and can do anything you want at any time, there is no resisting the pull of commercialized coupledom. You want a mate and you don’t care how much you have to humiliate yourself to get one – sadness for you.

Fortunately, I am old and crabby and I no longer care about such matters. I feel awfully superior about this and enjoy making fun of those people who do care.  Plus, I have nothing else to do.

While riding the Max in Portland I have born witness to several Tinder dates. I have decided to share them with you.

George and the girls

I was on my way to work on a rainy Saturday night. I got to the Max Station just as a train was stopping. I looked through the window and did a double take, as there was a man wearing no shirt sitting with his back to me.

I boarded the train and sat down, thinking he was just some 82nd Street lunatic, who was high on drugs.  He was sitting in the sideways seats and I sat with my back to him in a seat right behind the driver. After a moment I heard a booming voice behind me.

“Hello, is this Tara? This is George from Tinder. “

I turned around and it was the shirtless guy.

“Yeah, um you’re not gonna believe this story. I have to go help my friend out with his car. He’s stuck out in Beaverton. I’m on the train right now, and I’m not sure when I can get there.”

I took a good look at him. He was good looking in a dilapidated sort of way. He was tall with an impressive head of black hair and facial features that looked like they were just beginning to fall out of symmetry. He was in excellent shape compared to other people I’d seen shirtless on the train.

“Uh huh….uh huh. Well, what time are you going to bed? ….Okay…okay. I’ll call if I can’t get there by then…okay. Hey, you got a great voice and I can’t wait to hear it in person. “

He hung up and I looked straight ahead. After a moment I heard his voice again.

“Hi, this is George, from Tinder. I ‘m gonna be a few minutes late. I ‘m on the Max right now. Where is this restaurant? Okay, I hope I’m dressed okay. Hey, you’ve got a great voice, I can’t wait to hear it in person. “

Several young men got on the train.

“Hi there,” I heard George say.

“Hey, man,” one of the guys said.

“Hey you guys, what do you think about this shirt,” He asked. I turned around. He had donned a rather ordinary looking black shirt.

“It looks good.”

“I have a date right now. Do you know where Broadway Street is? I’m late for meeting her. “

“Sorry man, I don’t know.”

I stood up to get off the train and so did George.

“Do you think I should wear the collar up or down?”

“Don’t worry about it, man its fine either way.” One of the guys said.

George and I got off the train.

“Hey, ma’am do you know where Broadway is, “ he asked me.

“Um I think its back that way.” I said pointing.

“Do you know where Pioneer Square is?”

“It’s right there,” I pointed to it.

“Hey, I’ve got a date. Do I look okay?”

“Yes, you do,” I said diplomatically.

We parted and I headed for the bus, almost happy to go to work.

 

Rachel and Sam

It was a cold Tuesday night. I got on the Green line and headed for downtown.  I sat in front of two kids in their twenties. One was a hipster guy with a red beard and a Wheaties tee shirt and the other was a fairly attractive girl, who had long dark hair. He was in the midst of questioning her when I sat down.

“Do you like the zoo?”

“Do I like the zoo? Well, ever since I became vegan I’ve been learning about how bad the zoo really is. I mean they treat the animals really bad and ”

“Do you like movies?”

“Yeah I like movies. I like mostly independent movies.  I….

“That’s good. Yeah, I like independent movies too. Do you like hiking?”

“Yeah, I do. I haven’t done as much of it as I would like …”

I could tell she was beginning to get annoyed.

“Do you like oral sex?

“Um I…”

“Because my beard is not for looks purposes.”

“Oh yeah.”

“Girls say it feels good when I give them head.”

“Okay, I…”

“Do you like camping?”

I got up and transferred to my bus.

 

Jake and Billy

It was a Wednesday morning and I was headed home from work, feeling exhausted.

A short, chubby zit-faced, redheaded bald man sat on the train in front of me looking out the window. A tall handsome guy in a nice suit boarded the train.

“Billy, over here,” the fat man said.

Billy got kind of an, “oh shit,” look on his face and went to sit with fatso.

“Hi, Jake,” he said.

“How’s work going,” Jack asked.

“Not bad.”

“Are you still seeing Clair?

“Yeah, it’s going great.”

“I broke up with Margaret two weeks ago. I ‘ve got a date with some other girl I met tonight.”

“Are you still on E Harmony,” Billy asked tiredly.

“Yeah, yeah I seem to do pretty well there. I mean you don’t get the highest quality girls, but I can always get a date there.”

“Right.”

“The other night, I went out with this girl whose profile said she was thirty five and that she was 130 pounds. I get there and the bitch is like forty five and 160 pounds. She was like,

‘I’m sorry I lied, but I didn’t think you’d give me a chance. ‘

“I was like, “thanks for wasting my time, ya know?”

“Yeah.”

“So, I don’t know about E Harmony sometimes. One thing I did notice, is I have gotten laid more on the first date with online dating than with regular dating. How about you, Billy have you gotten laid on the first date with E harmony?”

“oh..uh no,” Billy said, his eyes darting around uncomfortably.

“I have, lots of times.”

“Uh huh,” Billy smiled.

I cringed at the idea of anyone touching the little putz in a sexual way.

“So, yeah, so after I broke up with Margaret I was on E Harmony and she was back on it too of course and she…well when I met her profile said she was thirty five  and really she was thirty eight.  And you know, I can understand a woman lying about her age. So we went out for six months and now …when she was back on…she …her profile said she was thirty four. So, I thought that was funny. Not only was she lying about her age, but she had actually gotten younger, since we had gone out.

I got up and walked out into the cold morning rain. It made me feel clean and a bit younger myself.