Monthly Archives: July 2013


It was Soily’s job to clean the maces.

Sure, everybody talked about the glorious battles, the bravery, the challenges, the feats of strength and endurance, but few…agh…nobody ever talked about what happens after.

Yes, they tend to long after, politically, such as the great Battle of Aldendire changed the fate of the Grommlins for years to follow, but never right after. Like, they never say, “As soon as the surviving warriors of the great Battle of Aldendire left the grounds, intrepid bands of Whartlings moved in to clean, clear, save, repair and otherwise set back to right that which was altered at the hands of war.”

Soily was one of them. He was maces. He started in bodies – which was just bloody awful – pardon the pun. Then he moved to headgear, which wasn’t much better. One day he hoped to move up to swords, or better still, the ultimate – personal effects.

Maces was a true and fortunate step up the ranks, but it carried with it it’s own set of challenges. Maces were heavy and depending on the construction, spike length and such, they could be just gruesome things to work with.

He traced the grounds carefully placing any mace he could find in his wagon. Then he travelled back to Yartling Bins to unload and begin the process of cleaning and repairing. It wasn’t a bad life. Whartlings weren’t suited for battle, which he considered lucky.  Still and all, he felt good about what he could do on the home front to support the war effort.


It was a heavy day. The blue stuck to him like a thick, yet invisible muck. The subtle strains of the week’s exhaustion seemed to come early making the weight of the air and the gravity more prominent. Each deliberate movement seemed slow, and forced, and draining.

There was no one focal point of consternation, rather a collection of a thousand and one annoyances that all vied for his time and demanded his attention. Under the guise of being critical, each item more trivial than the last piled on like a self-generating to-do list created by some dark presence testing his system, working to see what would force the eventual overload.

Comparatively, if you matched his world point for point against those in the throes of a real life and death drama, his troubles were few, his battles simple and his inability to maintain perspective pathetic.

He approached the looming pile of cosmic debris with a half-hearted determination. With his head down, he worked to chip away, to make progress, to sort and sort again, to handle and resolve, but the problems and aggravations multiplied faster than he had the energy to even fully recognize.

The weight of the day was oppressive, resolutions and solutions elusive. His brain generated a multitude of grand and seductive notions about shaking everything loose and then stepping away fast enough to watch it all fall. He’d have a laugh. Where was the value, the payoff for this day-to-day struggle? Is there even a remote chance it will all be better tomorrow?

Despite the overwhelming and obvious evidence that it would most assuredly not be better tomorrow, a small, barely noticeable, and yet quite obvious and determined voice would whisper from the back of his head, cutting through the clatter and noise of his useless imagination, “Keep going.”

Bad Ass

Riding around in a truck all day gave Gil and Remmy plenty of time to discuss the deeper philosophical questions that plague the minds of all mankind. At least they should plague the minds of all mankind. Gil always said that people who didn’t ponder what he called “the greater questions” were just using up valuable air.

Today, on the heals of another superhero movie release, they revisited the topic of who is, or was, the most real badass human.

“How about…Neil Armstrong,” Remmy offered.

Gil sat for a moment tasting the notion in his head. There was validity there. “First man on the moon. Interesting. You may proceed.”

“Think about it,” Remy started. “Here’s a guy who competes to go to the moon. The freakin’ moon! A place that everyone has seen, but nobody has ever stepped foot on. And when the time comes, they say, ‘Neil, you’re going to the moon.’ And I’ll bet his only answer was, ‘When.'”

“That would be badass,” Gil said.

“Right? Now, think of this. He can’t get in a car or whatever, he gets to the moon by climbing into a freakin’ rocket that is going to ‘BLAST’ him into space! Then he’s got to land this thing that has never been tried in real life, get out, walk around – unarmed – gather up some rocks, take pictures, plant the flag…”

“Bad ass.”

“Right. And he does all this stuff, all while not losing his shit with the realization that he is on the freakin’ moon! I know people that won’t go to the mall across town without a computer to walk them through every step. And if you told them you were going to ‘BLAST’ them some place…they would just melt.”

Gil thought for a moment. “Not bad. But he didn’t do it alone.”

“Right, but it could be argued that most badass dudes don’t. It just looks like they do. They just seal the deal. They pull the trigger. They make it happen. I mean Batman has Robin right?”


“But which one is the bad ass?”

“Not Robin.”

“Not Bobin. I could argue that part of what makes a bad ass a bad ass is that there’s always someone behind him supporting him, promoting him, or needing him which works in turn to motivate him.”

“Good point.”

“They could have just as easily picked another guy who gets up there and just can’t handle the overwhelming awesomeness of what he’s doing and goes bananas. And being second doesn’t matter because that guy is all, ‘Well it must be OK out there, because Neil did it and he didn’t get eaten alive, so I’ll go.’

Then…after all that. The dude flies back, lands in the ocean and is all like, “Yeah, I walked on the moon. It’s cool. No big deal. What are we going to do today?'”

“Being humble is an admirable badass trait,” said Gil.

“I think that we should take all those t-shirts and stuff that says, ‘Chuck Norris did this,’ or ‘Chuck Norris did that’ and replace him with Neil Armstrong.”

“I’d buy one,” Gil said.


Tork hated the way his mind worked…sometimes.

The cut on his hand was an accident. Just a stupid accident. But it felt substantial and there was a lot of blood. He was afraid to look too close to better avoid the chance of throwing up. A cut with lots of blood was one thing. A cut with lots of blood while vomiting was a whole other thing. He tried to remember the last time he had a cut like this. Nothing came to mind. This felt really substantial.

He remembers pulling paper towels from the rack and wadding them up to staunch the wound, but the blood was aggressive and soaked through that fairly quickly. He reached for more paper towels and witnessed – almost in slow motion – the last 1, 2, 3, sheets pulling away from the tube and leaving the brown core to spin freely as if it were laughing at him.


He stumbled down the hallway to the closet where he kept the extra rolls of paper towels. The door swung wide to reveal an unexpected vacancy where the paper towels usually stood in waiting.


Maybe there were more in the basement. Treated like a small storage facility for the things he had too much of at any one moment, he took the stairs down and pushed his way through jars of peanut butter and dishwasher cleaning solutions to where he thought the paper towels must be. The 1, 2, 3, sheets he got from upstairs were taking on a healthy red coloring. There were cookies down here. Hm. He wondered if they had expired yet.

A brand new package of 6 rolls – which had the absorbency of 8 – stood before him. He grabbed the package and tried to puncture the plastic housing with one hand. Again, as if in slow motion, the 6 rolls with the absorbency of 8 all flew away from him. He noticed the room getting warm, or he was getting warm. Yes, he was sweating now and he watched the rolls rain to the ground and spill away from him.

He dropped to the ground and grabbed at the closest roll, spinning it in his hand looking for the starter sheet. It seemed impossible. How did they secure that first sheet he wondered. Then he wondered if it might not be better to insert a small tab on the first sheet to make it easier to access. It was certainly something worth contacting the company about. It was like a public service, making the sheets easier to access in emergencies such as spilled chocolate milk or blood…Right! The blood!

He tossed away the now dripping 1, 2, 3, sheets from upstairs away revealing the cut for longer than he had hoped. Ugh! A feeling gurgled in his stomach.

Unable to find the elusive first sheet, he crammed the whole roll onto the cut. He applied as much pressure as he could to stop the bleeding and rolled onto his back.

That felt good.

A nap might be nice now.

He lay there for a moment, holding his hand to the roll for dear life as the room swirled around him. He sensed this was a good plan. He made a mental note that the gutter on the left side of the house might be clogged. He needed to check that. Also, these paper towels felt nice. He should write a letter to tell the company telling them how pleasant they were. Oh, and why did he have so much peanut butter?

SOC 412

All right…class…everybody? I’d like to get started.

Thank you.

Good morning and welcome. My name is Dr. Dane Cooper. Please check your schedules to make sure you are in the right place. This is Advanced Senior Sociology 412 or as I’ve seen it labelled on the Internet, “Extreme Soc.” If you do not have that on your schedule, you are in the wrong place. You will also be one of the first lessons for the rest of the class. We won’t be laughing at you. We will be laughing with you.

And that is the first lie I will be sharing with you. We will be laughing at you.

Because we will be spending a lot of time together, and I define a lot of time using scientific terms like, “probably more than you could ever be humanly comfortable with,” you may be inclined to begin addressing me in ways that represent a deeper familiarity. Coop, Cooper, Doc, Dane, D.C., D.D.C and so on. That would be a mistake on your part. We will not be as familiar as you feel. Dr. Cooper is the best way to address me and anything else provides me with the unique opportunity to adjust your grade in ways undesirable to you. If you feel that is unfair or makes me an “ass,” you should probably leave now. And that will provide the class with the second lesson of the day.

In addition to spending enormous amounts of time together, you will likely get dirty. Not so much in the physical sense, however that does occur during some of our offsite lessons, but no, I’m talking about your conscience. In order to study human behavior we often need to create circumstances that will generate actual, measurable human behavior. This sometimes crosses with some people’s definition of ethics. I assure you everything we do will be done with the highest respect to ethics and the high moral standard on which this school hangs its hat. We will however dance on that line like the cast of Riverdance performing a sold out show for the Queen and an international television audience while the signal is being beamed out to space for other universes to behold.

If that makes you uncomfortable, the door is there to your right. Please provide us with lesson three for the day.

No one?

Very good. I will now collect your waivers and we shall begin.



“My name is Denali Bins,” He shouted. “I am a baker from Chesterfield!”

Officer Clay Ashton held his stance, arms out and service revolver trained on the target. “Put the gun down Mr. Bins and we can work this all out.”

“We tried that. I didn’t do this! I don’t do things like this!”

“And yet here we are, Mr. Bins. You are holding a gun, you are covered with blood and you’re standing over a dead body.”

“I make bread!”

“Mr. Bins…”

“I make hard rolls…and donuts!”

“And I’ll bet they are delicious, but right now we have to take care of this problem.”

Bins quickly swung the gun back and forth between the two figures stepping up behind Ashton. If it was even possible his eyes grew wider and darted between the now three officers. “Keep them back!”

“They’re just here to make sure nobody else gets hurt.”

“I tell you I didn’t do this!”

“Put the gun down Mr. Bins and we’ll figure it all out.”

“You said that yesterday at the station! We’ll figure it all out! That’s what you said!”

“And yet, you took off.”

“You said there was video! That’s a lie! I make cream puffs and scones!”

A crackle in Ashton’s earpiece preceded the order. The time for chatting was over. The order was given. Put him down.



“Look,” Brin said to the sulking Lara. “You kids are lucky. You just don’t realize it. I met your father ‘pre-Internet.’ Do you know what that means?”

Lara pulled the Seventeen magazine on the table to her and began flipping through the pages aggressively. It was a half-baked attempt to show she wasn’t listening, but Brin knew that if she really wasn’t listening, she would have left by now.

“Yes, pre-Internet. Clearly, when I met the man who was to become your father, I didn’t have access to all the information that you people have today. After I met him, I had to talk to him – in person – to get to know him and he was the only source of information I had. You can’t imagine that, because it’s not the world you grew up in.

Sure, he had friends, but they only told me what a ‘great guy he was.’

Had I been able to look him up on Facebook or pull together some kind of Google search, you know…I might have made some different decisions.”

“Ugh…Mom, are you serious?”

“Look, I love your father. I’m just saying pre-Internet people had a huge learning curve to overcome. There was no ‘wikipedia’ to tell me all about what kind of person he was, no electronic photo albums, no friends lists, no texts, no Skype, no unlimited minute phone calls, no Twitter to let me know where he was, what he was doing, what he thought about things…none of it. So all I can say is we did the best we could with the information we had.

You know, come to think of it, maybe I found out he got on the dean’s list once…maybe not, I’m not sure. I’ve blocked so much.

Anyhow, the point is, people today, once you meet each other, and sometimes you don’t even actually meet, you have access to a world of information in minutes that can help you figure out what you might like or not like before you get too invested.”

“You think Daddy feels the same way?”

“Look, pre-Internet or not, your father is very lucky the way things worked out for him. You should have seen him when I found him.”

Lara slid the magazine back across the table. Her phone uttered a short beep causing her to look down immediately. “It’s Phil.”

“You see? How long did that take? Eleven minutes? Don’t even get me started on how long it took to ‘resolve issues’ before the Internet. You kids don’t even know what a fight is anymore. What does he say?”

“He wants to meet…to talk.”

“Uh huh. Let me give you one more piece of advice. One thing we did learn pre-Internet is that when it came time to work things out, we were already pretty good at actual real live talking. Do yourself a favor. If you really want to work on things, put the phone down. Stop texting and go talk to him.

Then…you can text me and to let me know how things go!”


He stood there on the doorstep, soaking wet as if he conjured the storm just to appear more pathetic when she opened the door.

She stood in the crack she created by pulling the door open just enough to cover the distance of her shoulders, a gesture to signal an intent to listen, but not an invitation.

He stood in silence. He had a lot to say. Most of it he already said and his intent was to say it again and if there was a way to say it with greater meaning, with a greater sense of promise, he would do it. Still, when the door opened, the practiced words seemed to evaporate.

She looked at him with cautious and hesitant eyes. She bit ever so softly on the inside of her lip. It became a habit over the years that she apparently developed when she was deep in concentration or trying to figure things out. She first noticed it when frosting a cake some time ago.

“I…,” he started.

“Don’t,” she said. “I know.”

He forced his hands deeper into his pockets. “I’m sorry.”

She wasn’t sure how this all landed on her, but the ball, as they say, was clearly in her court. He did some really stupid things. Even now, there was a part of her who wanted to punch him in the face, and she wasn’t taking that off the table, but it was decision time. She was culpable in this too.

She stood in the doorway filling the space between the jam and the door thinking, considering, hoping, debating, cursing, resisting, deciding, redeciding and redeciding again. She took in a very deep breath and looked around him blinking away a tear before slowly opening the door to create an invitation.

As he moved to step inside and out of the rain, he stopped, turned to her and pulled her close.

She hugged him back. Even soaking wet, the greater apology came through.

Maybe she would punch him later.

An Open letter to the new baby of Cambridge

Java wrote with great determination and focus as she was prone to do in these circumstances.

An open letter to the new baby of Cambridge:

Dear new baby of Cambridge:

I don’t know you. Chances are I never will. The knowledge of your existence has been forced into my life, so I think it only fair that I throw a little back your way, although I have no delusions of your ever seeing this or grasping my intent.

First, know that I in no way hold you personally responsible for polluting the world with the news of your presence. From the moment of your conception, now and for the rest of your life you have been and will be news fodder. You will be followed, photographed, hounded, praised, besmirched, coddled, cheered, booed and more ad nauseam. Every detail of your life will be shared publicly and with very few filters. Ask your uncle about that some day. In that regard, I feel sorry for you. Learn to embrace the good days. Today you were being cheered.

According to fairly recent studies, you share your birth date with over 370,000 other babies around the world, but of all those, guess which one – one of nearly 400,000 – garnered worldwide media exposure? That’s you big man. They interrupted Judge Joe Brown just to share the news. The second coming of Jesus could have happened yesterday and nobody would know about it. Come to think of it, Jesus II would probably prefer it that way.

Unlike the others who share your day, your life will be immeasurably different. I can only scarcely imagine how. You were born into royalty, money and opportunity. The majority of your compatriots are likely not nearly as lucky. There are probably some who already face profound poverty, starvation and the scarcity of basic needs like clean water. Your polar opposites. While the world celebrates you and your arrival, the others seem forgotten. I feel bad for them.

It makes me sad that there are so many people who are so interested in you and your existence. Again, not your fault. It’s not that the time, energy, money and bandwidth are wasted, but they could certainly be channeled to something more constructive.

It may sound like I don’t care that you are here. Honestly, I probably don’t. But since you are, I hope you have a very happy, healthy and productive life. And I hope that one day you will do something great with the resources and opportunities at your disposal. I know it’s early yet, but try not to screw up.

If you ever need someone to listen, I’m here for you.

Your friend in the cosmos – Java


Detective, Tripp Euclaire bent under the police tape and entered the apartment. As he stood, he surveyed the room. Average. Typical. Little to draw the attention.

“Right this way, sir. At the end of the hall.”

Tripp followed the officer to the far bedroom and stepped just inside the doorway.

“We found her about an hour ago. The M.E. said possible blunt force trauma put her down. It looks like she put up a…”

The officer’s voice trailed off as Euclaire silently raised his hand to stop him from talking. There would be plenty of time for the details. This time was for observance and respect. He stepped closer not realizing the growing clench of his jaw.

She looked like Emily.

Oddly enough, despite the condition of the ravaged room around them, she looked peaceful. Had it not been for the blood spatter across her face someone could believe she was sleeping. His hand gripped the handkerchief in his pocket. He had to consciously stop his arm from wanting to move instinctively to try and wipe the offensive smear from her cheek and forehead. He didn’t know her, but she didn’t deserve this. His hand tightened in his pocket around the cloth, fighting the urge to wipe her face clean. It was the least this poor girl deserved. Still, he knew better. The harsh reality was she wasn’t a poor girl at all now. At this point, to the system, she was coldly and unequivocally…evidence.


Chester sat still, enjoying the quiet. Everything was good, for the moment.

He tried to absorb as much of the calm as he could, for once the chaos ensued he would ramp right back up to where the doctor said he should work real hard to avoid. The doctor called it the ‘Red Zone’. Who does that?

For Chester, life was a precarious house of cards – at least in his mind. The reality was his life was probably not as precarious as he imagined. Work was solid. Things with Alice were solid, he thought. Nothing had broken in the last 20 minutes…all good.

Still his mind seemed to live under the perpetual notion that he was always, constantly and forever, one misstep away from unrecoverable disaster. That everything he had, worked for, supported, built, repaired or maintained was all capable of being stripped away from him and he would be defenseless to stop it. He tamped all that down pretty good on the day to day, but there was an ever present, very subtle buzz in the back of his mind that seemed to constantly whisper, “Watch out!” as if he was undeserving, as if he was living someone else’s life fraudulently and he needed to be careful or the jig as they say, would be up. He feared the moment someone discovered the truth, whatever his world was would be destroyed.


He looked at her and hoped he wasn’t making a face.

She stood on his doorstep young and determined, maybe 19, maybe older, it was hard to tell at that age. She held tight to her clipboard as she quickly ran through her spiel – most of it memorized – before standing quietly and waiting for him to respond.

He hated opening his door for this exact reason.

Ninety-eight percent of the people who wanted him to sign something or join something rarely reflected his personal views. Instead of signing or buying he was often more inspired to give them a good piece of his mind – to help clarify the error of their ways. This time was no different, but he held himself to silence.

She spoke of outrage, but he didn’t see it. He read about the situation himself and at the time he found himself shaking his head, “This is what people are ‘outraged’ over?”

She was clearly moved to action, but it was an action that would result in disappointment for her. The ‘outrage’ was not going to change the magazine cover, or help keep prayer in school or whatever other trivial thing that seems to put a thorn in humanity’s paw for a hot second.

She was a clean cut suburban kid who may be having her first full taste of social outrage. There were so many more things more worthy of her efforts that should not only generate true rage, but make you physically ill once you really understood the depth of the problem. Yet here she was with her petition and her determination. The last true rage she felt was probably aimed at her parents. She’d likely have better luck with a petition about that.


Passing himself off as twins was way easier than he thought. Of course he hadn’t planned on taking it to this extreme or doing it this long, but once he reconciled the inner ethical qualms of living in a world of blatant duplicity over relative honesty, it just felt right.

Really, what he was doing was just a more literal representation of how most people live their daily lives anyhow. Sometimes, they were worse. His friend Sal had at least four distinct personalities that she could switch to without a moment’s notice. Depending on her mood, you never knew which Sal you would get.

His circumstance required a bit more finesse. It was becoming art really. He knew at some point the game would be called and one twin would have to absorb the other, but until then, the individual lives of Kevin and Klark were in full bloom and the road ahead was filled with possibilities…two lives worth.


Billington Quackmire enjoyed a regal existence in the pond outside of the Third Pentecostal Human Relief Church and Bank and Trust, Inc.

His presence, and that of his neighbors Jacques and Marie (who pretended to be French, but weren’t) lent a certain post-cardesque charm to the locale, especially on those sunny spring days when everything was in full bloom.

For as long as he could recall, the Quackmires have made this pond their home. The act of charm inducing visual support their job. He often saw folks taking his picture as they left the service. When he was younger, he had trouble with his timing and could be caught with his backside in the air as he searched for food in the subtle murk that lie beneath the water. The others pointed out to him that while practical, the timing was undignified.

With time, he worked it out so that his gallant glide across the water took place as most people were leaving the building. If he timed it just perfectly, he would get just below the beech trees as the sun broke through the leaves with bands of light. It was a hard sight to resist.


He flipped through the stacks. Each one sparked a glimmer of memory through sight and sound.

It had been years since the fire. Years since he touched vinyl. Years now since things seemed to go…sour.

It seemed trivial on the surface. Others might think it irrational to tie fate so closely to something possessed. Yet, while these material items were not his originals, there was still a kinship.

Oh…this one got him through his break up with Mary Ellen Newburgh, and this one was pretty much the root soundtrack to the summer after he graduated college. A consistent presence in a time of change and turmoil.

They were all his friends.

His mind raced to find a way to claim them all, but it was impossible. It just helped to know that they were here.

Then he found it, or it found him. The one he needed. He looked up as a tear welled in the corner of his eye. An embarrassed warmth hit his cheeks as he tired quickly to blink it away. He snapped it up and held it close to his chest as if he had just found a lump of gold. He would have it back now. It was the very first step that felt like the right step in a good long time.