Immigrant Song

Walter was spending a lazy Sunday afternoon one August noodling for catfish at the bank of the river that runs through town.  After a couple smaller fish brushed against his dangling arms he felt what must have been a record-breaker weighing at least a hundred and fifty pounds!  Life surged into Walter’s hands and he grabbed the monster in a death grip, snaking his big arms around its body.  After a vicious fight that seemed to go on for days, with the last ounce of his strength Walter heaved the beast onto the riverbank and collapsed beside it, licking his lips at the thought of all the fried catfish he’d be helping himself to shortly.

“Please,” pleaded a voice.  Walter turned his head sideways and was face to face with the catfish, who seemed to be talking.  “I am a magical creature, one with a family of little magical catfish to boot.  If you return me to the river I will grant you one wish, whatever you want.”

Walter thought for a moment, visions of golden, battered fishmeat dancing before his eyes.  “Alright,” he said and he leaned over and whispered in the fish’s ear before rolling him back into the river.

Two years later Walter came in second place at the Karaoke World Championship in Heinola, Finland with an incredible reimagining of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” that brought tears to the eyes of everyone in the audience.  The public outcry at his runner-up status led to a hard-hitting piece of investigative reporting by the team at Finland TV’s TV-uutiset ja sää, drawing the admission from two of the judges that they’d slept with the winner prior to the contest.  And that’s how Walter’s wish to bring down the corrupt officials of the KWC came true.

Published in: on October 9, 2008 at 1:17 pm  Comments (1)  

ampersand

One night a bunch of punctuation marks were out drinking at the local bar.  After a few too many sloe gin fizzes, Semi-colon stood up on his chair.

“Hey, hey guys, hey,” he slurred, “you know who I can’t stand?”  He almost fell over as he waited for a response.

“Who?” asked Question Mark.

“That fucking Ampersand,” he spat, sloshing his drink on to the table.  “So fucking cocky, you know?”

“Hell yes!” shouted Ellipses.  “Why does he have to be so complicated?  Does he think he’s better than us because it’s nearly impossible for human hands to draw him right?”

“Really!” said Hyphen after downing her crantini in three quick gulps.  “He only really exists in typography.  I mean, everyone just uses that little backwards ‘three’ with the lines above and below when they write.”  She waved her arm in that general shape, knocking over Comma’s beer.  “Sorry,” she said.

“You’re not the one who should be sorry!” roared Comma.  “We should go kick that guy’s ass!  Guillemets over here knows where he lives and it’s not far!”

“Oui,” said Guillemets, nodding.

Everyone gulped down whatever was left in front of them, smacking fists into palms, and they all settled up and stormed out of the bar and into the street, upsetting garbage cans and overturning shopping carts as they hurriedly marched.  Guillemets led them to Ampersand’s house when he was just getting out of his Prius after a date with the Yen sign who was over visiting for a couple weeks.  The other punctuation marks crowded in behind Semi-colon as he approached Ampersand.

“What are you guys doing here?” Ampersand asked.

“Hey, hey, shut up,” said Semi-colon, giving Ampersand a shove.  “You think you’re better than us?”

“Guys, you seem like you’ve all had too much to drink,” said Ampersand.  “Maybe you should go home and sleep it off.”

“Who are you to tell us what to do?” asked Question mark before he spat on Ampersand’s driveway.

“Yeah!” echoed a few voices in the mob.

“We think you need a serious attitude adjustment,” said Slash, stepping forward and holding a stick he’d broken off a tree on the way.

Suddenly Ampersand flicked his hand out of his pocket, a boxcutter glinting in the moonlight clutched in his fist, and up toward Slash’s face.  In a split second he’d sliced off a piece of Slash’s ear.  Slash immediately gave a cry and fell backwards into the crowd as they all recoiled from Ampersand.

“Who’s fucking next?!?” demanded Ampersand, holding the boxcutter out at arm’s length and pointing it at the mob.  No one said anything.  “Then get the fuck off my property.”

The crowd backed away slowly as Colon tried to comfort the shocked and whimpering Slash.

“Y’all ain’t shit!” shouted Ampersand at the backs of the mob as they turned and walked slump-shouldered down the street.  He shut his front door, turned out the light, poured himself a few fingers of J&B and put a the Wire Season Two Disc One into his DVD player.  “Y’all ain’t shit,” he said to no one in particular.

Published in: on September 29, 2008 at 4:43 pm  Comments (1)  

fertility drugs

Jeremy was playing “Super Black Bass Advance” on his Game Boy Advance while walking through the yard at his family’s home in the country  when all of a sudden the ground seemed to give way.   Jeremy was plunged into darkness and landed with a “splash”.  After checking that his console was alright Jeremy took stock of his surroundings.  It seemed that he had fallen down a well.

Almost immediately the light from the mouth of the well was obscured by the shadows of two heads.

“Jeremy!” shouted his father.  “How are you, son?”

“I’m okay, dad,” Jeremy yelled up.  “I think I fell down a well!”

“You sure did, hon,” his mother’s voice echoed down the well.  “No broken bones?”

“No, mom, I’m okay,” replied Jeremy.  “Can you guys get a rope or something?” he asked.

“Well that’s the thing, son…” started his father.

“You know that your father and I always wanted more children, right honey?” his mother shouted.  “Well we took some of those fertility drugs, and it seems that I’m pregnant with quadruplets!”

“Oh wow,” said Jeremy, “that’s exciting!  Congratulations!”

“Yes, we’re very pleased, son,” said his father.  “But it means there’s going to be some changes around here. The house is pretty small as it is and with the economy on a downswing and four more mouths to feed, there’s no money for any renovations…”

“Umm…” said Jeremy.

“And you’re twenty-two and still haven’t had a real job nor shown any signs that you’d be leaving the house any time soon,” explained his mother.

“Let’s be honest, son,” continued his father, “you just really don’t show any initiative.  All of your friends went to school and got jobs and moved away but you never really did much.”

“Well…” started Jeremy, who thought about this point for a moment but could think of no rebuttal.  “So you’re leaving me to starve to death in a well?”

“Oh no, honey,” said his mother.  “That’s not it at all.  Take a look around you.”  Jeremy squinted into the darkness and noticed a cave immediately to his right, shored up with wooden beams.  “Do you see it, hon?”  Jeremy climbed up in to the opening.

“There should be a light switch on the wall to your left, son,” yelled his father.  Jeremy flicked the switch and a series of lights illuminated a wood-paneled rec room with a plaid pull-out sofa, a thirty-two inch television with a DVD-player/VCR combo, a bar refrigerator, a hot plate, a toaster oven, and Jeremy’s own computer at a new desk.  “What do you think?”

“Your father started working on it as soon as we found out about the babies,” yelled down his mother.  “Look, we even got you a S.A.D. lamp!”  Indeed there was a special lamp installed above the desk.  “This way you can stay close to us and be comfortable without putting anyone out too much.  What do you think?”

“Umm…” said Jeremy.  “It’s pretty nice I guess.”

“You can put up some posters if you want, son,” yelled down his father.  “Just use sticky tac instead of nails.  I don’t want holes in that paneling.”

“Okay, dad,” replied Jeremy.  “Umm, I guess you guys can go.  I’ve got some stuff to do.”

“Okay, dear,” yelled down his mother.  “We’ll come check on you tomorrow or the day after.  Take care, hon!”

“Remember,” shouted his father, “no nails!”

“Sure, dad,” said Jeremy as he switched on his computer.  With that, the shadows of his parents’ heads disappeared.

Four years later Jeremy’s movie blog averages roughly seventy-five hits per day and is linked to by the Rotten Tomatoes website.

Published in: on September 28, 2008 at 4:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

deus ex machina

A large family of greek peasants was fighting on a hill and had been doing so for hours.

“I’ll kill you!” the father shouted at one of his sons.

“If you try that, you’ll wake up with a knife in your back!” shouted one of his daughters.

“How dare you speak to your father that way!” shouted the children’s mother.

“My daughter-in-law is a harlot!” shouted the grandfather.

Fists were raised all around, ready to be thrown.  All of a sudden the clouds parted and a giant wooden structure slowly descended to the peak of the hill.

“Family, stop your fighting!” came a voice from the structure.  “I am Deus Ex Machina.  I have come to solve your problems!”

The youngest girl in the family stooped and picked up a rock, which she hurled at where the sound seemed to be emmanating from .

“Who the fuck do you think you are, coming here and telling us how to run our family?!?” shouted one of the older brothers.

“Some type of wise-guy, eh?!?” spat one of the sisters.

“I don’t like your attitude, mister,” said the grandfather.

The mother ran over and gave one of Deus Ex Machina’s support beams a push.  “Hey, he’s not so strong at all!” she exclaimed.  “Kids!  Come here!”  The kids ran over along with the father.

“Please!” shouted the structure, “I come to bring a message of peace!”

“You can stick that message of peace up your ass!” shouted the family’s youngest son.  “Eat a dick!”

The family then gave a great heave and sent the structure crashing down a steep, rocky side of the hill.  Everyone looked around at each other for a minute, dusting off their hands.

“My daughter-in-law is a harlot!” shouted the grandfather as one of his grandchildren slapped him in the face.

Published in: on September 27, 2008 at 11:03 am  Leave a Comment  

the gasoline truck

On his after-dinner walk one evening Edward rounded a streetcorner and came upon a horrible car crash.  The engine of a late-model BMW was on fire and it was pinnioned against an unmanned gasoline truck.  Edward heard a muffled cry of “Help me!” and a banging sound.  As he ran up to the car he noticed a man trapped inside, banging futilely on the driver side window.

“Stand back!” yelled Edward as he broke the window with a rock.  He then grabbed the man by the wrists, pulled him out through the shattered window, hoisted him over his shoulder, and carried him away from the wreck just seconds before both car and truck were obliterated in a huge explosion.

“Thank you!” cried the man.  “I owe you my life!  I’m a doctor, and if there is anything I can do for you, just name it!”

“Well…” said Edward, stroking his chin.

Five months later Edward’s wife’s lawyer presented the court with a presciption form from the doctor bearing his signature and the words “Excused from doing the dishes on medical grounds” as exhibit “B” at the couple’s divorce hearing.

Published in: on September 26, 2008 at 6:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

four-run lead

Frank was walking through the marsh behind his home, hoping to find some birds in order to test out the new Nikon 18-35mm f3.5-4.5 AF-D lens for his camera when he came upon a small baseball stadium constructed out of marsh grasses, complete with two teams of frogs apparently in the middle of play.

“Amazing!” said Frank as he raised the viewfinder to his eye.

“Hey!” croaked the coach of one of the teams.  “No pictures without the expressed written consent of the CEO of the Frog Baseball League!”

Frank replaced the lens cap and let the camera hang from its strap.  “Well, do you mind if I watch?” he asked.

“Sure, sure ,” croaked the coach as he turned back to the game.  Frank sat down a few feet behind home plate and proceeded to watch the Green Jackets build up a four-run lead over the Generals over the next three innings.  Frank had noticed that the pitcher of the Generals was accidentally telegraphing his throws.  He leaned over to the Generals’ coach and whispered this in his tiny frog ear.  The coach promptly croaked “Time!” and hopped out to the mound for a conference with his pitcher and catcher.  The Generals’ pitcher then struck out each of the remaining Green Jacket batters while the Generals earned six runs of their own to win.

After the game the manager of the Generals jumped over to Frank.  “How’d you like to join my staff as assistant coach?” he asked.

With Frank’s instruction the team took the division title that season and the next two seasons after.  If you ask me, they would have clinched it the next year as well if it hadn’t been for a steroid scandal and that venting of twenty thousand litres of super-heated water from a neighbouring nuclear power plant into the swamp that killed the entire infield and led to the folding of the club.

Published in: on September 25, 2008 at 10:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Debbie at reception

A man walked in to a doctor’s office.

“What seems to be the problem?” asked the doctor.

“I’m deeply depressed,” said the man.  “Life seems so harsh, so cruel.  I feel all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain.”

“Hmm,” replied the doctor, “the treatment for this is simple.  The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight.  Go and see him.  That should pick you right up.”

The man immediately burst into tears.  “But doctor…” he sobbed, “…I am Pagliacci.”

“Oh really?” asked the doctor with his back to the man.  “What do you think about this?” he said as he turned around, pulling off a mask and exposing the face of Pagliacci.  “I am Pagliacci!”

The man immediately ceased his sobbing and instead squealed with glee.  “What an amazing trick!”  He grabbed his hat and rose to leave.  “I’m cured!  Thank you!” he said as he vigorously shook the clown’s hand.

“Not so fast,” said Pagliacci.  He handed the man a piece of paper.  “I wrote you a prescription for some powerful antipsychotics.  On your way out ask Debbie at reception for a 10% off voucher for tonight’s show.”  He then sprayed the man in the face with his fake flower boutonniere and showed him back to the waiting room.

Published in: on September 24, 2008 at 10:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Casablanca

A man leaned over to his fiancée at a screening of Casablanca.  “I can’t believe you’ve never seen this before,” he whispered.  “You know, there’s a superstition that says you never marry the person you first see Casablanca with.”

“That’s okay,” his fiancée whispered back, “I never actually existed in the first place.”  Immediately after saying this, his fiancée disappeared.

After the movie the man tried to get a refund on his fiancee’s ticket.  The cashier, however, wouldn’t budge.  “Company policy,” she said. “Sorry.”

Published in: on September 23, 2008 at 2:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Christmas cards

Early one Wednesday morning Peter Miller walked downstairs to find that his dog Patches had turned into a 33 year-old man overnight.

“Patches?” asked Peter as he saw his former dog sitting at the breakfast table, reading the morning paper.

“Hello Peter,” said Patches, “I hope I didn’t wake you.”  Patches scratched himself behind the ear with his new left hand.  “I made myself some breakfast but I think I’m lactose-intolerant,” he said as he gestured to some partially-chewed Honey Nut Cheerios and milk which had been vomited on to the floor.  “Sorry.”

“It’s okay, Patches.  Um…” Peter thought for a moment about the proper social protocol required by a situation like this.  “Would you like to go for a walk?”

“Sorry, Peter, maybe another time,” said Patches as he put down the paper.  “I should really be off.  While I was up early this morning I logged in to your guest account and enrolled in Business School in Decatur.”

“Oh,” said Peter, “can I give you a ride to the bus station?”

“It’s alright, Peter, I called a cab as I didn’t think you’d be up.  I even wrote you a note.”  Patches pointed to a folded piece of paper on the table as a car honked outside.  “That must be the cab.”

“Well,” said Peter, “make sure you keep in touch.”  He reached out and shook Patches’ hand.

“Will do, Peter, thanks,” said Patches as he left.

Peter picked up the folded paper.  The note read: “Dear Peter, this morning I awoke as a human.  You’ve been a great owner but I need to follow my dreams.  Sincerely, Patches.  p.s. thank you for buying the premium food – I don’t know if you noticed but I stopped chewing your slippers when you did that.  –P.”

Four years later Patches is the manager of a mid-sized Cincinnati plumbing supply store.  Peter and Patches exchange Christmas cards during the holidays.

Published in: on September 22, 2008 at 10:17 am  Leave a Comment  

a squat bird

He skidded to a stop beside the signpost, dismounted his bike, and leaned it against the wooden pole.  Stooping, he picked up a smooth stone the size of a peach pit before turning and counting out thirty long paces.  He then turned on his heel and threw the stone.  It hit the sign near the centre, slightly to the right, narrowly missing a “g”.  The impact rung out across the flat landscape.  The boy noticed there was no echo.

“People talk about this place being filled with light,” he thought aloud, “but it is moreso a place full of space, meaning it is really empty.  To live here means letting go of whatever you do, whatever you make.  There is no echo here, nothing to reflect back what you have created, and thus no legacy.”

Just then he heard a rustling in the brush nearby.  A squat bird hopped out from between long stalks of wild grass.

“I heard what you said,” said the squat bird, “and I recorded it and forwarded it the inboxes of all of your friends.”  With that the bird chirped cheerfully thrice and took flight.

“Oh shit,” said the boy.  “I think I hate squat little birds.”

Published in: on September 21, 2008 at 6:27 pm  Leave a Comment