Thursday, January 23, 2014

Taking the Oregon Trail...

Too Seriously. 

                Recently I drove. Then I drove some more. I drove until it felt like all I had ever done, all I ever would do. I drove up hills, I drove across ice, I drove myself mad, I drove past people, I drove behind and in front of, I drove in every way except without interruption. I drove my fist upwards into the night sky and cursed God for certain misfortunes. I drove and I strove with semi-reckless abandon, not quite untethered as I slingshotted myself into the great American west. I checked in with Mom and Dad state to state. I had a tin of cookies my girlfriends Mother had made for me that I ate essentially the entire time. I was the worlds latest arrival to manifest destiny and I was living rent free in my own head for the next four days, a chilling thought. The first of many.
               I was out of Massachusetts in no time, before I even noticed and without a chance to symbolically wave goodbye to the the state that had been my home for the past decade. These are the types of things you can do non ironically when you are by yourself. I blistered through Connecticut briefly, and hit the mountainous New York landscape before it hit me that I was about to drive across the country, finally. This is about the area that it dawned on me how long this was actually going to take. I swore to myself I would stop thinking about how long, I knew it would drive me to the brink of insanity if I fixated. I had kicked cigarettes about four weeks prior, this was about the time I started gnawing ceaselessly at the inside of my mouth.
              Then I happened upon my first obstacle and what, in my naïveté, I thought would be my most difficult one to pass. Pennsylvania. Pissing, horrible Pennsylvania. If Dracula’s ‘vania’ was this instead of Transl we would have read a story about a boring man who lived in a boring house that didn’t like to go very fast. Two lane highways, speed limits of 55 mph. Pennsylvania hates cars, cars did something to Pennsylvania at a young age and it has never forgiven them. Pennsylvania is a long state, Pennsylvania takes a long time to cross. The speed limits are strictly enforced. Do not go to Pennsylvania. The people are bonkers.
              Next comes Ohio and the realization of why LeBron left Cleveland. People from  Ohio shouldn’t even blame him, that place is the Stately representation of the word “blah” or the color beige. Their football team should be called the Cleveland Beiges. The Cleveland khakis, the Ohio Brown Chinos. I’m just joshing you Ohio, you treated me well. No incidents, not a cop in sight the whole way, a very clean Wendy’s and friendly drivers. I pooped once in your state, it was quite pleasant. Parting is such sweet sorrow, I’m glad I could leave you with a part of me to be remembered by.
             I awoke for day two in Springfield, Ohio. The first of many Springfields that I saw along the way, there are quite a few. I also noticed that almost every single one had a billboard claiming they were the home of the Simpsons. You are not the home of the Simpsons, and your fox sponsored billboards are off putting and creepy, and there is NO reason why they should be built that high. The land is so flat, they are not competing with anything for height, yet they are as tall as skyscrapers with thick, jutting (phallic) poles supporting them as if to say HERE IS A BILLBOARD FOR BUD LIGHT, LOOK UPON OUR WORKS YE MIGHTY AND DESPAIR. Gross.
            Springfield, Ohio is the last major town before the border between Ohio and Indiana, and what was in front of me was the most harrowing and unpleasant part of my drive so far, little did I know. Again, the theme recurred, that it happened upon me just after I settled into my seat and began to enjoy the drive a little bit.
           The roads suddenly started to turn. The black asphalt that so neatly propelled me across the land began to change to the color of milk and harden. Suddenly, and without warning, I was on a piece  of road that was no longer comforting charcoal black asphalt but hard packed white ice and snow. The beginning of  what was probably the most unimaginably unpleasant driving experience of my life. I slowed down as I started to feel the cars wheels give out, ever so slightly. Less and less cars dotted my field of vision around me as my speedometer descended leftwards as if it were the last pathetic death throws of an untied balloon. 75..70..65..55...40.. soon the fastest I could go without losing control of my car was 15 miles per hour. I watched a Ford with a trailer hitched to its rear slide and spin, the trailer whipped around like the tail of a harpooned shark and flung itself towards me, this is where I learned the lesson that hitting the brakes would not be something that was possible to do for quite some time. My car skidded and slid, barely regaining grip on the road before I watched the truck spin off to the snow covered area between our shared highway and its exit. The DK Sentra was the Enterprise, I was Scotty, and I could barely hold her together Captain.
         I was convinced they had just missed a spot but no, oh no kind reader, they had laid a trap, ready to spring on me and my unsuspecting Nissan Sentra. Indiana had a score to settle, and not since the Colts beat the Bears in the 2006 Super Bowl did I curse every person in the state of Indiana, did I swear up and down the road in order to keep the panic from taking over? Did I grip my steering wheel with both hands in a futile attempt to stabilize my car? Yes, I did, but to no avail.
          My father was on the other end of the telephone for much of the harrowing 373 miles from Springfield to St. Louis. Guiding me through the worst of it, eyeing traffic maps and giving me advice on how to drive on these types of roads. I could hear the worry and stress in his voice, and I am admittedly not the easiest person to deal with in these types of situations, but he was tracking traffic, easing me through it. He said to me later that I had two choices, plow through as I did, slowly but surely, eventually making it to non icy roads, or pull over to the side of the road and cry, then have to plow through anyway, so at least I didn’t take the latter option.
            This was the first time I missed Massachusetts. I cursed the kind of state that would see not one plow on its roads in these conditions, opting instead to declare a state of emergency and wait for a thaw. In my home state, we would have had motorcycles back on the road by lunch, this shitty midwestern hole in the ground needed until thursday. I had my Dad telling me I was a genius for picking the worst weather in the recorded history of the United States to travel through, and my brother chanting “I told you so” as he had advised me to drive south, then west.
            There was a section in the last part of Indiana that was devoid of all moving vehicles, and I later learned that I-70 had been shut down, it was illegal for cars or trucks to be driving on it. There were a lot of cars and trucks, but none driving save mine.

             I saw so many vehicles, abandoned and littering the highway it made me think I was witnessing the apocalypse. Massive big rig trucks flipped over on the median between the highways traveling east and west. A stretch of road with so many big rigs abandoned it was like an elephant graveyard, eerie and silent. No police, no plows, just me and the ice and the snow and the cars.
             At one point, at the tail end of the worst of it, a Hyundai came roaring up behind me, I was going about 19mph and I moved to the side to let it pass. He careened past me and crested a hill, it was a couple of minutes before I did the same, slowly, like the tortoise I saw what fate befell the hare, he was flipped upside down on the median, with two pickup truck drivers running over to help drag him out of the car. I would have stopped to help, maybe, but I hadn’t hit the brakes in about 250 miles, I saw too many cars brake lights flash for just a second only to have them lose complete control of their shaggin wagons and go not so gently into that snowy goodnight. You may as why I didn’t stop to assist but trust me, it was every man for himself in that tundra, and there was no stopping.
            As the roads started to clear I could feel my body vibrating. The sheer exhaustion of traveling 373 miles, what should be a six hour drive, in the better part of twelve hours, unable to let go of my concentration for a second for fear of crashing, finally fell on me like a cartoon anvil, and I couldn’t regain my composure until I saw the arch in St. Louis, which was as anticlimactic as other things had been, yet was the single greatest thing I had ever seen at the same time, as I was able to get to forty miles an hour, then fifty, then sixty, and that day sixty miles an hour made me feel as though I was piloting a rocket ship to the stars, I was Major Tom and I had lost contact with ground control (my central nervous system).
          I stopped at a pub for a meatball sandwich and a Jack and Coke that I slurped down faster than I had ever done before, then got back on the road. I know, you should never drink and drive, but trust me, it wasn’t the most dangerous thing I had done in a car that day. The waitress asked me where I came from and when I told her she looked shocked.

“They declared a state of emergency in Indiana, you drove all that way?”
“Sure did. Wasn’t fun.”
“What kind of truck do you have?”
“I drive a Nissan Sentra. It’s a compact.”

           I really was so proud of my little Nissan that day. While SUV’s and big rigs and pickups tumbled on the tundra she gritted her teeth and drove on.

I wanted to make up some time and get past St. Louis before my body shut down completely, I made it about an hour before the weariness really set in, and I stopped at a shitty Holiday Inn express before passing out.
           I awoke dazed and confused with my days confused, not knowing what time zone I was in as my phone read 6:37am, I remember because I stared at the clock for the entire ticking minute trying to figure out where I was and if the day before had actually happened.

           It had, and I was in Missouri. I set out with a prayer that this day would be easier than the one that had come before it, and it was, the day was at least. The night was another story entirely.

           I was about 137 miles out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, smack dab in the middle of nowhere, when I made that fatal mistake again. That mistake that whatever mischief weaving jackal waited for, I sat back in my seat, turned my music up, and relaxed. I started to enjoy the road just as my steering wheel started to wobble. Slightly at first, and I convinced myself it was the road, yes, that’s it, the road is rough. The wheel shook more and more until it rattled violently in my hands and I peeled off into the next exit, not on the ball enough to take note of which one it was. I pulled onto a small dirt patch, with desert as far as the night sky would allow my eyes to see. I heard the flat tire as I slowed down, and my heart sank. I knew I had nothing but a donut in my trunk, which wouldn’t get me far, I had no idea how far I needed to go either, so the math wasn’t adding up in a head that was never very good at math.
         I called AAA but couldn’t tell them where I was, then I called my Dad. He guided me angrily through changing a tire as I argued with him. Before I started I climbed a hill up to the highway to try and see which exit I had taken to tell AAA, but I couldn’t see a damn thing. He yelled at me to go back to my car, I complied. He instructed me to take the donut out, jack the car up, change the tire, and drive to the next town. I complied, but couldn’t get the tire off. He told me not to force it, the car would fall off the jack.

         This was about the time I shook my fist at the night sky and cursed whatever God had given me the worst road trip luck possible. I cursed the heavens loudly with abandon.

That’s how the AAA guy found me, looked at me strangely, kicked the tire violently off the car, replaced it in seconds, and gave me his card. I drove the five miles to Santa Rosa, New Mexico and slept, poorly.

         The next morning I drove to a junkyard and bough a replacement tire for the cash I had in my wallet. Thirty dollars from me to the junkyard worker who didn’t speak English and admonished me for standing too close to him while he was changing the tire, or breathing too heavily, or something.

Failing Spanish in high school, twice, doesn’t get you very far in Santa Rosa.

“Will this tire get me to Los Angeles?”
“Okay. How much?”
“How much you haf?”
“I take thirdy.”
“What about the other tire?”
Puzzled look.
“I’m gonna keep the other tire.”

Back on the road with a newfound wheel shake and the determination not to relax again until I hit Los Angeles.

             I was on the road leading up the hill to Flagstaff, Arizona, on what I hoped would be my final day of driving when my cruise control shut off unexpectedly. I floored the gas, but couldn’t get past 75. In fact, I was doing all I could to remain at 75, thinking my transmission had given out. I was pretty much ready to give up and settle down in Flagstaff at this point. I could carve out a life for myself here, I thought, it doesn’t seem so bad. I pulled over, turned the car off and let it sit for a minute, then got back on the road to see if there was any change. There was, for a minute, then more of the same. Come on Sentra, baby, we’ve made it this far, don’t quit on me now. Although the car had become my Iron Mask at this point, I loved it and had the utmost faith it could make it the rest of the way. Suddenly I looked to my left and saw a sign that read “6000 ft. elevation”. It dawned on me then why the car was struggling, I was on the steepest incline of my drive so far, and the Sentra was doing all it could to climb the mountain.

           The panic lessened, as I knew it would flatten out eventually, which it did. I crossed Flagstaff and then cannoned down the other side of the mountain like something out of cool runnings. It was the most fun I’d had so far, careening down winding canyon roads 85mph, miles away from the shitting trudging of Indiana or the deathtrap deserts of New Mexico. Days from where I started, with miles to go before I sleep.

           I whooped audibly when I hit the California state line. I messed with the guy a little at an inspection station who stopped me because I had Mass plates.

“I stopped you because of the place.”
“What’s wrong with Massachusetts?”
“Nothing, we are a fruit and vegetable checkpoint”
“What’s wrong with Massachusetts fruits and vegetables?”
“Nothing! Are you- ugh- do you have any fruits or vegetables?”
“This cookie has raisins in it.”
“I mean like a lot.”
“I don’t know, I could count the raisins? What’s a lot?”
“You can go ahead”

         I finished the last of my 12-pack of red bull and cruised into Los Angeles and the first real traffic I hit since my journey began. They drove at me like an ironic welcoming committee, around me past me, at me. I gritted my teeth and pressed the Massachusetts button, weaving in and out until I hit the exit, then the street, then my aunt and uncles house. Finally, thank god, I’d made it.

The best advice I can give any would be traveller, attempting to wind his merry way across the country, wind at his back with a pocket full of dreams?

Fly. Always fly.

        I now live in Los Angeles, and it took some doing, but I am here. I found an apartment quickly, I’m learning the Valley and I’ve gotten used to the Freeways. Thankfully, the drive didn’t kill me, even though it tried.

So goodbye to Massachusetts, and the people in it, thanks for all the memories.

Here is me going slightly mad, rambling about different things, somewhere in the middle of the country, for your enjoyment:

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Poem for the Office Worker

The coffee is an ironically cold comfort, but it’s not as stale as the air, at least.

These colors must have been picked on purpose to stir some bleak into your day.

It’s as if the knowledge that this type of office has long been a cliché hasn’t yet arrived.

Don’t worry, we’ll get it. The same time the Ukraine gets beanie babies. 


Christ, Cheryl. Is that a beanie baby on your desk?

Parental Advisory


                My girlfriend is a kind and positive person, not inflicted with the same rage fuelled, world bending psychosis that colors the filter between me and the world. My girlfriend has the distinct ability; in fact I would go as far as to call it a gift, to work in retail. She comes home with work stories much like anyone else, but since she works in a shitty neighborhood in Worcester, Massachusetts, her stories tend to take on a different tone than Jane at the office having a baby or Margie winning a hundred dollar lottery scratcher.

                Usually her stories involve drug addicts passing out in the middle of her store, attempted robberies, the welfare check rush and the fear of walking to her car alone at night. These things, however, are not the kind of stories that get me incensed. Nay, kind reader, as my skewed, screwed world view must dictate, I nod politely and barely listen to these stories ripped straight from the headlines or an episode of The Wire, but hit the pulpit like a bat out of hell when she tells me relatively banal stories like one this one the other day.

                She mentions casually, off the cuff, that she had to remove a large amount of Christmas cards from the shelves due to a joke made in SOMEWHAT poor taste. I won’t go into the content of the card, because that isn’t the point. I don’t see the debate as being if the joke was bad enough to have it removed from the shelves, I would prefer the debate to be whether or not we keep the kind of people on our planet that go out of their way to complain about tiny, tiny things like this. The question I ask is simple, how little do you do in your life, how do you have such a trivial amount of issues in your day that you not only find the time to complain about something that doesn’t matter, but the energy to willfully ignore actual problems?

                Now I speak directly to you. To the letter writing, pettiness bleeding, defender of dogged doucheness that has to get in everyone’s way. You took the time to pick this card up, look at it, get offended ( a word I feel we should have stricken from the language, as it has been overused and championed by those we must rage against) and then take it to a target employee and say, with what you must consider righteous earnestness, “I don’t think you should stock this here, I find it offensive.”

Go home. Read a book. Listen to a record. Expand your horizons, live outside your conscious mind, take in the world around you, and gain that thing that seems to have become such a rare commodity due to mouth breathing idiots like yourself: perspective. Does the card with what most thinking people would consider perhaps only mildly offensive really need you to wage war against it? Perhaps your energy would be better spent reading up on the conflicts in Syria, studying the history of genocide, writing an essay about how we as a human race are not actually doomed to repeat our mistakes. Explain how written language and recorded events are the key to determining how we prevent the endless cycle of domination and murder that has plagued our race since we first began! Maybe, or maybe start with something smaller. Read an article, bring it up over coffee with a friend, and discuss it. Breathe through your nose for a whole day, pick your knuckles up off the floor, or find uses for your thumbs.                

Breathe Dave, Breathe.


                I know what you’re thinking. “You’re hardly doing that Siz old buddy, you are, by championing a cause against petty people, becoming rapidly more petty yourself.” And, in some ways, due to a long line of self-defeating concepts and logics that I run through in my life, you would be right. Ignore them, yeah? Maybe I should be concentrating on something larger, my scope is perhaps limited as well. Think on this, though. Offensive cards are never going to be the majority. Song lyrics will never dictate the movement of our race through the rest of time, they will never be in charge of the collective consciousness, but these… these people, might. I say to you, kind reader, that my cause against pettiness and small mindedness may be the most grand and important cause that exists. Perhaps we should all champion it, because if not we may start complaining about how “the website said this was 2.95 but it says 2.99” or that our kids snuck into an “R” rated movie and how that is CLEARLY the movie theaters fault.

                Adolf Hitler wouldn’t have liked certain song lyrics. He would have made sure plenty of things got taken off the shelves that offended him. Just think about it next time you see “rated M for mature” being argued over, or you see something censored on television, it all started with a letter or a phone call from someone who was offended.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

You Know I'm Yours Just For The Taking


By David Clarke


                All the clichés applied, and you’d hear them like you heard them a million times before when the rabble saw her. Head turner, light up a room, legs for days, and all the other bullshit idioms suckers throw around just before they get suckered. She’d sit, half smiling, glancing around the bar looking vulnerable, looking like an easy mark, playing newly divorced or lonely shut in, braving this big bad world needing a big bad man to take care of her. All of it filled your head and sent it swimming without her even having to say a word. She’d say it with how she carried herself; she was the Audrey Hepburn of murderous harpies.

                In my world, there are two different groupings of scum. Flimflam men, thieves, card sharks and the like toured my circuit, and we didn’t overlap too often with murderers and psychopaths if we could help it. I could spot a ringer on both teams though, I knew she had a game, and I made up my mind to stay away from her, especially when I saw the baboons start to line up, mouths agape, targets lined up square on their backs. I wouldn’t be ogling her, or even looking with anything but the eyes in the back of my head, and that would be that.

                Las Vegas was shared territory for crooks, that was the way, but I found comfort in the fact that I knew most of them by sight. I didn’t share any friendships with these low lives; I was too experienced at being one myself to do anything silly like that. I had one I preferred to spend my downtime with, but only because he was almost as good as me, mutually assured destruction is the thing keeping conversation civil in my life at this point. It was Nicky I was with when she floated in, seemed like she was barely touching the ground. Me and Nick sipped brandy and shot the shit when he stopped short of a story about some Korean business type, too liquored up and too good at cards not to be robbed blind.


“Hello, gorgeous.”


The words spilled out from underneath his dark moustache with a typical southern drawl. He was the only man I had ever met that made those kinds of cheesy lines sound like something you’d want to sprinkle on your pancakes. Nick wasn’t a good guy by any stretch but I found comfort in his company. I met him when we were both much younger. I wouldn’t say he taught me the ropes, but he showed me they were there for swinging. What little direction my life had, he gave me, and I owed him for that. Bonds don’t come easy in this town, so the ones you get you tend to cherish, privately. His eye had wandered too far for me to do anything about it now; his mind was made up before he finished his sentence.

 I’ll admit, my blood is as red as the next guys, and it ran a little less cold when I saw her for the first time. Her hair, a color of black only God could make, and he doesn’t bottle his stuff, fell down her back and popped against a blood red dress you’d lose your left eye to trade places with the thing hugged her so tight. She was gorgeous, but like I said, too gorgeous. In my experience if something seems too good to be true you’re already cancelling your credit cards and begging your wife to take you back before you find out why.

“Well, my good man, I think I’ve just about finished planning the rest of my night.” Nick said, his eyes nearly bulging.

“Nicks, come on. You don’t see she’s working an angle? You think a woman like that is alone in the middle of a Vegas casino by anything other than choice? Don’t be an idiot.”

He didn’t even hear me, he was already eight steps toward my ‘I told you so’ and I chalked it up to him deserving whatever he was going to get. She was no working girl, but she was working, I could tell that much. Time for me to do the same, I thought, plus maybe I was wrong, but it had been a while since that happened.

My racket was sleight of hand, and I was the best. I was the best in a town that it was bad to be anything else. My father, a washed up headliner whose work dried up when magicians became less popular than comics, moved us here when I was twelve. My mom died a couple of years later, and he never cared where I was or what I was doing after that, so I learned a trade like the responsible young man that I was. The man was so self-obsessed he even killed himself with a narcissistic flourish, jumped out one of the top floor windows of the MGM. His suicide note apparently said something about it being “his last great trick”. Seemed to me there wasn’t a lot of magic in jumping out a window. I could never decide what was more pathetic, how he lived or how he died. He gave me one thing though, his hands, fastest hands in the desert.

Caught my mind wandering when I hit the floor, man in my business can’t afford that, not even for a second. In the 21st century eyes in the sky are never blind, always gotta stay sharper than sharp.

I lifted a couple of chips from a crowded roulette table, the guys roll was going to end soon, it always did in this town, that’s why I don’t gamble with my own money, my hands are a sure thing. I threw down the lifted chips at an empty blackjack table, looking like I was addicted to the cards and the dice kept suspicions away, plain sight was the only place to hide out here.


“Chuck.” I nodded in the direction of the table and he began to pull cards.

“How’s your luck tonight chief?”

“Just starting, that’s gonna be up to you.”

“I don’t tell the lady how to dance, pal. We’re all hers just for the taking.”

“Yeah, you’re telling me.”


I slumped my shoulders and scratched my stubble, scanning the room, making a checklist. Regulars were off limits, so were employees. Anyone down on their luck was pointless to mark, and anyone too lucky had more eyes on them than Red Dress back there. Good, not great, blackjack players and one jackpot slot housewives are the smart odds. Beginners luck and veterans skill were going in my pocket tonight, like they always did.

The difference between me and a cheap pickpocket was I gave you the respect of being charming and looking you in the eye while I took your things. You liked me, you wanted to give me some of your winnings, you were paying for my company. Plain sight, like I said.

                I spotted a fat Texan, small business owner type; the rich oil tycoons aren’t actually ‘yeehawing’ around Vegas casinos, offering to sleep with your wives for money or whatever it is you think happens here. It’s a couple who just got their kids out of the house and took a trip. He’s played some cards in his day and she’s happy to watch or play the slots, maybe get a daiquiri because “it’s been years since I’ve had one of these. It’ll go straight to my head!”


Here’s hoping. They’ll do nicely.


I waited until they moved to the bar to take a break and went along shortly after them.

“Lucky tonight?” I asked casually.

“You know it, hos” Jesus, did they actually talk like that? Next he was going to ask me to bust up a chifforobe.


Charming them was the easiest part, it was the patience to wait, to make your move at the exact right time and not take too much, they have to think they spent it themselves or lost it. Greed is why the house wins. I walked them up to their room, the big Texan laughing to the point where his face turned so red it looked like he ate something out of Wonka’s factory. Fitting, as I led them up the stairs like the pied piper, and lifted one of the bundles of cash he had recently converted from chips out of his members only jacket as we stumbled around a corner.

“You two have a nice night, keep that luck alive in there brother!” I said with a wink.

The door closed and I made my way back down the hall, almost bumping straight into red dress and Nick. “My man!” he drunkenly exclaimed, “This, my dear, this is the best friend I have in the world, I want you to meet him.”

“My pleasure, miss.” I said with a smile.


Her voice was like velvet. I rarely knew Nicky to get this drunk, in fact, never. The guy always kept his wits, something was wrong here, but if he got taken it would be a good lesson for him. I made my way past them and back down into the lobby, I’d bet a little, just to be seen around the place, and then go home. The thrill of taking the Texans cash was dulled, the feeling of excitement not what it used to be. Maybe it was getting older, or boredom.

I drove down the strip; it took forever to get it out of the rearview mirror because the land was so flat. My house was a few miles away in the desert, felt like I was on an Indian spirit quest every time I needed to take a shower. Same house I grew up in, she hadn’t seen a fresh coat of paint since Truman. The neighborhood, if you could call it that, looked like its most important function was bomb testing. It always took a little time for your eyes to adjust from the cold neon of the strip to the brown desolation of this attempted desert suburb. Everything got dusty the second you got out of the car, and it felt like the safer bet was to not know your neighbors. It wasn’t always like this. When my dad was a headliner this place was bustling, felt in my head like he was the industry that kept the place alive, but that was ridiculous. Vegas residency ebbed then flowed, we were in a long ebb.

I had a night’s sleep that felt more like being unconscious than resting peacefully, probably all the brandy I drank with the Texan. I always drank enough to look like I was keeping up but not too much, too much slowed the hands down. My mouth was as dry as the mud and mortar my house was made from when I woke up, felt like I was a part of the walls. I took a few gulps of water and a shower before trying to eat some breakfast, however unsuccessfully. After choking down a few bites of cereal and switching to coffee I flipped open my phone, one of those old flip burners, I had no interest in my phone being smart, gave me the heebies.

Seven missed calls. Number I didn’t recognize. I don’t know what it was about the twenty first century, every time people get calls from numbers not already stored in their phone they get a smack of anxiety, like someone they don’t know calling them is always to deliver bad news. I was no different, but what did people do before caller ID? I don’t remember the phone being a heart stopper when it sang its song from a fixed point in the house, not in my childhood anyway. Well, this time the anxiety was well placed at least, Nick was dead. Even sadder, I was his emergency contact, hospital left a chronological series of voicemails:


Nick was in the hospital at 12:33am, unresponsive, call back.

They stabilized him at 12:46am, no reason for alarm, something with his heart, call back or come in.

1:28am Cardiac arrest.

Time of death, 1:59am.


                Nick was young, Nick was healthy. Vegas don’t do anybody’s insides any favors but a man’s heart doesn’t give out for no reason. This had something to do with Red Dress, damn thing was a warning bell not a come hither, and I’d bet my biggest stack that she had something to do with Nicky dying.

What could I do? I was going to find out, and I was going to hold her accountable. My instincts screamed for me to do the opposite, there was no honor among thieves, I didn’t owe Nick anything. This was something else, though. She rubbed me wrong at the casino the night before, seemed she thought she could do whatever she wanted, but this was my city, thieves and cons I could share it with, but murderers aren’t something I want sauntering around my bars, they were more arrogant than careful.

                When I got back to the casino, I went back to the bar where I first saw her. Nothing there, as if I expected there would be. She could be in the next city by now, which I guess would have suited me, but I was hit with disappointment at the thought of it. I would have preferred to look her in the eye and let her know I was coming for her. Revenge had never been my game, but this one got under my skin.  Maybe I did owe Nick something, too. I left the bar and scanned the lobby, mostly dead save regulars at this time of the day.

The crimson was the first thing I saw, the blouse billowing loosely above khaki and moving almost in time with the click and clack of her long, grey stilettos. She stood out from the pastels and beiges of the crowd like the first shock of paint on white canvas. The blacker than black hair was spun up in a bun now, black rimmed glasses so straight they did nothing if not add to the perfect symmetry of her face. She moved too easy. Actually, she didn’t move at all, the world moved around her, she barely walked, she glided.


God damn Witch.


Nick’s friend, right?” I snapped back to reality, what the hell was wrong with me? I was sharper than this. I had to be better, I had to get close to her and find out what she did to Nick, if not even for him, for me. Maybe I wanted to prove I wasn’t going soft lifting wallets and chips off fat Texans and spinsters.


“Yeah, that’s me. You’re the girl from last night, right?”


Not as often as you might think, but your friend is quite charming

“Was, you mean.”

I suppose I do, he skipped out on me in the middle of the night, does he make a habit of that or was it something I said?

If I knew anything, I knew a liar, and she was a damn good one. She anticipated. She was subtle; she was a damn fine actress.

“Skipped out on all of us, he’s dead. You didn’t know?”

The look of shock that flashed across her face seemed almost genuine, I had to hand it to her, she was even able to make the color drain from her face. Seemed to me like she missed her calling.

Dead? There’s no way. What happened? Oh my. I must be cursed.”

“His heart gave out. Must have been genetic.”  I looked her up and down to pinpoint the holes, waiting for her to look back at me to gauge how much I believed her. Nobody was this good, she seemed… genuinely upset. Lying I can spot, but genuine emotion is something that nobody in my world can miss, it sticks out, and it’s uncomfortable. She started to cry.

Just my luck, I meet a nice fella and I kill him.” She turned away from me and lit a cigarette.

“You killed him?”

Worked his heart well enough honey. Ugh, poor Nick.” Her hands shook while she smoked.

Her voice was different than it was the night before. It was more gentle, softer, but still like nothing I had ever heard. It was like something out of a Greek myth; it went straight to my head. I think she was telling the truth, too. God, all my paranoia about her and she was more Creusa than Medea.

This town had poisoned me. I was Vegas, personified, all surface and bile, no truth to who I was at all anymore. Some poor girl came to town and found comfort in a guy she met, and I judged her because she was too pretty not to be up to something. Right when I saw her, too, like I was some sort of detective and had a hunch. I was no detective, I was a cheap pickpocket whose only redeeming quality was that he saved himself from being cruel to someone who didn’t deserve it.

She was crying.

“Hey, you wanna go get some breakfast? My treat.” I said

“No, I should go, I’m really sorry about your friend.”

“Up to you, seems two people upset about the same thing would be better off not splitting up. I’m not trying to pick you up or anything.” That was true, as well.  I was desperate to make it all up to her now, thinking that about her, and she was so beautiful, so vulnerable.

“You know what? You’re right. Why not? Lead on.” She smiled through her tears, and that was when I was sure, sure that nobody who smiled like that could be evil.


Breakfast lead to lunch, lunch to dinner, and I said goodnight, dutifully. We had spent the entire day together and I was walking on air. She was the first good thing that had happened to me in a long time, and I really enjoyed spending time with her.

Spend time we did, for the next four days we walked the strip together, sharing our whole life stories. I was trying to be a friend to her, but I kept most of my life hidden, changing the subject when she asked about my family, my job. She told me about her late husband, how he was a bastard, how she felt trapped and the only good thing he ever did for her in twelve years was leave her enough money to go on a trip and forget about him. She told me Nick was the first man she’d been with in as long, and how wonderful it felt to be free of her marriage. On the fourth night she kissed me.

“I’m sorry.” She said.

“Don’t be.” I replied.

“Do you want to come in?” She gestured to the door of her room. I hesitated. I wanted to, over the past four days I had fallen in love with this woman, this girl I thought was a monster. I didn’t have to protect her, she was a grown up and she knew what she was asking.






I first noticed it when we were together, a little glint in her eye, a smile I hadn’t seen these past few days.

I then noticed it after, when I stood and smoked one of her cigarettes by the balcony door. I made a comment about how I rarely smoked, she laughed a laugh I hadn’t heard before. It wasn’t her laugh.

“What’s going on with you?” I asked, like I had known her all my life.

Nothing, darling.” She said in a voice I recognized, but it wasn’t hers, it was the woman who took Nick into her room the last time I saw him. The last time anyone saw him alive. She moved to the desk and pressed a button on her mp3 player. Ella Fitzgerald crooned over the small speakers she had plugged in.

Why haven't you seen it? I'm all for you, Body and Soul…

It’s good that you don’t.”

I snapped back to focus, “Don’t what?”

Smoke often. Bad for you.”

She stretched her hands above her head, fingers interlocked, and bent herself backwards, I heard her back cracking, her muscles stretching. Her shadow looked like a half moon.

Her whole face had changed, bathed in the neon light of the Vegas strip but still white as a ghost. It wasn’t soft and open, it was sharp and cruel. She started to dance and sing along to the music, spinning slowly in the red light.

I spend my days in longing, And wondering why it's me you're wronging.

My chest tightened, that familiar diving bell of shock and anxiety plunged into my gut, and I stared at her, not able to speak. I looked down at my hand.


The cigarette, different from the ones she usually smoked.


I can't believe it; It’s hard to conceive it


I fell against the wall and then sideways, crashing into the bedside table. I heard her singing, I couldn’t see, I couldn’t tell if it was her or Ella, but I always liked this song.

I always liked it…



My life a wreck you're making!

You know I'm yours

For just the taking

I'd gladly surrender

Myself to you, Body and Soul…

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Permanent Case of the Heebie Jeebies


or, the day I stopped having a thing for katy perry…


                Well, I’m crushed. Soul destroyed, distraught. Tormented, addled, beside myself. Discomposed, unscrewed, unglued.
                I mean, it just hurts, you know? I knew that she was dating John Mayer, as if that wasn’t bad enough, now they’ve co-written a song together that is, to me, the equivalent of snuff.
I feel like this pouty lipped, mainstream, every bro with an acoustic guitar you met in college douchenozzle is trying to actively make me vomit. I could stomach the fact that he’s dating her but the lyrics to this song are basically her talking about how wonderful and glorious he is in the sack. The lyrics are putrid, sickening, vile combinations of words I am loathe to repeat, but I will for the sake of the fact that I must make every stride to take this man down.

 For the good of the land.

I actually find the thought of her banging John Mayer more gross than the thought of her banging Russell Brand. At least he’s funny sometimes, even if he does seem like the rejected third Gallagher brother, and I’d probably take hearing Wonderwall for the eleventy billionth time over hearing any John Mayer song more than once. I mean she could have anyone! (Even this wonderfully witty wordsmith that wryly wrangles language like Wally Whitman affectionately known as: Yours Truly. I mean, Jackpot.)
Ducking and dodging digression now and moving on to this hideously retarded lovechild they have created together. It seems like the imagery was plucked right out of the imagination of the guy in the hallmark meetings everyone thinks is too flowery, and puts the two of them right next to you making out like every gross couple discovering they had mouths in the 8th grade. Let’s take it from the top, shall we? Cringe.
Lay me down at your altar, baby
I'm a slave to this love
Your electric lips have got me speaking in tongues

Laying it on a little thick there, Kates? It’s going to be hard to decipher what this song is about considering the fact that we are just drowning in subtext. Maybe you’re going super meta and trying to write lyrics as if Prince had suffered a traumatic brain injury? (That’s nothing to joke about, though, Prince is an American institution and could teach John Mayer a thing or two about being suave.)
Why do electric lips have her speaking in tongues? What are electric lips? Did he get them from Sky Mall? Are they battery operated or powered by his own smug sense of self-satisfaction? These are the burning questions. Moving on. It gets worse:

I have prayed for a power like you
To see deep down in my soul
Oh, you make me bloom like a flower, a desert rose

You make me bloom like a flower? You make me bloom like a fucking flower? Come on. Gross. Plus, I think the desert rose metaphor is getting a little tired, don’t you? Who does John Mayer think he is? Bono? Even Bono thinks that’s cheesy and he’s been grating mozzarella into his songs since the late 80’s. Double cringe.

Magic, or one, or mystery
All of your charms have worked on me
I would surrender myself
Holy hell, and heaven high
You will open up my eyes
And I am finally here

Good lord. John Mayer is heaven to you? Heaven. Like eternal bliss, everything you’ve ever wanted or needed from your mortal life embodied in one curly headed twit? Ironic because for me, Johnny boy would probably be present at the ninth circle of DK’s inferno. One man’s trash, I guess.

This is spiritual, under your spell
Phenomenal, the way you make me feel
Like an angel, oh, at blow
Like a feather, you make me float

Yeah. I think this last bit speaks for itself. The rest is just more of the same. The worst part is, this song is actually called “Spiritual”. Eeeeeeeewwwwwwwww.

Basically Katy Perry says that John Mayer is her religion, and she has sworn herself to him, and this leads me to the inevitable conclusion that he has either mastered the same brain washing tricks as scientology or invented love potion number 9. Either way, he’s used his powers for evil. Shame on you John, shame.

In any case, it seems like that’s it for me and Katy. Thankfully there’s like three actresses that look exactly like her that John Mayer probably hasn’t slept with yet, but give it time.
Now you might say, whatever Dave, you’re just jealous because he’s dating a sexy pop star and you’re not. That might be true, but I don’t think I’d trade places with him because, first off, I’d have to be John Mayer and that’s gotta be hard no from my camp. Second, I don’t really think I’d want her now, she dated John Mayer, that’s number three on my list of deal breakers after:

 1.)    Listens to John Mayer
 2.) Would date John Mayer.

Lastly, I’d like to thank Seth McFarlane for saying in 2009 in one sentence what I’ve needed several hundred to express:       


Monday, October 21, 2013

Petty or Small - First to Fall.

“In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control, and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.”
                     ― Jerry Pournelle 

                I do not suffer fools gladly. In fact, I suffer them with maddening rage that is akin to Bruce Banner, “hulking out” or a smash cut to the Hiroshima mushroom cloud. Fools, however, are a dime a dozen, and whether they are cutting you off in traffic or are too fucking stupid to have their money out before they hit the front of the line, they are an evil that my personal crusade is yet to vanquish.
                Fools, however, are only that by accident, and they can be afforded a certain level of forgiveness due to the fact that their idiocy is, for the most part, genetic or perhaps caused by some sort of head trauma. It’s the petty, the small, the lords and rulers of tiny worlds that attempt to destroy my day with what little power they wield when I wander into their dominion. Whether it is the traffic cop, with his small notepad and grandiose sense of purpose, or the high school teacher brandishing an “F” just to prove a point, I have ducked and dodged these cretins my whole life, and so must you I would wager.
                See, I know you, kind reader. I know if you’re reading this, you aren’t one of them, you’re one of the hip, happenin’, men or women about town that catch cool like a cold and are breezier than fall in New England. You’ve got better things to do than fuck with people’s day for no reason, right? Why be the person out to ruin everybody else’s good time? Don’t be the angry neighbor over the fence, shaking his fist while you attempt, fruitlessly, not to look at his wrinkly old man junk revealed by the bathrobes inevitable acquiesce to the wind. Put your old man junk away and come join the party, it really is fun over here.
                Now, I’m no psychiatrist, but I have watched A LOT of Frasier, so basically I am. (It’s a phony science anyway, but that’s a topic for another blog post).  I think I can speculate fairly easily on the root of what causes people to behave this way, and I think it can be boiled down to one, if not all three, of the following:

1.)    Revenge- 
This one is fairly self-explanatory. Basically, these small spineless little fuckwads that harass you over being two minutes late, harp on about forms being filled out or generally just go out of their way to make you feel as small as they do, are probably doing it because someone did something to them first. Maybe they were picked on (I wonder why), maybe Mommy and Daddy didn’t love them enough (you don’t have to love your kids if they suck, by the way, just try again), maybe they couldn’t run fast or jump high, whatever the reason, they are out for revenge. You, in their view, are a metaphor for everyone else that got them to where they are, gleefully signing up to be an R.A when they don’t need the free housing. They will put you in your place alright, next to them on the train to nowhere.

2.)    Genetics-
Small breeds small, as far as I’m concerned. Cats have litters of cats, mice have litters of mice, spiders explode out hundreds of creepy, gross little spiders, and the world keeps on turning. The same rule of thumb applies to humans, somewhere along the chain of human evolution we decided, for some reason, we needed bureaucrats, and wieners beget wienies. These hairless cats were allowed to survive and reproduce with others, creating more wiener sans toothpick (gross and useless, the toothpick makes the flavor in a cocktail sausage and its ilk, trust me.) Now, despite it probably being the most vapid and joyless sex that two humans can have with one another, and probably involves lists and data, it happens, and it happens enough to put more than one traffic cop, hall monitor, red pen wielder et al., in your life.  

3.)    Small brains, small dicks, small kingdoms-
The seemingly worst part about these people is their knack, nay, their talent, to find themselves in positions of power. They are in charge of your green card, your court date, your bank loan. Those of us who consider ourselves bigger than fine print are always hobbled by it, and it’s a sad state. A state that got me thinking about who arrived and got mercilessly devoured for hundreds of years first:
      The chicken or the egg?
Are these people a naturally occurring phenomenon or where they born as a necessary evil due to the positions we’ve created for them and the tools we put at their disposal? Perhaps, perhaps it is our fault as a society that we have created a virus that can’t be cured. I’ll give the working title of “petti douchicocci” but I’m no scientist.

Whatever the reason, we must suffer these tools gladly until computers inevitably replace them and start putting snide post it notes on everything instead.

Just remember, if you feel yourself taking pleasure, even a little bit, in actively causing someone else’s misery, or finding you can help someone but choosing not to because of your own twisted and tiny principles, check yourself before you riggidy wreck, yah dig?

Siz out.