Saturday, January 3, 2009

Uncanny Alfie!

Another part of the "Party Crashers" project. Don't forget to check out Dexter Pepper and Bookie!

The Mystery of the Extra Sauce!

Alfie sat in his underwear on the side of the bed nervously shuffling a deck of cards.
He looked at the door every few seconds until finally he was startled by rustling outside.
Alfie leapt across the bed and onto the floor. When he came up he was holding a retractable top hat.
He quickly popped it open and reached in to reveal a .45-millimeter handgun which he pointed at the door.
“I have a very large gun pointed at your midsection!” Alfie said almost nervously. “When I pull the trigger, it will make a large hole that I could see through! That is, unless I hear a password!”
All was silent but for a second.
“Damn it, you know it’s me!” shouted a female voice from outside. “Open the damn door!”
“It is indeed a huge gun!” Alfie stressed. “The kind the tough guys usually use two of in the recent slew of heist movies!”
Again, there wass a brief silence.
“Bibbibybobbidyboo!” The voice called from outside. “Now, open the door!”
Aflie rushed over to the door and opened it.
Tabitha was a very attractive woman who was quite older than Alfie. She was also very pissed off when she entered. She carried two bags of groceries and a couple Arby’s sacks to the dresser and turned to confront Alfie.
“You son of a bitch. You knew that it was me.” Tabitha said as she slipped off her stilettos and rubbed her feet.
Alfie continued to check the peephole.
“You weren’t followed were you?” He asked as he joined her on the bed.
“No, I wasn’t followed you bastard. Next time you can get your own damn Arby’s!
“You remembered the extra sauce?”

“Extra sauce. You know, sometimes I wonder why I put up with your bullshit, you bastard!”
Alfie planted a kiss on her.
“Because you know how I feel about you. Now, shut up.” He said softly, then laid back on the bed and closed his eyes.
“Aren’t you going to eat?” Tabitha asked him, laying back as well and cuddling up beside him.
“Later. Arby’s is best cold.”

When Alfie awoke the next morning, it took a second for him to yawn, stretch, and focus on the man across the room dressed all in black but for his white gloves.
“Amazing Carlo!?” Alfie gasped, and quickly stood.
“Uncanny Alfie.” Carlo said calmly, and took off his gloves.
Alfie looked around the room frantically until Carlo spoke again.
“She’s not here.” Carlo said, and crossed his legs.
He sat there staring at Alfie who was staring back at him.
Finally, Alfie reached for the nightstand.
Slowly, he took a deck of cards from the top drawer and started to slowly shuffle them- first with both hands then with one.
“You know, it wasn’t the whole gambling thing. It wasn’t that at all.” Carlo said.
Alfie offered the cards to Carlo.
“Pick a card?” he asked
“No thank you.” Carlo answered. “I’m trying to quit.” And with that, he reached into his coat and took out a piece of gum and popped it into his mouth.
“I mean, it seems like the easiest grift in the world.” Carlo continued as he chewed. “Do a little slight of hand, maybe a little spell or two, make some easy dough. For that I can’t say I blame you. For the sheer balls of it, I almost respect you.”

Carlo leaned towards Alfie to stress his point.

“The problem is, when you take the magicians oath, there are certain things that are understood. Certain truths that are evident, things that separate us from the common street trickster. You don’t tell how the tricks are done. You don’t reveal the secrets of the magic words. And for fucks sake, you don’t use magic to cheat three of the cities most vicious hit men out of hundreds of thousands of dollars!”

Alfie stopped shuffling, and put the cards down next to him on the bed.
“I can explain-“ he began to say, before Carlo countered with…
“Shut up. The boys back east: Wonderful Doug, Johnny Cadabra… they say to me, they say ‘Carlo, if you want to teach this guy a lesson. This dog, this piece of shit that disgraces the magician’s coda…’ they say to me ‘You need to go down there and pull a rabbit out of his ass!’ which, I must admit is a bit clich├ęd, but you stick with what works. Then you should just…”
Carlo snapped his fingers.
Alfie jumped.
“Make him disappear.”
Alfie realized that letting Carlo see that he was visibly shaken was probably a bad idea, but he was to far gone at this point to play it cool.
Alfie was in full on coward mode now, and they both know it.
“But I said no.” Carlo continued. “I said let me handle him, he’s a good kid. He’s just confused.”
“That’s right, sir. I’m a good kid.” Alfie said, nodding and trying his best to seem sincere.
“Interrupt me again, and I’ll wish you into the cornfield.” Carlo said, and every light in the room suddenly blinked on to prove that he meant business.
Alfie was silent and Carlo hesitated to talk for a moment, to test him.
“On my way over here, I got to thinking. Why should I give you another chance to make me look bad? Why should I do that, Alfie?”
“Because I don’t want to die?”
“What, you want to live forever?”
“If possible.”
“It’s overrated. And you won’t.” Carlo said, earnestly.
“You are mine now, even more so than before, only now if you screw up I saw that girl of yours in half. I got a job for you. You answer directly to me; you talk to no one, not even the whore. You make me proud, and I let you walk away. Got it?”

“Yes- Yes sir.” Alfie said, terrified.
“And maybe it’ll help you to know this…” Carlo said, standing to leave. “I’ve known where you were the whole time. I know everything. I even knew about the Arby’s sauce. Go to sleep.”

And with that, Carlo vanished leaving Alfie staring blankly at the door.
Eventually, Alfie ventured out to look for his Tabitha-
But he had his Arby’s first.

Robot Cat!


this story started as a short last year as Pete, Sam and I decided to write a short story a day for a year.
there were some decent things in that years time, some you will definately see here.
but Unicorn is my favorite.
one day, i hope to extend it to novel length...

"Stop running up and down those damn stairs!" she yelled, but the children didn't hear her.
Their ears were full of the sound of running up and down those marvelous stairs.
Up and down, up and down.
Two steps, three steps, sometimes four at a time.
She was worried that they would fall and hurt themselves, but they wouldn't.
Not these kids. They had the stuff- the goods.
It was as if they were born to run up and down stairs.
It was as if God himself created these fantastic stairs, then lead theses kids to them to live out their days running up and down.
There was no stopping them this afternoon. They would run up, and then just as soon as they hit the apex, they would descend just as fast to the foot of the stairs. It was like a beautiful dance. Up then down, again and again, in rapid succession; to the top then to the bottom, from the bottom then to the top.
It was a perpetual motion machine. A rollercoaster. A lovely fountain. It was all these things and more, the vision of these kids.
Up and down, up and down.
Each time they hit a step, it was if they'd known that step their entire lives, but they never hit a step the same way twice. There was a method to the madness- a style to the chaos. It was ballet during wartime.
Those kids ran up and down those steps like warrior poets.
As the day went on so did they.
We all became transfixed. We made small commentary and little wagers among ourselves. How long would it last? Would anyone fall?
Surely, someone would have to take a rest.
Surely, someone would...
If God is in the details as they say, then that day God was the beauty of running up and down those damn back stairs.
It seemed as if they were in slow motion as they moved up and down. It was as if they were part of the Matrix, using “Stairs time” in place of bullet time. When they would pivot at the top of the stairs for their return trip down, it seemed like time stood still for but a moment, and the entire earth rotated accommodate the maneuver.
Who’s to say that it did not?
Who would have the nerve to question what they were seeing as those kids spit into the face of gravity, defied physics, and navigated the stairs as if they had been raised on them?
Their mother emerged from the house to once again admonish them, and she saw us watching the kids. She saw they way we looked at them- the way people watched beautiful swans or gymnasts- quietly, almost afraid, but enthralled.
She saw her kids defy the law of not only her, but of man, their God, and the universe.
She wanted to yell at them again, but she could not. Something deep inside her kept her from destroying this beautiful thing that had begun. Something inside her knew that it would be a crime to stop this.
Even with all that damn noise the kids were making running up and down those damn stairs it was a crime, she thought, to kill a unicorn.
So she simply rolled her eyes, and went inside.
Sure it was beautiful, she thought.
Sure they were pioneers, she thought.
But perhaps it was best if she let them continue until one of them fell. It was the only way they’d learn, she thought.
They never fell, though. Never. They ran all day. And they never fell.
Not that day.

Dexter Pepper and Bookie

This is part of a much larger thing, the "Party Crashers" project. it will all appear on this blog eventually, and hopefully, at a theatre near you!

Chapter One: Dented Metal

Dexter Pepper knelt on a patch of leaves in the middle of a cool dark wood. The sun managed to poke its way through the branches and limbs and hit him squarely in the eye like needles from heaven. He held his arm across his face to shield from the light, and then lowered his head to see the dirt before him, studying the ground, noticing the leaves and the dirt and the twigs- The muddy water that lay three feet before him. This was the earth, and soon enough, he’d be returned to it through the magnificent process of decomposition.
He wasn’t supposed to die today. He said that to himself, not out loud, but over and over in his head as if he could will away the inevitable. He couldn’t shake the piece of Beethoven that replayed itself over and over in his mind. This was a nervous compensation his mind had launched in order to soothe the stress of his eventual death. Dexter had been in the same situation one hundred times before. Someone was always attempting to end the reign of Dexter Pepper and Bookie. It was a constant. Some fresh upstart with an itchy trigger finger would want to know if he could be the one to stop the legend in its tracks, or some old pro from a life Dexter had forgotten would try his hand at taking down the king.
It was all old hat to him now.
He figured that there was no reason to run anymore.
It was as if he had nine lives and he’d lost count of which life he was leading. It didn’t matter. When the time came, the time came and it would be over and Dexter Pepper and Bookie would be no more.
He thought, though, that this was always when he remembered that he promised himself to look up that Beethoven piece. He always promised to look up the piece of music if he made it through one more time. It was almost enough to live for; to make it through, just to find out what that infernal song was that repeated the same seven or so measures over and over in his head whenever he was close to death.
He also wondered what Bookie was doing right now. Was he O.K.?
Dexter felt the distinctively cool barrel of a .45 revolver press to the back of his head, and his mind went clear. No wondering, no Beethoven…no Bookie. He drew in one last breath, and held it.
There was no real reason behind this.

He felt the shot before he heard it. It was a mule kick, the most pain he had ever felt. A shock of white-hot pain resonated from the back of his head around and through to his eyes and all he could see was white, blinding light. This was Excedrin headache number nth. And there was the ringing. The vibrating, high-pitched ring that bounced it’s way around his skull as he was lifted up from the shot, almost to his feet, and fell in slow motion towards the puddle that lay before him. Right before the splash, he heard the shot.
And that was it. Not with a bang or with a whimper, but with a bang and a whimper.
The last few bubbles rose to the top of the puddle and then it was silent.

Johnny Saccharine couldn’t resist blowing the smoke from the barrel of the gun as he turned, smiling, to walk from the woods. His stride was almost joyous as he swung the briefcase at his side.
Once clear of the woods, Johnny opened the passenger side door of his car and dropped the briefcase in, then walked to the other side. The sounds of English to Spanish teaching cassette began when he started up the car. He reached for the glove compartment and opened it, then took the .45 from his coat and placed it on the passenger seat atop the briefcase. He rattled around for something in the compartment for a minute until he found another gun, a 9mm. He placed the .45 in the compartment, closed it, and put the 9 in his coat. Smiling again, Johnny pulled onto the old dusty road and away from the scene.
As he drove, Johnny ate freely from a small box of NutraSweet, lit a cigarette and began to scan the area for a payphone.
No one ever questioned the reason Johnny’s diet consisted mainly of artificial sweeteners and nicotine. No one ever got close enough. Johnny Saccharine was a contract killer from the old school, doing his work as it came, taking his jobs over the phone only, and always finishing what he started. Ever so often, there was a situation that organizations wanted handled out of house, and that’s when they called on Johnny, the hit man with the million-dollar smile and the anger only a mother could escape. He thought he’d seen a payphone on the corner as he drove Dexter to the place of his death.
This was the halfway mark. Only one month left until he would leave for Spain and take over the family business, which was still contract killing- only this time in Spain. There was a phone on the next block, he remembered.
Johnny sped up in order to make his deadline. The call was expected in less than two minutes, or he’d loose the $200,000.
Johnny stood impatiently at the payphone, tapping the glass with his keys. After the tenth ring, he snatched the receiver from its socket, and began to beat the walls of the payphone with it. He stormed back to the car. Johnny was fuming. The icing on the cake was an empty box of NutraSweet. He screamed something in Spanish, and banged on the horn. He peeled onto the highway to find the nearest grocery store.

The metal plate was dented now. The metal plate he’d carried with him from the war. They’d offered him plastic, but here was nothing romantic about a plastic plate in your head. He had fought for his country, he had taken quite a few bullets and three months of the best torture the enemy had to offer, so the least they could do for him was give him some good old American stainless to cover the piece of skull he’d lost for uncle Sam.
Dexter raised himself from the mud puddle, and coughed up about half of the water that was in it. Was this life seven or eight? Did it even matter anymore? It was dumb luck like this that kept him going. He felt the back of his head and looked at the blood that covered his hand. There was a dent in his metal plate, but that was it. The bullet had just… ricocheted. Of course, it hurt. It hurt like a son of a bitch, but he was still alive. He’d beaten the odds yet again, taking a point blank bullet in the exact spot where he’d taken one x many years ago, and the consequences of the first bullet, a metal plate, being the reason why the second bullet didn’t kill him. If he didn’t have such a son of a bitching headache right now, he’d actually laugh at the irony.
He felt his pockets for a cigarette. He had just quit this morning. The Pall Mall’s helped him to concentrate on what his next move would be. He drew in deep, and looked at the sky. It was starting to get dark now. It was the golden time of day. It was funny; he never realized how beautiful the world was until just after he’d escaped death.

Now it was time to add a little more death to this beautiful world. If they’d tried to kill him, then Bookie was next. He had to save his pal. No bullet, no metal plate, nothing was going to stop him.

He finished up the butt, stood up from the cold dark ground, and started to make his way, stumbling, from the woods.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Tales of the Casketman- The late Mrs. Elza Mayberry

i'd love to tell you how this came to me, but i have no idea. i know that it was part of my story a day project, and that one of the first lines i jotted down was that he "beat the living-hell shit" from the caskets. I guess i was just in a real Gilliamesque mood. like most everything else here, i'd love to make a flick from this tale...

You’re not listening to me- the man fought caskets.
Literal caskets.
Pine and oak and maple- velvet lined, memory foam, goose down. The final resting places for your friends, family, and loved ones- he fought them.

He’d step into the ring to the cheering of the crowd, and dance a bit as his corner man took his purple sating robe away to reveal his red velvet boxing trunks. Some said that even these shorts were made from the luxurious insides of the first casket he’d ever defeated in the ring. They say that the mask that he wore was sewn from the handkerchiefs of grieving widows past.
When he had finished showboating for the crowd they’d launch a casket at him. They’d take a casket and secure it in a huge rubber band, three strong men would pull it back, and launch it at him in the ring.

And when that casket was launched, Casketman would promptly and most assuredly beat the living hell-shit out of it.

On occasion there would come a challenging casket, one that Casketman felt he had to make an example of. He’d be extra brutal with these unfortunate caskets. Some would say that he was out of bounds, but the Refs ignored these actions and the audience could never get enough.
When he unleashed his fury onto these poor boxes the first few rows of the audience would be showered in splinters and excitement.

I won’t say that I went into my business relationship with Casketman completely blind.
My folks had always taken part in a few shady dealings in order to keep afloat. They’d sold bodies to various nameless individuals from our family funeral home for years, and when I took over I had no real reason to try to turn things around. The money was good, I’d been raised as an immoral heel, and the money was good. Casketman’s people got in touch with me, the deal was simple: I’d provide him with the highest quality caskets in exchange for two grand per. I figured that all I’d have to do was provide him with enough to fight throughout the year, then I’d get out of here and leave this crummy town behind me.

This is when I met a girl.

She was great. When I met her, we immediately hit it off- sharing lunch, conversation, and a dislike for hippies and home schooled kids. We sat alone in the cemetery and talked about what we wanted to do with our lives. It wasn’t until this conversation that I realized that I had no real plans outside of selling peoples caskets and leaving town. I didn’t even know where I wanted to go when I left. I did not, in reality, have any plan for the rest of my life. But when I met her. I knew that whatever my plan was, it had to include her. We fell asleep there in the cemetery, on the grave of the late Mrs. Elza Mayberry.

So I finally had the beginnings of a plan- I’d sell enough caskets to Casketman to make enough money to follow my girl out of time.

Here is how it worked. Casketman would tell me what style of casket he wanted for that weekends fight. I’d make sure to try and push that style on some poor shclub that was putting his beloved in the ground. Then, because Casketman wanted authenticity, the caskets had to be buried and then exhumed. His people would come and collect the merchandise and I’d be paid in cash.

I never told my sweetie what it was I did because I was sure that she wouldn’t find it to be as romantic or victimless as I’d convinced myself it all was.

So it came as a big surprise to me when she told me she wanted to take me out one Saturday night and we ended up at the casket fights. We got seats right in the front row, got some beers from the guy, and got ready for some action. After the fanfare, I noticed the men loading the casket into the rubber band.

I could recognize that Series 32 Econo Relax-Master from a mile away. Her family wanted puce, and there it was; The Late Mrs. Ezla Mayberry was in the first casket that Casketman would fight tonight.

Casketman walked out to the sounds of an old ragtime band and to the cheers of the entire crowd. My girl seemed to cheer the loudest. She lept from her seat and pumped her fist as the Casketman walked around the ring, putting his hand up to his ear so that everyone would cheer louder.

He walked to the center of the ring, and took off his robe.

My girl started to yell his name- “Casketman Casketman ”

As Casketman took his position in the ring and redied himself for the fight, my girl whispered into my ear- “That’s my dad.”

And there is was. My girl knew the secret identity of the cities, perhaps the worlds greatest most controversial athlete. In fact, she was his kin. I’d never felt more in love with her than when she’d shared this secret with me.

We returned our attention to the ring in time to hear the bell and see the men release the band.
Everything after happened in slow motion. The casket shot out, and barreled towards the Casketman. He waited until what seemed like the absolute last minute, then suddenly obliterated the puce box with a dynamite left hook.

I saw it happen. I saw the jagged three foot plank speeding towards my girl. I saw her turn towards me to celebrate, not noticing that she was about to die. I even saw my self too frozen to try to yell or cover her or push her out of the way.

And as she sat there with the plank in her chest gasping her last breaths, I saw that everyone in the arena was in hysterics- everyone but Casketman.

He just stood there, staring at me through the mask.

I’ve always wondered if he’d done it on purpose- killed his daughter on that cold Saturday night. Maybe he knew she’d told me who she was. Maybe he wanted to teach me a lesson of some sort. I never knew. I was never man enough to find out. All I can remember is the gurgling of my one true love and the eyes of Casketman staring at me from behind that mask.

There is a reason I tell you all of this, son. I want you to promise me that you will never have any fear. I want you to promise me that if you find true love, you’ll do whatever it takes to keep it. Fight for love, son. Because somewhere out there Casketman is waiting to take it all away from you.

Somewhere out there is a piece of casket waiting to impale all that you hold dear.

Leap in front of the casket piece, son.

Leap in front of the casket piece.

Happy New Year!

Stay out of trouble.


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