The last of my friends who hasn't quit dropped round today.

'Ach, have ye sin what tha do'n?'
'Wha'ave the we tards dun noo?' I opened my last two-pack with Barry and passed him the other ciggie.
'Th've bloodi well gon donat.'I could tell he was pissed off
'Tha suspense is killin' mi.' I'm a sarcastic bugger when I've just paid forty euros for a cigarette.
'Ban’d drinkin.' I checked the calendar to see if it was April first.
'Rid this!' Barry slapped the local paper onto the seat next to me.

Since everything’s gone on-line only people with computers get to read the nationals. I still get my books delivered from the libraries though.

"Gordon Brown announced yesterday that as part of his historic attempt to be re-elected for the fifth term he will bow to the Infocratic Lib-Lab centre and enforce a drinking ban."

'Fock that' I said
'Fockin' gon too far! Fockin gone too far; he canna tak mi booze.'
I thought of calming him down; but his speeches are always good. I hit record on my I-pod, (the one I got for Xmas 2015 when the economy was still good, they knew how to build stuff back then)

'Tha poxy we bastard suposd to com from scootlan! He dun notin' for us, whers tha 'economic miracle' wewus promist? I cannat even get a tyre for mi bike! Fock gein' petrol fo it. An now them fockin' "info-crats" who pay tha fockin’ "comp-tax" a tellin' us wha ta do t' relax? Fock tha! Fock them! Whats a Fockin’ "comp-tax" anawa? We us'ta have a beutaful language. Am gonna brin it down this time. He canna take mi drink awa.
I, but wa can y do? I said.


To decide where the story goes, role a D6*

1 = Make something up and write it yourself. (unlucky!)

2 = Barry and I go down the pub and drown our sorrows. We talk about the good old days. (Boring)

3 = Barry and I break into a Info-crat’s house, hack the ID card computer and bring the whole motherf*cking system down. Bikity bam. (OK; but not a stretch of the imagination)

4 = I am an agent provocateur ordered to lead Barry into an MI5 trap. (sneaky bastards)

5 = Barry uses his knowledge of mediaeval war tactics to assassinate the PM (Oh yes! Oh yes, bring it on…)

6 = Combination of 3, 4 and 5 (commencing orgasm; engines on.)

Send number to Advocatus Angelicus to register your vote!

*Hey! you said I could commit crimes against literature!

The Masquerade

"The pleasure of your company is requested..." she read aloud, eyes widening as they danced along the gold leaf invitation. "Darling! We've made it, finally! You'll never guess who this invitation is from!" Dany tore away with a squeal, running into the kitchen with the mysterious paper held high.

"Who? Dany, WHO?" Marc insisted, begrudgingly following his new bride on her victory lap.

"Who's account did you single-handedly triple in size?!" she grinned, fanning herself with the card before veiling the lower half of her face with it. Behind the expensive layers of linen she purred with a horribly fake French accent, "zee Compte et Contess weesh you to join zem for an even-ing of meestery, an-treeg, et fantasee!" She finished by unveiling her glossed lips, presented widely in a smile. Marc's mouth dropped open in equal measure.


Angeline opened the invitation in silence over a half-empty glass of expensive wine. Jonathon wouldn't be home for hours--he was probably out with his whore, anyway--and she couldn't wait all night. Besides that, she reasoned, she already knew what it was; she hadn't spent months at the gym sucking up to the old bat for nothing. All that boring conversation with the Countess was about to pay off. Delicately manicured fingernails glided over the expensive paper, tracing the words. An evening of mystery, intrigue, and fantasy.

They would definitely be going to the masquerade, she decided. Jon may not like stuffy parties, but he'd owe her one after tonight. Oh yes, they'd definitely be going.


"You've got to be kidding me. Who refers to themselves as "Count" or "Countess" these days? What're they gonna do, count puppet bats for us and suck our blood?"

"Ugh, Stan. Could you please just attempt to not sound white trash nouveau riche? PLEASE?"

An expression of mock embarassment clouded Stan's cheeks, already a hearty pink. "Aww, Tess, I'm just kidding. I'll behave." His pout erupted into the wry look she'd fallen in love with. He pinched and tickled her sides. She squirmed and giggled, but only clenched the invitation more tightly. "We'll go," he affirmed. "And we'll be in fah-bulous regalia."

"Promise?" she queried, eyes searching his for the truth. He returned her hopeful gaze with a benevolent smile.

"Promise."


Gage lived the kind of life most men dreamed about: a different, stunningly beautiful woman every night, a veritable smorgasbord of sportscars and toys at his fingertips, an apartment that would make Donald Trump cry. While some trust fund babies complained of boredom and tried the whole philanthropy route, Gage lived up every penny of his family's wealth.

"Wake up, babe. Loooraa..." He lightly caressed the blonde's breast. When she didn't reply a moment later, he tweaked her nipple harshly.

The supermodel yipped and shot upright, instinctively wrapping herself in silk sheets. "God, Gage. You scared the shit out of me," she chided. In an instant the alarm had passed, once again bringing a look of angelic sleep to her face. "Mmm, come back to bed."

"No can do. I've got tennis at 11 and lunch with the boys at 1. Listen, are you free Saturday? I don't usually plan a week ahead, but there's kind of this big deal going on and I need a date. Interested?"

Of course she was. Half the modeling circuit was interested in New York's most eligible--and most notorious--bachelor. Lora, however, was born with the cool reactions and common sense most women aren't. "Hmm, maybe. What kind of big deal?"

"Well, it's pompous old money throwing a masquerade ball. You get to get all dolled up and I'll prance you around in front of everyone, let them see I'm still in the club. Maybe after we'll hit a real party. Would you like that?" The devilish grin that made Gage famous made a cameo as he stroked her lovely cheekbone.

Would she like that? She'd love that. Instead, Lora sighed, reclining on her side. "I guess I can do that. Since you asked so nicely."

"Perfect. Oh, and uh--Lora. You can show yourself out whenever you get dressed."

Lora bit her lip and watched him leave the room, thinking how much she'd like to show him where to go. The thought only lingered for a moment before she realized: she had a party to shop for.

...to be continued

Shit Shift

I see some entries on Third Shift (also Third shift rebellion). I work it at the store, some times, and I know what it's like. It can be boring like they say there but that's up to you. You can make it interesting if you try.

Snake likes the Shit Shift. You may see the "freaks" as Ivix puts it but you see a lot of real people too. You see truckers and cabbies and cops, people going on shift and coming off shift. You see strippers and working girls, you see people who just can't sleep. People who ran out of toilet paper at 2am. We're in the same complex as a 24 hour pharmacy so you don't see too many who got sick at 2am, thanks to whoever, let them have the snifflers and the pukers and the nasty restroom cleanup. Not that we don't get some of that anyway.

You get shoplifters sometimes. Some of them look like they're desperate but lots of times they don't look like they need to do it. Store security deals with that. Snake's on the cash when he works Shit Shift. They need someone who can make the registers work if they go schizoid, and that's me. Shit Shift Supervisor. What sucks is they make me war long sleeves to work the cash, hide the scar and that tat. "People are buying food, Snake." It's OK though because it's cold standing around at the cash when it's slow.

I look at the customers and make up stories bout them in my head, or I try to think what's the Theme of the Night. Is it "ugly people" night or is it "Oreo cookie night"? Did the Itty Bitty Titty Committee or the Hair Club for Men just get out? Was there a 2-for-1 special on overnight passes at the local lockup? Does that guy in the grubby "Pittsburgh Fighting Miners" t-shirt actually tunnel his way here from Pennsylvania?

The customers scope us out too, trying to wheel their carts past the row of cashiers, all subtle like they're checking the National Enquirer and the Weekly World News to see what startling prognostication of Nostradamus matches the headlines this week. But really they're trying to pick the best cashier. Do they pick Chan, who's looks like a bad guy from a Jackie Chan movie, or Rani who's cute but heavy and also an obvious immigrant or do they pick the white guy with the facial piercing and the spiky hair? Touch choice it seems, so I give 'em my biggest smile and call out "I'm open!". I like to keep busy.

When I have customers I give them a show. Grocery trivia? Got it. I can tell them what happens to the profits from Newman's Own, where the bananas they're buying came from, and if it's slow I tell them what's a better buy than some of the crap they've picked up. It's just sales patter, it's not like I get commission, but it puts people at ease. Usually, that is.

If not it's a sure bet they're a freak of some kind. I often think about busting some perp or criminal but it's never happened. Sometimes you see a man with a kid and you wonder, you know, what's going on. The Snake looks real close to see if the kid looks scared or hurt or, you know, coerced, but usually they just look tired and they're trying to get Dad to buy a Kit Kat bar. I have the police non-emergency number on speed dial in case. All I ever use it for is to phone in the drunks. Too many people come in all lit up or high. Stumblin' around buying munchies, and for whatever purpose cereal. We sell a lot of Cap'n Crunch at 3am. Ugh.

If someone's really polluted their body, I call the cops and tell them to send a car down by the parking lot. Dispatch knows me, they know I'm no crank caller, if there's a patrol nearby they'll come on past. I'm no snitch but nobody needs to get killed over a bag of 3am Doritos.

It can be dead though. Rani's husband might come by if the cab business is slow too. Chan calls Asia and spends the whole Shit Shift salary in overseas charges. If Louisa's on she'll read all the front rack magazines, she can tell you all about K-fed and TomKat and Lance Bass and all the rest of it. I like to read novels. I'm reading 1632 by Eric Flint. Good read, though I didn't like History in high school so I don't know much about Cardinal Richelieu or the Hapsburgs or the Thirty Years' War. No Internet at the cash either. That's how I found e2, looking that sort of stuff up later.

Anyway, morning comes and the day shift comes in, bringing the smells of hot caffeine. The fresh produce starts rolling in as the Snake rolls out, to have breakfast for dinner and then home to sleep. Shit Shift's not so bad.

WM

III

It is possible to present the image of a man in three anecdotes.
- Nietzsche

Anecdote 1 (Oblomov).

Oblomov sat in the Registration of Acts of Civil Status office chewing absentmindedly on a piece of his shirt. He was getting married. So far, he had been getting married for the past two and a half days. Although the line had not shrunk, the piece of it that was in front of him had gotten considerably smaller. Unaccountably, at least a third of those occupying it were mustachioed old ladies in bulky woollen stockings and headkerchiefs. Once in a while, two of them would start fighting, and Oblomov would become happy. It was as if the inexplicable old ladies were placed there so that he would be amused. Oblomov's melancholia would return when it occurred to him that evidently dying was as much an act of civil status as getting married. Every half-hour or so, Oblomov would faintly recall the disconcerting fact that he had not seen his bride-to-be since last Wednesday, when her father had taken him mushroom-picking. The old man had had a permanent frown that somehow came off as a grotesque grin; he swigged counterfeit Stolichnaya straight from the bottle and periodically emitted guttural noises, apparently to suggest camaraderie.

His fiancee worked in a glass office downtown with a long, much-behyphened number on the door. In order to begin looking for it, Oblomov had to pass two receptionists and two security desks (the company was of course Western). The company, which specialized in beef processing equipment, was afraid that a mafiosi or a terrorist would smuggle weapons of mass destruction into its headquarters. What the aborigines at the company knew and the bigwigs didn't was that the two large-jowled guards at the second desk--who each wore a velvet blazer with a flask in the front left inside pocket--were well-paid employees of Vas'ka Cueball. In a sense, Vas'ka was the company's competitor: he knew nothing about cows or robotic chopping arms, but he certainly knew a lot about processing meat. As long as it was the proper species, Vas'ka did whatever he wanted to his meat, and as a result was able to buy himself a new Land Rover every year. Oblomov did not care about this; what he wanted was to see his fiancee, but it always took nearly an hour to find her office and she was always on the phone. Their communication would be reduced to her gesticulating like a sinner in a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Eventually, Oblomov would give up and go home. He rode the empty subway for an hour, fried some meat pies on a skillet, and stared at the dumpster outside his window until the sun set. There was a television set in his living room, but all it played was "Swan Lake." Whenever there was a commercial break, it would start over. Oblomov did not know what happened at the end of "Swan Lake."

Once, he realized that he had been living like this for a month. It was then that he had decided to get married.

first | previous

Late, Late Night at the Convenience Store with Ex Treme with him being all extreme and such
Guess Starring Shitface

Is there any better place to be at 3 AM in the morning than your favorite convenient store? Or is it convenience store? Hmm. That is a term ponderance I will have to be revisiting at some point in the near or not so near future.

Anyway.

Ex Treme is a very interesting guy. His real name is Alexander but most of the time he goes by that funny name. His mother calls him Xander I think. His sister calls him Asshole, though. But I prefer Ex Treme since I am a good buddy of his and most of his good buddies refer to him by that name. So I was at the convenient/convenience store with him, the Speedstop up at the corner of Mike and Hunt Streets.

"I'm extreeeemely hungry, Dude!" he had yelled to me while we were playing X-Box in his basement. It was an extreme sports game, of course. That's all he seems to want to play. This was an unusual one, though. It was called Extreme Muff Diving. I'm not sure it was an officially licensed X-Box game, though.

So anyway, I agreed, I was quite famished myself. There definitely needed to be some mastifications going on. We paused it and hopped into Ex Treme's Xterra and he floored it up into Mike/Hunt.

"That was extreeeeemely fast!" he roared at the top of his lungs, turning to me, his face extremely screamified. "Whooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!"

At that point I feared for his health. A few veins on his forehead below his spiked up blonde hair looked to be at their blood pressure capacities. Oh and by the way, to save myself some extra typing, I don't want to wear out my 'o' key or my fingers, that Whooo-ing in the previous paragraph, I think it went on for about three minutes or so. It was the longest whoooing I think I'd ever experienced. I thought by the time he had finished that his head was going to explode.

Unfortunately after he was finished with that whooing, he must have not been satisfied yet so he whooed, very loudly, for another... must have been two minutes or so. His yellified voice bandoozled into the fresh early morning air and caused an owl perched on one of the lamposts to poop blood and many neighborhood dogs to begin howling.

"That was some extreme--" Well, I had wanted to say "That was some extreme whooing but could you please stop now?" but I was cut off by another few minutes of very loud whooing. I think my eardrums were permanently whooified that evening.

Finally when he was whooed out we extremely barged into the Speedstop. "Extreme shopping!!" he cried he ran up and down a few aisles, not grabbing a single item.

After Ex Treme ran around pointlessly for a few minutes I caught up to him and we actually did start our late-night convenient shopping. After grabbing several bags of fried potato products we headed to the coolers for some refreshment. Ex Treme plunged into it and immediately grabbed a bottle of Mountain Dew, Mountain Dew Vault, that new Coke and Coffee thingy, and a Red Bull.

"Extreeeeeeeeme refreshment!" he exclaimed, awkwardly carrying them all under his arms. "Whoooooooooo!!!"

Then I heard a familiar voice from the back of the store.

"Holy Shatner scrotums!" the voice exclaimed. It could be nobody else but the wise, old, cooky Shitface (real name Lou).

Ex Treme, who had never been formally introduced to the local night philosopher, suddenly stopped looking extreme and for a brief instant actually looked puzzled. Obviously he didn't understand Shitface's ultra short oral dissertation on the detrimental effects, physical and emotional, of the male sexual psyche while in deep space for long periods of time.

I was about to explain that to my perplexed pal when he suddenly resumed his extremeness: "MOUNTAIN DEW RULLLLLLES!" Then he popped his Dew open and began drinking it. Actually, drinking is not the right word here. Showering might be better. With some drinking.

I grabbed a simple bottle of Coca-Cola. That would do me. "Having fun?" I asked Ex Treme afterwards.

"EXTREME FUN!" Ex Treme yelled. I hoped he'd planned on paying for it.

"I HAVE EXTREME BALLLLLLLZZ!" Shitface yelled from the back, or wherever he was. All of a sudden I could hear him grunting. I wondered what he was doing.

I strolled on over to the counter - Ex Treme stomped - and began putting our items in front of the clerk by the scanner.

"You're a loud bunch," the clerk mumbled.

"I'm Ex Treeeme!" Ex Treme exclaimed. "I'm into extreme skateboarding, extreme skiing, and... and... well, just EVERYTHING EXTREME!!" His face got all screamified again and Dew droplets began escaping his hair and nose.

"Extreme Shit Flinging!" Shitface yelled. Suddenly a wet turd splatted on the wall near the coffee bar to our left.

"Aw, that's fucking gross!" the clerk, a thirtyish guy with a beard, exclaimed. "God dammit!"

"Holy... shit!" Ex Treme said, the rare literalness of what he was about to mutter probably causing his hesitation.

"And the horse he rode in on!" I said, grinning. They looked at me funnily. It took me a second to realize that perhaps it was because this had nothing to do with horses. I hate it when I screw jokes up.

"Extreme fartshitting!" I heard Shitface's voice yell again. Then we all heard a "FRRRREEEEEEEEEEEET!" then a big "PLOP!"

"The god damn son of a bitch!" the clerk yelled. "Almost every fuckin night...!" He trailed off as he turned and reached for something behind the racks of cigarettes.

Suddenly I saw a stream of yellowish liquid arc from below the toiletries aisle. "Urine trouble now!" I heard Shitface's voice yell.

"That guy's EXTREMELY sick!" Ex Treme yelled. "EXTREME!" Then he began pouring the Vault into his mouth and all over his face. Then he yelled "EXTREME!!!" while shaking it off as if he were a dog.

The clerk emerged from behind the counter wielding a baseball bat. I wondered why he suddenly was thinking about taking in a spirited game of ball. As there was nobody else tending the store, I doubted his shift was over.

"Oh no!" I cried when I saw him run for the back of the store. I got a funny feeling that he meant to do my good friend Shitface some harm.

"Extreme Bum Batting!" Ex Treme exclaimed. "Whoooooo hooooooooooooooooooo!"

"That's my friend!" I yelled at Ex Treme.

"Albert Pullmyballzz!" Shitface yelled as he ran by us after popping out of the auto care aisle. He was wearing nothing but an old torn up old Metallica shirt and sneakers. The clerk was indeed after him with the bat.

"God dammit I told you never to come into this store again you fuckwad!" he yelled.

"Hey I read your sign!" Shitface yelled as he ducked into the candy aisle. I wondered what sign he was referring to.

"Get the hell outta my store!" the clerk screamed. Shitface began cackling.

"I'm the Kool Aid Man!" Shitface yelled as he suddenly barelled through one line of shelves, sending bread products everywhere. "Kool Aid balls! Kool Aid balls! Tang rectum!"

"Motherfucker!" the clerk yelled as he vaulted over the spilled items and took a swing at Shitface. Fortunately he missed.

"EXTREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEME!" Ex Treme yelled, seeming to be extremely pleased.

"I'm a pinch shitter!" Shitface exclaimed before cackling some more and knocking into the donut cart. He narrowly missed another swing by the clerk.

I guess Shitface thought that one was too close and he scampered out of the store. He jumped into his old, rusty Monte Carlo and sped off into the night as the clerk pumped his fist into the air and yelled "NEVER COME BACK!"

The clerk calmed down and finally checked us out. Once we were in Ex Treme's car we spotted Shitface doing some doughnuts in the middle of Hunt Street.

"He's extremely off the hook!" Ex Treme said.

"And," I sighed, a slight grin on my face, "he's extremely my friend."

"You got some messed up friends, dude," Ex Treme said. Then he turned his Slipknot CD on, turned the volume all the way up, and began banging his head on the dashboard.

I think the owl pooped blood again.

Glass and Shadow
Part Five -- Closer

We're in an ordinary neighborhood standing in front of an ordinary house where we're planning to swipe an ordinary twelve-year-old with enough power at his fingertips to turn us into cosmic fondue. Neither of us has got much of a plan. It was hard to think on the drive over. Shalene's '57 Karmann Ghia convertible is a beautiful machine, but there was no peace in the ride thanks to Shalene's habit of singing along to top volume Crystal Gayle. Shalene's got a voice like a rusty screen door. So we're standing on the walk in front of this ranch-style house with fake spanish tile shingles with no plan at all how to approach this. The smoke from Shalene's cigarette billows upwards into a sky with no clouds. I turn to her and say, "So. Middle of the day. Nice neighborhood. Kid with colossal powers. I don't think the typical snatch-and-run is gonna work."

"Were you thinking of bustin' up in there, throwing some voodoo dust at an A-class and hopin' his protector spirits are allergic to your cologne?"

"Something like that," I answer, "You got a better idea?"

"Any idea's better'n suicide. Although cologne of yours is rank. How about we try and be diplomatical about this and talk to the kid before we try and tie him up and put him in the trunk."

I shrug, "Suits me. Going in with guns blazing was never my style. Seems we've lost the art of conversation these days."

"I think people'd just rather shoot you than listen to your bullshit."

"You sure this is the right house?"

She stares at me, "Can't you feel it? Of course this is the right house. More ectoplasmic resonance coming from out here than Graceland and Disneyland combined."

"Disneyland? Nevermind. So, we just walk up to the door like a nice pair of kidnappers. Then what?"

"Then we see," Shalene marches up the walk and rings the doorbell. The door swings open after a couple of seconds and out stares the kid from the file. Wide, innocent eyes, curly hair. He's got a sweet face, and I almost wonder if we got it wrong, when the a wind whips up from nowhere and the sky turns dark. A bitter rain starts falling. The hair on my arm stands up and I'm ready to be chicken fried by a blue-white bolt of lightning when the kid yells, "Stop this at once!"

And the clouds and the wind start behaving. The boy looks at us and says, "Please, come inside. And I'm sorry that Mr. Saturday was rude. I skipped school today because I was expecting you."

Shalene, for once, has nothing to say. And we go inside the house. It's a cozy place. There are commemorative plates neatly displayed on shelves and pictures of relatives hanging in the hall. The kid leads us into the living room and we sit down on a couch that was probably stylish twenty years ago. He lays his head down on his palm and gives us a thoughtful look before saying, "I'm glad that you are the first to get here. Neither of you want to hurt me, and that's a good thing. I'm sorry, can I get you something? Milk? Juice?"

"Nothing for me, thanks," I say, "But how did you know we were coming and what do you mean by trying to hurt you."

The kid says, "Oh, I've known for years. I just didn't know who would get here first. I was hoping it would be you, but I knew you'd be here too late if she didn't come along with you. I'm glad it's not the lady in gray?"

"Lady in gray, honey? Who's that?" Shalene asks, staring at something I can't see.

"The worst of the people sent after me. She wants to kill me, and she'll stop at nothing. I don't know if I can defend against her yet, not even if Mr. Saturday and Cora work together. And they never work together."

"Mr. Saturday is the tall man with the bright smile standing behind you. Cora's the lady giving him the cold shoulder sitting next to you," Shalene says, without asking.

"Yes. The other one is Davis. He's my best friend. But he's the weakest. Mr. Saturday keeps threating to eat him," the kid glares over his shoulder, "But I'll do anything to stop that. I'm glad you're the first. I'm already packed."

Shalene and I stare at each other. I try not to stammer, "You mean you're going to go with us?"

The kid shrugs, "Why not Ale-- I'm sorry, Rick. Or do you prefer Mr. Hutchence? I'm not safe here, and even though you both plan to cash me in, neither of you are trying to hurt me. The sooner I get away from here the safer my family is."

He almost called me Alex. Not even Shalene knows that name and she's known me since third grade. I try not to bite on my nails. Could be this kid knows a lot more about what's going down than either of the two of us grown-ups. Couldn't help to ask, "So, do we have time for you to tell us what's going on? Seems like you're hipper to the truth than we are."

The boy smiles. He brushes the hair back from his forehead with one hand, "Well, for starters, you're not the only Avery sent after me. And his name isn't Avery and he's not even a human. It's hard for me to see some things, but I can break through when I have to. The man he works for is kind of a collector. He's really rich. I made a mistake when I was just a kid, about nine or so, and showed off when I got mad at some other kids at school. I made the ground turn into water. Avery's boss learned about me then and has been searching. Cora and Mr. Saturday have been helping hide me, but there's only so much they can do. So, shall we leave? I can tell you what else I know in the car."

I sigh, "Kid, I don't know what you've seen, but I ain't a nice guy. I'm dead broke and your my key out of the hole I got myself in. I'm not out to save anyone's neck but my own."

He grins at this, as if I've just told a joke, "You're a better person than you think. And I think tonight will turn out different than you both think. Better, for one."

The kid runs off and grabs a small plaid suitcase. He puts on a baseball cap. Shalene raises an eyebrow at me. I shrug. All three of us leave the house and get in the car. When Shalene starts the engine the kid says, "Oh, and don't worry, Clover's not working for Avery or his boss. He's in it for himself, so they won't be sharing information. Where are we going?"

Shalene pulls away from the curb and asks, "Don't you know?"

"No. I only know that going with you was by far my best chance. Too many ripples after that."

"We're going to hole up in my place. All three of us will talk. You'll be safe enough for a while. Me and Shalene are gonna go meet Clover at this Roller Derby tonight while you keep mum and watch tv or something."

The kid says, "Avery will be there tonight, as well."

"Good, I got more than a few burning questions to ask him."

No one talks for the rest of the trip.

part of the wordmongers' masque

"This idea that we were all unified on 9/11 is just bunk. I don't believe it for a moment. I think that when 9/11 happened, a lot of kooks on the left said, 'A-ha! This is how we're going to get Bush.

Rush Limbaugh – from his talk show on September 12, 2006

Seriously, I don’t know why I visit Rush’s site. The venom and the vitriol spewed there make my skin crawl and makes me ashamed that I bother to read it or take it seriously. But then again, given its popularity amongst his listeners, he must have something constructive to say.

I guess it’s like a tooth ache, you know it’s there already but you feel the need to confirm it by rubbing your tongue against it. It’s almost involuntary.

Today, he had an image of Bill Clinton’s face superimposed next to that of the image of the World Trade Centers as the second plane crashed into them and ensuing the fireball is spit out.

If you look closely enough, you can see the debris falling down as the flames and smoke belch from the building. Inside that debris I’m sure there are human remains and fragments of people in the form of severed arms, legs, and heads from both the passengers who were aboard the flight and those that were trapped inside the building when the planes hit.

Thank God the cameras are too far away to capture those images.

It still causes me to shudder and my eyes well up with tears when I think about those people on the planes who just knew they were going to die. What were their final thoughts like? We’re they scared or were the resigned to the fact that they’d never see the sunlight or hold their loved ones again? They’d never feel another drop of rain or watch snowflakes fall from the clouds. They’d never hear the sound of laughter, taste the saltiness of tears or feel the touch of another human being again.

Just like in some science fiction movie, they were about to be vaporized.

And what of those who were trapped inside the building and couldn’t get out? How do you steel yourself to leap to your death when you have no other choice other than to be burned alive?

And what of those who were at home watching the carnage that had loved ones aboard the planes or in the buildings? What do you suppose they we’re thinking?

I worked in the financial district on Wall Street for many years and have been inside the World Trade Centers on more occasions that I care to count. I watched the scene unfold from the relative safety of Columbus, Ohio and thought to myself that the death toll would be much, much higher.

Thank God I was wrong.

That’s what this kook from the left was thinking at the time.

That and wondering how and why this could happen to innocent people?

That’s what this kook from the left is still thinking.

And wondering

Shame on you Mr. Limbaugh.

Shame on you.

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