FIVE MINUTES

by  Solomon Tate

 

Farberman died on the table. It was just a routine appendectomy, but something went wrong. By the time they brought him back he had been dead for almost five minutes, well five minutes in this world. On the other side of the bright light there was no time. He said that he had met his maker. I wasn’t sure if I believed him at first, but he was convinced that he had spoken to God.

He said that he had floated down a long hallway into a white light and arriving on the other side, found himself standing in a conference room. There were four angels seated at a table mulling over the contents of a pile of file folders. “Name?”, one of them asked.

“Martin Farberman.”, he answered. A bell chimed, and the angels stood as the door opened. An older man who appeared to be in his seventies entered the room. He was dressed in a tie dyed tee shirt with a peace symbol emblazoned on it, faded blue jeans, and sandals. He sat at the head of the table.

“Martin Farberman, sir.”, one of the angels announced.

“Farberman, eh?”, the  man repeated as he flipped through a folder handed to him by one of the angels. “Sit down, Mr. Farberman.”

“Where am I?”, Farberman asked as he sat across from the old man.

“Funny story.”, the man began. “It seems there has been some sort of mix up on our end.”

“It was Julius’ mistake.”, one of the angels shouted out.

“Yes.”, the man continued. “A mistake has been made. Who made it is irrelevant. What is important is how we are going to correct it.”

“A mistake?”, Farberman asked.

“Yes.”, the old man repeated, “a mistake has been made. We were expecting Marvin Faberman, and well to our surprise, we got Martin Farberman. Pretty funny, don’t you think?”

“I’m not so sure.”, Farberman replied. “You still haven’t told me where I am.”

“Oh?”, the old man questioned. “Haven’t you figured that out?”

“I’m not sure.”, Farberman responded.

“Well, let’s see.”, the man said. “You came via the tunnel. There was a bright light. You’re in a room with angels, and then there’s me. Where do you think you are?”

“Who are you?”, Farberman asked.

“I am God.”, the old man said. “Now to our problem.”

“Hold on a minute.”, Farberman interjected. “God is supposed to be wearing a long, flowing white robe.”

“Says who?”, God asked.

“But it’s so 1960s!”, Farberman exclaimed.

“Ya”, God explained. “The 1960s. That was some of my best work. Peace, love, great music, and some wonderful drugs. Not a bad decade at all. I thought you would have kept it going, but you threw it away on discos balls and cocaine.”

“Am I dead, then.”, Farberman asked.

“Well”, God replied, “that’s precisely the problem. “You are, but you are not supposed to be. You’re not quite deceased. You’re preceased. A premature passing. Sometimes mistakes happen. Sometimes death arrives at the wrong address and sometimes an angel gets a little over zealous and poof, we have a problem. But I’m pretty sure we can correct it.”

“I hope so.”, Farberman said. “I didn’t know God made mistakes.”

“Really?”, God replied. “And why not? It gets pretty intense around here. The 1980s was a mistake. The banjo and kale, also mistakes. I don’t know what I was thinking, but we’ll have your problem fixed up in a jiffy. In the meantime”, God continued, “if you’re hungry the Ten Disciples Diner makes an exceptional spinach and feta omelet.”

“Aren’t there twelve disciples?”, Farberman commented.

“Well.”, God answered, “There was an incident some years ago, and we lost two. Bartholomew and Phillip, I think. We traded them to Asgard for Thor. We had to beef up our Rugby team for the playoffs.”

” And we needed an Allen key.”, Julius said.

“Right.”, God continued. “We had just received the new desks, and needed an Allen key to assemble them. There’s another mistake, the Allen key. Anyway, the two disciples are no longer with us.”

“Can I ask you something?”, Farberman queried.

“Of course.”, God answered. “Anything.”

“So many people are so unhappy.”, Farberman asked. “Is there some kind of secret to being happy?”

“You are a very confused species.”, God told him. “You spend so much time and energy moving around, looking for something that might make you happy, and all the while you just keep moving farther and farther away from it. You want to know the secret, its very simple. Do what makes you happy. Stop living your life with pretense and lies. Be the kind of person you want to be, but be kind and generous to others. And be nice to animals. All animals. And maybe get yourself a dog.”

“That’s it?”, Farberman asked. “That’s all there is to it?”

“Its never easy for your species to do. As simple as it is, you always seem to want to complicate everything. Its no wonder the other species want nothing to do with you?”

“Are there really other life forms out there?”, Farberman asked.

“Everywhere,”, God replied. “But you’re not ready for them.”

“Almost ready here, sir.”, Julius called out.

“Good. Good.”, God said. “Ok Martin, are you ready?”

“I guess so.”, Farberman said. “Is there anything I should do to make life better?”

“Listen to Motown and The Beatles.”, God said. “And spend time at the beach sitting in the sun and listening to the waves.”

The next thing Farberman saw were the faces of the surgical team leaning over him and looking quite relieved that he was back. He would tell that story over and over again, right up until the day he disappeared in the Portlands. I have no idea if he really saw what he said he saw, but I would like to believe it. Since he first told the story, I have consistently listened to Motown and The Beatles, and regularly headed down to the beach. I am hoping to prolong my trip to the other side of the bright light but when I do arrive I think I would like to try out for the rugby team.

 

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Don’t Say A Word

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

My first marriage didn’t fare very well. I didn’t think it was anybody’s fault really, but like candles on a birthday cake, it just sort of burnt out and died. I entered into it with the best of intentions, but in retrospect, I’m pretty sure that its demise rests solely on my shoulders. I don’t know how it happened, but one day I found myself being suffocated by the dull, beige hue of boredom, and suddenly I was rolling around in the hay of much brighter and  greener pastures. Her name was Lori, and she was considerably younger, and profoundly sexually adventurous. While I tried to convince myself that it was love, it was really nothing more than a perverse diversion that rivaled 9 1/2 weeks, and lasted just over a year. After the proverbial shit hit the fan and I confessed my sins and took the verbal beating I suppose she felt I deserved, my ex wife wanted to know how I managed to carry on this sleazy affair right in front of her eyes. I never told her, but it wasn’t difficult, really, I mean there was always a plan. Lori would wake up early, unlock her door and go back to bed. I would arrive at a prescribed time, let myself in and bang her to Brazil and back. She was insatiable, and it was exhausting, but at no time did I ever think of lodging a complaint, although  she did like to talk. Sometimes it was all you could do not to reach over and shove a cannoli in her mouth. She talked a lot. The only time she wasn’t talking was when she was down on her knees. She was all blue jeans and leather jackets, and always seemed to be up for an afternoon of peyote and ‘The Wizard of Oz’, despite being freaked out by the flying monkeys and believing that the cowardly lion was, in fact, her spirit animal.

I met Lori at some seedy dive in Whitby where she worked as a stripper. I saw her performing there one  Saturday afternoon and as she removed what little clothing she had on amid the hoots and hollers of six or seven drunken wankers with hands entrenched down the front of their pants, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She was insanely beautiful. We talked for hours well, she talked for hours while I sat there thinking about the things I wanted to do to her body. The voice in my head that kept reminding me that I was married was becoming annoying, but it was quickly silenced when Lori leaned over and kissed me. I kissed her back, all the while remembering what she looked like naked.

Surprisingly, I felt no guilt. I thought I would, I mean even though it was just a kiss I really thought that I should have felt something. When I got home, life went on just as it did before. There were the usual events with family and friends, although I began making up excuses to avoid them in order to spend time with Lori. It was usually a double shift or some other crisis at work that I had to attend to, but any excuse would have done just as well. A simple phone call home from work allowed me hours and hours of some of the most incredible sex I had ever had. There was a time during all of this madness that I wished that I had that with my wife, but I just don’t think that it was in her. Or maybe I just didn’t feel that way about her, I mean I had pretty much lost all interest in having sex with her. I don’t know. It was like that through most of the affair though well, at least until I got caught.

About three or four months or so into the dalliance it occurred to me that I was being brutally unfair. I felt that I needed to let my wife know. I felt like I owed her the truth. The trouble was I had no idea how to tell her and there was no one I could turn to for advice. I had been living a secret life and lying about so much for so long, that I felt as if I need a program to figure out which players were on which team. And, I suppose that with all of the deceit, I couldn’t really be sure what the truth was anymore.

By this time Lori and I had become very close. We were buying each other gifts, and she had taken to writing me notes that described in sordid detail what she wanted me to do to her. We were spending all of our free time together, taking road trips out of town, checking into hotels and living as if we were a couple. It was all becoming too much to deal with and something had to give. I was not prepared to stop seeing Lori, so the only viable option then was to end the marriage. I convinced myself that it was the honorable thing to do. One Saturday evening when my wife returned home from work, she confronted me with some notes from Lori she had found in my briefcase. She was irate, and set out on a journey of name calling, threats and finally the news that I needed to pack up my shit and be out within the hour. I thought that I would have felt the relief that I had been so certain would come once the truth was told, but it wasn’t there. At no time did I ever imagine that I could have hurt her so much, but then at no time did I ever think about anyone other than myself. I moved in with a friend, and shortly after secured an apartment close to work, and Lori.

My divorce was quick and while not painless, I mean she got everything except the tv and stereo which were mine to begin with, at least it was over.  Everything seemed to be working out. Lori was always coming over and the sexcapades were as excitingly prolific as ever. For the first time in a long time I felt free and unencumbered, and perhaps even a little contented. A few months later, Lori informed me that she didn’t think we should see each other anymore. While she was attracted to me and cared for me, the fact that I was married, forbidden fruit so to speak, had made it all so damn exciting for her. She enjoyed the rush of being the other woman, the mistress, and now that she had been relegated to the position of girlfriend, the whole thing just seemed monotonous and tame. We parted ways and with cursory let’s still be friends crap. I didn’t see her again for almost 20 years, when she showed up at a meeting I was attending. We only spoke for a few minutes, the standard how are you and the like, and that was the end of that.

My ex wife moved to California at some point, married and seemed to enjoy her new life. I suppose that there was just too much water still rising up over the bridge for us to even be able to talk, which is okay, I mean, I don’t really have much to say to her anymore. I screwed up. I cheated on my wife with Lori, who couldn’t see me anymore because we divorced due to my infidelity with her. It was sad really, I mean I never set out to hurt anyone, but that’s just the way these things always seem to work out. I stayed on my own for a while, trying to sort through all of the drama and I realized that Its all really cosmically karmic. Eliot was right when he wrote ‘This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper’.

They’re Back

by Solomon Tate

They’re back. Just when I was beginning to think it was safe to roam around the house, it’s happened. The ghosts have returned, or so my wife has reported. This time however, she’s not just seeing them. Hell, she;’s now feeling them. The spirits of the departed are now sharing information with my wife. She says that they are communicating with her. Spiritually. Metaphysically. She doesn’t hear them, but she says she can sense the information.

Last month she asked about a friend of mine who was quite ill and near death. She asked me if he had passed yet. I told her I didn’t know. “I think you should check..”, she said. “Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like something’s happened.”  The next morning I looked into it, and discovered that he had passed away the evening before. She’s rarely wrong.

She likes to talk about it a lot. She likes to share everything about their comings and goings with me, thinking that I would like to know.  I wouldn’t.  I tell her that I do not share her exuberance about these apparitions but truth be told, the whole thing scares the shit out of me.  “Why?”, she has asked me.

“Because they’re ghosts.”, I explained.

“They’re always here, you know.”, she continued. “Sometimes they just don’t say or do anything.”

“That doesn’t make me feel any better.”, I said.

“Well it should.”, she advised. “There’s nothing bad about them.”

I suspect that my wife is like a lighthouse for the spirit world. A conduit and a beacon for those wishes to return from the other side. She told me that she recently had a supernatural experience. Someone who had passed came to her in a dream and informed her that he would be calling my daughter to let her know that everything is okay. The next day my daughter came home and told my wife that while at work, a particular favorite song came on the radio. Just then the phone rang and when she answered it, no one was there. Coincidence? My wife is sure it isn’t. She says it was his spirit.

She says that some of them have come for me. She says that every time I feel like someone is tugging at my short, or if I sense that someone is in the room but no one is there, its them. “Who?”, I ask.

“I’m not sure.”, she answers. “Could be one of your parents or your grandfather, or maybe one of your friends. They’re just trying to let you knew that they’re around.”

She found a bobby pin on the floor in the hallway. She was convinced that her grandmother had left it for her to find. “I’m not an expert”, I said, “but do spirits need bobby pins?” She told me that they didn’t, and that it was just a sign. Her grandmother used bobby pins. All of the time. It was a sign that she was nearby. I have never had an other worldly experience of my own, but seem to endure them vicariously through her homing signal that seems to penetrate the other side. They come to her, and even though though I ask her not to open the door, she willingly lets them in so that they can fly around my house just to tell me something I’m not certain I want to know. She insists that if I just open up to them, they will communicate with me. I remind her that I would still prefer a postcard, unless of course they are willing to give me the winning lottery numbers. Spiritually. Metaphysically.

 

 

Spiritually. Metaphysically.

 

Leave It To The Beaver

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

It was one of those ‘Dances With Wolves’ moments, when men stood naked in the middle of the woods, messed up on Ayahuasca, pounding their chests and howling at the moon in an attempt to come face to face with absolute happiness, as if there were such a thing. Axil Woodman sat on a Balsam Fir stump watching the event unfold. He didn’t understand it. Not at all. He had seen a lot of dumb shit in his forest, but this was quite possibly the dumbest. Axil Woodman was a logger. He was also a drummer in the Oregon State University Marching Polka Band, at least he used to be.  One Saturday afternoon, many years ago, with Utah punishing the mighty Beavers, a skirmish erupted on the sidelines between Utah fans, and Benny The Beaver. Axil was flung  into the melee, and in the ensuing mayhem, sustained a bite to his leg courtesy of the large, deranged Oregon State mascot. Emergency Medical Services were able to stop the bleeding, and he took his place in the band formation and completed the halftime show. No one, not even Woodman thought any more about the incident.

That spring stories began to spread through the logger camps, about a strange and mysterious creature that had been seen roaming through the forest, single handedly taking down massive trees in seconds. There was talk of large bite marks being found on stumps spread across hundreds of miles of forest.  Dr. Monty D’Botcheree, head of the prestigious Institute Of Extraordinary Intraterrestrial Occurrences, and the infamous Sasquatch search party that lasted five days at Gordon Lightfoot’s  home, was called in to investigate. D’Botheree spent months travelling from camp to camp, tracking the creature, completing interviews and collecting samples and was convinced that this was more than likely the transmutation of a man into an animal. “In layman’s terms”, D’Botcheree explained, “someone was turning into a beaver.”

Woodman listened intently as D’Botcheree spoke. He had been feeling like hell for weeks, not really sick, but uneasy and weird. He was troubled by his new found strength, and his sudden compulsion to keep busy made him wonder if maybe he was the Beaver. As the peyote began to kick in, Eddie Haskell and Lumpy Rutherford  two of the dumbest bastards to ever put on plaid, seemed to think so. “Hey Beaver.”, they chanted, “Where’s Wall-E?”

“Its pronounced Wally.”, Larry Mondello shouted back at them. “You’re probably the dumbest guy in Mayfield, Lumpy.”

“This part beaver, part man”, D’Botcheree continued, “would become a single entity, possessing the best qualities of both a beaver, and a man. He would be a Super Beaver, and quite possibly a super hero.” Woodman had no desire in being a super hero. It seemed like a hell of a lot of responsibility. He wasn’t thrilled about becoming a super beaver either, but he had a feeling D’Botcheree was right. There were periods of time when he just couldn’t remember where he had been, but he would often find muddy foot prints across the floor in his cabin, and small bits of lumber strewn across the table. His eyesight was waning, and it seemed to be getting worse every day, but he could hear and smell everything, as if those senses were working overtime.

When the camp awoke the next morning all of the felled trees had been moved to the river, cut into logs, and were floating their way to the mill. Not one of the loggers spoke as they walked away from the river’s edge back to the camp, and none of them ever spoke again about the events that occurred in the forest that Spring. Debocheree had had always had suspicions about Axil Woodman, but both Woodman and the beaver man had disappeared without a trace, although there stories have been told about a mascot at MIT, about six feet and three inches tall, known as Tim The Beaver. Like all great mysteries though, we may never really know for sure.

Truckin’

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

I met Ana at a campus screening of ‘Metropolis’, and shared a small bag of peyote which she claimed was surprisingly easy to obtain, and completely necessary to really understand a Fritz Lang film. She had studied piano with the great Klaus Von Klaus, or something like that, for fifteen years but following her junior year as a music major at The University of Political Weariness and Social Degeneration, she joined the myriad of Dead Heads who appeared in assorted incarnations still hallucinating from a trip they began in 1970, floating freely through space and time, searching for the aurgasm that could only be achieved in the psychedelic sunshine of The Grateful Dead..

We spent the night spinning vinyl on an old Garrard turntable, and headed off to Exhibition Stadium the next afternoon with Ana dressed to thrill in an ‘American Beauty’ t shirt and short shorts.  She had a body that I was sure had cost men their souls, or their minds, or more than likely, both. I’m not certain how we got there, but we were sitting in second row floor seats for The Band and The Dead beside some bleary eyed and tie dyed trippers who appeared to be engaged in battle with giant boll weevils, and a topless teenager who was looking for someone to blow air into her rather unremarkable tits. Ana achieved what she later described as the ultimate spiritual release, but I swear that somewhere between  ‘Ripple’ and ‘Sugar Magnolia’, she simply had an orgasm.

Halfway ‘Up On Cripple Creek’, as some of the trippers succumbed to the onslaught of the giant boll weevils, and pandemonium and paranoia began to set in, Ana wanted to leave. We walked toward the gates that led to freedom, laughing like a couple of grade school kids, as Ana grabbed onto my hand in an effort to keep up with me as I navigated the crowds attending the fair grounds. Once we made it through the gates, we sat down under a Maple tree in a nearby park as Ana tried to catch her breath. Her face was flushed, her breathing heavy, and her chest heaved with every breath, and fuck, she was beautiful. As the effects of the peyote were beginning to wane, Ana advised me that she still had half a button left, so we shared it and spent the night right there under the Maple tree, watching the dragons eyes open and close with her head on my chest, and my arms tightly wrapped around her.

I never really knew much about her in those days of peace, and love, and sex and drugs, but I saw her several years later at a screening of Fritz Lang’s “The Testament of Dr. Mabuse’ at a small, repertory theater in The Annex. She was still as beautiful as I remembered, and I hung on to every word she said. We watched the film with our minds inundated with assorted pharmaceuticals which Ana claimed were surprisingly easy to obtain and completely necessary to really understand a Fritz Lang film. We talked all night, reminiscing and wondering what might have been, and when dawn broke we said our goodbyes. We spoke often after that chance encounter and, not surprisingly, I married that woman. The giant boll weevils agreed that there was really nothing else I could do.

 

 

 

 

Generations

by Solomon Tate

 

They said that I was starting to lose my mind. They had been talking about it among themselves, and had come to the conclusion that I should not be left alone. Their case was rather flimsy, filled with speculation and circumstantial evidence. I admit that I have, on occasion, roamed the house with no apparent purpose and have often wandered into rooms without knowing why but, as I have assured them, I am fine.

One of my daughters reminds me far too often that while putting away groceries, I placed a cucumber in a kitchen drawer that is reserved for parchment paper, lunch bags, and aluminum foil. In my defense, there is no reason to believe that the cucumber could not be placed in that drawer, nor do I believe that the lunch bags, parchment paper or aluminum foil have any legal claim to the drawer in question. “But there’s more.”, my daughter offers in support of their case.

It is suggested that  I have forgotten food in the oven so many times that my wife has found it necessary to purchase a timer which I refuse to use as the resulting sound is so inaudible, that unless I am in the kitchen when it goes off, it can’t be heard. It seems that I have left my mobile phone in various places around the house, and I have poured liquid egg white into my coffee thinking it was milk. As a point of explanation I would like to point out that it was two in the morning, and the cartons look very much alike. I have, on more than one occasion they advise me, gone to the store to purchase bagels and returned with toilet paper. Interestingly enough, no one ever complains when one of my daughters shouts “We’re out of toilet paper.”, and my wife reminds her that there are three jumbo packs in the closet. I should have returned all of it and let them wipe their asses with the damn bagels. In their haste to have me declared feeble minded, they have started buying me cardigan sweaters and saying things like “Aw, Daddy”.

To be fair, I rather like the cardigans, as I do seem to feel cold most of the time, but there is no need for the condescension I hear every time they speak to me. “Do you need some help with the buttons?”, someone asks as they get up and walk towards me.

“Don’t you come over here!”, I bark.

I am reminded that I have been getting angry lately which, as my daughter who studied Geriatrics professes, is common in dementia patients. In my defense, if they stopped pissing me off, I would have nothing to be angry about. “When the hell are they gonna move out?”, I ask my wife.

“We can’t leave you two alone.”, someone says. “You can’t take care of yourselves.”

“We’re fine.”, my wife replies. “We take care of each other.”

“You’re worse than he is.”, another child offers. “Someone has to be here to make sure you don’t kill yourselves. I don’t what kind of damage you did with all of those drugs you old hippies were taking, but I’m surprised you’ve managed to survive this long.”

“For your information”, I informed them, “it’s been the flashbacks from the drug use that have enabled use to survive.”

“That and the sex.”, my wife added.

“You two probably don’t even remember how.”, someone added.

“Maybe not.”, I answered. “But we watch a lot of porn and that seems to be quite helpful.”

“You two are so weird.”, the middle one said. “You need to start taking this seriously.”

“I worry about you too.”, I told her. “Maybe its best if you just take things a little less seriously. You’re so wound up all of the time.”

“Why wouldn’t I be.”, she asked. “You’re so difficult. Will you at least go and see a doctor?”

“I was there last month.”, I reassured her.

“And what did he say.”, she asked.

“Drop your pants, and bend over.”, I replied.

“We’re out of here.”, she said. “You’re so frustrating.”

“It’s about time.”, I informed her. “I think our kids need to be medicated.”, I told my wife once they had all gone out.

“They’re alright.”, she said walking towards the bedroom. “But we’re alone now, so why not put on some porn and if we can figure out what to do we can have some wild sex.”

“I’m right behind you.”, I said.

“Well”, she told me. “I’m looking forward to it.”

 

 

The Seven Dimensions

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

Shortly after Dr. Henrich Mueller took over as head of the newly formed Toon Research and Development Department, weird things started happening at Disney. While The Muppets successfully launched Pigs In Space, who would boldly go where no porcine had gone before, Disney struggled to find a new direction for its stale catalogue. Mueller, with post graduate degrees in physics and bio-engineering was charged with creating a world that would fuck with the minds of its customers.

Prior to his arrival at the Wonderful World, Mueller had developed a theory that human beings were nothing more than the sum of their emotions, each having its own distinct personality within the physical being. He identified six specific adjectives to describe these essential personal traits, with one central personality maintaining the balance. After decades of painstaking research, he believed that he was ready demonstrate his creation.

Ned Beetleman, a low level groundskeeper was summoned into Mueller’s lab. He offered no resistance, happy just to get in from the cold, damp weather, and sat in a recliner with a helmet placed on his head. The lights flashed, and the drone of the machines grew louder, and when the smoke cleared, Ned sat motionless, but on the far side of the room stood seven little people.  “Gentlemen”, Mueller stated with pride, “I give you the seven dimensions.”

“Isn’t there already a Fifth DImension.”, someone called out.

“I think so.”, someone else replied. “They had a Stoned Soul Picnic.”

“They look kind of small.”, the first one added. “Like Dwarves.”

“Alright them”, Mueller continued, “I give you the Seven Dwarves, each representing one part of Mr. Bettleman’s psyche.”

Production, Marketing and even Walt himself came down to see what Mueller had created. They watched the Dwarfs from behind a two way mirror as they marched along the perimeter of the room whistling and singing some inane song about going to work. “Just one question.”, Walt stated. “Why is that one always giving me the finger?”

“Oh, that’s Grumpy.”, Mueller answered. “He’s kind of an asshole.”

“Well”, Walt continued, “you let that pint size asshole know that if I see that damn finger one more time, he’ll never work in this town again.”

“What do we do about Beetleman?”, someone asked.There was silence as no one seemed to know exactly what to do with the shell that lay dormant in the recliner.

“Now round up Mickey, and the Disney Princess Whores.”, Walt commanded. “We have a film to write.”

The body of Ned Beetleman was eventually incorporated into Disney On Ice, and used in several scenes of 1993’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, although he never received credit for his appearance in the film.The Seven Dwarfs went on to fame and fortune working with Snow White despite the fact that they never received the star billing they were promised. They never made another film for Disney, but were seen in other films, specifically, The Terror of Tiny Town, and The Wizard of Oz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Wonderland

by Fielding Goodfellow

It was a winter that lasted through the spring, filled with dark and dreary days of sub zero temperatures that bit through the four layers of thermal and fleece lined layers, and I was sure could easily make me hypothermic just by looking out of the window for too long. But the old man was pretty fussy about his driveway, so we were out there every time it snowed, leaving him a perfectly manicured runway on which to land his Buick LeSabre, while my mom stood at the screen door waving at us, occasionally opening it to poke her head out and  remind us to “take your brother’s head out of that snow bank”.

The old man would come home, crawling down the snow covered street, swerving left and right, until he hit the driveway and made the perfect landing he longed for as the Buick caressed the asphalt and slid ever so gracefully up the driveway and into the garage. “Nice job on the driveway, gentlemen.”, he said as he stood in the foyer trying to remove the scarf he had managed to knot around his neck. My mother was always standing there, waiting for the moment when he simply gave up trying, so she could release him from bondage. She could untie anything, scarves, fishing line, shoelaces, it didn’t matter. She had never met a knot that she couldn’t defeat. We would stand around awestruck, watching as she manipulated the tangled item in her hands, and, after successfully resolving the dilemma, always handed it back with a smile.

“How did you manage this.”, she asked as she set him free.

“Damned if I know.”, he replied, winking at us. “I have a surprise for you guys”, he said as he removed the last few items of winter. We sat around the table waiting for the old man to finish eating. Consumed by the excitement of his pronouncement, we were unable to eat a thing, and took turns guessing what he had in store for us.

We suited up and followed him out to the garage and helped carry wood from the back of the Buick to the backyard. The old man marked off an area, and instructed us where to hold each piece as he pounded it into the ground with a sledge hammer and then joined them together with clamps. “It’s a hockey rink.”, one of my brother’s shouted with delight.

“Not yet.”, the old man informed us as he picked up the garden hose. “We need ice.” He began spraying water over the backyard. Long after my mother called us in, he stayed out there, freezing his old man nuts off, and continued flooding the yard, one layer at a time, until he was satisfied with the result. He must have been out there all night, and by morning, it was five layers deep. “It’s time.”, he said as he woke us, and we bolted out of bed just to look at it through the family room window.

The old man didn’t skate., I suppose he never learned how, but man did he love hockey. He stood out there with us for hours, coaching us, shouting “Pass the puck”, or “Shoot”, until Billy and Kenny Bellwood showed up. The old man and the Bellwoods had not seen eye to eye since the dog incident of 1966. It seemed that the Bellwoods once had a dog, a mixed breed of terrier and hell hound that, much like their kids, was allowed to roam freely throughout the neighborhood.  One day the dog bit one of my brothers in the ass. The old man pulled the hound off and the little shit bit his hand. The dog was carried back to the Bellwoods with a stern warning that if it returned to the old man’s property, it would meet an untimely demise. About a week later, the dog was found dead on the Bellwood’s front lawn. Mr. Bellwood was certain that my old man was responsible. There were idle threats made, and words were spoken that would never be forgotten. The old man was sure that the Bellwoods were stupid fucks, and he regularly referred to them as the Peckerwoods.. We didn’t like them much either, although I’m not sure why, and out there on the ice, we took every opportunity to knock them on their asses as we glided around the backyard rink.

“Hey”, Kenny shouted as he lay on the ice, “you tripped me.”

“It’s not my fault if you can’t skate.”, one of my brothers shouted back as Kenny swung his stick into my brother’s leg. And then all hell broke loose. A hockey brawl ensued on our little, back yard rink with sticks and gloves dropped, and punches being thrown in every direction. It didn’t last very long, but when it was over, there was blood pouring out of Kenny’s nose and mouth, pooling all over the ice. It wasn’t a big deal to us really, or to Billy or Kenny, but Mrs. Bellwood showed up at the old man’s front door about ten minutes after the fight ended, dragging Kenny and Billy behind her.

I have no idea what transpired at the meeting between Mrs. Bellwood and the old man, but my mother made us go over and apologize, trying to teach us about owning our mistakes. There were several more fights over the years in which Kenny and Billy were left with bloodied noses, and the occasional cracked rib or missing tooth, but the old man never made another hockey rink in the backyard. Our game was played forever more with a tennis ball on the snow covered street in front of the house, amid the endless chants of ‘CAR’. The old man would stand on the front porch, bundled up for the sub zero temperatures, shouting “Shoot”, or “Pass the ball”, or “Knock him on his ass”, in an attempt to lead us to victory.

It was a winter of slap shoots, wrist shots, and penalty shots. It was us against the Bellwoods, and no one was safe. Billy Bellwood was running down the road, carrying the ball on his stick, with his head down. Someone stepped into him, with elbows raised, and sent Billy flying over the street headfirst into a snow bank. Billy didn’t move. “I think you killed him.”, someone said. It certainly seemed so. Someone went to get Billy’s mother, and as she rolled him over in the snow, he groaned and started to cry.

“Someone needs to call the police on you little, bastard hooligans.”, she screeched. It was then that I figured out my mother. She was always so calm, so quiet, and so polite. But she came down from the porch, with just winter boots and a cardigan to keep her warm, and looked Mrs. Bellwoods in the eyes.

“If you ever refer to my children like that again”, she warned her, “I’ll be shoving your face in the snow for as long as it takes to shut you the up.” When we got inside, my mother refused to acknowledge what had just transpired, and we were told that we were never to speak of this incident again. I never did. Until today. But that winter helped me to understand that the love and devotion both of my parents had for us, although it was often shown in some weird fucking ways . I’m sure frustrated and disappointed them, more often that I care to remember, but I know that their love for me never waned. I am who I am because of them. My mother gave me creativity, a love for the arts, and a passion for music and literature. She also gave me hope and a willingness to help others. The old man, well, he gave me perseverance and integrity. He taught me to stand for what I believe is right, to question everything in the search for the truth, and that East Side Mario’s is not an Italian restaurant. Over the years I have discovered that I have turned into the old man, becoming more like him everyday. And while I swore that it would never happen, I am actually quite relieved, I mean it could have been a whole lot worse. I could have been a Peckerwood.

 

 

 

Last Call

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

The Algonquin Hotel hadn’t really been a hotel since it served as an oasis for travelers journeying up Yonge Street from Toronto to Richmond Hill, and points beyond, in the early nineteen hundreds. It had simply become a  nondescript local pub until the nineteen seventies when it was reborn as a nudie bar, rising from the ashes with watered down drinks and a wagon load of Eastern European tits and ass that were displayed and offered, for a handful of rubles, to easily excited working men who seemed to be in no hurry to go home.

Every work day. after spending eight hours behind a desk adding numbers and calculating risk for The Great North Life And Casualty Company, Arnold Perlmutter pulled into the parking lot of The Algonquin Hotel.  At precisely five twenty-five, he walked in, sat at his usual seat at the bar and ordered a beer. It was always beer. He was tired of his job, but it was more than just being an actuary. Arnold Perlmutter had grown tired of his life. . “I had dreams.”, he announced to the man sitting next to him. “Big dreams. It never occurred to me that my life would turn out like this.”  Life for Arnold had become so tediously predictable, that he was uncertain just how much longer he would be able to endure it.

Despite his malaise, he had never sampled even a little taste of Kiev. He came for the peace he found in the anonymity that the bar offered him. It was just a place to go where he didn’t have to feel like Arnold Perlmutter. Without fail, every evening at six thirty, he could be found at the kitchen table of the three bedroom bungalow he had shared with his wife, Connie, for the past thirty years or so, and joined her for dinner. It was one of the few things still brought him joy. He believed that there had been two great ideas, two completely spontaneous thoughts that had changed his life. He had tried acid, and he married Connie. Both, not coincidentally, occurred on the same weekend at a summer cottage party in Sundridge, Ontario. He loved her. He knew he did, and he was reasonably sure that he had always loved her.  He just didn’t care anymore. One morning he woke up and just didn’t seem to give a shit about life

He was on his second beer when Suzie Swallows shimmied across the stage to chants of “shake those tits” from reputed Irish mobsters Liam and Sean Halloran as ‘Brother Louie’ played through the amazingly inadequate sound system. Arnold kept checking his watch, well aware that Connie would start worrying at six thirty-three if he wasn’t home. “Looks like you’ve got somewhere you’re supposed to be.”, the man sitting next to him remarked.

“Not really?”, Arnold replied.

“Well.”, the man continued,  “you’ve got the look.”

“What look?”, Arnold asked..

“Like a bird in a cage.”, the man said. “I’ve seen it before. Its in the eyes. My name is Farberman, and I just might be able to help you. If your interested.”

Arnold listened as Farberman explained his work in cellular reconfiguration. According to him, it was possible for three dimensional life forms to exist in a two dimensional world. It was simply a matter of converting the life form into pure energy and then re-configuring it into living matter within another dimension. “I’ve done it myself.”, Farberman informed him. “I’ve spent almost ten years living inside a French painting. Anywhere you want to be”, he continued, “you just bring me a picture, and in go. That’s all there is to it, really. There’s one catch though. You have to go alone.” Arnold was taking it all in. He was indeed, interested, but he was also pretty sure that this guy sitting next to him at The Algonquin Hotel was out of his fucking mind.

Arnold was quieter than usual that night at dinner. As Connie talked about rising hydro rates and the opening of a Supercentre not far from home, he couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of a new life. He kept staring at his wife, trying to come up with a reason to leave her, and despite the thirty years of listening to her incessant chatter about discounted shoes and her sister’s diabetes, he just couldn’t seem to find one. As Connie slept that night, Arnold made the third great decision of his life.

It was ten-forty-five in the morning when Arnold Perlmutter pulled into the parking lot of the Algonquin Hotel. He sat in his car waiting for the bar to open.  He felt different today. The universe felt different today. It seemed that a celebration was in order. Earlier that morning he had gone into the office of the Branch Manager of The Great North Life & Casualty Company handed in his ID card and office keys, and quit his job. It was as if a dark cloud that had been over him had vanished. For the first time in years, Arnold could feel the sun beating down on him. At eleven o’clock, he walked into the hotel and, taking his usual seat at the bar, ordered a beer. Pinky Beavers took to the stage, gyrating to ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ as she disrobed, seductively tossing her clothing towards two old men seated at a table near the stage. She was incredibly pretty, and Arnold noticed, for the first time, how amazingly perfect her tits were. He was transfixed by her every move, and he felt himself getting hard as she bent over and exposed herself to the patrons.

Connie was pleasantly surprised when Arnold raced in the front door and took her upstairs. “I’ve made some decisions.”, he told her as they lay together in their bed. They talked for a long time. They talked about everything, and when they were done, Connie and Arnold agreed to put the house up for sale, purchase an RV, and get the hell out of there. Neither of them were sure where they would go, but it didn’t matter. Arnold just wanted to go where there was sunshine and a beach. He was tired of living his life like a bird in a cage, as the crazy bastard at The Algonquin Hotel had called it. He had missed so much over the years, and he just didn’t want to miss any more.

Not surprisingly, and almost instinctively, Arnold Perlmutter and his wife, Connie, found themselves sitting on lawn chairs outside of their RV in a park in Sundridge, Ontario. The sun was setting, painting the lake with patches of orange and red, as it gently rolled into the shore.  “This is perfect.”, Connie said.

“Almost.”, Arnold replied. “All we need now is to find some acid.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cant take wife. must go alone.. wife can come after but no guarantee your coordinates will be the same. could wind up in a different stage of the paintings completion. or frame of reference. Art is subjective.

 

 

Philosophy And Frostbite Falls

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

One again I was flying, it was sometime in my junior year, and with the help of hallucinogens, I was soaring up melting stairways that brought me face to face with a flying squirrel and a talking moose. That same year I met Amber Wayne, the head of The Founder’s College Association For The Advancement of Existential Women or some other inane group who could do things with her mouth that I was sure would land her a position with The Disney Princess Whores. For a couple of Benzedrine she would drop, pop and swallow with vacuum like precision and deliver a blow job other men could only dream of. To be fair, it wasn’t just the blow jobs that kept me around. We had made some kind of weird connection and there were times, although few and far between, when all either of us wanted to do was talk. I suppose I liked her.

I first saw the moose and squirrel in Frostbite Falls during one of my early trips up the melting staircase while still in high school.  It was a nice enough town,  filled with foreign  spies and gangsters, but too cold for me to ever stay very long.

“Do you know anything about Existentialism?”,  Amber asked me one evening.

“Everything I need to know about it”, I informed her, “I learnt from Woody Allen.”

“I didn’t know Woody Allen was an Existentialist.”, she stated.

“One of the best.”, I assured her. ”

“Really?”, she asked.

“Really.”, I replied. “The essence of it can be summed up in one Woody Allen quote. ‘I took a test in Existentialism. I left all the answers blank and got 100.’ Now that’s Existentialism.” We both laughed, and then she hugged me. We had never hugged before and while it felt odd, it seemed appropriate.

Once again I found myself in Frostbite Falls, sitting in the stands watching the football game between Wossamotta U. and The Mud City Manglers who, surprisingly appeared to be girls. The squirrel and moose played brilliantly, and despite the trickery of the Manglers coach, at the end of the frantic game, Wossamotta U. had won on the final play. The crowd was ecstatic,  and burst into a rousing chant of the school’s fight song, “Our praise for you will never cease. All hail magenta and cerise”.

One morning, much to the dismay of the paranoid, bible thumping zealots who resided on her dorm room floor, and were usually prattling around tennis courts in their starched, pasty white personalities, The Association of Sexually Submissive Existential Sadists held a parade to celebrate their annual Slime, Grime and Punishment retreat. I suppose it was more of a procession, I mean there were no floats, no clowns, and no marching bands. Hell, there wasn’t even a group of short skirted college freshman twirling batons. We could see them from the window, walking around in circles, chanting existential fodder as they marched around the endless loop that circumnavigated the campus. “Life is Meaningless”, and “Man is only what he makes of himself.”, they shouted.

“Now there’s a crock of meaningless drivel.”, I blurted out.

“You think so?”, Amber asked.

“Not now.”, I told her. “I can’t handle any more extra curricular existentialism.” I took a couple of bennies out of my pocket and handed them to her. “Take these.”, I said, as I dropped my pants and waited for the drug to take effect.

I stopped seeing Amber shortly after that procession of the depressed, aging, philandering philosophers who seemed capable of being aroused only by being a pain in someone’s ass. I have nothing against existentialism, I mean, its just that I had heard enough. It seemed to have become nothing more than a series of thoughts that only served to confuse.. There was some talk about man not wanting truth as the truth will destroy our illusions. I want the truth. The fact of the matter was however, that Amber did not. We just sort of drifted apart, but there was the occasional drop, pop and swallow whenever we saw each other. After a while we stopped running into each other, and that was the end of that. After graduation, I heard that she began a career in the adult film industry, which I suppose was bound to happen, I mean what else was she going to do with an undergraduate degree in Philosophy. I continue to soar up the melting stairway,although I can’t predict when it will occur, and encounter the moose and squirrel, through whom I have had dealings with two of the foreign spies, Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. I have been asked to play on the Wossamotta U. football team, and am seriously considering trying out for next season. ‘Our praise for you will never cease. All hail magenta and cerise’.