The Redding Mile

by Fielding Goodfellow

Oliver Redding wasn’t much of a businessman, but he had inherited the family business when the old man died, and the stress was killing him. I suppose that’s why a portal must have opened up and dropped him into the pink, plastic Muskoka chair beside me as I wiled away the blistering hot afternoon at Sugar Beach. I really have no other explanation as to where he came from, I mean one minute the chair was empty and the next, well there he was. He seemed a little odd, but certainly no worse for free falling a mile or so through the universe. He couldn’t stop talking about the ducks though, I mean he resented that they could both fly and swim, while he could do neither. He thought it would be nice to be able to do one or the other.

One morning Oliver discovered that while he had been climbing the ladder to the top quite matter of factly, it had become harder and harder to breathe, I mean the air was unbearably heavy with the stench of corruption and deceit. He was tired of pretending that he enjoyed the view that always seemed to trigger his vertigo, and he wondered what it was going to take for him to truly feel happy. So, he simply let go and found himself on Sugar Beach. “Well, that’s odd.” he said. I suppose it must have seemed that way to him, but I’d seen it before. It wasn’t so long ago that I was the one drifting through the cosmos, sifting through what had been and what was yet to come, in search of something, although I really didn’t know what the hell I was looking for. I found myself in the strangest of places, so far out there that I wasn’t sure if I would ever make it back. I swear that if I didn’t jump through the haze of sound and color when I did, I’d still be floating around out there with my head up my ass. And in all that time that I was free falling I never, not once felt any real happiness.

“Don’t worry about it.” I said. “It happens all the time.”

“Really?” Oliver Redding asked. It actually didn’t happen all of the time, I mean it was a pretty rare occurrence, but it did happen more often that you’d expect. All of that kind of searching pretty much ends the same way, I mean there’s the desperate plunge of about a mile or so and then well, there you are at Sugar Beach. If you sit there long enough, I’m pretty sure that you’d get to see it.

“More than you know.” I said. “And it always ends the same.”

“It’s not that I haven’t tried” Oliver said, “I keep looking, but I just can’t seem to find anything that makes me feel happy.”

“I think that’s the trouble.” I said  “Its not out there.  But I’m probably not the best person to ask. I’m no expert and I’m not sure I know anything about being happy, I mean I’m a writer, and my entire life is really nothing more than the fictionalized accounts of the movies that keep screening in my head. Some of my characters though, seem pretty fucking happy.”

“What makes them so happy?” he asked.

“Usually drugs or alcohol.” I said. “But sometimes they get the gift of knowing themselves, and when they live their lives true to who they are, happiness just seems knock on their door rather loudly and completely  unannounced.”

Oliver seemed overjoyed at the prospect of finally getting his hands on what he had so desperately wanted. It was a shame to have to knock him on his ass, but its never easy really, I mean the hardest thing to do is to peel back the layers of who you’ve become and stand face to face with who you really are. Most of us wander around our entire lives with our brains and bellies stuffed with all of the shit we carry around forever, assuming that we’re happy until we find ourselves leaving a psychiatrist’s office with a prescription for Prozac or Xanax in our hands. I suppose that’s what makes it so damn valuable, I mean being happy is really not as easy as it seems. Sometimes though, if the gods have had a good afternoon on the back nine at The Mother of Our Holy Emptiness Golf and Magic Club, anything is possible.

“So, I just sit and wait for it to come?” he asked.

“Well there’s a bit more to it than that.” I said. “Forget about what you know. You’ve got to empty your mind. Go to the park and watch the men feed the squirrels, or head to the beach and listen to the waves brush up against the shore as they roll over your feet. Become part of the universe, and once you’ve done that it will come. Don’t wait for it though, I mean it never comes when you’re expecting it. You’ll figure it out when you get back.”

“I’m not sure that I want to go back.”

“I don’t think you have a choice.” I said. “No one else seemed to.” I guess I should have seen that coming. He was pretty comfortable in that pink, Muskoka chair on Sugar Beach, I mean there was really nothing going on. It was just talk, about anything, but mostly it was just talk about nothing at all.

By the time Oliver Redding had to go, I think he understood. I hope so, I mean he wasn’t a bad guy, he was just lost and confused. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the trip back along that mile of space and time was far more difficult than the trip here. The way I see it, its pretty tough to go back to what you were, once you know who you are.

A Squirrel In Every Thought

by Fielding Goodfellow

I don’t know what the hell we were on, but Farberman completely lost his shit. He was stuck in the endless loop of one fucking weird hallucination that just wouldn’t let him out. He was seeing squirrels all over the place, but not the kind you find the old men feeding in the park. They were Secret Agent Squirrels, working undercover to silence our voices, and if that failed, to send us to swim with the fishes. He was dead serious. “Squirrels are harmless.” Ramona said. “They’re probably just looking for nuts and stuff.”

“That’s easy for you to say.” Farberman said. “You don’t have any nuts and stuff.”

“Well, according to Mindy” Ramona said, “neither do you.”  Sometimes Farberman thought that Ramona was pretty funny, but this time he didn’t think so, I mean he had been carrying around a hard on for Mindy Arnett since sixth grade and everyone knew about it. I think he managed to kiss her once or twice, and he might have even got to feel a tit over her sweater or something, I’m not sure, but that was about it. It was a sore spot for him, I mean he would have given his left nut just to see her naked, but now the poor bastard was drowning in his own mind.

It was another time and another place, but my memory of it has been driving around in my head for what seems like forever, although I really can’t be sure that it actually happened. I don’t suppose that matters much though, I mean its as real as any other memory, and most of them don’t make any real difference in the general scheme of things anyway. In my mind though, there should have been stories told and songs sung about it, I mean at the time we thought it was legendary.  We marched for social justice, and we protested for peace. We banded together on the left, raising our voices together in songs that echoed around the world. We were called subversives and anarchists, but we really  weren’t either. The Administration however was determined to stop us. We were sure that they were resorting to subterfuge, I mean the word was out that there were spies among us.

We believed that we could change the world, and I suppose for a time we did, but somewhere along that long and winding road some lost their bearings and wound up neck deep in the quagmire on the right, dangling over the precipice of their own design, with their mouths sewn shut and their beliefs relegated to heresy. They could have seen see it if they looked close enough, I mean you could usually find it hiding behind God. Most of us still believed in the cause, but if history had taught us anything, we would have known that free speech is never really free. It always seems to come with a price, and the listeners are the ones that usually have to pay. Most of the time though the price is found to be far too steep. Campus Police began rounding up the most vocal protesters. Some were arrested, and others were expelled from the school. It was nothing more than a witch hunt, and we were powerless to stop it. We didn’t like it much, I mean we just didn’t care for the superior attitude the authorities flaunted so deliberately.

I guess Farberman could have been right, not about the squirrels, I mean that was just fucking nuts, but I suppose it was possible that we had been set up to swim with the fishes, in the figurative sense. While he barricaded himself in the bathroom, the police arrived and took several of us in for questioning based on nothing more than our involvement in peaceful demonstration. We were released sometime the following day, more determined than ever to protest the violations to our basic human rights. By then Farberman had returned to Earth, relatively unaware and unscathed by his ordeal, but determined to leave our little band of anti-establishment dreamers. I suppose it was all just too much for him, I mean sometimes we can find ourselves moving as fast as we can in circles, desperately trying to hang on to what we’ve been convinced is important, only to find out that its all just a bunch of worthless shit. It seems to me that sometimes it makes a hell of a lot more sense to just leave it all behind, and do the things that truly make us happy.

The Voices In Bobby Litman’s Head

 

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

Bobby Litman had graduated at the top of his class at the University of Toronto Dental School in 1980 or so. and was thought to be one hell of a dentist. I couldn’t say, I mean he wasn’t my dentist, primarily because I always thought he was an ass. He had spent the last decade jumping from one therapist to the next with absolutely nothing to show for it. It had got to the point where he would sit there for the fifty minutes without saying a thing. Not one solitary word. It was just another brutal fifty minutes of the never ending torment that had been running through his mind like a Jay Ward cartoon for as long as he could remember. Even the voices in his head seemed to have had enough, I mean they were quarrelsome and difficult to deal with at the best of times, but lately all they seemed to do was scream at each other. He knew that it was time for a change and to make amends for some of the things he had done, but after all of those years of the mind numbing torture he was pretty sure that it couldn’t get any worse if he just took matters into my own hands, even though he believed that handling it himself was one of the things for which he needed to be forgiven. In any event, he was certain that he had to do something different.

“Alright.” he told the voices one evening, “everybody out, and grab yourselves a seat over there.” He could hear them groan with contempt as they took their places on the sofa, They had always been melodramatic, but it never occurred to him, not for a moment that those voices in his head were cartoon characters. And yet there he was, looking into the vacuous eyes of the cast from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

“Well, this is weird.” he thought.

“Really?” the squirrel asked. “Who the hell did you think was in there?” To be honest, Litman had never really thought about it before. He didn’t think it really mattered, I mean up till then his life had pretty much seemed like a free fall through Frostbite Falls, anyway. Early one spring morning, after a few cursory goodbyes, he set off on his quest to find whatever it was he had been searching for, certain that the toons in his head would probably not make it back.

“Is this going to take long?” the moose in the Wossamotta U football jersey asked. “There’s a big game coming up.”

Litman had spent much of his life living in fear. It had become so much a part of him that he often found himself embracing it, even though it was suffocating him. He had no idea when it started, but he had been spending so much energy in dealing with his fear of dying, that he simply didn’t have the strength to live his life. At best he merely went through the motions. It was no surprise to any of us that, with all of the failed relationships brought on by betrayal and deception, the only ones still speaking to him were the voices in his head. He headed north, and emulating Tom Thompson, tried to seclude himself in the forests and lakes of Algonquin Park, hopefully without meeting the same demise.

He checked into a cabin at the Killarney Lodge on the shores of Lake of Two Rivers. He spent his time sitting on the private dock, contemplating the demise of the toons. He was filled with mixed emotions about it, I mean while he wanted them gone, he did seem to have some strange attachment to them, particularly the little Pottsylvanian spy. He seemed so hapless and hopeless, and I guess Litman could relate to it all. He was sure that he would miss the two little guy. The truth was however, that he didn’t really think he could do harm to any of them.

There was a young woman who came to make up the cabin every morning. She was reasonably attractive, and they had become friendly, making small talk whenever they saw each other. Litman wanted her the way the Mountie wanted Nell Fenwick, and the way Nell Fenwick wanted his horse. His mind filled with various scenarios that ended with him getting her into his bed. He would fantasize about the things he wanted to do to her as he reached down to play with himself. “Ah, hell.” the squirrel said. “Hold on tight everyone, he’s at it again.”

“Don’t worry about it.” the little dog with the glasses said. “If we look at the history, this shouldn’t take very long at all.”

The young woman who made up the cabin everyday arrived early in the morning to find Litman in bed with his hand wrapped tightly around his still erect dick and half his head missing. There was blood splattered everywhere. It was obvious that he was dead. The local police were contacted, and the ensuing investigation and Coroner’s report revealed that he had died of Hyper-Cerebral Electrosis. Basically, his brain exploded as a result of the circuits becoming overloaded by his body’s own electricity. It was the weirdest thing any of us had ever heard, but we knew that. Bobby Lipman had been murdered by the voices in his head and not surprisingly, the toons were nowhere to be heard.

About a week or so after Lipman’s death strange sounds were heard in the forest and along the shoreline in front of the cabin that he had rented. The young woman who made up the rooms reported that she had often heard voices near the cabin and what sounded like a football game being played nearby. Shortly after the funeral, the voices that had once lived in Bobby Lipman’s head completely disappeared. The moose in the Wossamotta University football jersey went on to become a star college quarterback and after fading from the public eye, returned years later with a series of educational videos as Mr. Know It All. The squirrel, a wonderful wide receiver in his own right, wound up hosting a syndicated television show when it was discovered that he could in fact fly. The little dog with the glasses, although wanted in several countries, continued to travel through time and space in his ‘WABAC Machine’ with a young boy named Sherman. As for the little Pottsylvanian spy, he was sent back to Pottsylvania after losing the big game to Wossamotta U., where he spent the remainder of his life trapped in a loveless relationship with the nagging and frigid Natasha Fatale. As for Bobby Litman, he was buried in the family plot back in the city, and I suppose that he had, at last, found the peace he was always searching for.

 

The Man In The Shark Skin Suit

 

Nora Kesler had lived on the street for as long as I could remember, but ever since her husband took off with their Spanish cleaning woman and moved to Ibiza, she pretty much kept to herself. People talked about her a lot, I mean they thought that she was some kind of witch or something. She was definitely odd, but it was in a kind of Sylvia Plath meets Wednesday Addams way. She wasn’t evil or anything, she was just kind of lonely and morose. Even so, almost everyone had a story or two to tell about her. Growing up I heard that she was possessed by demons, or that she had been mutated by the electric radiation emanating from the hydro towers that skirted the edge of her property. There was even talk that she been cursed by the spirits laid to rest in the ancient, sacred burial site that sat directly beneath her house.  Nobody really knew for sure, but they were certain that something weird was going on at the Kesler house.

It was brutally cold that winter, the kind of Canadian cold that could freeze the world for a moment so that everything looked like one of those Christmas postcards. There was an Arctic wind that blew so hard you could actually hear it moan, and I’m sure that’s when Farberman pissed himself. He denied it, but Tate and I both knew that he did. We would hang out on the ice at Rockford Park most of the time, and discovered that if we stood in just the right spot we could see directly into Nora Kesler’s bedroom window. We would huddle together as close as possible without getting all Oscar Wilde or anything, and freeze our nuts off just to catch a glimpse of her tits as she took off her shirt and bra. It was so worth it, I mean we were only thirteen and it was such a big fucking deal. There were times when I was sure that she knew we were watching her, but she never turned away or covered up. I used to clear her driveway when it snowed, I mean I thought it was the least I could do considering what she had been doing for me. Sometimes she would invite me in for a hot chocolate before I headed home, and I would sit at her kitchen table listening to her talk about feeling lonely and everything, while I silently prayed that she would show me her tits again. I suppose that she just needed someone to talk to but none of the adults in the neighborhood would give her the time of day. She was alright though, I mean despite what everyone said about her, she was okay.

It snowed like crazy the day before Christmas Eve. The roads were nearly impassable, with drifts so high that several neighborhood dogs had become lost in their own backyards until the spring thaw despite the extensive search parties that had been organized to look for them. I headed over to the Kesler house to try to clear some of the snow, spending hours out there moving snow across the asphalt that I knew was buried somewhere down there until Mrs. Kesler called me inside to warm up. I sat at the table, cradling the cup of hot chocolate in my hands, as Mrs. Kesler flitted about her kitchen wearing only a robe. I began praying again, asking that the damn thing would just pop open as I watched her every move, hoping to at least catch a glimpse of this or that. I had never really put much stock in divine providence, but an eerie sense of calm seemed to settle around us. The clouds lifted and the heavens opened, letting in a solitary ray of light that I’m certain could have illuminated the cosmos. And then, the hand of the Lord himself reached down and flashed a peace sign, as Mrs. Kesler’s robe parted like the Red Sea. The cup slipped from my hands as I stared in awe at the wondrous glory that was Nora Kesler’s body. It was then that I became a believer. “Oh, my.” she said as she walked towards me with her robe still opened.

We spent the better part of the afternoon with Nora teaching me exactly what she wanted me to do, and exactly how she wanted me to do it. She had a mannequin in her bedroom, a full body replica of a man dressed in a shark skin suit that she said she used to keep her company and to keep her warm, but she was certain that she wouldn’t be needing him any longer. I began visiting her every Wednesday after school, at exactly four o’clock whether or not her driveway needed shoveling or her lawn needed cutting. Farberman and Tate never knew what I was up to, I mean I wouldn’t do that to Mrs. Kesler, but man, I wanted to tell them just what I had been doing with her. It would have killed them both. I never really said anything about it to anybody, but for three years I never missed a single Wednesday. The neighbors continued to talk about her being a witch and how weird things were always going on at her house, and I can attest that there was a lot of weird shit going on over there, at least every Wednesdays at about four o’clock.

Under The Overpass

by Fielding Goodfellow

The world of Denise Bertram-Fergus was wrapped so tight in the ribbons and bows of her mental illness, that it was almost impossible not to offend her changing sensibilities. When the cosmic forces aligned just right, she believed that she existed in a Bronte novel, even though it was 1970. She shifted between the two realities without warning, and seemed to live quite agreeably in both. She wasn’t always so messed up, I mean she was just another kid in the neighborhood,  but as she sped along the highway of her burgeoning adolescence her mind wound up on an exit ramp that dropped her dead smack in the middle of the Yorkshire Moors. It was sad really, I mean I was pretty sure that she was the only one who didn’t know that she was out of her fucking mind.

By her eighteenth birthday she had spent more time at treatment facilities than anywhere else, without any real measure of success. She was bounced around from one facility to another with nothing to show for it other than a slight addiction to chlorpromazine and a deep mistrust of men with beards. Tate and I would visit her during some of the incarcerations while Farberman waited in the hallway. He insisted on joining us but he was always so worried that he might catch one thing or another, that he just couldn’t go into her room. He was genuinely afraid.  He was genuinely an idiot.  Denise was harmless and it didn’t matter who she thought she was, she was still okay. “I’m worried.” Tate said as we sat beside her bed thinking she was asleep. “If it could happen to her, it could happen to us.”

“There’s nothing to worry about.” I said. “We’re already so fucked up, we’re probably immune.” The truth was that I was just as worried as Tate, I mean it was scary to watch her slip away and get lost in her own mind, and I suppose he could have been right. It could happen to anyone of us.

“That’s funny.” Denise said. “You guys always make me laugh. Did you bring the cigarettes?” It was our job, no it was our duty to bring her cigarettes every time she was admitted. It was the least we could do, I mean she was our friend and her family had all but deserted her. I suppose we would have brought her anything she wanted really, but she was quite content with the cigarettes. “I don’t like it here.” she added.

“I don’t blame you.” Tate said. “Hospitals are shitty places to be.”

“I don’t mean the hospital.” Denise said. “I mean the here and now. I’d rather be somewhere else.”

“Is that really possible?” I asked.

“I think so.” she said. ” I’ve got it all figured out. They think I’m crazy, but I’m really not.  I have a plan. ”

We saw her two or three times after that, and following her discharge from another in the long line of psychiatric facilities, she simply vanished. No one had any idea where she had gone and sadly, no one really bothered to look for her. Tate thought that she could very well have traveled through time and space and finally made her way to Victorian England, I mean it was what she said she wanted.

The years passed and I never really thought about Denise.  I don’t suppose anyone did,  I mean it was like she never even existed. I heard from Tate not so long ago that she had spent the past forty years or so living beneath Gardiner Expressway, under the overpass at Sherborne St. I thought about heading down to see her, but after all of this time I didn’t really have anything to say, I mean she probably wouldn’t have remembered those days anyway.  Over the course of about a month or so I convinced myself that I should go down there and try to find her. I didn’t think she had anyone else.

“You haven’t changed at all.” she said. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“I came to see you.” I said.

“You were always good that way.” she said.  “Did you bring cigarettes?”

“Would I let you down?” I replied as I handed her a pack. “You remember the cigarettes. I wasn’t sure you’d remember me.”

“It really doesn’t matter if I know who you are.” she said. “What’s important is that you know who you are.”

We talked for a while. She insisted that she was fine and that she was exactly where she wanted to be. She had grown tired of everyone trying to fix her while her life just kept passing by. She simply decided that it was time to live her life. She told me that she hadn’t been hospitalized since she began living on her own terms, and couldn’t understand why everyone else was so concerned about her. She was quite content with her life exactly the way it was.

“The people here are my family.” she said. “We look out for one other. We take care of each other. They’re also my friends. What more do I need?” There was absolutely nothing that I could have said, I mean I don’t think anybody could ever have needed anything more. I was glad to see that she was alright. I suppose that we should all get to make our own choices about how we want to live our lives. I didn’t feel sorry for here anymore, I mean not everybody gets to be exactly where they belong.

Wining & Dining Grandpa Morris

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

My wife says that everything has gotten a lot weirder since we were kids, but I thought that it had always been like this. She says its not the usual kind of weird, but some other worldly kind of weird that seems to be following us around like Sam Spade chasing after the Maltese Falcon. She may be right, I mean its pretty fucking weird, but back then I was so busy trying to stop the flying lizards from singing ‘Waterloo’ on the living room ceiling that I just can’t be sure. According to her though, there was an eerie feeling on the streets that she just couldn’t put into words, and for the past few days it had been making her uneasy and I suppose, a little more Spanish-Moroccan than usual. “What happened this morning?” she asked.

“Well, you yelled at me in your sleep.” I said.

“Really?” she asked. ” What did I say?”

“You told me to stop going through your grandfather’s pockets.”

“Well, that’s weird.” she said.

“I know.” I said. “He’s been dead for over twenty years, and when he was alive he didn’t have a nickel to his name.”

“Ya, but he always had butter rum lifesavers in his pocket. Well, I’m sorry for yelling at you.”

“Its okay,” I said. “It happens so often, I just think of it as foreplay.”

“Do you feel that?” she asked as we walked past the panhandlers in front of The Holiday Inn as they tried to shakedown the tourists for spare change and cigarettes. “Someone’s here.” she continued. “I just got a cold chill. Someone is definitely here with us.”

“Well, if its any of your relatives let them know we’re not buying them lunch.” I said

“Do you have to make a joke out of everything?”

“I think I do.” I said.

“Not everything is funny.” she said.

“It is if you look close enough.”

“I don’t think its funny at all.”

“Ya, but you’ve got your faith in post humanity and your cheery disposition to keep you amused.”

“That’s true.” she said.

I suppose I joke a lot about her involvement with the other side because it freaks me out, but I know that if she feels that someone is with us, then someone is with us. Its her gift. She can feel when the spirits are around. I’m more like a proctologist, I mean I see assholes everywhere.

She was certain that her grandfather was with us as we wandered through the city streets. She was sure that she could smell butter rum lifesavers. She said that if a spirit wants her to know that its there, it will arrive with the aroma most associated with it. She said that he was with us while we ate lunch.

“I don’t know the protocols, but are we supposed to order him something?” I asked.

“I don’t know if he’s hungry.” she said. “But he always did love fish and chips.”

“Do spirits eat?”

“I’m not sure.” she said. “But we should at least offer. It would be the right thing to do,  and besides, we could really freak the server out.” She knew exactly how to get me interested, and right then, man was I interested. We sat on the patio at Fran’s on Front Street, just the two of us, with a table set for three. There was Philly Cheese Steak for my wife, steak and eggs for me, and an order of fish and chips for the spirit who liked to keep butter rum lifesavers in his pocket. Over the course of our meal, she kept removing little bits of fish and the occasional French fry from the plate and it looked as if someone had been eating from it. I’m not sure if the server was freaked out or not, but he was certainly questioning if not his, then our sanity. When we were done eating, she asked for the fish and chips to go, claiming that the invisible diner had eaten enough for now.

As we made our way home,  my wife could feel her grandfather continue to follow us, It was probably the aroma of the fish and chips, I mean by the time we arrived there were about a dozen feral cats behind us as well. She put the container of fish and chips in the fridge, and we went to bed. When I woke in the morning, the container was in the garbage with the remnants of what I can only surmise was some pretty decent fish and chips. I had assumed that sometime during the night either my wife or one of my daughters woke and ate Grandpa Morris’ fish and chips. It was the only logical explanation I could think of, but everyone of them denied touching the container. “I knew he was here.” my wife exclaimed.

“If it wasn’t one of you, it was probably one of the mice.” I said. “The spirit of your grandfather did not eat the fish and chips.”

“I thought we solved the mouse problem?”

“We did.” I said, “But its the only other explanation I can live with. Either that or the alley cats who followed us home broke in, ate the fish, and cleaned up before they left.”

“Now that’s a little far fetched, don’t you think? What is it going to take for you to believe that anything is possible in the spirit world?” I knew it was far fetched, but no more so than a spirit heating up dinner and cleaning up his mess afterward, and I had no idea what would make me believe that her grandfather had been in our kitchen last night. It didn’t really matter though, I mean this kind of shit had been going on for years. “Do you smell that?” she asked. “It’s a stale, sweet aroma that wasn’t there five minutes earlier.”

“I’m not sure,” I said. “but suddenly I feel like eating butterscotch.”

Art For Artie’s Sake

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

In an ironic twist of fate we discovered that on the journey to find ourselves we had somehow become lost in the sounds and colors of the frequent hallucinations and flashbacks that had followed us around the galaxies. I suppose that’s how we ended up at The Molly Malone, the only pub on Dexter’s Planet where you could drink something other than the watered down piss that was being passed off as alcohol.  From where we sat we were sure that we could see the universe unfolding as it should, as we attempted to seduce the members of the Young Women’s Socialist League at the table beside us with idle chatter on the struggles of the proletariat. They ate that kind of crap up, I mean they were already tripping and looking for something to warm their hearts and stimulate their minds, and they were willing to pay handsomely for it. Somewhere between the Absinthe and peyote, as the walls began to melt into vibrant purples, blues, and reds, Artie Payne had an epiphany, or it could have been a seizure. It was impossible to tell. “Due to some bizarre accident” he said, “or as a result of some catastrophic error in judgment, we put our fate in the hands of lawyers and accountants instead of philosophers and poets.” Artie knew even less about philosophy and poetry than he did about women, and he knew absolutely nothing about women.  But the young socialists were convinced that he was able to gaze into the distance and see the secrets of the cosmos.

Artie had a hard time understanding most things, including socialist ideologies. It was difficult really when your only struggle was trying to get laid.  It wasn’t for lack of trying though, I mean he just didn’t relate to human beings but he had this way about him that drew people to him when he spoke. It didn’t really matter that he had no fucking idea what was talking about, they still listened. He had been that way for as long as I had known him. He could have been a guru or, at the very least, the leader of some aberrant cult involved in a standoff with the FBI on an abandoned farm outside of Enid, Oklahoma, but he had chosen to spend his time instead completing his doctorate in astrophysics. We were almost certain that he would be better able to relate, and more than likely to be a welcome addition to whatever extraterrestrial life was out there. We were also pretty sure that an alien life form was the only chance he had of getting his dick wet.

Kyra was an aspiring artist of precarious talent and personality, who was a regular at The Molly Malone, and was in the middle of her third term as president of the Young Women’s Socialist League. She had  dark hair and legs so long that a small ladder was required to scale them, and despite being way out of his league, Artie had a permanent hard on for her. She was wearing a tee shirt emblazoned with a photo of Dick Dale and the caption ‘I love Dick’, and most of us at the bar had, at one time or another, the opportunity to discover first hand that it was true. She was explaining the rise and fall of the socialist revolution to me, as Artie continued to impress the group of starry eyed young women who now sat at his feet, with all of the meaningless drivel he could muster. “The only way out of this cesspool” he continued, “is to ignore it. Its all just capitalist lies. You need to find a small piece of the universe to call your own and simply be. That’s all there is. Just be, wherever it may take you.”

“Your friend is wonderfully astute.” Kyra said.

“Not really.” I said “He’s pretty high and socially inept, but that’s about it.” Even Farberman, who spent six years in the physics department with him, thought he was as thick as molasses, and almost as slow. They had worked together on experiments that Farberman said would enable three dimensional beings to live within a two dimensional world. It was all very science fiction and everything, but in essence, a three dimensional being could live within a two dimensional world.  He got the idea from a Woody Allen story ‘The Kugelmass Episode’, and was certain that a person could live out their lives within a painting. In any event, the entire physics department was mesmerized by the theory that was being referred to as the ‘Farberman Principle’.

“I would like to meet him.” she said.

“Artie?” I asked.

“Yes.” she said. No one had ever asked to meet Artie before, I mean his presence was usually thrust upon others without their consent.  I called him over, introduced him to Kyra and left them alone at the bar. They talked into the early morning, and we watched them leave The Molly Malone with a bottle of Absinthe in hand, heading towards The Portlands.

“Good God, man” Tate blurted out, “Artie’s finally getting laid.”

I have no idea if Tate was right or not, but days passed and there was no sign of Artie or Kyra. Tate and I returned to The Molly Malone, and no one there had seen them either. The Police were notified and The Portlands were searched, and while there was no trace of the missing couple, an empty bottle of Absinthe was found on a small table in what appeared to be an old laboratory that seemed to have recently been used. None of it made any sense, unless of course Farberman’s theory worked. We found Farberman at the University but he didn’t want to say much of anything. There was a new picture on his office wall, a framed movie poster of ‘The Time Machine’, the one directed by George Pal with Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux. It was weird really, I mean, I was almost sure that I saw Artie and Kyra mingled in among the Eloi. Farberman refused to discuss it, claiming that the government had put him under a gag order. “Wherever they are, I’m sure they’re happy.” He said as he handed me an envelope. “Don’t ask any questions.” he continued. “The less you know the better off you’ll be.”

Inside was a note from Artie. It offered no explanation, but I was pretty sure what had happened. “We have found our small piece of the universe, and now we can just be. Neither of us has any real desire to do anything else. We just want to be, wherever it takes us. And so, we just are.” I put the letter in my pocket and stood gazing at the poster. It was definitely them. I suppose I was happy for them and everything, but I couldn’t help but wonder how the hell they were going to be able to protect themselves from the Morlocks.

Another Family Fun Fest

 

by Fielding Goodfellow

“They need to start figuring things out on their own.” my wife said. “I can’t be dealing with all of their shit, all of the time.” It had felt like that for both of us for almost six months and there didn’t seem to be any end in sight. “Why can’t they figure it out on their own?  We did.” she continued. It was really starting to get to her I mean, she had been dealing the brunt of it. The only calls that came my way were the pleas for money, or the two in the morning medical emergencies. My wife dealt with the rest and it was driving her precariously close to the point of no return. I had only seen her there once before, and the carnage was indescribable.  The story is legendary, recounted year after year in suburban family rooms and around campfires every summer.

As the plans for the rapidly approaching holiday family fiesta got under way, I couldn’t figure out why she bothered, I mean if history had taught us anything it was that nothing good had ever come out of having all five of our kids together at the same time. There was always an inordinate amount of crap to deal with, and we were always the ones left to clean it up when they all went home. “Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked.

“Not really” she said, “but they’re still our kids. We’ll just do what we have to do and have a nice evening.” I thought that she was being a bit too optimistic, but that was just the way she was.

The kids arrived with the reckless abandon usually reserved for frat parties or English football games, chanting out their resentment of the traffic snarls and parking issues they faced on their journey downtown, each one sharing their indignation with the others. “Hang up your coats.” my wife said as they began tossing them haphazardly across the furniture.

One of my daughter’s arrived with her new boyfriend,  a nice enough guy I suppose, but he seemed very out of place as she dragged him around and introduced him to the family. I was informed that they were living together, and to be honest, I was a little surprised. “What happened to the little guy?” I asked my wife.

“That ended almost a year ago.” she said. “Where have you been?” More often than not I felt like I needed a scorecard to keep track of all of the comings and goings within my family, I mean I’m generally out of the loop. My wife has told me that its my own doing. She thinks that I should take more of an interest in my kids’ lives but to be honest, I’m just too busy surfing the waves of my own discontentment with humanity to pay attention to their piddly ass, little lives.

Somewhere between the soup and the brisket all hell broke loose. “I quit my job.” one of my sons said. There was a moment of silence as my wife looked at me. Her eyes were dark and she had stopped blinking. “The chef is a prick and I’m tired of him always giving me shit.”

“What are you going to do?” one of the kids asked.

“I don’t know.” My son said. “It’ll work itself out.”

“When are you going to grow up?” my wife asked. “You have bills to pay.”

“Its not a big deal.” my son said. “Worst case scenario, I’ll just move home until I sort it all out.” I swear I saw steam coming out of my wife’s ears, and I put my hand on her thigh, gently squeezing it to let her know that I was there to support her. It turned out to be just a cake burning in the oven, but the boy had certainly pissed his mother right off.

“Just so you understand” she said, “if you really need to move home, you’d better figure out how you’re going to pay for it. If you have no money, you’re going to have to pay your way by working around here. There is no free ride any longer. Not for any of you.” A hush fell over the room that seemed to last forever. No one seemed to know what to say or do next. I wanted someone to pass the eggplant, but it just didn’t seem like the right time.

“I suppose you feel the same way?” my son asked me.

“Not at all.” I said. “I think your mother and I should just move away and leave you kids to sort out your own damn lives.”

“Well that’s a little irresponsible.” one of my daughters said. “You’re our parents. If you weren’t prepared to be a parent, you shouldn’t have had kids.”  I could feel the muscles in my wife’s thigh tighten and I realized that the point of no return had been crossed. I just hoped that it would be quick and merciful.

“I’m okay.” My wife said to me as she squeezed my hand that was still on her thigh. “I’m okay.” She leaned back in her chair, and took an incredibly deep breath. “You are, without a doubt, the most self-centered and ungrateful people I have ever known. We have spent our lives teaching you, taking care of you, protecting you and fighting for you even if we didn’t like the choices you made. If you don’t like how we parent, feel free to make the choice to get out of my house. All of you need to grow up and learn how to take care of yourselves and maybe spend some time in your incredibly busy unemployed days to make sure that we’re okay. I don’t remember the last time any of you has ever bothered to find out if we need anything. And now, you can sit here and finish eating or take whatever you want with you, but your father and I are going to leave. We’re going to our room now as the old man has had his hand on my thigh for the last fifteen minutes, and I think its excited the hell out him.” We stood up and headed into the bedroom, leaving the murmuring of the kids and their partners behind.

“Well that was brilliant.” I said.

“Do you think I was a too rough on them?” she asked.

“Not at all” I said, “but then I like it rough, and they’ll get over it. What about you?”

“I’m already over it.”

“So, what now?” I asked.

“Well I notice you’ve got your hand on my thigh again.” she said. “I’ve never lied to the kids, so I suppose we could get a little rough, if you’re interested.”

I Know A Little

 

by Fielding Goodfellow

I don’t know how she didn’t wind up with whiplash, I mean she turned her head so fast that I was sure it was going to sail across the room into the fish tank, settling at the bottom where it would forever stare at me with suspicion. “Did you do something you weren’t supposed to?” she asked. Hell, I had been doing things I wasn’t supposed to, sometimes two or three times every day of my life, I mean, that’s just the way I am. My mother used to worry that she’d get a call some dark and stormy night that I was laying in a ditch somewhere in rural Dufferin Country, and the old man, well he was certain that I’d wind up in prison. To everyone’s surprise, I managed to evaded both. I tried to think of what I had done that day, but nothing came to mind.  My wife however had her voodoo thing going on. She got these waves of energy and she knew.  She said that she could always sense when something was amiss, and to tell the truth, she usually could.

It had been going on for decades really, although it took me nearly twenty years of marriage to figure it out. It was never a big deal, I mean it was always some trivial thing, like an unpaid parking ticket or a bill for driving on toll highways.  It was always about money. Its not that I ever tried to hide anything from her, I mean it all seemed so meaningless in the general scheme of things that I just simply forgot to mention it. But we played this game often, round after round of some Spanish-Moroccan version of ‘I know what you did’, that always seemed to leave me feeling like Mr. K. in The Trial. “More than likely.” I said, recognizing that really was the was the only move. In all likelihood I had. It didn’t really matter what it was anymore I mean, once she was sure that I was involved, a confession was the only way to end the entire proceeding and possibly save a life.  Pleading innocence was suicide, but that innocuous confession would save me from the customary two or three days of her not speaking, followed by a review of the incident that would raise its ugly head semi regularly for the rest of my life.

“I just wish you’d tell me.” she said. “I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”.  She was right, but it could very well have been too much to ask, I mean we just didn’t see it the same way. I know it was important to her, but it meant nothing to me, I mean there was a truckload of  stuff that was important to me that she didn’t give a shit about. That’s just how it was. And yet when I raised a concern, we never seemed to resolve it, I mean there was no confession or even a concession on her part.

“You know” I said, “you win every argument.”

“That’s not true.” she said. “Remember when I moved the furniture around you said you wanted it moved back.”

“It was never moved back.”

“Well, as I recall you got very distracted and we never really got to finish the discussion.”

“Right.” I said. “You took your shirt off and showed me your tits. What did you think was gonna happen?” And there it was. I had always thought that I was a relatively bright man, I mean I’m not claiming to be a genius or anything, but I get it. I generally understand what’s going on around me. That being said, I had absolutely no idea why I hadn’t realized this before. She played me. She used her body to distract me whenever there was an issue she didn’t want to deal with. It was no wonder that I never got to ask the questions. Anytime she wanted to avoid the confrontation, she simply showed me her tits.

“You manipulate me.” I said. “What if I did that to you?”

“You’re kidding.” she said.

“No. I’m dead serious. What if every time you got upset, I whipped my junk out?”

“You’d stand a fair chance of losing it.”

“What?”

“If I am upset” she said, “I’m upset. That’s it. But every time you see a pair of tits its like your twelve years old and you’re seeing them for the very first time. You have no idea what the hell you were doing once I take my shirt off.”  Well, she was right. Hell, that pissed me off, but she was right, I mean that really is all it takes to distract me. A pair of tits or a thigh, it didn’t really matter. All she had to do was take her clothes off and whatever else was going on vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

“Well that’s gonna change.” I said.

“Okay.” she said. “But you can’t help yourself.”

I knew she was right, I mean she knew me better than I knew myself. I had no idea why I even said it, but if I could have done it, I would have. Not four hours later, after she informed one of my sons that he could move back home if he wanted to and before I had a chance to express my displeasure with the possibility, she said that she was hot and pulled her shirt up over her head. “Come on” she said,  tapping her hand on the mattress, “come to bed.”

On The Roof

 

by Fielding Goodfellow

The family that moved in directly across the street from us when I was growing up were pretty fucking strange. Not in a creepy sort of way or anything, but they were weird. Everyone thought so. They weren’t really friends with anyone on the street, I mean there were the obligatory hellos and other familiar pleasantries, but no one ever really hung out with the Klingmans or anything. We called them the Klingons, simply because we were sure that they had come from some other planet, and if not then they were most likely the product of inbreeding. Either way, they were definitely messed up.  In the two years since they had moved in, I had barely said anything to any of them. In the summer of 1970, that all changed.

In that summer I began spending a lot of time on the roof of my parent’s house. It was quiet and peaceful, and the world seemed so different from up there. And there was Bonnie Klingman, who at eighteen years old had become the object of many of my wet dreams, had been mounting the ladder that bore the tv antennae and carefully placing a foot on each rung, made her way to the roof of her parents house. And there, in the heat of the midday sun, she took off her clothes and lay naked on the bath towel she had spread out on the hot shingles. I Knew that I probably should have turned away, but I didn’t, I mean I couldn’t. I stayed right where I was, spellbound as I watched her breasts heave with each breath, and followed the curves of her body with my eyes. Hell, she was beautiful.

One evening, as I was practicing my slap shot against the garage door, Bonnie came across the street. “I know you’ve been watching me up on the roof.” she said. I tried my best to deny it, but I suppose that my embarrassment or perhaps it was my guilt that gave me away. “Its okay.” she said. ” I’m not gonna tell.  I kind of like it.”

“Me too.” I said.

“You know you’d get a much better look if you came up to the roof with me.”

“I suppose I would.”

“Well, you’re welcome any time.” she said, as she walked away, just like that.

I had trouble sleeping that night, I mean there was this movie that just kept playing over and over again in my head, and no matter how many times I rehearsed every moment and contemplated every possible scenario in order to leave nothing to chance, it always had the same ending, with me falling off of the roof and being discovered naked in the bushes beside to Klingman’s house. I suppose that I should have seen it as an omen, but at thirteen years old my dick was making most of my decisions.

I watched from my roof as Bonnie came out of her house in the morning and began her long, sultry climb up the rungs of the antennae base. Once at the top, she began a slow, purposeful strip tease allowing me an opportunity to see her as God intended. She stood, proudly displaying her nakedness, lit up a cigarette and smiled at me as she seductively caressed her breasts before sitting down on the bath towel. With nervous excitement I scurried down the antennae at my house, raced across the road, and flew up the stairway to heaven. I have no idea where she learned to do the things she did to me, but it confirmed my suspicion that she was indeed not from this planet. The rooftop rendezvous went on for most of the summer. It always played out the same. For a couple of days Bonnie would perform for me from her roof, dancing naked and touching herself, teasing me to no end while I sat across the road and watched. On the third day I climbed the ladder at the side of her house and made my way to her body where we spent most of the afternoon banging our brains out. I suppose it was kind of cheap and sleazy, and I suppose it cost me some of my self respect, but hell it was worth it every bit of it. The old man had started worrying about the amount of time I had been spending alone on his roof and pointed out that it could be very lonely at the top, but as far as I knew, the old man had never been with Bonnie Klingman.