Power & Control

 

I had sneaked into the bedroom. After being awake for 3 hours, while my wife slept, I went to retrieve a cigarette. I moved as quietly as humanly possible, maneuvering around a chair, a lamp, and assorted collectibles. Just as I reached the pack that sat atop the dresser, she spoke. “Did you have coffee already?”

“Ya.”, I replied. “I’ve been up since 2 o’clock.”

“Did you make me any?”, she asked.

“No.”, I told her. “You were asleep.”

“I’m awake now.”, she stated.

“Would you like me to make you coffee?”, I asked.

“No.”, she said. “Its okay. I’m awake now. I can do it myself.”

“Then why are we having this conversation?, I replied.

“I was just asking.”, she stated.

“Its quite aggravating.”, I informed her.

“I know.”, she replied. “But its my job.”

“I wish you’d find another line of work.”, I responded.

“No you don’t.”, she said. “You wouldn’t know what to do with yourself without me aggravating you.”

“I suppose you’re right.”, I told her. “All of these years of having a pain in my ass, I suppose I would miss it if it were gone.”

“Oh, don’t start that sweet talking now.”, she stated. “Its far too early, Let me at least have my coffee first.”

I remember the way things used to be. I don’t know what happened to change it all, but it was different. It had been for over 20 years. Somewhere along this long, strange trip, everything shifted. It was like a parallel universe, with things reversed.

“I used to be in charge.”, I told her, although it sounded a lot more like a question than a statement of fact.

“Yes you were.”, she replied.

“Well.”, I continued, “When did all of that change?”

“It never changed.”, she replied.

“Well. it seems to me”, I added, “that I have very little input into things that go on here.”

“That’s because that’s the way you want it.”, she responded.

“That’s not what I want.”, I told her.

“Sit down.”, she said. “We need to talk.”

“Listen carefully.”, she told me. “And please don’t get upset. You were never really in charge.”

“No , I was.”, I said. I remember making every decision.”

“Well”, she continued. “You really didn’t. You felt that you were in charge because I wanted you to feel that you were in charge.”

“What are you talking about?”, I asked,

“Ah, honey”, she said as she moved the hair off of my forehead. “You never stood a chance. None of you do. Everything that has gone on in our lives was because I was in charge. And look where we are today? Beautiful children, and a  happy marriage. What more could you have wanted?”

“The children, while beautiful, are out of their fucking minds.”, I replied. “And as for a happy marriage, we’re not happy, you’re happy. There’s a difference.”

“Is there?”, she asked. “Could you be happy if I was unhappy?”

“Well, no.”, I said.

“And why is that?”, she asked.

“Because I love you?”, I guessed.

“Hell no.”, she answered. “We both know its because I wouldn’t let you.”

“You tricked me.”, I said. She stood up and sat beside me, hugging me as she rubbed my shoulders.

“What can I do to make it better for you?”, she asked. “Whatever you want.”

“I’d like sex .”, I said.

“Okay.”, she said. “Anything else?”

“Do you think you could make me that brisket again?”, I queried. “The one with the roasted potatoes and carrots?”

“Of course.”, she replied.

“Great.”, I said. “That would be great.”

“Is there anything else?”, she asked, as she stood up.

“No I think that covers it.”, I told her.

“I’m glad.”, she remarked. “And honey.”, she said as I began to walk away. “I like it when you put your foot down and try to take control.”

“I know.”, I said. “That’s why you fell in love with me. Right?”

“No.”, she answered. “But don’t stop. Its really very cute.”

She was good. She was very good. She had confused and confounded me, again. It was precisely at that moment that I realized that she was right. I was never really in charge, and I never would be. But it  didn’t matter anyway. The brisket was good, the sex was even better, and I didn’t really want anything else.

 

 

 

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I Am Not Amused

 

As we raced through Donovan’s Gap travelling at speeds of up to one thousand miles an hour, or so it seemed, my wife, who was sitting beside me, had her hands firmly gripped on my right arm trying to hold on. I sat with my eyes and mouth tightly closed, trying to keep the force of the wind from ripping my face off. I could feel the sweat dripping down my face, as she dug her finger nails into the now raw flesh of my arm. And despite the terror, and impending doom that had swallowed me, I noticed just how nice she smelled. But that momentary olfactory sensation was short lived as we careened down a steep curve, banking to the left, and tossing us like rag dolls into the side of the car, and bouncing us back into the other side. My wife threw up just as we came to a screeching stop on the other side of the Gap.

“Well”, I said as we exited the car. “I’m never doing that again.”

“Are you kidding?”, she asked. “That was amazing! Are you afraid, or something?”

“It’s not something.”, I replied. “I’m definitely afraid.”

“You know.”, she continued, “the best way to conquer fear is to face it head on.”

“It’s okay.”, I said. “I’m not really interested in conquest. I’m good with just survival.”

“Is there another ride you want to go on?”, she asked, with her sultry voice in perfect form.

“I’m good.”, I replied. “Think I’ll just keep my feet on the ground for now.”

“Oh, come on.”, she pleaded. “What about Death Zone.”

“No thanks.”, I said. “That last one was as close to the death zone as I’d like to be.”

We wandered around the park, as she identified every ride designed to separate a man from his genitals. “How about that one?”, she excitedly asked.

“Why don’t I get you a funnel cake?”, I suggested.

“I love the funnel cakes here.”, she stated, as joyous as a 5 year old.

We headed to the food area and purchased 1 funnel cake, with every topping known to man, a blue raspberry candy apple, and a soft serve chocolate vanilla swirl ice cream cone. “Do you want some?”, she asked as she shoveled funnel cake into her whipped cream covered face.

“No thanks.”, I said, as I continued eating my blue raspberry candy apple.

“Aren’t you going to offer me some?”, she queried. I did, and she accepted, and I never got the apple back. We continued to wander the park, as she marveled at the myriad of rides that were strategically placed throughout the grounds.

“Let’s go on that one.”, she said. I turned and looked, trying to discern the fear factor. It appeared possible. Not too high, and it didn’t seem to move all that fast. It was called Timberwolf Falls, a rather innocuous name that mentioned neither death or terror. I studied the ride, watching a canoe shaped car travel up the tracks, reaching the peak, and then falling down the track into a pool of water. Seemed harmless enough, and I could swim. And, there wasn’t much of a line up.

“Alright.”, I said, as she jumped for joy. “But this is the last one.” She grabbed my hand and raced me to the ticket booth.

“Hurry up”, she shouted as I purchased two tickets.

“She’s just a little excited.”, I informed the woman in the ticket booth who was now watching my wife jump up and down in the line. We didn’t have to wait long, and then we were next in line. My wife’s excitement seemed to increase exponentially in relation to our position in line. The closer we moved to the front, the more animated she became.

We entered the canoe. She sat in the front, holding on the sides and rocking in her seat. An employee came by to ensure that we were securely locked in our seats. And then we started to move, the slow, deliberate crawl to the top of Timberwolf Falls. It was at this time that I began having second thoughts. It didn’t appear to be so high looking at it from the ground. And why did we need to be locked in our seats? As the canoe reached the peak, it stopped, as if pausing to say a prayer before its final descent into oblivion. My wife was squealing with delight, shouting “come on already” in anticipation of the impending climax. And suddenly, without warning, the canoe moved off the peak, and began its journey, at ever increasing speeds, into the river that seemed to be waiting for our demise. My wife threw her hands in the air, shrieking, as I held on to the sides of the canoe with every ounce of strength my trembling body could muster. We hit the water, and an enormous wave created by our impact washed over us. My wife laughed with joy, wiping water off of her face with her hands, while I gave thanks to any superior being who would listen for our survival. When the canoe arrived at the exit, I couldn’t get out fast enough. I was soaking wet, from top to bottom.

“That was so awesome. Wasn’t it?”, she asked. “Did you like it?”

“It wasn’t all that bad,”, I told her. I think I wet myself, but getting soaked, no one will ever know.”

“Ah, honey.”, she told me as she gave me a hug. “We don’t have to go on anymore rides today.”

“Thank you.”, I replied. “Do you think we can go and sit down somewhere?”

As she began to walk away, I noticed that her white jeans had become almost transparent since they got wet. “You know”, I said, “I can see through your pants.”

“Are you kidding me?”, she shouted, as grabbed my jacket and wrapped it around her waist, trying to cover as much as she could. “Maybe we should just go home now.”

“Or”, I said, “maybe we should go to a hotel and spend the night without any kids.”

“Do you really think you’re up to that after all of the stress and excitement you just endured.”, she asked.

“Well, I think it will be okay.”, I answered. “Provided you do most of the work.”

“So pretty much the way its always been.”, she quipped.

“Very funny.”, I said. “Now lets go find a hotel room and get me on a ride I really enjoy.”

“Well”, she replied, “I suppose its about time you got to pick a ride you want to go on.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Christmas Flashback

 

“Where have you been?”, my wife asked me.

“I don’t know.”, I replied.

“What do you mean you don’t know?”, she continued. “You had to have been somewhere.”

“I know.”, I told her. “I was somewhere, but I’m just not sure where that somewhere was.”

“Okay.”, she said. “You’re starting to freak me out.”

“Freak you out?”, I quipped. “How do you think I feel.”

It was a Saturday afternoon. My wife and I had gone out for the day. I had wandered off, as usual, and had somehow become lost. Nothing seemed familiar, and yet I knew I had been there before. It seemed like I had been gone for hours. And standing there, surrounded by the cavern like walls, I was sure that I would never find my way out. Fear and anxiety began to set in, and then the panic hit. Waves of impending doom washed over me, leaving me filled with dread and despair. I realized that I was alone, and had no idea where I was. There were people milling about, but I couldn’t ask anyone for help. I just couldn’t speak. I opened my mouth, but not a sound would come out.

“You always do this.”, my wife pointed out. “It doesn’t matter where we go, you always seem to wander off.”

“This was different.”, I told her. “I don’t think I was here.”

“What the hell does that mean?”, she asked.

“It means”, I leaned over to her in order to whisper, “it means I was somewhere else.”

“Like another store?”, she asked.

“No.”, I responded. “I think somewhere farther away.”

“You’re not making any sense.”, she said.

“I know.”, I replied. “I’ll try to explain, but I don’t really understand it, either. Maybe we should sit down somewhere.” We walked over to the bench that sat in front of a metal sculpture of 3 strange looking women who seemed to be flying, strategically placed over a fountain. “Okay, I’ll tell you everything I know.”, I said as we sat on the bench.

“You were looking at shoes or something, so I thought I’d just walk over to the electronics store. But I never got there. Something happened to me. Everything seemed different, like it had changed in a instant. There were these really bright lights. They were everywhere, and they seemed to blink on and off with some sort of synchronicity. And there was music, but really awful music, like Bon Jovi or something.”

“I like Bon Jovi.”, my wife interjected.

“I know.”, I replied. “And I couldn’t really see anything, I mean I couldn’t make out where I was. I tried to speak, but nothing happened. I just couldn’t make a sound. I could see people, I think they were people, moving around me, but I couldn’t seem to get anyone’s attention. And then, I felt as if I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move. It was like I didn’t have arms or legs. But the lights kept flashing, and getting brighter. There were shadows moving behind them, I thought they were people, but they seemed to be floating, not walking. And then, something got into my mind. I can’t explain it, but it felt like someone was taken information out of my brain. It was so weird.” My wife sat silently for a few moments, thinking about what I had just told her and gathering her thoughts.

“Are you high?”, she asked.

“I sure as hell hope so.”, I answered. “But that has nothing to do with this.”

“Really?”, she asked, as sarcastically as I had ever heard her. “Remember the time we went to Medieval Times, and you were certain that one of the knights had a flying horse? What were you on then?”

“That was different.”, I explained. “Mushrooms, I think.”

“So what do you think happened to you?”, she asked.

“I think I was abducted. By Aliens.”, I told her.

“And what would they want with you?”, she queried.

“Information.”, I answered. “They were getting information and knowledge from my brain.”

“Well”, my wife replied, “Its unlikely they got much except maybe flying horses, and dinosaurs.”

“Dragons.”, I corrected her. “Dragons. Not dinosaurs.”

“Let’s just go home.”, she said. The ride home was one of silent condemnation. She didn’t believe it. Hell, I wasn’t sure if I believed it either. As we turned onto our street, the entire block was lit up. There were blinking lights everywhere, hovering over the houses like low lying clouds. There was a constant hum, as if a giant vacuum cleaner was running.

“It was kind of like this.”, I said.

“Really?”, my wife asked.  “Those are Christmas lights. They’re Christmas lights on the houses. And there are Santa’s and reindeer on the roofs of the houses. And big snowmen on the front lawns. That’s all it is.”

“Then what about what happened earlier?”, I asked. “At the mall?”

“You wandered into the Christmas display.”, she informed me. “With the lights, and Santa and the elves.”

“Well.”, I said. “That makes sense.”

“Ya.”, she replied. “Probably just another Christmas flashback.”

“I guess.”, I replied, as we pulled into the driveway. “You go inside. I’ll be in as soon as I get the giant marshmallow off the lawn.”

 

 

 

The Girl From Founder’s College

 

I met Lily in 1975. She was a full time art student, and part time bartender at The Cock & Bull Pub, in Founder’s College. In those days of politically fueled metaphysics and drug induced socialism, she was a wet dream some true. She was from Uruguay,  and moved with her family up here in the early 1970’s. She was beautifully South American, with an accent that could render most men speechless, and most women sick with envy.

The Cock & Bull was my pub in those days, drinking Labbatt’s and discussing Camus & Kierkegaard,  Dylan and Ginsberg, and Thompson and Kerouac. In those self absorbed moments of pseudo-poetic philosophy, her face brought me back to the essence of real beauty. She was always smiling, with a smile that illuminated the room, and dark eyes wide open, accepting of everyone, warm and welcoming. I fell in love with Lily, right there at The Cock & Bull, as I pondered life’s purpose over pints of lager and lime, from a table on the other side of the bar. We would speak occasionally, and our encounters soon included those signature smiles that so often indicate ‘I like you’, and those knowing glances from across the room.

One day, in one of our brief encounters, she informed me that our little group of liberal arts socialists, was the only one she could really tolerate. She hated the arrogant and abrasive jocks, and was bored to death by the business and science majors. We were, it seemed, the chosen ones. “We should go out sometime.”, I told her.

“Whenever you’re ready.”, she said. “All you have to do is ask.”

We dated for the rest of that school year, and she became one of the best friends I ever had. Long after we stopped our romantic tryst, we hung out together, catching movies and concerts, and just sitting in her dorm room on campus getting high. She called me once when she was sick, wanting me to bring her soup and cold medication, and I suppose to keep her company. When she found a spider in her room, I got the call to come and exterminate it. Sometime in 1976 or 1977, I was hospitalized and required surgery. When I woke in my room, I found Lily sitting there, patiently waiting for me to wake. “Hey”, I managed to blurt out.

“Hey, yourself.”, she said. “You really need to stop all of this attention seeking shit.”

“Ya.”, I said. “Thanks for being here.”

“Where else would I be?”, she responded. “Are you doing okay?”

“Ya.”, I told her.

“Good.”, she stated. “I have something for you. I hope it cheers you up.” And then Lily stood up, closed the drapes that separated my roommate’s bed from mine,  undid her trench coat, and revealed her totally naked body.

“Are you fucking crazy?”, I asked.

“Yep.”, she replied. “Now, I take it your not feeling up to tackling this right now, so I guess I’ll just have to do it myself.” And with that, she sat on the chair, legs draped over the arm rests, and proceeded to masturbate in front of me, right there in my hospital room. “You need to get your ass out of here.”, she said when she was done. “I miss having you around.” .

“I’m working on it.”, I said as she was heading out of the room. “Best hospital visit ever.”

“Wait until you see what I have planned for tomorrow’s visit.”, she remarked, as the door was closing behind her.

Lily died in 1978, the victim of a drunk driver. She was 21 years old. She was a beautiful soul, and a wonderful friend. She made me laugh, and she made me cry. It took me a very long time to get over her passing, and much longer to be able to speak about it. There have been a handful of people in my life who have touched me deeply. I hope they know who they are. There’s just some sort of connection beyond what our senses can understand. Its a love for another that is so deep, it requires a minimal amount of effort to maintain. Absence does nothing to hinder it.

I think about Lily a great deal. I never told her just how much I loved her, but I hope she knew. Its been almost 40 years, and I still miss her. I suppose I always will.

 

 

Bubbie Has A Boyfriend

 

There was quite a furor in my house. The kids were upset, my wife was uncharacteristically quiet, and once again I found myself in the role of therapist for this band of brooding, yet quite lovable barbarians. As innocent as it appeared to me, there was much anxiety over the news that my 80 year old mother-in-law had a boyfriend.

“Who is this man?”, one of my daughters asked.

“What does Bubbie need a boyfriend for?”, another one shouted out.

“We need to check this guy out.”, a son chimed in. “What if he’s after her money or something?” I sat listening to this diatribe, wondering what he hell had happened to what I thought was a reasonably sensible family.

“I don’t know who he is.”, my wife said. “Except that he’s younger than her, and he’s French.”

“He’s a gigolo.”, another son entered the fray.

“Are they, like dating?”, a daughter asked.

“It appears that way.”, my wife responded. “He just moved into her building.”

“Oh my God!”, a daughter quipped. “Are they living together?”

“No.”, my wife said. “He has his own apartment. A few floors above hers.”

“Well, that’s convenient.”, I said. Its probably not even furnished..”

“What is that supposed to mean?”, my wife asked, with arms folded.

“It means they are probably living together.”, a son replied. “He just rented his own apartment to make it look good.”

“They are not living together.”, my wife stated. “And please”, she added as she looked directly at me, “If you’re not going to help, then just say nothing.”

“I just don’t think there’s anything to get so upset about.”, I said. “The woman has been a widow for almost 40 years. She spent all of that time alone. I think its good for her to meet someone and try to be happy.”

“Well, it’s not your mother, is it?”, my wife reminded me. And true enough, it wasn’t.

“We need to meet this guy.”, a son said. “We need to check him out and make sure he’s okay for Bubbie.”

“We should just put him in the trunk of his car and leave him in the parking lot at the Airport.”, someone said.

“This isn’t a Mafia hit.”, I interjected.

“What if they’re having sex?”, a daughter asked.

“They’re not having sex.”, my wife answered.

“How do you know?”, I asked.

“Because they’re not.”, she said. “You’re still not helping.”, she said to me.

“Well”, I offered.”Why don’t we ask your mother and her friend to join us for lunch. We’ll all go. We can meet him, and see what’s going on. Maybe then you can all stop talking about it.” There are times when I have wonderfully brilliant solutions to all of my families troubles, but not one of them will ever let me know. This was one of those times.

“Okay.”, my wife said. “I call my mother and make arrangements for this weekend.”

“I’m going to grill him.”, a daughter said. “No one messes with my Bubbie.”

“We could take him outside and threaten him.”, a son said. “You know, scare the crap out of him.”

“Who are you?”, I asked him. “We’re not the Sopranos!”

“We will all behave.”, my wife said. “It will be a nice getting to know you, and welcome to the family lunch.”

“He’s not in my family.”, a daughter said.

“Does he even speak English?”, a daughter asked.

“He speaks English.”, I assured her. “But like a Frenchman. Just mumble, close your eyes and move your head around a bit when you speak to him. He’ll understand perfectly.”

As the day of the luncheon rolled around, everyone was working on their own agendas. There were those who had plans to batter the man with incessant questioning, while others were planning on intimidating and threatening. My wife wasn’t sure how she would react. She hoped that she would like him, for her mother’s sake, but she already had issue with him. Me, well, it made no difference to me whatsoever. I was pretty far removed from the emotional turbulence that had overwhelmed my family. If he was alright, then I was alright. All of the kids and their significant others met at the restaurant about 20 minutes before we arranged for them to come. We were an intimidating site for a newcomer, all 10 of us, seated at the table, some with a scornful demeanor, and visible uneasiness. “Please make sure your children behave.”, my wife whispered to me.

“Why are they suddenly mine?”, I asked.

“Because you taught them to be rude and disrespectful.”, she said.

“Okay.”, I said to my kids. “You really need to tone it down, and behave yourselves. Be nice. Be polite. We’re hear for your grandmother. Let’s try to make her happy.”

When they arrived, we all sat there talking, introducing ourselves, and trying to get to know the Frenchman. I’m sure he knew the scrutiny he was under. I’m sure my mother-in-law warned him about our family. But he was alright. He held his own. One of my daughters kept giving him the ‘stink eye’, and I had to glare at her to get her to stop. It turned out that the Frenchman had a crap load of money, owned several properties across Canada, including a beach house in Nova Scotia, and a Condo in Vancouver. I could see my daughter’s eyes light up,  with dollar signs floating around her face. My mother-in-law seemed happy, the happiest I had seen her in many, many years. My wife, struggling a little to let go of the ghost of her father, also saw her mother’s happiness. We finished lunch, and said our goodbyes, as they had a long drive back to Windsor. As the rest of us walked towards our cars, there was much chatter about the Frenchman.

“He seems okay.”, a son said.

“I still don’t like him.”, a daughter said.

“Do you think I could get him to pay off my student loan?”, another daughter asked.

“I hate the French.”, someone stated.

In the car, heading home, my wife asked me what I thought of him. “I don’t know.”, I told her. “He seems nice enough, and your mother is very happy.”

“I don’t want her to get hurt.”, she said.

“Ah, honey.”, I said. “They’re 80 years old. He can’t get her money because we have signing authority. What’s left for him to take? Her virtue? That ship sailed a long, long time ago. Let her have fun. We will take care of her, but she needs to live.”

“I know.”, she said. “I just worry that he’ll leave or something, and then she’ll have nothing.”

“She’ll have us.”, I reminded her.

“Thank you for looking out for my mother.”, she told me.

“And besides”, I stated. “If he hurts her, we can always have him stuffed into the trunk of a car parked at the airport. Your gangster son would gladly do the job.”

“Oh, so now he’s my son.”, she exclaimed.

“Yes.”, I explained. “The crazy shit they get from you. The kids and I refer to it as ‘getting Moroccan’.”

“Well”, she said, “We have some time without any kids. Interested in some crazy Moroccan sex?”

“It so happens that’s my favorite kind.”, I told her. Man, I love this woman..

 

 

 

 

The Freud That Was Sherlock Holmes

 

Here at the Institute of Psychofictional Studies, no stone is left unturned in our search for the truth. After 10 years of intensive research, Dr. Guillermo Montoya, esteemed tenured Professor and head coach of the women’s nude hacky sack and lap dancing team has uncovered evidence to support his hypothesis that Sherlock Holmes was not a fictional character, but rather the alter ego of Sigmund Freud.

According to Montoya, Freud, an emotionally weak buffoon, had, in his cocaine induced dreams, created the persona of Holmes, genius detective, who epitomized all that Freud knew he could never be.  As evidentiary proof, Montoya points out that there is not a single instance in which Holmes & Freud were seen together,  and postulates that Freud  revealed his dreams to Conan Doyle over the course of a long weekend, when the two men met at Reichenbach Falls in the Swiss Alps during the summer of 1893. Freud was so captivated by his alter ego, that he had named him Sure Luck, a reference to his own deductive reasoning prowess, and certainly he would have shared that with Conan Doyle.

Montoya has suggested that many elements of the Holmes stories were simply attempts by Freud to deal with his own personal anxieties and ‘meshugas’.  According to the research, Moriarty is the embodiment of Freud’s father Jacob, a cold, distant and emotionally disturbed man, while Watson, Holmes’ trusted protector and blindly supportive adviser, is in fact Freud’s mother, Amelia. It is not without possibility then that Holmes’ estranged siblings, with their ridiculously inane given names, are the characterizations of Freud’s own siblings, towards whom he felt great animosity, and the discovery of sibling rivalry.

Montoya and his team of Psychofictional researchers spent hundreds of hours interviewing family members of Freud and Conan Doyle, and it was uncovered, though never recorded,  that Holmes was freakishly fond of cats, and had taken in many strays during his illustrious career. Montoya states it is more than mere coincidence then, that Freud had an obsessive penchant for pussies himself. To further illustrate this , the research suggests that the numerous images of valleys, crypts, tunnels, and caves in the Sherlock Holmes tales, can be identified as vaginal openings, symbolizing Freud’s unsuccessful attempts to slip into his mother’s vagina, demonstrating a significant Oedipal complex. Montoya also theorizes that Irene Adler, Holmes’ love interest in ‘A Scandal In Bohemia’, who he could never quite get over, is representative of Freud’s beloved sister Anna, whom he desperately wanted, but could never have. In a final stroke of genius, Montoya identifies Holmes’ constant handling of his violin, as Freud’s  struggle with penis envy, and chronic masturbation.

Providing a fresh perspective into the two minds of one great man, the results of this ground breaking research are due to be published in the prestigious  Frostbite Falls Journal of Psychofiction and Melon Artistry. Montoya has indicated that while he views this as his crowning academic achievement, he is set to embark on an in-depth investigation in order to prove his theory, that Natasha Fatale, over bearing shrew and partner of Boris Badenov, is in actuality, the cross dressing Bullwinkle Moose at the infamous Wossamotta U.

 

 

 

The Italian Job

 

Francesca  worked at the small trattoria not far from my room at a pensionne near The Spanish Steps. She was beautifully Italian, with long, dark hair, deep brown eyes, and an accent that had me hanging on every word she said in her delightfully, broken English. And, after touring Rome for several days, I discovered that of the 7 hills in Rome, she had the only two I had any real interest in seeing. She was, without a doubt, a dish that I would devour served hot or cold. She told me that she was an artist, and some of her paintings were being shown at a small gallery. She invited me to attend with her, and we agreed to meet when she finished work.

Julian, the bartender at the Hotel Cok in Amsterdam, had given me the contact information of a friend of his in Rome who would be able to meet my hallucinogenic needs, and I was able to secure some peyote and mushrooms. I spent the afternoon, milling around the city, fascinated by the way the people turned into lizards and sea horses, and were able to hover up and down the steps. There was a chimpanzee organ grinder collecting money after he danced. I swear his feet never even touched the ground!, The Via Dei Cerchi was filled with protesters waving placards. The Police were out in full force, donning riot gear, and armed with tear gas. The demonstrators began throwing bottles and stones at them, and the Police fired.I tried to run, but I couldn’t see through the thick clouds of smoke. In the ensuing confusion and pandemonium, I followed a group of radical Romans running down the street in what I thought was an attempt to elude the police. I ended up in front of The Coliseum, where I blended into the crowd of tourists. There was an older man there, selling religious artifacts from a cart. He looked tired, and his face was weathered from the years of being outside. He offered me a crucifix, rosaries, and a small bottle of holy water, all of which I declined.

I was still pretty high when I went to meet Francesca.We walked along the bank of the Tiber. I have no idea what we were talking about, but she laughed a lot. And every time she laughed, or even smiled for that matter, I got hard. The peyote was beginning to wear off and I had no intention of attending an art exhibit without mind altering medication. Francesca and I sat down on a bench along the walkway, and I managed to convince her to try some peyote. It was new for her, and she panicked when the river first stood up and began to walk over to us. We moved as quickly as we could with the river, and the monster that lived within in, chasing us.

There were a lot of people already at the gallery when we arrived, and Francesca went to stand by one of her friends.  There was a woman with a giraffe head examining a painting, and I went over to investigate. She made strange sounds as she peered at the painting, commenting on the colors, and brush strokes. I had no idea if there was another giraffe there with her, but I did not see one. I looked closely at the painting. “What do you see?”, she asked me with a very British accent.

“Demons and The Mahavishnu Orchestra.”, I answered. “And you?”

“The magnificence of life, and love.” she stated. “The wasted dreams of those who would not wake up long enough to take action.”

“So”, I asked, “Do you like art?” Her huge giraffe head turned to face me.

“I just adore art?”, she said. “I am a patron of the arts”.

“Well”, I informed her, “there is this wild painting in The Stedalijk Museum in Amsterdam.” I leaned over to her, getting as close as I could without having to endure her giraffe head landing up my nose or in my eye, and whispered. “Its filled with penises.”, I said.

“Pardon me?”, she asked.

“Dicks! You know. There are all sorts of them out for a day in the park, riding bicycles, playing tennis and volleyball, sun tanning, all kinds of stuff. And every character is a penis!”

“Are you on drugs?”, she asked.

“Well, yes.”, I told her. “Yes I am.” She wandered off with her big giraffe head, and stood by the watering hole. I saw Francesca with her friends, and headed over to them. I was introduced to Antony, a struggling photography who worked as sales rep for a car rental company, and Geovana, who made a meager living as a musician in a string quartet. I referred to them as Tony and Gee. We talked for a while, but I found it hard to look at Gee, as she had suddenly developed bat like wings, that seemed to flap back and forth every time she spoke. I think Francesca noticed them as well, as she kept turning away from Gee, listening to the cigarette machine in the lobby talking about neo fascism with an elderly couple of red necked wallabies, who were busily stuffing packets of cigarettes in their pouches.

We left the gallery, with Gee complaining that she was too tired to walk. Francesca suggested that Gee should shut the fuck up, start flapping her giant bat wings, and fly. We wound up taking a taxi back to Francesca’s flat. Tony took out some pot, and began filling a pipe, while I went and brewed mushroom tea, and we settled in for a night of drug induced transcendence. Not long after the flowers in the vase on a small table in the corner of the room began singing ‘Quando, Quando, Quando’, Francesca and Tony passed out, so Gee and I went outside to watch the flying gekkos perform a death defying Cuban 8.  We sat on the grass of the small parkette just outside the flat and talked about music, and art, and how to make a decent marinara sauce. She was funny, and smart, and insanely hot. By the time the sun came up we had made plans to visit the ruins of Pompeii, and I had agreed to learn the Tarantella. I would have agreed to almost anything then, with the flying gekkos gone, and the sun just beginning to rise. We returned to the flat to find Tony and Francesca still asleep, exactly where we left them, sprawled out across the living room furniture. I needed coffee, and headed into the kitchen. Gee followed and stood behind me, with her arms around my waist. She began moving her hands down my thighs, and kept brushing her hand across my junk. “Have you ever had an Italian job?”, she asked as my erection strained against the denim. I told her I had not, although I wan’t 100% certain exactly what she had in mind. It didn’t take long however, for me to understand, as she lowered the zipper of my jeans, and stepping in front of me, dropped to her knees and gave me an Italian job that I was sure surpassed all other Italian jobs.

I saw Francesca later, at the trattoria. I was watching the peyote induced images of combat ready squirrels, and dodging their semi automatic volleys, as I sat on the patio, soaking in the hot summer sun. Francesca was hovering over me, rubbing my shoulders every time she walked past, and bringing me another limonata as soon as I had finished one. I’m pretty sure it was the peyote, but it seemed like everyone passing by looked like the clown from Pagliacci. I sat patiently waiting for one of them to start singing ‘Vesti la giubba’, but before that could happen, I noticed the squirrels on the offensive, charging towards the trattoria. This hallucinatory fantasy was disrupted by Francesca asking me if anything happened between me and Gee. Sadly, I realized at that moment, that I wanted this woman so badly, that I was about to lie to her.

We had plans to meet Gee later in the evening, and Francesca wanted me to go to Blunauta in Piazza di Spagnato to buy a new outfit to wear to Gee’s recital. We wandered through he store, with Francesca picking out a bunch of stuff to try on. She took them into the change room while I waited for her for what seemed like forever. The leprechauns running around the change area, were getting agitated,  looking for a safe place to hide their gold. I heard Francesca call me, and I walked into the change room to find her naked, looking like a Roman goddess.. She reached out for me, and right there in that change room, in a crowded store in Rome,  we made our own Roman history. The woman was incredibly talented, and built to withstand attacks from all sides. The leprechauns cheered in appreciation, and I am pretty sure they were throwing gold coins at us.

The recital was well attended and when it was over, Gee and I went back to Francesca’s flat. After Gee fell asleep,  I spent the night in Francesca’s room, where we drank mushroom tea, cursed the vampires peeping in through the window, and watched the sun come up. With my time in Rome coming to an end, I said my goodbyes and promised Francesca that I would return. I never did.  I wrote her a letter which I never posted. I suppose it was intended more for myself than it was for her. I took the day trip to Pompeii, and afterwards returned to visit the old man selling religious articles from his cart outside of the Coliseum. I purchased some holy water, and a cross, ensuring that I would be protected from the vampires that had been following me for the last few days.

 

 

 

 

When It Rains, It Pours

 

My wife has spent the last 2 to 3 years tirelessly minimizing our expenses in an effort to maximize our savings for retirement. She has systematically eliminated all things that, as she puts it, ‘we don’t really need’. The selection process, fraught with anxiety and despair, has not always been an easy one.

“Do we really need cable?”, she asked.

“Yes.”, I answered. “We really do.”

“Its very expensive.”, she continued. “I think it’s frivolous. There are better things we could do with our money.”

“Like what?”, I inquired.

“We could save it.”, she said. “For our retirement.”  I sat silently, knowing full well that she wasn’t finished. “And I think we should look at our food budget. We spend way too much on food.”

“What are you suggesting?”, I asked.

“We have to eat differently.”, she explained. “Simple, inexpensive food. Meals like soups, and rice and beans.”

“Soup is not a meal.”, I told her. “It’s the stuff that comes before the real food arrives. It’s like salad, only wet.”

“Don’t you want to stop working and just take it easy?”, she asked.

“What for?”, I inquired. “There will be no cable, and no real food to eat.”

“You’re just being stubborn.”, she stated. “Do you always have to be so damned difficult.”

“I think so.”, I answered. “I have tried not to be, but it never works out. Maybe we could come up with some sort of compromise.”

“Like what?”, she asked.

“Maybe we could use the money we save from cancelling the cable to buy real food?”, I suggested.

“You’re missing the point.”, she explained, with a great deal of fervor. “We have to be prepared for the future. Didn’t you ever hear about saving for a rainy day?”

“I’ve heard about it.”, I replied. “But what if it never rains?”

“What are you going on about?”, she inquired.

“Look.”, I said. “We see things very differently. You like to plan for tomorrow by sacrificing today. I on the other hand, can’t be certain that tomorrow will ever come. What’s the point in saving up for something that I may not be here to do, if it means I have to give up the things I enjoy doing now?”

“You mean if you don’t live long enough to retire?”, she asked.

“Exactly.”, I said.

“Ok.”, she said. “But I will still be here, and I could enjoy the benefits of having sacrificed and saved.”

“Well, well.”, I replied. “And now we get to the heart of the matter. Its your tomorrow we’re planning for, not ours.”

“And?”, she asked, as if I had something more to add.

“Is there a difference?”, she asked.

“None at all.”, I told her. “There never really has been, has there?”

“None whatsoever.”, she answered. “But I’m glad we finally got it out of the way, and that we’ve reached an agreement.”

“So am I.”, I responded, somewhat dejectedly.

“Don’t worry.”, she said. “You can have your real food. I really only wanted to cancel the cable anyway.”

“I must be getting old.”, I told her. “You never would have been able to scam me like that ten years ago.”

“Really?”, she quipped, as she rubbed my shoulders. “What do you think we’ve been doing for the past 35 years?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rules Of Engagement

 

“I can’t sleep.”, my wife informed me as I was finally drifting off. “The atmosphere has been weird for the past two weeks. Do you know what I mean?”

“I understand the words.”, I replied. “But I have no idea what you mean.”

“Its like things are out of whack.” she continued. “It just doesn’t feel right. And its making me very uneasy.  Does that make any sense?”

“Not really.”, I told her. “But I don’t share your Moroccan sensitivity.”

“Do you think that’s what it is?”, she asked.

“Well”, I answered, “Either that or you’ve lost your mind.”

“We’ll go with the Moroccan sensitivity.”, she said.

“Either way.”, I informed her, “Its okay with me.” Several minutes of silence passed, and I could feel myself drifting off to sleep, once again.

“So what do you want to do now?”, my wife asked.

“What?”, I inquired, both surprised and agitated.

“Well, we can’t sleep.”, she stated, “did you want to talk, or watch tv or something?”

“We could fool around.”, I said.

“No.” , she answered, “I’m not in the mood for that.”

“Well.”, I said, “I think I’ll just go to sleep.”

“That’s it?”, she asked angrily. “You’re only willing to stay awake for sex?”

“Pretty much.”, I told her.

“You’re an ass.”, she said.

“Look.”, I told her, as I turned to face her. “There are only two reasons I have ever been prepared to stay awake. If you need medical attention, or sex. If you don’t need either of those, I have to get some sleep. I’m exhausted”

“Well, I’m over exhausted.” she said. “But this feeling is freaking me out.”

“You can’t be over exhausted.”, I informed her. “Exhausted is finite. There are degrees of tired, and exhausted is the ultimate. You can be over tired, but there is nothing beyond exhausted. You could use an adjective, like totally exhausted, but its redundant. Exhausted implies that you are the most tired you could be.”

“Shut up.”, she said, as she turned her back to me.

“You don’t have to be angry about it.”, I told her.

“Yes I do.”, she stated. “The rules are if I can’t sleep, you stay up with me.”

“Really?”, I inquired. “And if I can’t sleep, do you have to stay up with me?”

“No.”, she informed me. “Only if you’re very sick, or hurt.”

“Who made these rules.”, I asked.

“I did.”, she answered.

“It must be nice to just make up any rule you want.”, I stated sarcastically, sitting up in bed now, realizing that I was completely awake.

“It is.”, she said.

“Well, I’m awake now.”, I told her. “What do you want to do?”

“I’m feeling sleepy now.”, she said. “I think I’m going to go to sleep.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”, I stated with some indignance. “You’ve kept me awake, and now that I can’t sleep, you decide that you’re going to sleep?”

“Those are the rules.”, she said.

“What the hell am I supposed to do now?”, I asked.

“Well”, she said. “Medical attention or sex. You decide.”

“You know you make me crazy.”, I told her.

“I know.”, she replied. “That’s also one of the rules.”

 

 

The Rain Maker

 

Among her many talents, my wife has discovered that she has an uncanny ability to predict the weather. With an astonishing degree of certainty, she has been successfully able to determine when it will rain. I have seen it with my own eyes! At first I too was quite skeptical, I mean hundreds of meteorologists, with college degrees and years of experience have had limited success at correctly predicting rainfall, even with the technology of modern weather tracking systems and models. But I have seen my wife correctly predict rainfall consistently.

She was reluctant to discuss just how she was able to do this, with limited knowledge, and no equipment. I asked, and all she would say was that she just could. It was astounding. And then, on a day that she was feeling unwell, I asked her if it was going to rain and she stated that she wasn’t sure. I was dumbfounded. Had she lost her ability to predict the weather? Had she lost her super power? When I pressed her for the reason, she simply told me that as she was not going out, she just couldn’t tell. I asked her why that mattered, and then, perhaps in a moment of delirium brought on by as fever of 100.4, she revealed her secret.

It seems that she had discovered that every time she wore her black moccasins outside, it rained. Every time. Without fail. And so, using only deductive reasoning, she concluded that if she were to wear her black moccasins, it would again rain. Thus, she was able to predict rainfall. “Are you kidding me?”, I asked.

“No.”, she relied. “It happens every time.”

“Do you really believe that it rains because you wear those shoes.”, I asked.

“They’re not shoes.”, she stated emphatically. “They’re moccasins. And yes, whenever I wear them it rains. It seems logical.”

“Well, Mr. Spock.”, I told her. “Unless you’re out there doing some kind of rain dance in your moccasins, it is impossible.”

“I don’t care what you think.”, she answered. “I know that its right.”

“You realize  that with that power”, I continued, “You could be dropped into a drought stricken country and it would rain. You could save millions of lives. You could end hunger on this planet. You could get a Nobel Prize.”

“I suppose I could.”, she stated. “Wouldn’t that be nice.”

“What’s your temperature now?”, I asked. “You’re out of your mind.”

“102.3”, she informed me, glancing at the thermometer that had been in her mouth.

“Well, you just rest today. Stay in bed, and rest.”, I told her.

“Can you come home early and take care of me?”, she asked. “Can you bring me home some soup.”

“I’ll try to get home early.”, I informed her. “And yes, I’ll get you some soup.”

“Maybe you should take the umbrella.”, she remarked. “I don’t know if its going to rain or not.”

“I’ll take my chances.”, I said. “But thank you. With the moccasins safely away in the closet, I feel pretty sure that I can manage the weather today.”

“Lentil soup, please.”, she called out as I was leaving the room.

“Whatever you want, honey.”, I said. “Whatever you want.”