Camptown Ladies

 

 

I spent the entire summer trying to get Marlene Gorman to leave me alone. She followed me everywhere, and I really had no interest in her whatsoever. She seemed nice enough, but there were the braces, glasses, the weird, chop shop haircut, and acne, all which seemed appropriate accessories for her scrawny, pasty skinned body, and I was, at 14 years old, an incredibly shallow kid. But Marlene was simply a pain in the ass, always buzzing around like a mosquito that you just seem to catch, but you know you want it gone.

I was spending my time with Suzie Pressman, the owner of long, dark hair, a tantalizing smile, and deep blue eyes. I suppose her insanely large breasts also had something to do with my burgeoning passion for her. We spent all of our time together, sneaking out of the camp and wandering off into the adjoining Government Fish Hatchery where we entertained ourselves with drugs, nudity, and a cruise to Muff Island. or to the nearby town.

Every evening, Suzie would come by my cabin, and wait for me to come out, pretending that we would be attending the camp;s programed social activity of the night. Suzie and I prefered to engage in activities of our own design, and would disappear into the night armed with just a joint, a blanket, and the dream of taking home a gold medal in the sexolympics. The trick, as always, was to elude the ever present stalking of Marlene Gorman.

The camp was packed on visitors’ day, with hundreds and hundreds of parents arriving to spend a few hours with the kids they sent away for the summer. My parents arrived in the first wave, and with Suzie busy with her family, Marlene took the opportunity to hover around me and my parents. My mother brought gifts of food, and as we sat down to eat, Marlene began pacing in a circle around us. “Do you think if we tossed a piece of chicken over there”, I asked, “she’d run to chase it?”

“It depends on how well trained she is.”, the old man answered. “But there’s always a chance that she’d just go get it and bring it right back.”

“Stop it!”,my mother demanded. “That’s a girl, not a dog. You two should be ashamed of yourselves.” To be honest, I felt absolutely no shame, and I doubted the old man did either.

“That girl”, I tried to explain, ” has been following me all over the place. Everywhere I go, she’s there. Its like having another shadow. It’s driving me crazy.”

“Its because she likes you.”, my mother replied. “There is never a reason for being mean or hurtful to her. Never.”

Dr. B., the camp director and well known sociopath announced that Visitors’ Day was over, and requested that all families depart from the camp grounds. I said goodbye to my parents, and as I turned to leave, the old man slipped $20 into my hands, “Do something nice with your girl.”, he said.

“What girl?”, I asked.

“The one over there under the tree.”, he said, using his head to gesture over at Suzie and her parents as they were saying goodbye.

“How do you know?”, I asked.

“She keeps looking over at you, and to be honest, that’s who I’d be chasing around here.”, he replied as he walked off to catch up to my mother and head home. I think that was the first and last time I ever truly felt close to the old man.

There was this small, but wonderfully seductive waterfall about a 20 minute walk out of the camp grounds which was forbidden for campers to attend. Everything was forbidden, as Dr. B. reminded us on a daily basis with his announcements over the P.A. system, but most of us at this camp, just didn’t give a shit. Suzie and I frequented the forbidden falls regularly, settling in the small pool of cascading water, undressing each other and then banging like bunnies. We headed there after visitors’ day had ended, and after smoking a joint, began the spiritual rite of waterfall sex. The sound of something stirring in the bushes behind us was of little concern at first as we writhed in passion to the sound of Blues Image’s ‘Ride Captain Ride’ playing on the portable radio we always took along. “Is there an animal there?”, Suzie asked.

“No.”, I told her. “Its probably just Marlene.”

:I’m gonna kill her.”, Suzie said, as she grabbed a rock from the side of the pool and threw it into the bushes.  I put my shorts on and walked over to where the noises had come from. I could see Marlene scurrying through the bushes away from us, like a rat in a maze. “Can’t that bitch find a guy of her own?”, Suzie asked. I didn’t want to say it, but I was almost certain that she couldn’t. Not with the braces, the acne, and the ‘Scout Finch’ haircut.

When the summer ended, I said goodbye to Suzie and, despite the fact that she lived 5 hours away from me, we promised to keep in touch. We really didn’t. There were a few letters and even fewer phone calls for a month or so, and then nothing. I suppose that’s just how it is. Time passes, memories fade, and life moves forward. Years later, when I was attending University, I went out to one of the on campus bars where I was introduced to an insanely beautiful woman. She was tall and incredibly hot. She introduced herself as Margot, and we sat around for hours talking. At some point in the night I asked her out. She said no. “You just don’t remember. do you?”, she asked.

“Remember what?”, I inquired.

“Me.”, she said. “You don’t remember me, do you?”

“Trust me, if we had met before, I’d remember you.”, I suggested.

“Oh, we’ve met before.”, she insisted. “Five years ago at Camp Ramah. I’m Marlene Gorman.”

“Oh hell.”, I blurted out. “You’re gorgeous.”

“I know.”, she replied as she stood. “And if you weren’t such an asshole to me, all of this could be yours right now.” I sat in silence as she walked away, realizing that my mother was right. Hell, I had been cruel and hurtful, and I was ashamed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Case Of Franklin Gillick, Jr.

 

The courtroom was dead silent. Franklin Gillick, Jr. sat with his head buried in his hands. He glanced over at the somberly, stoic faces of the jury, and realized that there was little hope of exoneration. He would, more than likely, be found guilty as charged. And he was guilty, caught red handed, so to speak. Witness after witness testified that they had seen him in the red and black lumberjack shirt he always seemed to wear, playing the drums in a Polka band at The Logger’s Tavern that Saturday night in June of 1989. And yet, he couldn’t remember a thing about that night.

Gillick was a creature of habit. He lived alone in a small, one room cabin on the edge of the woods, just outside of Ullswater. He enjoyed the solitude, and had embraced the self imposed isolation in order to focus on his work as a forensic taxidermist. Every Saturday night however, without exception, he headed into town for a few beers at The Logger’s Tavern, and if he was drunk enough, he would sit in for a set or two playing the drums in the Doctor Debauchery & Professor Phukett Psychedelic Psound Band. He was actually a fairly good drummer, but his inability to handle alcohol, and his passion for flannel had catapulted him into what the media had named the crime of the century. In a strange set of circumstances in which all of the celestial bodies managed to align themselves in perfect synchronicity, Gillick had become nothing more than a pawn in a game of cat and mouse with the universe.

Franklin Gillick, Jr. was a friend of mine. We grew up together doing all of that Tom Sawyer crap. When we were 11 or 12 years old, Franklin and his family moved up north, and we lost touch with each other. Thirty five years later, I  was now hearing about him on the nightly news, charged and standing trial for the brutal murder of a young woman.

Reports indicated that on that fateful night Gillick got into his ten year old red Ford F150 and headed toward Ullswater on his way to The Logger’s Tavern at about 7:30. He stopped at Farrell’s General Store where he picked up supplies for his taxidermy work that included a set of precision knives, some heavy duty thread, and some cotton wadding. Hank Farrell, when questioned by police stated that Gillick seemed a “little off” that night and left without paying, telling Farrell to put it on his account, which was quite unusual. Gillick continued on his way to the tavern, and stopped to pick up a young woman who was hitchhiking along Highway 141 on her way to Diamond’s Golf & Vacation Resort. Gillick told police in his statement that the woman was hurt, and was bleeding. He helped stop the bleeding and then he dropped the young woman off at the junction of Highway 141 and Old Parry Sound Road, a few minutes walk from the resort. According to the staff working at the resort that night, the young woman, who worked as a housekeeper at the resort, never arrived. About an hour or so later, some counsellors from a nearby summer camp on their way back from a day off, spotted the body of the young woman in a ditch at the side of Highway 141 just past Old Parry Sound Road. They contacted the police, and reported that they had seen an older red Ford F150 driving west along the highway shortly before they discovered the body.

Gillick arrived at The Logger’s Tavern and sat in his usual seat at his usual table and ordered a Pabst. “Looks like blood all over your hands.”, the barmaid said. “Are you alright?”.

Gillick looked at his hands. “I’m fine.”, he replied, as he stood to go wash his hands.  “Damn hitchhiker I picked up was bleeding all over the truck.”

As the Psychedelic Psound Band took to the stage, and Gillick took his place behind the drum kit, the police had determined that foul play was involved in the death of the young woman found at the side of Highway 141. The discovery of a cut throat, and a blood soaked precision knife located nearby, set off the search for a killer. Detective Sgt. Rollie Whitman of the Ontario Provincial Police detachment in Bracebridge, was assigned to lead the investigation. All they had to go on so far was the precision knife, and an older model, red Ford F150 which witness had seen driving near the scene when the body was discovered. All of the stores in the vicinity were canvassed, and Hank Farrell reported that he had sold a set of the knives recently. The older model, red Ford F150 was going to be a little more difficult, as Gillick had never registered it. But they had Gillick’s name, and when they arrived at of the cabin fortune smiled on them, as the truck they were looking for was parked in front. There were blood stains on the passenger seat and arm rest. There was blood soaked cotton wading on the passenger side floor, and the precision knife set, which the police found in the cabin was missing one knife.

When questioned by the police, Gillick stated repeatedly that he couldn’t remember anything about that night. He acknowledged purchasing the knives and cotton wadding, and he remembers being at The Logger’s Tavern, but that was all. In his defence, he had been drinking and he was sure that Doctor Debauchery had slipped him a yellow jacket. The forensics on the blood in his truck and the knife found at the crime scene were identified as those belonging to the young woman who was found dead in the ditch on the side of Highway 141. Gillick was arrested, charged with first degree murder and held in custody, without bail. With the help of some friends, Gillick retained the services of the preeminent Criminal Attorney in the country, G. Lawrence Roberts lll. Roberts was 26 and 1 in his career,. In his book, ‘Top Dog In A Courtroom Of Pussies’, he attributes the one loss to a paranoid schizophrenic judge whose advances at a Christmas party he had rejected.

Gillick had always professed his innocence, but as the trial unfolded he began doubting himself. For the first time in his life, he thought that he may have been capable of killing that young woman. The Crown presented its case on the grounds that Gillick was driving around looking for some unsuspecting woman and, after picking the hitchhiker up, had made advances toward her. When she rejected those advances, he killed her. A cold blooded attack fuelled by anger and self loathing.

As the court room filled with media, friends, and inquisitive locals, the jury was set to deliver its verdict. Gillick was shaking. While he had been preparing for the worst for weeks, he was terrified of it actually occurring. Gillick stood beside his lawyer as the foreman read out the verdict. “Guilty as charged.”, was all Gillick heard. Guilty as charged. Those words kept playing over and over again in his head as he stood there as if he had been frozen in that moment.

He was sentenced to life in prison, with no eligibility for parole for 25 years. His appeals were repeatedly denied, and Gillick resigned himself to serving out his sentence in peace. In a letter to his sister, he spoke of finding God, which in turn brought him peace and acceptance. After serving 25 years, Gillick met  with the Parole Board, and was granted his freedom. Nine days before he was scheduled to be released, Franklin Gillick, Jr., was stabbed to death in the exercise yard of Collins Bay Correctional Facility.

After the trial, there was no further mention of Franklin Gillick, Jr. There was no mention of his death in prison, or of new evidence which seemed to prove that he was wrongfully convicted. DNA evidence uncovered that the fibres and hair found on the young woman’s person were not Gillick’s, but belonged to a much younger man. The police believe that the camp counselor returning from his day off, was the killer. The young woman was first attacked before Gillick picked her up, and was bleeding in his truck from minor wounds. After he dropped her off, the counsellor attacked her again, this time slitting her throat. It was all circumstantial evidence that convicted Gillick, and cost him his life, and no one seemed to give a damn. Absolutely no one.

 

 

 

The Silence Of The Yams

 

After an ill fated attempt at minimalist living, my wife had forged ahead and dug her heels into a newfound healthy eating lifestyle. It seemed that she had gone vegan. Just like that. The announcement came as a surprise to the entire family. “She’s gone crazy.”, one of my daughters voiced at the secret meeting we held in the backyard.

“She’s not crazy.”, I told them. “Let’s just give it a try.” Desperately hoping that this too would die a quick death, we joined her in the madness of a meatless life.

Every day she would send us pictures and recipes of meals that she found on the internet, each one captioned with “What do you think about this?”, or “Doesn’t this look good?”, in an attempt to involve as many of us as possible in the meals without meat campaign she had launched. We never responded, not one of us.

“What is this?”, I asked as we sat down to dinner.

“Portobello burger.”, she answered. “It tastes exactly like beef.” She was wrong. She was very wrong. It tasted nothing like beef, and even with all of the barbecue sauce, mustard, horse radish and onions, the taste of the mushroom still jumped up and shouted “This isn’t really a burger.”

And then, after reading an article on their health benefits, my wife discovered sweet potatoes. She figured out how to incorporated them in almost every meal. There were pies, and casseroles, and pastas. There were salads, and soups, and stews. After a few days, the rest of us were growing restless, feeling helpless against the onslaught of beans and vegetables, so when she went out with friends one evening, the rest of us headed off to Napoli Vince and dined on the meat lovers platter. There was veal, and sausage, and lamb and steak, and not a bean or a yam in sight. And it was so good! “Why can’t we do this all of the time?”, a daughter asked.

I knew why, but I didn’t want to ruin the obvious joy that illuminated my children’s faces. “Why don’t you just tell her we’re not going to eat veganese any more?” my youngest daughter asked. Why not indeed!

Upon my wife’s return I was ready for the showdown. “So what did you guys do tonight?”, she asked.

“Not much, really.”, I answered.

“How was dinner?”, she continued, as she headed into the kitchen. We all started to panic. We forgot to get rid of the meal she had left for us, sweet potato and lentil stew, in our haste to return to our primal inner carnivores. “So, what did you eat?”, she stated as she returned to the living room. My daughters left, like rabbits running from the fox, leaving me alone to face the Spanish Moroccan in a one on one battle to the death. She was already wearing her battle gear, that ‘I know you did something you shouldn’t have’ face, with those dark, unblinking eyes, arms folded across her chest, and her left leg a little turned out with the foot below it repeatedly tapping on the floor in 2/4 time. I took my position directly across from here, careful not to seem too confrontational while at the same time, demonstrating a complete lack of wrong doing. My hands were in my pant pockets, and my eyes were intentionally avoiding any eye contact with her.

“Well”, she said, “what did you do?”

“Can we sit down and talk?”, I asked.

“You can sit if you want.”, she stated, “I think I’d prefer to stand.”

“No.”, I replied. “I really need you to sit down so we can talk.” When we were both seated I realized that she looked even more upset than when she was standing, but there was no way I was going to ask her to stand up again.

“We don’t want to be vegans.”, I told her. “We just can’t live on rice, and beans, and sweet potatoes.”

“Millions of people eat like that.”, she replied. “What do you mean you can’t?”

“We don’t like it.”, I answered. “We just don’t like it.”

“Well”, she answered, “I could change a few things around, and maybe use different spices.”

“No”, I told her, “its not the seasoning or the spices. Its the lack of meat. I appreciate you trying to keep us healthy, we all do, but we have to come to some sort of compromise. You can’t just dump all of this on us at once.”

“Okay”, she responded. “I guess you’re right. It is a big change to have to deal with all at once. So what did you guys eat tonight?”

“We went to Naploi Vince’s.”, I told her.

“Did you bring me anything back?”, she asked.

“Actually, no.”, I informed her. “But there is a veal on a bun that just needs to be heated up, and its all yours if you want it.” She hoped out of the chair like a jack in the box, and dashed to the kitchen, placing the sandwich in the oven, and I swear I could hear her salivating from the other room.

“We should do this a couple of times a week.”, she said.

“We can.”, I replied.

“Its so good.”, she added, with a mouth full of food, savoring every nuance of this most perfect of sandwiches. I watched her as she continued to eat, taking in all of the sounds that indicated just how much she was loving it.

“Food sex, right?”, I asked her.

“Uh huh.”, she said between bites. And while she continued to eat, I disposed of the lentil and sweet potato stew she had left for us. When she had finished her sandwich, we headed to bed and laying there, I heard her say “We have to go to St. Lawrence Market tomorrow morning and pick up some veal. Oh, and we should get some hot Italian sausages, and beef ribs. I want beef ribs.”

“Okay.”, I said.

“And on the way”, she continued, “we should drop off all of the bags of beans and legumes in the donation bin for the food bank.”

“Okay.”, I repeated. As I drifted off to sleep, I couldn’t help but thinking that I had just dodged another bullet, well not just me, but my kids too. I haven’t seen a sweet potato for a few months, and everyday I am grateful for that. I do however, spend some time, usually at night when the insomnia takes over and leaves me awake and agitated, wondering about what frightening idea from the lunatic fringe she will embrace next.

 

 

 

 

Changing The World.

by Fielding Goodfellow

Every now and then, as the scheme of things moves quietly along on its merry way,  a switch turns on in the cosmic consciousness giving rise to yet another infestation of sociopaths with the power to charm, and insanely bad haircuts. The universe shudders at their collective stupidity, as they rise from the primordial ooze to positions of leadership, wandering around in the dark hopelessly looking for the switch to turn on the lights. Long thought to be products of in breeding, these uber morons, created in what was left of a relatively thin gene pool, open up the doors of deceit, secrecy and a septic tank full of other bullshit, while closing all of the windows making it impossible to air out the stench. In the days when I engaged in protests against the corrupt establishment, fueled by assorted pills and potions and bare breasted co-eds, we marched for social justice and human rights, steadfast in our cause to change the world. I had always walked and talked the way of a radical political activist, but as I learned through years and years of psychotherapy, I was only really in it for the nudity.

The pressures of trying to change the world, if only in a small way, were immense. Organizers of protests met in secret, plotting their agenda and creating memorable slogans that would entice the general public to join the cause. There wasn’t enough time to join every one of them, so the process of selecting the cause that mattered most was arduous and painstaking. There were protests for longer library hours, better pay for teaching assistants, and lower food costs on campus, none of which appealed to any of my sensibilities. There were demonstrations for racial equality, and social justice, which tweaked my interest, until I saw the notice for an upcoming event sponsored by Women For Freedom Of Choice. Their mandate, seemingly pro abortion, was in reality nothing more than a woman’s right to wander around topless. I had always been a supporter of topless women, and found my cause.

Surprisingly, these women, protesting the societal norm that women must keep their shorts on, were all wearing shirts at the meeting I attended. Strange really, I mean the pro drug protesters were all getting shit faced at their meetings! I sat quietly in the back of the Cock & Bull Tavern as the apparent leaders of the movement laid out their strategy. The plan was to march to the administration offices, and deliver their message from the courtyard in front. There were speakers, and a band had been arranged. It all sounded wonderfully uplifting, but I was beginning to doubt the groups commitment to the cause. Not one word was mentioned about shirt removal. Regardless, I joined the cause, presumably with the hope and prayers that on the day of the protest, these 20 year old breasts would be allowed to come out and say hello.

When D Day arrived, I waited patiently at the starting place. Small groups of women arrived a few at a time, and began the selection of signs they would carry, and organized themselves in marching groups. Once everyone was there, and the organizers were about to begin the long march to the administration offices, every single woman present removed her top, revealed a collection of breasts, of assorted color, size and shape, that even 40 years later is still clearly etched in my brain. There were tits every where, as far as the eye could see. A veritable sea of tits, that moved and with gentle precision, like waves slowly rolling into to shore, and then rolling out again only to repeat this process over and over again until the end of time. Not to be an outsider, I removed my shirt as well, and off we went to demand the right of women to expose their breasts whenever and where ever the mood struck them. For me, well, I hoped that the mood was going to strike constantly., if only to make a point.

As we moved along past the Ross Building, I found myself staring, well more like ogling the spectacular smorgasbord of silicon free boobs that were dancing all around me. The march itself was difficult, as I had to stop and adjust the erect soldier in my pants who was now standing at attention and desperately trying to salute. There were these 2 girls, beside me as we marched, identical twin sisters, who were seniors, completing thier degress in music. Melanie was a violinist, while Marnie played the cello. The thought of Marnie sitting with that instrument between her open thighs while topless, had me right on the cusp of an emotional orgasm. I told her I would love to hear her play, and she invited me to watch her and Melanie practice their craft later that evening.

At the courtyard, the chants of catchy slogans began in earnest, with ‘Look At This, They’re Just Tits’, ‘Free The Breasts’, and ‘My Tits, My Decision”. I was in total agreement, I mean breasts should be set free, and I truly believed that if a woman wanted to show me her tits, she has the God given right to do so. What idiot would deny that very basic human right? Not me. Most importantly though, I did look at them, and they were indeed just tits. Nothing more. Just wonderfully, perfect tits. Hundreds of them. And being fucked up on peyote and a shot or two of Tequila, they were everywhere, smiling at their new found freedom, gloriously free, and I noticed that they all seemed to move in perfect unison, synchronized if you will. A crowd had gathered around the protest, which seemed to make the demonstration appear much larger that it actually was, but it was evident that the predominantly male observers, and perhaps a few lesbians as well, were, much like me, only there for the tits.

I walked with Melanie & Marnie back to the dorm room they shared to enjoy the rehearsal. They were still topless, and remained that way all the to their room. I offered them some peyote and they eagerly accepted. Melanie stood with her violin perched on her left shoulder, as Marnie sat in a chair, legs spread to permit the giant instrument space, while the neck of the cello ran up her torso and settled quite peacefully directly between her boobs. They played something I had never heard before, and then followed it up with a rousing rendition of ELO’s ‘Showdown’. It was brilliant. I spent the rest of the evening with them, listening to and talking about music, getting messed up and enjoying each others’ company. They were amazing, astonishingly beautiful, complete with short skirts, knee high boots, absolutely no inhibitions, and even less of a gag reflex. I visited with them often, up until their graduation, and we continued to free our minds, and their boobs whenever we had the opportunity.

I gave up my social protesting, I mean it seemed to me that I didn’t give a shit about much, other than women, music and drugs. Many years later however, I fell into the cruelty to animal protesting, and have been a supporter of this movement since. It is worth noting, that the majority of the people involved in my local group are women and so, I will be suggesting that at our next demonstration, purely in order to garner significant attention, we should all march topless. It is currently being taken under advisement.

 

Maniacal Max

by Solomon Tate

 

Maximilian J. Botswager, who had been called Max since he was a 3 year old running around the family farm near Shanty Bay, Ontario, sat cuffed and shackled, as the case against him began to unfold. Witness after witness testified, and with each account, a collective gasp rose from the observers eager to see justice served. After 2 days of his trial, Max stopped listening to the testimony. It was all bullshit to him. He had proclaimed his innocence since his arrest, and offered alibis, however erroneous, in an attempt to prove that he was falsely accused, but Max was out of his fucking mind.

In the summer of 1982,  when I was working as a freelance writer for an upstart, left wing socio-political magazine, men and women began disappearing from communities near the sleepy, little town. The Police investigation had few clues, no bodies, and no leads.  Curfews were put in place but even this seemed to have no effect, and by the end of summer 1984, 9 people had gone missing, leaving towns from Barrie to Orillia in disheartening fear. The usually sparsely attended churches were filled to capacity on Sunday mornings, as people reignited their hope that a superior being would keep them safe. And every Sunday, following church, many of the parishioners would attend Baskin Robbins, for a scoop or two of Raspberry Ripple or Tiger Tail ice cream.

Shanty Bay was an innocuous little town, nestled on the shore of Lake Simcoe, where everybody knew everybody else. It had been a haven during the Underground Railroad, and many  fleeing slavery south of the border, settled there. It was quaint, and quiet and peaceful. In August of 1985, all of that changed. A young couple on their way to Gravenhurst to attend a friend’s wedding, passed through the town and after stopping at the Baskin Robbins, disappeared. The couple never arrived at the wedding, and when friends were unable to reach them for several days, the Police were notified. Investigators moved fast, back tracking the couple’s movements using credit card receipts, and witness accounts of their metallic dark blue Ford Thunderbird. Pictures of the couple appeared in newspapers and on local newscasts across South-Central Ontario. The town was overrun by reporters, investigators and curiosity seekers as the hunt for the missing couple continued. The police, who had questioned everyone living or working in Shanty Bay, had brought in the canine unit to search the wooded areas near the town, while the marine unit divers searched the lake.

With all of the people roaming around the area, business was booming for the shop owners. There was  a constant and steady stream of patrons intent on shoving frozen dairy products in their faces in an ultimately futile attempt to obtain some relief from the oppressive summer heat visiting Baskin Robbins. Business was so good, that Max had called in several of his employees to help out. I was in the Baskin Robbins when one of the young girls went to the back of the store to retrieve some Burgundy Cherry ice cream for one of the police officers. Shortly after she disappeared, a blood curdling scream resonated from the back of the store. The officer raced to her side, and shortly after brought the trembling and crying girl back into the store front, with his arms around her. He called for back up, and evacuated the customers from the store, leaving me without my 2 scoop, sugar cone of Rocky Road, and Max at the cash.

Upon opening the storage freezer in the back of the Baskin Robbins, the young girl had inadvertently uncovered body parts. Human body parts. The Police statement to the press indicated that there were numerous bodies that had been cut into pieces and stored in the store’s freezers. The Police suspected that all of the people who had been missing from the area, eleven in total, were more than likely within the freezers that housed my Rocky Road. Max was taken into custody for questioning, and subsequently charged with 11 counts of 1st degree murder, 11 counts of indignity to a human body, and several charges under the health code for storing body parts next to the ice cream.

A psychiatric evaluation was ordered, although it was obvious as fuck that Max was deranged, and while he was found to be a sociopath, displaying Antisocial Personality Disorder, he was quite capable of knowing right from wrong, and by virtue that he had hidden the body parts, he was in fact fully cognizant of what he had done. Max denied any involvement in this, and at his bail hearing, the case was held over pending the arrival of the big city lawyer he had retained. The entire region was shocked. They had known Max for most of their lives, and he had always been polite, kind, and seemingly happy. At the same time, they were relieved at the prospect that the guilty party was incarcerated. The grizzly details of the story filled newspapers and newscasts across the country. People from all over the region would attempt to drive up to the town and catch a glimpse of the store at the centre of it all, only to find the area around the Baskin Robbins was blocked off by police. Just before the trial was set to begin, lab results arrived, indicating that almost all of the ice cream in the store had human elements in them. According to the Crown Attorney, after killing and mutilating the bodies, Max would grind the body parts up in a wood chipper, and mix them in with the ice cream for sale to the general public. His plan, it seems, was to have his customers eat the evidence. Again, Max refuted the theory, and continued to profess his innocence.

The trial lasted just under 3 weeks, with a barrage of evidence, witnesses, and the metallic, dark blue Ford Thunderbird found at the bottom of the lake near Beaverton. The defense contended that all of the evidence was circumstantial, and the witness accounts had been tainted by the incessant media coverage of the investigation, and Max’s arrest. Objections were overruled and sustained, and following instructions from the Judge, the jury was sequestered to deliberate and reach a verdict. The entire community was disgusted, not just by what Max had done, but the odds were pretty high that if you ate ice cream from the Baskin Robbins in Shanty Bay, you had also eaten someone. Unless you ordered Vanilla. It seems, based on lab results, that only the Vanilla Ice Cream was free of human elements.

The jury deliberated for less than 1 hour, and returned a verdict of guilty of all charges. Max was sentenced to life, and was transfered to the Prison for the Criminally Insane in Penetanguishene. He served 12 years of his sentenced, and died while asleep in his cell in 1998 of a brain aneurysm. The Baskin Robbins store he managed for years is no longer in Shanty Bay, having been replaced by a Starbucks. All of the victims, once identified, were buried by their respective families, and immortalized in a small plaque near the site of their demise. Weeks after the trial, Shanty Bay was once again an innocuous little town, nestled on the shore of Lake Simcoe where everybody knew everybody else. To this day, there is no ice cream parlor in town.

There Was A Time

 

I grew up in Suburbia, middle child of a middle class family, living in the middle of nowhere. There were eight of us; my parents, myself, and my five siblings. It was an okay childhood, filled with family events, vacations, and I seem to remember feeling okay. We would take these long, family road trips to relatives spread out across Canada and the Northern Unites States, ranging from Winnipeg and Montreal up here, to New York, Cleveland, Chicago, and Washington. We loaded ourselves into the old man’s Ford Country Squire, the one with the cool wood paneling, and headed off, at dawn, down the road to perdition, and all stops in between.

I spent the first two years of my life in the ice covered tundra of Sault Ste. Marie, nestled on the shores of Lake Superior, after it had eaten the Edmund Fitzgerald, with my ass firmly frozen to the metal rails of a crib. I have no idea what the hell we were doing up there, but I was informed that the old man had taken a job in the vast wilderness of Northern Ontario. According to my mother the family next door were drunken hillbillies, albeit Canadian hillbillies, with little hope for neighborly chit chat. Survival among the wild animals, and somewhat wilder neighbors began to take its toll and after two years, she had enough. We loaded up and high tailed off of the ice floe we had called home, settling in the big city. My mother often told the story of how she was sure that those filthy, drunken, ignorant people next door would, sooner or later, bring us to some kind of horrific end.

I was, as a child, somewhat accident prone and spent a great deal of time at doctor’s offices and hospitals, being treated for a myriad of  injuries that included hazel nut shells in an eye, gashes on my arms and face from running through a closed glass door, a spike protruding through my foot, and broken bones caused by falling off of the roof of the house. To be fair, I did not fall off of the roof. I was flying. I was 6 years old and simply miscalculated wind speed. In any event, I suffered scars to my eye, stitches to my arms, received a wagon load of tetanus shots, and wore a cast for a large part of those formative years. And so, as we traveled, I was under strict orders not to move. As a super hero however, I was bound by an oath to not sit idly by. I was sworn to take action whenever I was needed.

The Ford Country Squire had really cool seats in the back that faced backwards. I sat there a lot, usually with one of my brothers who didn’t really travel well. He would throw up regularly, shortly after complaining of being sick. He kept a stack of paper lunch bags with him in order not to infect the Country Squire. In order to ease his distress, we would regularly stop to allow him to get out of the car and walk around until he was feeling better. These designated puke stops slowed down our progress, and really drove the old man crazy, as they almost doubled our travel time. We would often have to spend the night in a motel, usually a Howard Johnson Motor Lodge with a restaurant attached. The old man liked Howard Johnson. We would eat, get 2 rooms, and settle in for the night, getting up early and departing first thing in the morning. With all of the complaining about how long the trip was taking, and the added expense of motel rooms and meals, I was never really sure why they didn’t leave him at home with my grandparents.

My all time favorite family road trips were the ones we took to Washington, well actually Silver Springs, Maryland, to see my great uncle Nathan and his family. Nathan was my grandfather’s youngest brother, and I looked forward to seeing him with wild abandon.  We would always tour around D.C., as I sat in the front between Nathan and his wife in his Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser with a really cool glass roof about halfway back. My family followed behind in the Country Squire with a couple of his kids. I suppose Nathan was one of my all time favorite relatives. He encouraged the super hero that lived inside of me, and when I was 8, he got me a real cape to replace the towels I had been using. I really felt like a super hero then, standing tall with hands on my hips, cape blowing in the warm breeze, proudly displaying the t shirt I had made, emblazoned with the letter ‘G’, waiting to spring into action.

When I was 9 we took the Country Squire to Winnipeg. it took us three days to get there, as we overcame inordinate amounts of wrong turns and vomit. Uncle Sid, my other favorite relative, and aunt Francis were always fun to be around.  We attended events at the Pan Am games, and I went to my first CFL game, enjoying the blue and gold of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. I have no idea who won as I was quite busy, scouting the stadium for crime. It seemed that there was no crime in Winnipeg. This was no place for a super hero crime fighter.

Uncle Sid took us horseback riding one afternoon. I watched as my eldest brother mounted his horse, and disappeared at full gallop through the brush and the trees, screaming for the horse to stop. Finally, someone in need of help! I sprang into action, and tried to ride after him, too afraid to fly after the mishap from my parents’ roof years before. Several other people were able to corral the horse, whose name by the way was Daisy, and save my brother from impending doom. I fell in love with horseback riding that day, and realized that I could be a horseback riding, crime fighting hero. All I needed was a sword, and a black mask, and I could follow in the footsteps of Zorro. My brother has never been near a horse since then, and breaks out in  cold sweats whenever he gets near a bouquet of flowers.

The family road trips stopped by the time I was 12 or 13. We were all getting older, and my parents had taken to leaving us with my grandparents while they went away on their own. The Ford Country Squire was long gone, replaced by a Buick LeSabre.  I suppose that was the end of my super hero crime fighting, although over the years I have continued to visit various emergency rooms across the city for assorted accidents and injuries, most of which required stitches, tetanus shots and xrays. Uncle Nathan passed away when I was still a kid, as did the relatives in Cleveland and Chicago. The cousins in Montreal moved to Houston, Texas, and Uncle Sid, well he has been living here for 50 years or so, and I try to visit with him whenever possible. Many of the details have faded now, but I still have some clear memories of those family vacations. To this day I can’t look at a station wagon without detecting a subtle scent of vomit.

 

 

Passed Over

 

The celebration of a holiday steeped in tradition and family was pre-empted this year due to several family crises. My wife suggested that we do it in a week or so. “We can do it then, right?”, she asked.

“I don’t think we can.”, I informed her.

“Why not?”, she asked.

“I think that a Passover Seder must be held on Passover.”, I answered.

“Who says?”, she queried.

“Well”, I replied, “6000 years of history and tradition, and several bus loads of Orthodox Rabbis en route to a Hassidic convention in Monsey, New York.”

“Are you sure?”, she inquired.

“Pretty sure.”, I told her.

“Well”, she said, “that sucks.”

“Indeed.”, I agreed.

So, with all of the preparation, the cooking and cleaning, the purchasing of seder specific foods, and the table being set, one of my sons, the chef, called to let his mother know that he could not attend as there was an emergency at work. I had no idea what a kitchen emergency could be, short of a fire, but he was clear that was not the case. I suspect that either the sous chef burnt the beef wellington, or some one screwed up the marinara sauce, so he had to go and rectify the problem. “Well”, my wife said, “everyone else will be here, so it will still be okay.”

We headed out to the store to pick up a few final items for my vegetarian/vegan son, and had to visit 3 different supermarkets to obtain the specific foods he would eat. With the morning gone, we began the final organization of food, seating, and Passover paraphernalia. There was another call, this time from my vegetarian son, stating that he was in the E.R. at a local hospital. It seems that he was experiences chest pains through the night, and had been transported by ambulance to the hospital. I went down to check out what was going on, being asked to bring him an orange juice and a chocolate chip muffin, and upon my arrival I found him in a room, not hooked up to any piece of equipment whatsoever. ‘What the hell is going on?”, I asked him.

“I don’t know.”, he said. “I was having chest pains, and my arm felt kind of weird, so I called 911.”

“What did the doctor say?”, I asked.

“Nothing really.”, he replied. “They took blood, and did a chest x-ray. We’re waiting for the results.” He asked if I could go to his place and pick up his boots and socks, as he arrived only with his slippers. I suggested that he get his wife to bring his stuff over, as I was not delivering his shoes.

When the doctor arrived, he was very sure that it was a cardiac event, but more than likely anxiety, or perhaps a pulled muscle. He was discharged, and I gave him money for a cab home, and I headed home myself. At home, I informed my wife that neither he, nor his wife would be attending the seder, as he was going to sleep as he had been up all night. I was told that while I was at the hospital with my son, one of my daughters called and, since neither of her brothers were attending, she didn’t think it was worthwhile coming down, and with my wife’s assistance, put a plan in place to conduct the seder within the next few weeks.

In the meantime, there was a fridge and freezer filled with food. The pantry was bursting with items to be served along side the main courses. There was chicken and brisket, roast potatoes, candied carrots, soup, fricassee and meatballs, gefilte fish, and a host of Moroccan dishes that my wife had grown up with. “What are we going to do with all of this food?”, I asked as I surveyed the abundance of food that had been systematically organized and arranged in the kitchen.

“We’re going to eat it.”, my wife said. “And what we can’t eat, we’re going to freeze.”

It was a very disappointing evening for me. At this time of year, my thoughts dive headlong into the memories of childhood Passovers spent at my parents home. Being with family, the traditions, the food, and the hockey playoff games that inevitably were on at the same time of year, and how my brothers and I, feigning a need to use the bathroom, headed downstairs to catch just a few minutes of the game and to at least check on the score. And upon returning to the table, my father would inevitably ask “What’s the score?”. That too had become our family tradition. And when the seder was done, satiated with food and the story of the emancipation from bondage, we headed to bed, taking comfort in the Leafs’ victory over the Bruins.

This year, however, there was no family. There was no tradition. And as I get older, they both seem to carry increased importance to me. “We’ll have our own seder.”, I told my wife. “There’s you and me, and the two girls. It’ll be fine.”

“The girls won’t be here.”, she informed me. “When they heard no one was coming, they made plans to go out with friends.”

“I see.”, I replied. I didn’t really. I was quite dejected, wallowing in the disappointment of childhood memories that seemed gone forever.

“We can do it together.”, she said. “Just the two of us.”

“Its okay.”, I told her. “I just don’t know why its so hard for everyone to get together twice a year. They’re always too busy. How come we’re never too busy? They’re going to forget everything we taught them. But we should eat. At least I won’t have to put pants on.”  We sat at the table, and before we could begin to eat, my wife looked over at me.

“You are a good father.”, she told me. “We’ll be fine, and they’ll be fine. No matter what they forget, they will never forget what’s important. We did a good job with those kids.”

I felt better. She always made me feel better. “I don’t think I want to do this next year.”, I told her. “I think one of the kids should hold the seder at their place. And maybe, we should have a crisis and have to cancel.”

“If that’s what you want to do”, she said, “we’ll do it. It sounds like fun. Its about time we screwed them around.” At that precise moment in time I realized that this was exactly where I was always supposed to be.

 

 

 

 

The Secret

 

After a lifetime of marriage, my wife has made a startling discovery. It seems that our personalities are at opposite ends of the spectrum, with her being nice and kind, and me, well,  apparently I am just an  old bastard. I suppose she’s right, I mean she regularly reminds me that she almost always is. The revelation came after a phone call from one of my daughters.

“Well”, she said to me after she hung up, “that’s not good.”

“What’s wrong?”, I asked.

“I can’t tell you.”, she said.

“Okay.”, I replied.

“Don’t you want to know?”, she asked.

“Not if you can’t tell me.”, I told her.

“If I tell you”, she informed me, “you can’t say anything to anyone.”

“Don’t tell me.”, I said.

“But I think you should know.”

“Then tell me.”, I stated.

“But I don’t want her to stop confiding in me.”

“If she wanted me to know”, I said, “I suppose she would have told me herself.”

“She doesn’t tell you things because she thinks you’ll get mad.”, I was advised.

“If its going to get me mad”, I informed her, “don’t tell me.”

“I don’t know if you’ll be mad.”, she said.

“Don’t tell me.”, I said, “The less I know, the better off I am.”

“I think I should tell you.”, she declared. “But you can’t say anything. She doesn’t want anyone to know.”

“Don’t tell me.”, I repeated.

“No”, she continued, “I think I should tell you.”

“I really don’t want to know.”, I stated. “I just don’t care that much.”

“Well you should.”, she said rather loudly. “She is your daughter.”

“I know.”, I replied. “I wouldn’t be giving her all of my money if she wasn’t.”

“Its our money.”, she corrected me.

“Right.”, I responded somewhat sarcastically. “Our money.”

“See”, she stated, “that’s why the kids don’t talk to you.”

“The kids don’t talk to me because I don’t want them to.”, I replied.

“The kids don’t talk to you”, she stated, “because you can be such a sarcastic bastard sometimes.”

“Really?”, I inquired. “Only sometimes.”

“Well, if it makes you feel any better”, she added, “now is one of those times. I’m not going to tell you.”

“Okay.”, I told her. “Whatever you decide.” And then she told me.

 

 

The Politics of Dancing

by Fielding Goodfellow

There was a time, not so very long ago, when I was certain that the path we walked was not the path of my choosing. Fraught with warnings and danger signs that were ignored, we had marched in headfirst with nothing but nerves of steel, a pocketful of pharmaceuticals, and $20 worth of peyote, spiraling totally out of control. As graduate students we spent an inordinate amount of time pondering right versus wrong, light versus dark, and lager versus ale through the early morning hours, nestled in College bars and private rooms in Asian massage parlors, as if it was all just a masturbatory fantasy, only to find that the crisis had now reached critical levels.

We were the artists, the philosophers, and the poets. We were the dreamers who had watched in disbelief as the separation of politics and religion became impossible to discern. We attended demonstrations with nouveau socialist, topless women who believed that there was nothing in a pair of tits that anyone should be ashamed or afraid of. We agreed. We protested our leaders’ promises of eternal salvation in exchange for one’s very soul at enormous public funded rallies designed to stir up hatred and distrust, each with a smirk glued on their face, created by their ever present army of aides whose noses were wedged deep into their backsides, while the mass of onlookers were blinded, mesmerized by their heavenly glow,  unable to see that these charlatans really didn’t give a shit. None of them, in their inherent idiocy could see that what was being offered was the same parcel of bullshit that was proposed years ago. It just had a nicer ribbon. And when the leaders spoke,  the followers in attendance erupted in cheers,  just as he shuddered in a thunderous orgasm brought on by the blind adoration of the chanting neanderthals, and left to be cleaned up by the millions of mindless shells who watched this in silence from living room sofas on big screen, high definition televisions, with a handful of pork rinds being funneled into their gaping mouths.

Harley Stokes showed up out of nowhere, arriving with a bible in one hand and a Parker-Hale M82 sniper’s rifle in the other. He portrayed himself as the second coming and had managed to convince much of the populous that it was true. He was, in reality, a far right, bible thumping, fascist, evangelist straight out of the Stalin School of Interpretive Dance. He claimed that he spoke on behalf of The Holy Spirit. He was a liar and a swindler, a con man, travelling the country to garner support for his impetuous attempt at entering the political arena. Stokes knew that timing was everything, and he had managed to pick the exact moment in time when he could swoop down, and promise the people everything that he had convinced them they had been clamoring for. As if on a beam of divine light, Harley Stokes had in fact, become their only hope for salvation, and was now about to embark on another in an almost endless series of ‘Save Your Soul for $100’ orgasmatronic rallies.

The politics of faith was quite disconcerting, as single celled life forms rose to power, driven by their own fragile egos and self induced wet dreams. It was a slow and painful ballet in which politics and religion were intertwined in the customary pas de deux, as they bum fuck their way through plies, releves, and the ever seductive arabesque. Strangely enough, although unnoticed by the fans of such nonsensical drivel, the dancers did not really move at all. It was all just smoke and mirrors. It was a cheap magician’s trick.

We protested the event, marching to the venue in a failed attempt to disrupt the rally. We were greeting by strong arm tactics from muscled orangutans who stood at the perimeter of the arena to ensure such nonsensical political activism would not disrupt the enlightening of the tens of thousands of people in attendance, and detract in any way from the communal cumming that occurred at the conclusion of every one of Harley Stokes events. His fire and brimstone approach worked the crowd into a frenzy, and through the power of suggestion, they were, as a group, able to experience a mind blowing, spiritual orgasm. I have no idea what that felt like, but the orgasm I experience with assorted women in hotel rooms is as close to religion as I will ever get.

I spent the night in jail for my attempt at violating Harley Stoke’s right to free speech. “There’s only one solution.”, Doc, my cell mate who, as it turned out. was a member of a popular motorcycle gang informed me. “You have to have the mother fucker disappear. Before its too late.” Killing was nothing new to him. Killing crazy mother fuckers wasn’t new to him either. Doc had been involved in many a disappearance. He offered to help, but we would have to wait 3 to 5 years for him to be available.

Very few of us were surprised that Harley Stokes went on to become President. This was a necessary step for his ultimate goal as Lord & Master. The streets were no longer paved with gold, but rather consisted of hatred, derision, and fear. Everything was falling apart, but Stokes’ supporters continued to defend his character and his intentions. And therein lies the dilemma. It is only a fool who cannot admit his mistakes and seek to correct it. An idiot will continue to believe what has already been disproved, as they view being wrong as evidence of their stupidity. Oh, hell they know they’re idiots, they just don’t want anyone else to know. So they lie, ignore evidence, change statistics and grab hold of their bibles and rifles, as that is where their strength comes from. The word of God in one hand, and a means to force their beliefs on everyone else in the other. Indeed, God is a bullet. Have mercy on us, everyone.

Day Of The Dog

There was going to be a party. Not just any party. There was going to be a birthday party at my son’s home. It was an hours drive, deep into the suburbs north of the city. There was going to be food, fancy food created by a chef. Everyone was attending. They had been talking about it for weeks. It was a thoroughly planned party. My mother-in-law and my sister-in- law, were coming in from out of town. It was apparently a party that was not to be missed. Some of the family members were discussing gifts, text messaging photos of items they were considering purchasing for the guest of honor. Everyone was bringing a gift. My wife wanted to know what I wanted to take as a gift.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”, I stated.

“No.”, she said. “We have to take to take something.”

“Why.”, I asked her.

“Because that’s what you do for a birthday.”, she advised.

“You know”, I told her, “He doesn’t know its his birthday.”

“It doesn’t matter.”, she replied. “We have to take a gift.”

“The question really is why do we have to go at all.”, I said.

“Because its the right thing to do.”, she said. “Its his birthday.”

“You know”, I said, “you know he’s a dog, right?” Right. Everyone knew he was a dog. But he had always been my wife’s dog.

The party itself was a gala event. The living room was decorated with banners embossed with sentiments suggesting that the dog have a happy day. There were dog cupcakes, and a candle was put in one as my family burst into a rousing rendition of happy birthday for a dog who had long ago left and went to sleep in another room. He was carried out to hear the song and to eat a cupcake, and then returned to another room to go back to sleep.

The gifts were unwrapped without his presence. There was a sweater, a basketball jersey, some assorted chew toys, dog treats, and a certificate for a dog spa day.

“Someone should have got him a girl.”, I said.

“What?”, my wife asked, wondering if she heard me correctly.

“Someone should have got him a bitch.”, I said, “You know, a female dog that jumped out of a cake or something.”

“What the hell is he going to do with a bitch?”, my wife asked me. “He’s been fixed.”

“So have I.”, I reminded her. “But I’ve still got a bitch.” She smiled ever so slightly, not wanting me to know that she found it funny.

“Well”, she said, “The difference is you’ve still got your balls.”

“Really?”, I queried. “I’m pretty sure that you’ve had them for the last 25 years or so.” I went back to sit in the lounge chair only to find the birthday dog and his little sister laying down across it.

The chit chat emanating from this group was loud and diverse, There were several different conversations occurring at the same time, each one slightly louder than the other, in order that each participant in each conversation could hear and be heard. There was talk of synthetic proteins to aid in muscle building, shoulder surgery, and healthy eating. There was one conversation which raised the concern of the poor and the homeless. I was bored, and I wanted to leave. No one was speaking about music, or drugs, although my mother in law did raise the issue of now taking statins. There were no philosophical debates, and no questions regarding intelligent life in the universe. What the hell had happened to my family? The lot of them were turning into protein drinking, vegan gym rats. I had never felt so alone in my life. It was clear to me, at that moment that I must be the alien. As for intelligent life in the universe, I was certain that it wasn’t in that room on that day.

I suppose it was a good party, I mean its always great to see all of the kids and their partners together. It was nice to see the dogs too, although in all of the years I have known my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, neither of them has ever come into town for one of my birthdays, and there have been many significant ones. I have never received a gift from them either, although my wife informed me that I already had the greatest gift they could have given to anyone, and that of course, was her. I remind her that the return policy had always been very one sided, with no opportunity for a refund or at least an exchange. She let me know that she is irreplaceable, and at best, I would wind up with a a very inferior replacement. And as for the refund, well, apparently there just wasn’t enough money to cover her value. Sadly, she was right.

“This better not become an annual event.”, I told her on the long drive home. “I’m not doing this again.”

“We’ll see.”, she said. “Since we’re in the area, do you feel like grabbing a veal sandwich from Nino D’Aversa?”

“Are you buying?”, I asked.

“Do you have any money on you?”, she questioned.

“Not a dime.”, I answered. “You don’t let me have any.”

“Well.”, she told me, “That’s because you keep losing it.”

“So you’re buying then?”, I  again.

“I always do.”, she replied. “And this is why I can never be returned.”

“Ya.”, I said. “Because you have all of my money.”

“Its our money.”, she advised me. “And yes I do.”