Category Archives: Religion

Ms. Grundy and the Bone Ghosts (5)

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Mary O’Shea blundered into the house and kicked off her shoes. Her husband, the constable, was sitting in his relaxing chair in the front room and staring out the window while he sipped on a glass with three fingers of Jameson Whiskey inside it. “Where have you been?” he called out without even glancing over at her as she stood in the mysterious shadows.

“Working,” she huffed.

“Working hard?” Harley scoffed.

“I always do,” she replied.

“I bet you do.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” she said, stepping further into the room.

He finally turned to look at her. “How’s Lloyd?”

She shifted nervously. “Lloyd?”

“Lloyd the bartender from The Village Fig. I paid him a visit today.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Because he’s up to no good, that’s why. And so are you.” Harley O’Shea sat his glass down on a side table and got up out of his chair. He sauntered over to where she stood and looked her up and down. He sniffed at her. “I can smell him on you,” he said. “You smell like his place. I have a nose like a bloodhound.”

She backed away from him. “And a face like one, too.”

Harley roughly grabbed her by the arm and ran his nose all over her, inhaling her like a vacuum would a dirty carpet.

“What on Earth are you doing!?”

“Inspecting my wife,” he answered. “You do remember you’re my wife, right?”

“I need to shower,” she said, and she started to walk away, but Harley clamped a hand on her shoulder to stop her.

“Wait. Get undressed right here,” he ordered.

Mary protested. “What!? No. I will not.”

He jerked on her arm. “Strip.”

“Harley, you’re hurting me.”

“And I’ll hurt you a lot more if you don’t strip right now… And then I’ll arrest you.”

“For what?” she seethed.

“For adultery,” Harley told her, and he was dead serious.

But she just laughed at him and tore away from his grip. He quickly grabbed her by the back of the neck, but she countered with a quick, hard knee to the groin. Harley stumbled back, clutching his precious jewels. “You bitch,” he hissed.

“Don’t ever put your hands on me again,” Mary said, a stiff finger in the air. “Ever!” She turned away from him and went to take a shower.

It was Lloyd the bartender’s day off and he had decided that what he needed was a good walkabout in the woods. But first, he decided, he wanted to stop off at the church on the edge of town to see if he could get a few minutes of Father Oban’s time.

The church was a small stone relic from another time and that gave Lloyd some peace in his guts for he has always had an appreciation for the warm aesthetics of divine architecture. He pushed on the red door, and it creaked. He was greeted by the scent of burning candles and old stone and old wood and the remnants of funeral incense.

There was a large figure kneeling in one of the front pews and they were looking up at the big cross with ripped up Jesus on it. A head turned when the figure sensed Lloyd’s presence. He motioned at Lloyd to come forward.

Lloyd walked forward and shuffled into the pew and sat down next to Father Oban. “Hello, Father,” he said. “I was hoping I could speak with you.”

Father Oban moved up into a sitting position. “Absolutely,” he said, and he turned to look all around at the empty church. “As you can see, I’m not very busy… Is something troubling you?”

Lloyd took a deep breath and came right out with it. “I think I’m having an affair with a married woman.”

“You think you are?”

“I mean… We’ve been flirtatious. She’s been to my apartment.”

“I think you know exactly what I’m going to say… Do not tread on another man’s land, Lloyd. You must resist temptation.”

“But she’s unhappy with him. I’m sure he’s awful to her,” Lloyd said.

“Lloyd, my advice would be to step back from this situation. They need to resolve it their problems, not you. The outcome, no matter what it is, must be facilitated by them. If I were you, I’d keep my distance… For now, at least.”

“But I’m lonely, Father.”

Father Oban, who was a large man with a golden color, clamped a hand onto Lloyd’s thigh. “I know loneliness as well, Lloyd. We all do at some point in our lives. It’s a constant in the human condition, I’m afraid. But you cannot allow loneliness to be a catalyst for sin. You must find ways to cultivate this loneliness so that something new and green and positive begins to grow.”

Lloyd looked at him as if he didn’t understand anything he just said. “You mean… Like a hobby?”

“Sure, a hobby,” Father Oban replied.

“I have a stamp collection I haven’t touched in years. Maybe I could get back into that.”

“Stamp collecting, huh? Seems like a noble pursuit,” the priest said, and he moved his hand higher up on Lloyd’s thigh.

Lloyd glanced down at it for a moment. He found it to be a strange sensation. “May I ask what you’re doing?”


“Your hand. It seems to be creeping up to somewhere it probably shouldn’t be.”

Father Oban pulled his hand away and embarrassingly smiled. “I’m sorry, Lloyd. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”

“It must be hard not to be able to be intimate with others.”

Father Oban sighed. “It’s part of my oath, my commitment to God. But yes, it is a struggle.”

Lloyd then reached out and took the priest’s hand and placed it on his thigh like it was before. “It’s okay if you want to,” Lloyd said, and he moved closer to Father Oban and they sat like that together in the empty, quiet church for a long time.



You, again.

The erratic sidewinder in plaid.

Going apeshit over a loaf of bread.

Have you ever heard of tranquility?

Oh, I see, you reach for it there, you look for it in your…earbuds?

Why do you stop and yawn and pause and breathe and think and question?

The world says go, mind skids, the world says know all you can… The mind knows fear, trepidation, hesitation, latency, blueprints burning in an Oxford fireplace. Plans going up in smoke like Colorado reefer in an apple bong.

The gong in the mountain. The birds gather, flutter at the entrance to the cave. There’s something deep down inside. Get it out. Tell it. Feel it. Peel it from the botchwork in your soul leather this night. Flowers in October. Snowmen in May. Rice soup in August. The clock runs backward, faster, faster, faster… Until you are born again. The priest moves a red velvet curtain aside and walks out of a highly polished mahogany box. He holds the baby aloft in his hands. “He has returned,” he says in three slow breaths.

He passes him to a man dressed like a smokestack. A cloud of thought is spewing from the very tip top of his head. “This,” he begins. “Is an exercise in recreation… And I will swallow all lives whole.”

He drops the baby into the top of the smokestack and there is a minor explosion. Confetti the color of candy suddenly bursts out. The baby has slid down to the furnace. He will work there for another 71 years. “Nobody ever says they want to be a furnace worker,” the man dressed as a smokestack says. “So, we make the decision for you.” He laughs out loud and the priest lumbers over and gives him a high-five—flesh against brick.

“Let’s go back to my place and drink some wine,” the priest says.

The man dressed as a smokestack laughs. “But I’m not a kid!”

A synthetic laugh track laughs mechanically along with him.

The camera zooms in on the priest’s long, scowling face. “Oh, come on!” he says. “We’re not all perverts… And besides, you just swallowed a baby.”

“I did no such thing,” the man dressed as a smokestack says. “I simply set him on his life path.”

“That’s no life,” the priest complains. “That’s hell on Earth.”

“Hell is Earth, you fool. Earth is Hell. How could you have not figured that out by now? Your God play, your religious charade is simply a tool, a coping mechanism. You are a victim of your own game.”

“If this is Hell, then where do we go after we die?” the priest wanted to know. “Hell 2?”

The man dressed as a smokestack laughed his bellowing laugh and his bricks shook. “We come back for another round. I mean, you just demonstrated that very same thing. Are you blind?”

“I am only blinded by the misguided nonsense that is you. Your lack of anything that resembles wisdom is nauseating. It was rebirth. The child found goodness and you suddenly plucked it away from him.”

“You handed him over! That’s what you do. You raise them among sheep and then throw them to the wolves. You have all these pictures of sheep, but why not be honest about it and have some pictures of wolves, snarling wolves with blood dripping from their fangs. Show your dumb bunnies, your people, reality for once.”

“This conversation is going nowhere. I must be off,” the priest said, and he turned and swiftly disappeared to another part of the sanctuary.

The chimes of Saturn clinked like metal jewels tumbling in an out-of-control spaceship. Alternative lemons hung heavy from a tree wet with morning California dew. The man once dressed as a smokestack but now just as an ordinary man, sat on a bench in his garden. The roar of traffic on the wide interstate rose from beyond the grove. A dome of pollution muddied the blue sky giving it a dull yellow tint. He took a deepening breath and her taste still lingered. He turned to look at the house, dark wood, a mass of glass windows, numerous rooms and levels, secret passageways, greenery, a waterfall, an outdoor kitchen, stone walkways, a myriad of verandas, his very own creation.

He knew she was still sprawled in the messy sheets, sleeping, dreaming, aching. He had snuck out early for the ceremony. He wondered if he should tell her about what he had done this time, the one about sending the newly reborn baby to work for the rest of his life in the depths of hell’s furnace. He decided not to, he didn’t want to upset her. She was so easily upset. He picked some lemons and went into the cool house and made a fresh pitcher of lemonade.

The zippity zodiac cigar syndrome ship floated among the stardust near Saturn and its wedding rings. The crew were blasting Bowie and eating Hostess cupcakes. Everyone felt weird because there was some sort of magnetic pull on them, some invisible entity had the ship sandwiched between fingers and palm, the hand of God, they wondered.

“Are we merely all sharing the same dream?” Captain Dogwood asked, but no one was listening. They had all moved closer to the monitor widescreen, space floating by them like a stream, the hand pulsing goblets of gold blood in the pious veins. The captain rose from his seat and watched with them. “Or have we reached our final destination? Is this the web of serenity we’ve been searching for?”

The lumbering priest with the long face who had so recently cast the fate of some newly reborn baby to a life of suffering in the furnace depths of a hell factory stepped through the doorway to the bridge of the SS Cuckoo Clock. “You called for me Captain Dogwood?”

The captain turned and looked at the tall, lean man in black. “Yes, father. We were hoping you could tell us if what’s happening to the ship has anything to do with God.”


“Take a look for yourself, padre. See that hand, out there. It’s got a hold of us and won’t let go. I’d like to know your thoughts.”

The priest stepped forward and studied what was on the monitor screen, it was indeed a hand, a hand still pulsing goblets of gold blood in its pious veins. “I can’t say if it is God, or not God, captain. I just don’t know what it is. But it does appear to have the ship in its grasp. Have you tried blasting your way out?”

Violence interrupts violets. A silver coin calls for Uhtred. Night calls. Sleep calls. Madness calls. Dreams call. Some have the fear of lying down for it may never come to sweet, peaceful fruition. The same ones fear the lying down of death. What will the black mask bring? What will be beyond the veil? What is on the other side of the passage? A bright place in which to finally sit and breathe… Or another rattle of decades in the mines of meaningless.


The Gravy Canoe of Wild Wyoming – 11

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The Gould house smelled like Sunday dinner and the trappings of commercialized religion. The house itself was one of the large old Victorians that rose like a classic architectural sentinel on the north side of town near the overlooking cliff rock and the only considerable clusters of trees in the whole of Berlin, Wyoming. It was often dubbed the “green side” of town because that’s where the main city park and the walking trails and the cemetery were, and where the little green men from space lived in their log cabin commune.

The homestead where Carrie Gould and her mother lived was a tall, gaudy pink and white haunted candy palace with a nice kept yard full of colorful flowers. The interior was tidy, but gaudy as well, flooded with knick-knacks and bric-a-brac and portraits of white Jesus in a doctor’s gown, and soft sheep, and framed cross-stitch Bible verses on the walls. But still, there was a flip chill in the air, an icy bastard lingering in the shadows.

Despite all the clutter, the house was warm and inviting. The furniture was soft and friendly. The windows were clean and clear. The intentions of the after Sunday service meal, however, were not.

Pastor Craig Stikk and Steel Brandenburg III sat in the front parlor part of the house sipping coffee in an uncomfortable silence as they waited for the meal to be served. There was a heart of cruel intent in the room and Steel put his hand to his chest to feel if it was his own. He wasn’t sure it was. Intent. Intentions.

Then the pastor asked. “So, Steel. What are your intentions with our lovely Miss Carrie?” He sipped at his coffee annoyingly, his black jellybean eyes searching above the tipped brim of the cup as he waited for an answer.

“I’m not sure, pastor. Our relationship has just begun. We’re exploring each other,” Streel said, and he smiled to himself deep inside.

But the pastor frowned at his remark, and then shifted. “And speaking of relationships… Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?”

Steel laughed. “No. He never returned my calls, so I dropped him.”

A look of painful concern passed over Pastor Stikk’s perverted face. His pencil-thin moustache wriggled with distaste for the young man. “Steel. That’s not something to take so lightly. A personal relationship with your Lord and Savior is the most important thing in life. Do you not care to tend to your eternal soul?”

“Look, I’m not religious. I never had a taste for it, and I certainly don’t want my face pushed into it.”

“I’m not trying to push your face in it… I’m just saying that, well, Carrie is a very religious person, and don’t you think she should be with someone who shares in her beliefs? Don’t you believe she should be with someone who fosters and encourages her faith?”

Steel drained his coffee cup and set it down. He looked straight across at the pastor and grinned his cocky grin. “You mean someone like you?”

The pastor shifted in his seat and then leaned forward and whispered, “Frankly, yes. Life is too short not to be bold. I do indeed believe I would be a better mate to her, and I’m sorry if this offends you, but I don’t believe you’re good enough for her.”

Steel scoffed. “I don’t understand why everyone in this town thinks I’m such a horrible person.”

The pastor leaned away from him. “Well, maybe you are. Perhaps some deep personal soul searching is in order then, Steel. Other people obviously must see far deeper than you do. Personally, I’d be ashamed of myself.”

“I don’t need everyone shaming me and telling me how to live my life. People need to stop being so damn judgmental. That’s what I can’t stand about religion—the self-righteous attitude. Did your God make you and everyone else God? And this whole pointless conversation boils down to one thing: You want to get with my girl. Gross. Aren’t you like 20 years older than her?”

“I believe Carrie needs a mature man in her life,” the pastor said.

“And that’s where you fit in?”

“Steel, God spoke to me on this matter. The Lord Himself told me I should take Carrie as my own. Me. Not you. And I cannot disobey God. She will be mine, not yours.”

“Well, I’m not going to just turn her over to you. I haven’t even gotten any action from her yet.”

The pastor slapped a palm to his forehead in disbelief. “Good gravy, Steel. Must you speak of her in that way? It’s so disrespectful and Carrie doesn’t deserve it.”



“You said something about gravy… This is how this whole story started. Gravy.”

“You’re rambling incoherently, Steel. ‘Good gravy’… It’s a term used when someone is expressing befuddlement… And you are befuddling me.”

It was at that point that Mother Melba Gould came bouncing into the room. “Gentleman! I bring good news. Dinner is ready. Please come to the table.”

The great Sunday feast was spread out on the large dining room table atop a precious cloth. They all took a seat and Melba called upon Pastor Stikk to lead the prayer.

He stood, cleared his throat, and bowed his head. “Dear Lord, we ask that you look upon us with your everlasting grace and mercy as we prepare to enjoy this beautiful meal prepared by these two lovely women, your humble servants. We ask that we gain an understanding of and appreciation for your boundless gifts, such as these before us. Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful day and the opportunity for myself, Steel, lovely Carrie and Melba to come together in this beautiful home to commune with each other among these overflowing dishes. May we find sustenance and joy, and may this togetherness not only satisfy the hunger of our bodies, but also the hunger of our faith. Amen.” He sat back down, unfurled a napkin, and tucked it into his shirt collar. “Well, let’s eat.”

Platters and bowls were soon being passed around as everyone filled their plates with tender pot roast and carrots, a green-bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, niblets of buttered corn, a chilled spiral macaroni salad, beef noodle soup, spring rolls, sweet potato casserole, cheese chunks and crackers, fun fruit-filled gelatin, pickled beets and black olives, tapioca pudding, cranberry sauce, buttered rolls, wild rice pilaf, and goblets of iced tea, lemonade, and cold milk. Knives and forks and spoons quickly began to work, and they clinked against the Gould’s finest dinnerware as they moved like robots and the eating began.

“Thank you, pastor,” Melba said with a smile. “That was a beautiful blessing over our table.”

“It was my pleasure, Melba,” the pastor replied. “As you and your lovely daughter are a great pleasure to me.” He moved his hand beneath the table and squeezed at her thigh. Melba blushed and went “Ooooh.”

Steel coughed and reached for a glass of moo juice and drank.

“Everything okay there, Steel?” The pastor asked. “You seem choked up by something.”  

“I’m fine. Thank you. Something just went down the wrong pipe.”

“Pipe. Right,” the pastor replied with a sneer. “Speaking of pipe… Carrie, I was hoping you and Steel would start up some counseling sessions with me.”

“Counseling?” Steel wondered aloud. “What for?”

“Well, Steel. I often counsel young couples on the ways of Christian-based male-female relationships. It’s spiritual guidance really as you two walk with God along the path of love and eventually marriage.”

“I’m not…” Steel began, but Carrie broke in after a quick, tight-lipped smile aimed at him.

“We would love to, pastor. I think your guidance would be priceless. Thank you for offering.”

“Not a problem. That’s part of what I do in my role as the lead shepherd for the congregation.” He chuckled oddly. “I must look over my flock.” He smiled big and then glanced over at Steel who was sitting across from him and next to Carrie. “I just want to be sure that God is always a part of your togetherness.”

“I thought I made it clear to you in the other room earlier that I’m not religious,” Steel broke in. “I don’t want or need counseling in spiritual matters… Especially when it comes to our relationship. That’s our business, not yours.”

Melba Gould’s mouth dropped open and some of the beef noodle soup dribbled out. “You’re not religious?”

“Not especially, mam.” Steel answered. “The mountains of my life have never been moved much by faith.”

 The room was silent for a moment.

“Well then, Steel,” the pastor said as he speared another slice of ham with his fork and put it on his plate. “Then you need it more than anyone.”

Carrie grasped his hand. “It’s important to me, Steel. I don’t think I can carry on in this relationship if you’re not a man of faith. You’ll be amazed by what God can do for you if you just let him in.”

Steel looked around the table. “You know, there’s such a thing as religious freedom. Meaning, I have just as much right not to be religious as you all have to be religious. And Carrie, baby, I just want you to accept me for who I am.”

“And she has…” the pastor began, but Steel put a finger up toward his face. “With all due respect, pastor, this is not for you to decide.”

“I beg to differ, young man,” the pastor snarled in return. “As a leader in the church, it’s my responsibility to watch over and guide her faith.” He slammed his fist down on the table. “It’s my God-given earthly task and I will not allow a non-believer to soil this beautiful young woman’s soul!”

Steel stood and barked, “All you truly care about is getting in her pants! And I’m not going to let that happen!” He looked around at the shocked faces. “My apologies Ms. Gould. I think I’ll step outside for some air.”


The Pumpkin Cult Clerk

For Pumpkin Cult Clerk.

Jehovah Pumpkin worked in an oceanside souvenir shop in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. His job title was that of clerk and his basic duties consisted of stocking merchandise, helping customers, and operating the cash register. He liked the job but hated the people that came in and complained about the most mundane things. He also liked the job because he could come to work looking like a beach bum and no one really cared. He was part of the “atmosphere,” his boss had said, and so it was okay if he resembled a hippie surfer dude who was high on more than just life.

But the one thing that Jehovah Pumpkin always got heat for was his name. There were a great many people who upon looking at his nametag emblazoned with JEHOVAH became very accusatory in the sense that Jehovah Pumpkin was somehow making light of the name of God, or worse yet, impersonating the good Lord. His persecutors — and wasn’t that strange, persecution for the persecuted — said words like “Sacrilegious,” and “Blasphemous,” and “Scandalous,” and “How dare you,” and “You should be shot, and then shot again.”

Jehovah Pumpkin would try to explain, if they would listen, and some did, that he had no choice in what his name was because he was raised in a cult that lived in a pumpkin patch in Colorado and that their Prophet had bestowed all names upon the newly born, for it was his law. Jehovah would always add, “And I have a brother named Yahweh.”

Many of the people he told this to would just scoff and shake their heads in disgust. Some would spit on him after purchasing big towels or beach balls or plastic pails and shovels and molds for sand to build sandcastles with.

It was his crazy mother, Ruth the Baptist, that decided to stay with the cult while his father, Roger Hemingway, (Hemingway being the secular surname he returned to) had escaped to a semi-normal life in Denver when Jehovah and Yahweh Pumpkin were just young gourds (or boys). There had been much fighting and hot-headed quarreling between the mother and the father, especially when Roger Hemingway discovered that the Prophet had taken his wife as his own… Without even asking first.

And seeing that Ruth the Baptist had no intention of protesting the arrangement, in fact, it seemed she was quite in love with the Prophet, Roger Hemingway could no longer take life there in the pumpkin patch. He decided it was time that he left the compound, to leave behind the bland adobe buildings, cell blocks really, and metal fences, and wild dogs, and bizarre rules and rituals, and so he packed one bag and stole off into the night without even saying goodbye.

Jehovah Pumpkin was haphazardly rocked by Parrot Bay rum as he looked out at the ocean and the clouds above that were like purple haze marshmallows. He was sitting out on the deck of his beach bungalow, it needed fresh paint, and he was listening to the waves crash as he rearranged his mind with the strong drink. The sliding glass door was open and music from the radio inside was filtering out through the screen, something from the Yield album by Pearl Jam. He had recently cleaned the kitchen and the dishwasher was running and so he heard that, too, the machinery and the water. It was somehow soothing and satisfactory to him as it mixed with the mainstream rock licks.

The wind blew his hair around and there were people running and playing down in the sand. Someone was flying a kite. He could hear the distant sounds of people laughing and speaking inaudible words to each other. He reached for the binoculars on his patio table and zoomed in. There was a woman who had taken off her top and her oversized breasts were jiggling almost grossly. It was unsatisfying to him. The tourists clot the cream, he thought.

He set aside the binoculars and bemoaned the fact that he was too drunk to just run out to the sand and feel the grains between his toes and the softness on the soles of his soul and jump out into the ocean like a madman to jungle dance and eat jellyfish sandwiches as a windsock screamed a scalding warning about a coming storm called IGNORANT MAN… So it said on a banner trailing from a small plane in the sky.

The phone rang. Jehovah Pumpkin clumsily got up and drunkenly shuffled inside to answer it. It was his boss from the oceanside souvenir shop wanting to know if he could come in and cover the evening shift, 4 to 9 p.m.

“No. I can’t do that.”

His boss got a little upset and wanted to know why.

“I have to go to my uncle’s funeral.”

His boss wasn’t convinced and wanted to know when his uncle died.

“A few days ago,” Jehovah Pumpkin answered. “His heart exploded.”

His boss wanted to know why he hadn’t mentioned it before now.

“I was to upset… And I didn’t want to place any unnecessary emotional burden upon my co-workers, dude.”

His boss sighed and asked him to call tomorrow with an update on the status of him being able to work.

Jehovah Pumpkin hung up without saying another word. He looked out the sliding glass door and saw that storm clouds were beginning to develop. He was happy about that because he liked a good rain, he enjoyed the sound of it as the drops hit the world and discolored it. He was suddenly hungry for pizza. He dug through a small pile of paper coupons and found one for a good deal at Volt’s.

“Volt’s… Shockingly good pizza,” Jehovah Pumpkin said aloud with a laugh. “Hell, man. I like that. That’s a billion-dollar idea.”

He dialed the number and ordered a large sausage, pepperoni, and pineapple pie to be delivered. They told him it would be about 45 minutes.

“Dude, time has no meaning to me. Just bring it when you can,” he told the young man on the other end of the line.

He hung up and walked outside. The wind had picked up and the temperature dropped, and he thought that was strange. “Maybe it will snow,” he said to the clouds.

A while later there was a knock at the door and Jehovah Pumpkin nearly fell on his way to the door. He pulled it open hoping to see the pizza delivery guy holding a big white box and a pleasing smile. But his heart quickly sunk when he saw the Prophet from the pumpkin patch in Colorado standing there, looking much older than he remembered, but it was definitely the Prophet. There was a large man standing on either side of him, big muscular arms folded across their torsos, squinting scowls upon their faces.

Jehovah Pumpkin poked his head out a bit and looked around. “What the hell… Have you seen the pizza guy?”

One of the large men quickly put a cloth sack over Jehovah Pumpkin’s head while the other grabbed him up and carried him to a waiting white van with the side door open. He was thrown inside, and the door was quickly slid shut with force. The van sped off.

Just as the van had completely disappeared, the pizza delivery person from Volt’s Pizza arrived and knocked on the halfway open door of Jehovah Pumpkin’s beach bungalow. “Hello… Pizza delivery,” she called out. She waited. “Hello,” she repeated. “I have your Volt’s Pizza order.” She waited a little longer. “God damn it,” she mumbled, and she went back to her car, tossed the white pizza box through the open window and onto the front passenger seat. She went around and got in on the other side and drove off with a bucket full of anger in her guts.

The pizza delivery girl, her name being Emmanuelle, stopped at a convenience store and bought herself a lemon-lime soda in a plastic bottle. She drove to a park overlooking the ocean and watched a thunderstorm give birth far out over the Atlantic. She ate Jehovah Pumpkin’s pizza and drank the lemon-lime soda. When she was done, she put her hand down her pants and touched herself for a while. Then the rain came in thick sheets, and she felt it pool in her heart for the rest of the day.


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Tecumah (1.)

Taos graveyard for Tecumah.
Photo by Aaron A. Cinder

There was I, that is Thom (Tom) Hatt again, returned from beyond the living world, and I stood there in the trashed-out parking lot of some cheap, old road motel in Taos, New Mexico looking around like in a dream and smoking an Injun J with a guy named Tecumah.

The traffic roared by lonely, an ache that only the sound of engines running away can awaken and bolster that feeling of isolation in a man’s southwestern guts.

Tecumah was tall and wide, like an ungodly border wall, and he had fireflies for buttons on his long, worn leather coat and they began to flicker and flash as the sun was dropping and the stars were beginning to roar.

He looked one way, to where there was traffic and strips of tawdry shops, and he spat that way. His eyes were cursing. His long hair went wild in the wind.

“Bullshit, man. Bullshit,” he said, and he turned away to where the muscular mountains were now fading into far away bluish darkness like a melting bruise.

“That’s what it was all like here once, a long time ago — the darkness, the pinion, the rocks, the quiet — and then all these assholes show up and turn it all into a postcard and something to sell. That’s just bullshit, man. Bullshit.”

I nodded in agreement as Tecumah handed me the J. “Capitalism is a heartless grind,” I said. “I’m sorry we raped your culture. People can be horrible.”

Tecumah sucked on a big bottle of tequila I had bought him earlier because he had helped me out when my red Ford Probe broke down right outside of town.

“White man come and plow it all down with the head of their god… If they want another war, then they can have it, and I’ll be right there with wicked knuckle knocks on their whitey heads.”

“Good for you!” I exclaimed, and he handed me the bottle. “Let’s go gambling chief.”

“All right,” Tecumah said, wobbly in words and walk, “But you’re in no condition to drive, we’ll take my horse… Besides, that car you have is a piece of shit.”

“Yes, I know,” I said as I hopped up onto the back of Tecumah’s horse. “But it’s all I could afford because I’m merely a slave to the system. They pay me just enough to keep me in need. I’d really like to drive the damn thing off a cliff.”

Tecumah playfully laughed. “We can do that tomorrow if you want. I know a good place to send that piece of shit over the edge. You’ll never see it again.”

As we trotted through town, I told Tecumah that I had written a poem about the car. He just laughed at me again.

“Why do you write a poem about a piece of shit car? You should write a poem about a beautiful woman.”

“I have… A hundred thousand times. It never did anyone any good.” And then I laughed. It really was ridiculous. A hundred thousand love poems written and here I was on the back of a horse headed to a casino with a drunken Native American named Tecumah.

“It’s that damn car you have, man,” he said. “You need to drive something that will turn you into a chick magnet, like me.” And Tecumah laughed about that, too.

“But you ride a horse,” I said.

“You’d be surprised how many chicks I pick up with this horse.”

“What’s the horse’s name?”

“His name is Jim.”

“Jim the horse?”


“Let’s get some Mexican food,” I suggested. “I’m hungry all of a sudden.”

Tecumah stopped Jim the horse. He looked around a bit, thinking.

“All right, I know of a place we can go.”

And then we were off again, down the main drag, and drivers of autos were honking at us, and ignorant idiots were making Indian noises out the windows.

“Woo, woo, woo, woo …” they went, tapping their hands against their mouth holes.

“And I’ll kick you straight in the ass, you fuckers!” Tecumah yelled at them, shaking his big, hunk of meat fist at them. They ducked their heads in like frightened turtles and drove away fast.


Tecumah tied Jim the horse to a fence rail, and we went into the Mexican place. We were abruptly and rudely greeted.

“Hey Tonto, this ain’t Halloween, you can’t come in here dressed like that,” some jack-off host guy said to Tecumah.

“Dressed like what?”

“Like an Indian, that’s what.”

“I am an Indian you twat. Now, we’d like to have a table for two or would you prefer I knock your teeth down your throat you anti-Injun bastard.”

The host scoffed. “Always resorting to violence, damn savage. Why don’t you go back to you where you came from. Lousy immigrant.”

I shook my head in disbelief while Tecumah curled up his Thor hammer fist and pushed it in the guy’s face; it was nearly as big as his whole asinine head. “You’re the immigrant,” he snarled in a wild, earthy way. “And I’ll gladly knock you back to Europa.”

The curly haired twerp of a host shrunk back. “All right, all right, just settle down. I don’t want any trouble here. This way then.”

“Ah, right by the bathrooms,” Tecumah complained as we were seated. “I love the smell of urinal cakes baking in a piss oven when I’m dining.”

“Sorry sir, it’s all we have available right now.”

I looked around at the nearly empty joint.

“Bullshit,” I said. “What about all those other tables.”

“Those are reserved, sir. I’m sorry, this is the best I can do,” and with that he trotted off like the twit he was.

“Let’s just get out of here,” I said to Tecumah. “I bet they’ll spit in our food.”

“Yeah, I have a bad feeling about this place, but let’s just get some beers, and the hell with the food.”

We had nine beers each and then walked out without paying the tab. Some guy, probably the manager, came rushing out after us, but Tecumah slugged him and that was the end of that.

We flew like the wind on Jim the horse and Tecumah almost smashed into a light pole, but we finally arrived at the casino on the dusty and adobe outskirts of town. The place was all a hustle and bustle and packed with noise and smoke and the ringing of bells and the flashing of lights and the cheers and cries of winners and losers.

Tecumah went to play blackjack and I went to the bar and ordered some more beers. I played a poker game built into the bar and then some chick came up to me and she wanted some drinks. I was pretty lit up and asked her straight out if she was a hooker. She took real offense to that and slapped me across the face, but I was numb enough that I didn’t feel much.

“Thank you, mam, may I have another?”

And she slapped me again and that time I felt a pretty good sting and that’s when this big, burly bastard comes over and asks me if there is some kind of problem and why I’m messing with his girl.

I studied the big, ugly dude for a minute or two.

“Ok, ok. So, you’re with this guy?” I said to the chick trying to be a hooker.

“What the hell does that mean?” the big, ugly dude said, moving in closer to me, all pissed off.

“I’m just saying that, well, you just don’t seem like the type of guy who would see much action.”

“Are you calling me a faggot? Faggot.”

“No, not at all. In fact, to be quite frank about the whole thing, I don’t think you could get a dude either.”

The guy grabbed me and pulled me out of my chair.

“I think we need to have a private conversation — outside.”

That’s what he said to me and then I was dragged out into the parking lot, and we had this fight and he beat me up pretty bad and when I walked back into the casino people started screaming because I was all battered and bleeding and that’s when I fell down.

To Be Continued…

The Misguided Missiles of Paper Turkeys

The Misguided Missiles of Paper Turkeys.

All The Unseen They See

Welcome the pilgrims with a pellet gun and a kiss.
Hannah cut her finger with a pair of scissors whilst she creates a paper turkey from a paper plate and construction paper the colors of autumn dust. See the missiles rain from the sky each tattooed with a patriotic emblem stating “Goodbye…”
Hannah pastes her paper turkey on her bedroom mirror animated and alive it wiggles its plastic eyes.
Hannah crawls beneath the covers on the eve of holiday glee, see her dream of firestorms and bullets and starving on TV. See the maestro carve the cooked bird, the steam from the flesh rises above the well-adorned table, leaves a mist on the lip prints stuck to the goblets of wine.
Hannah stares out the picture window as the chaos of family voices clutter her mind. She sees the soldiers all falling down in a line, gassed by children coughing up the poisons as they simply attempt to make paper turkeys with scissors and glue and not a clue from their forefathers how to breathe with peace.

Hannah stares at the Baptists marching in one by one, pale and whiskered faces, crowns of cowboy hats and blindness pouring from their souls, and as Hannah passes the plate, she spits in it, futility running from her mouth, the scent of heaven polished in her hair, she looks up at Christ and wonders if they’ll nail her up there.
Hannah crouches down low and slips out the row, whispers to her mom “I have to go to the bathroom …”
She breaks out the doors to greet the steely blue sky, the wind whipping curled leaves choking the streets, the semi-truck scatters them like a hurricane as it rumbles right on by, and Hannah walked on down the road. To the school where they teach the blind children. Such a huge, enormous house of sooted up brick and brawl, long luscious hills of grass rolling and rolling on down, paths of gray serpentine their way across the landscape and the clouds.
Hannah climbs over the black iron fence, rips her dress on a spike, tumbles to a patch of moss and rock.
She lifts herself up, wipes herself off, and comes face to face with a blind boy staring at nothing but dark empty space.
“Hello,” she says so politely. “My name is Hannah, and I just ran away from God.”
The little blind boy smiles at the sound of her voice. Reaches out his hands to touch her. Feels the fringes of her dress. The softness of her arm right where it comes out of her sleeve.
“I’m blind, but I can see you,” he says to her.
“I’m blind but I can feel you,” he mentions to her.
And he reaches out and kisses her wind-chapped hand.

The little blind boy took her down to the boiler room. He led the way by touch. It was dark and cold and smelled so old. Hannah crinkled her nose and coughed.
“What are we doing here?” she asked.
“Nothing … I’m blind. Just stay close to me.”
Hannah found a book tucked beneath a red blanket in the corner.
“What is this?” she asked as she stuck the stuff out in front of her.
“I don’t know, I can’t see… See…” and he felt around like a blind boy imitating a blind man lost in the confines of his own darkened theater.
“I’ll read to you,” Hannah said. And she led him close to the wall, beneath a slit of window against the ground.
And they sat side by side, their backs pressed against the stone of the wall. Hannah flipped pages and read the words aloud.
And with a final breath upon the final page, she read: The End. And the missiles came streaking across the sky making the end a sarcastic reality.

Hannah stared at the paper turkey pressed against her mirror. The dust was falling from her hair. The dried blood flaked from her mouth. Her once pretty dress torn worse and soiled now. She walked out into the hallway. Dimly lit and smoky. She turned the corner. Entered the dining room. Saw the pillars of stone bones propped in their chairs. Bony fingers clutching chipped goblets of blood. A hole in the window. Operating a view to the burning scene. The head of the blind boy spun like a record amongst the claws of the mangrove cathedrals floating through the world. She touched her mouth to feel her breath. The eye of the needle had been fed. She was alive, but the world was dead.

The Crowns of Pluto (2.)

Crowns of Pluto. The Paper People.

The Paper People

I never had sleeping dreams on Earth. When I told people that, they looked at me as if something must be wrong with me, that I must have some sort of brain malfunction. Yes, that’s true. There is something wrong with me. Maybe that’s why they put me on a spaceship and sent me to Pluto. Maybe the God of Time wanted me to find my dreams somewhere else.

“What an awful thing to not dream,” my tense and terse mother used to say to me before she died. “I didn’t give birth to you just so you would never dream.”

I don’t know why she would say such a thing, but she did. She was a “Dubuque Queen.” That is, she was a woman who was all about the local society scene in Dubuque, Iowa. That’s where I was born and grew up before I left home and became a Starman. I made a sign and have it in my quarters and it reads: DUBUQUE 3,600,000,000, and it has an arrow pointing in the general direction of Earth.

My mother was very much a woman geared toward gatherings and festivities and church activities and so on and so on. I remember watching from the lonely shadows of our home as her ladies’ groups would gather in our living room to gossip and chitter about whatever they were chittering about. Casseroles. Widows. The milkman. None of it ever seemed very important to me, but it was surely very important to my mother. Seemingly much more important than me. Those are the times I would hideaway in my room and sit by the window and look up at the stars, even during the day and when they were not out.

I think my mother’s growing resentment for my existence really exploded after my father left. I wish I had been able to go with him, but my mother wouldn’t have it, not because she wanted to love and protect me, but because she was worried about how it would make her look to the world. But none of that matters now because I am the only man on Pluto, but at least I am beginning to dream.

The dreams that come to me now are wildly vivid and stay with me for days. For the most part, the dreams are not unsettling. But there are visions that come to me during the night that at times are, and when I suddenly wake and sit right up in a startled panic, the same beings casting about in my dream are somehow still there.

I catch a quick glimpse of them as they slip through the walls and out into the vast complex that is Station Kronos Kuiper where I believe they wander like ghosts. They look like ghosts; like childhood ghosts created by bleached bedsheets. They are indeed white, but it is not a pure white. It is the white of a being that does not live in a perfect afterlife. It is a worn white, a torn white, an unraveled white, a used white, a wrinkled white. I suppose they still encounter struggles. I call them the Paper People. I call them that because it appears as if they are wrapped in paper from head to toe. There are two small slits where the eyes sit, and they are permanently squinting. They like to confer with dark skeletons.

Maybe I’m just losing my mind and they aren’t real at all. I would think that would be a very easy thing for a person to do in such isolation and so far from everyone and everything I have ever known. I’m not really sure how I handle it, I just do. I suppose I let my mind slip like tectonic plates. It’s a natural thing. It’s geological psychosis. I wonder at what point my insanity will crumble me to pieces.

I try not to dwell on it. I try to make it a priority to busy myself in one way or another. I take long walks through the now hollow corridors. I explore. I do maintenance checks. I eat. I go to the bathroom. I read. We have a vast library here on Pluto. It’s all digital in white and blue. It’s all electric magic. I can call up just about anything I want.

There are times that I feel as if I’m just filling in the gaps between birth and death. But then I thought about it deeply and realized that is what we are all doing. Now, we all fill these great gaps in various degrees, of course. Some have lives full of wonderful experiences, wealth, love, happiness, divinity. Others may rot in a prison for 50 years because of a very bad day. But even still, up here on the fringes of our solar system, life has become even larger, wider, grander.

Yet it makes me feel miniscule, a grain of salt caught up in the winds of the astral plane. Even so, I wish I still had someone to share it with. Perhaps I wouldn’t feel so small if I were bound to someone. It would be wonderful to be able to share all these wonders I witness, and it would be wonderful to crawl into someone when I feel broken. Why do I wish for so many things that I know will never be? At least in this particular life.

I wonder if I will become one of the Paper People in the end and rattle these icy halls for eternity. I must stop thinking about the end. I will go to the great garden we have here, and I will breathe for today, and I will relish in life.

Author’s note: This is the second piece of this play-around project. Read the first part HERE or visit I hope to craft more of this story over time as an experiment in writing some science fiction, or something like that. Thanks for reading and supporting independent content creators who just want to do what they love to do.