Vinegar Village (1 of 2)

And it was me, that is Mr. Hat, and three other dudes and we were in some strange DREAMLAND, kind of like a chessboard VILLAGE, but green and there was blue sky and some whipped-cream clouds and neatly placed buildings and finely manicured lawns and there was sun, but I felt no heat at all. One of the dudes I knew, and that was Mr. Hulk. He’s a dandy Israelite from Hollywood. The other two were Mr. Gorgon – he never wore clothes – and Mr. English – he was a man whore who always walked around with a bottle of Red Wine Vinaigrette Salad Dressing – and other than that, I did not know much about them.

We were walking around this VILLAGE, and we came upon what seemed to be some sort of sorority house on the corner and there were all these chicks hanging out on the lawn and on the porch and on a finely-formed stone wall. They were blowing bubbles and drinking and laughing, all in there tight summer clothes, and it smelled like bubblegum and nail polish. There was one girl there doing yoga like Yoda on the lawn. She invited Mr. Hulk to join her and so Mr. Hulk lied down on the lawn next to her and started stretching his legs up into the air and round and round like some metaphysical Merry-Go-Round and she was the yoga horse and he was the yoga cowboy and they rode off together to the Yoga, Yoga West.

Mr. Gorgon and Mr. English submerged themselves into the crowd of young ladies, but I did not. I pretended to be looking at my cell phone and slowly walked away, invisible. There was a little town square there not too far off with some benches, a fountain and big, ladies bushes cut and trimmed to resemble wild animals frolicking through some mad scientist’s dream. I sat on one of the benches by myself. No one else was around at the moment, but I could hear the sorority girls and Mr. Gorgon and Mr. English roaring it up off in the distance. Mr. Hulk came jogging through the square with the yoga chick, but they did not notice me at all, but he was singing some song about California and fornication, and she laughed out loud and then pushed him gently on the back in a playful kind of way, but Mr. Hulk then stumbled and fell right into a big, thick tree. 

The yoga chick covered her mouth with both of her hands and her eyes grew wide, wide, wide. She started shaking and crying as Mr. Hulk was stone cold still on the ground there, blood trickling out of his mouth.

“Oh my God! Oh my God!” the yoga chick screamed as she bent down to touch Mr. Hulk. “I think he’s dead!”

I got up and ran over to the scene.

“I think you killed him,” I said to her.

“No, no, no. It was an accident. Please, call someone won’t you?”

I retrieved my cell phone from my pocket but it did not work, would not work.

“Damn this device to hell!” I yelled and chucked the phone into the fantastic, phantasm of the bushy safari of green.

I saw that there was some sort of a fruit stand building not far from the square. Water was pouring off the green awning, even though it was not raining.

“Wait here with him,” I said to the yoga chick. “I’m going over to that fruit stand to see if I can get some help.”

“Oh, ok,” she said, as she knelt beside Mr. Hulk, playing with his red locks. “Do you think you can bring me back a banana?”

I went to the fruit stand but I had to use an umbrella while I talked to the fruit clerk there.

“I say,” I said. “There’s been a terrible accident in the square over there and I think my friend may be dead, or at the very least, seriously injured. Could you telephone for an ambulance please?”

“What happened to him?” the fruit clerk asked without any sense of urgency at all.

“Some yoga chick shoved him into a tree, but I have no time to explain, he needs help now! He’s lying over there bleeding to death.”

“Well, if you want to use the phone, you have to buy some fruit, company policy.”

“Are you fucking mad man!? There’s someone dying and you expect me to buy a piece of fruit just in order to use the telephone?”

“Yes sir, company policy.”

“All right then, give me one fucking banana!”

“Well sir, I’m afraid there is a minimum purchase of 5 dollars in order to use the telephone. Company policy. One banana is only 1 dollar.”

“Well then give me FIVE fucking bananas you imbecile, and let me use the phone!”

I retrieved a 50 dollar bill from my pocket and shoved it toward him.


“What the fuck is the matter now!?”

“I’m sorry sir, but we cannot accept bills over 20 dollars. Company policy, says so right there on that sign,” and he pointed to a sign that read: NO BILLS OVER $20.

I stabbed him in the throat with the tip of the umbrella, hopped over the counter and grabbed the telephone.

“Hello, is this the police then? Yes? There’s been an accident in the square near the fruit stand and my friend may be dead or at the very least seriously injured. Can you please send help right away?”

And then on the other end of the line it was like how the grown-ups talk in Charlie Brown cartoons:

“Wha, wha wha, wha wha wha whaw?”

“Yes, that’s right. The square by the fruit stand.”

“Wha, wha wha, wha wha wha whaw?”

“I’m not sure. Some yoga chick shoved him into a tree and now he’s on the ground and he’s not moving and there is blood coming out of his mouth. Now please send someone!”

“Wha, wha wha, wha wha wha whaw.”

When I got back to the square the yoga chick was sitting on a bench, her face in her hands, crying. The paramedics were knelt down beside Mr. Hulk frantically working to save his life. They had something strapped to his face; one was pushing on his chest, another sticking tubes and needles into him. Then they just stopped. They started shaking their heads in grim unison. One looked over his shoulder and with a feigned look of sympathy on his face, said:

“I’m sorry, but there is nothing we can do. He is in fact, dead.”

The yoga chick really started bawling and some cops came over to her and roughed her up a bit with small clubs and then put her in handcuffs and arrested her for the accidental killing of a person. I watched as they shoved her into the back of a patrol car and as they drove her away she looked right at me through the window, all beat up and crying and mouthing the words:

“Where’s my banana you bastard!?”


Comic Stripped (P.2)

A Step in the Possible Wrong Direction

It was the next day and Max Pine nervously watched the clock. He hoped the transgender cartoonist would not return, but a few minutes before he was set to close the gallery, she walked in.

“Hi, hi, hi there,” Christine LaBrush cheerfully sang as she swiftly approached the counter. “I’m back with some new drawings. Would you like to see them?”

“Not really. I’m about to close.”

“But you said you would.”

“All right then, what do you have?”

Christine carefully pulled the new comic strips out of her portfolio case and spread them out on the counter.

Max put on his groovy glasses and intently looked over the new work. He immediately saw something that greatly upset him.

“Hey, is that supposed to be me?”

“Yes, it is. Pretty good, huh? I think it is a fabulous likeness of you.”

“But you’ve drawn me as being in odd sexual positions with, with… You!”

“I know!”

“And why is that squirrel watching us?”

“Isn’t that a nice touch? Look, he’s got nuts in his mouth!”

“There’s no way in hell I’m displaying this in my gallery,” Max snapped.

“Why not? I think it’s totally awesome.”

“It’s inappropriate and highly offensive… And besides, I’m not queer like that!”

“It has nothing to do with being queer, and besides, I don’t believe that for one second. I think you’re very queer.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Do you have a girlfriend?” Christine asked.


“And how long has it been since you’ve been with an actual woman?”

“That’s none of your damn business!”

“You are so snippy!”

“I think you should leave.”

“Wait. I have a proposition for you.”

“I doubt that I would be interested.”

“Just hear me out.”

“What is it then, eh?”

Christine looked around the place and then got close to Max’s face.

“I’m not dumb. I know you dig it.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I have a whole bunch of cocaine packed up nice and tight right here between my intelligent breasts and you can have it all in exchange for one night of hot love in the sack and a place for my dirty comics on a wall in your gallery.”

Max’s mind started salivating at the prospect of getting some blow. It’s been a while. He had thought he had gotten over it, pushed the addiction to the back of his mind, but now it has opened the door just a crack and peeked out — peeked out from between Christine LaBrush’s giant boobs.

How bad could it be?” he started to rationalize in his own brain. I’ll just close my eyes and pretend he’s a girl. No wait! He is a girl! What am I thinking? This is beyond even me!

“Let me see the goods,” Max suddenly demanded.

Christine began to unbutton her blouse.

“No, no, no. Not those goods! The dope, baby.”

Christine retrieved two eight balls wrapped in plastic from her bosom slot and threw them down on the counter.

“That’s about $400 worth of blow, buddy. It’s good stuff, too. Blow for blow. How ’bout it?”

Max stared at the dope. He wanted it so bad. He reached out to touch it, but Christine snatched it away.

“No, no, no. First things first.”

Christine came around the counter to where Max was standing. She got down on her knees and undid Max’s pants and let them fall around his ankles. She reached in, pulled it out, and went, “Wowza!”

Max relaxed on the bed beside her and smoked a ciggy wiggy.

“Where are you from, anyways?” he asked her.

She snuggled up closer to him.

“Bakersfield, California,” she answered.

“That’s a fine town. Reminds me of a big Roswell.”

“Roswell? Roswell, New Mexico or Roswell, Georgia?”

“New Mexico.”

“That’s where I had my operation. Operations.”


“Yes. There’s a ranch hidden deep within a big, old pecan orchard there. They do really strange stuff with people and robots and animals and aliens.”

“Why didn’t you go to a regular clinic?”

“I was desperate and didn’t have the money for a proper makeover. This was a full-blown underground and dark operation.”

“Are you sure they got everything in the proper place?”

“You tell me, baby. So, what’s your connection to that fascinating, far out place?”

“I used to live there,” Max explained. “I taught creative puppeteering for the school district until I got in trouble for assaulting a minister.”

“Why on earth would you do that?”

“His damn kid was in my class and this boy really, I mean really, sucked at puppeteering. I mean his voice was all wrong, he was always moving his lips like a big goof, and he just didn’t have any damn coordination. Let me tell you, it takes a bit of coordination to work a puppet. Anyways, the preacher father was always giving me grief because I wouldn’t put his shitty kid in any of the shows we had. One night he came backstage and started bitching at me and I had enough of his harassment and punched him right in the face.”

“That’s wild, baby.”

“Well, they fired me after that, and I wandered a bit and then ended up in Mankato, Minnesota running the Fist Gallery. So, do you mind me asking why you did it?”

“Did what?”

“You know. Trade in the yarbles for a taco salad.”

“That’s a bit insensitive.”

“Well, I’m king of the insensitives. But honestly, it’s a bit of a train wreck down there.”

Christine suddenly threw the covers off and stormed into the bathroom and slammed the door. Max grudgingly climbed out of the bed and lightly tapped on the door.

“Hey, I’m sorry. Don’t mind what I say, it was stupid. Why don’t you come out of there and we’ll finish up this blow.”

Christine opened the door and brushed past him. She picked her clothes up off the floor and began to dress.

“Are you leaving?” Max asked.

“Yes, I am you bastard. I can’t believe you said that. Don’t you realize I am already emotionally compromised? A little support and compassion would be nice.”

“Look, I’m a degenerate cokehead with a penchant for Swedish meatballs and sometimes I can be just plain mean. My appypolly loggies, but this is pretty damn weird for me too.”

Christine wiped at the tears running down her face and looked at him.

“Can you do something for me then?”

“What’s that?”

“Go on the bus with me to Minneapolis and have dinner with my parents.”


“Look, they’re really freaking out about me being a woman now and think that I will never have a normal life ever again. If I show them that I’m in a serious relationship, maybe they will be a bit cooler with the whole situation.”

“But we’re not in a serious relationship,” Max pointed out.

“You can at least pretend to be. I’ll get you more drugs.”

“I’ll do it,” Max promptly pronounced, and he wrapped his arms around faux Christine, hugged her tightly and then kissed her.


A Reversal of Reverence

When one is inside a living hell
one begins to wonder if life is really hell
and that we are living as damned souls
rather than breathing, beating flesh
is it a reversal of reverence?
or a carving into a dirty brick wall
running along an avenue
in some dirty brick town hall
where everyone lives and dies at the mall
because shopping soothes the grated spirit
and machine guns make us heavenly patriotic
we all share the same hell,
but it’s personalized just for us
a little agony here,
a little sadness there,
a few suicidal tendencies sprinkled in between
like tooth-cracking rock candy on a wedding cake
spelling out disaster
and the peace sign
all muddled together
painted in a gleaming red of blood
and all the crystal tears dry up
and blow away in the breath of broken angels slouched at the bar
my world is spiral notebooks full of spilled and infinite ink
and dreams filling these white, chalky veins
dreams of innocence twisted inside out
like guts in a blender
and the torturous high-speed button is stuck,
lashes of a wicked wind like a bunch of reckless bros
tossing back Fat Tires at a pub in Nob Hill
and smoking black cigarettes with a scent of pine
and when will it be time
to throw the switch
and juice it up real bright and glossy
fizzing orange firebombs
licking at tender wounds
while wearing this metal hat
and laboring in the pain
of beachside memories
of little boys tossing sticks at the water
and maternal maids bracing themselves
against a chill California wind
and then what of him
as he shakes bone-chilled against the cement
of some dead-end den
watching the whispers of a life gone by
float to the endless sky,
but he never wants to say goodbye

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Bong Clerk

I went to the record store on the bad side of town just to check things out. The traffic all mad, crazy, and lazy, some Subaru bimbo ‘bout slayed my ride as she swerved in and out of her lane while talky walking on her celly phone, probably ‘bout shoes and shopping and all that brainless shit so ravenously absorbed by this collective sponge of idiocy.

I pushed my ride through my ol’ stomping grounds… “Yeah, I used to live there, there and there…” the city now bulging at the seams with all these newbies and they roar in here like some California ocean with their big rides and their big money, pissin’ up in another strip mall, another ShitMart, another layer of asphalt, another dull dollhouse of cement and glass where the blockheads can play “office” and get high on Africanized bees.

I pulled into the oily, worn parking lot; it was littered with litter.

I felt a Rikki Tikki Tavi ghost ship cut through my spleen as I walked across the lot and into the shoppe. The place smelled of incense and painted wood and old linoleum and lingering clouds of grass. I noticed they were rearranging the place. The shelves where all the DVDs once lived were now cleared and big signs talked about the place adding a book section in BIG CAPITAL LETTERS… And I thought to myself, BOOKS, finally, a grand idea.

As I lingered about the place whilst the man clerkie who digs the new Taco Bell Doritos taco shell tacos sorted through the goods I was pawning, I couldn’t help but overhear:


And there was the manager cheeka all yelling at the girl clerkie because she wasn’t arranging the display of bongs correctly.

And she was being a real dog about it too, being all huff and puff and HR Puff N Stuff in the poor girl clerkie’s face. And I felt bad for her when the girl clerkie came around behind the counter in her tightly woven ink on skin. I could tell she was mumbly wumbling nasties under her breath about her uptight bitch boss.  She was all nervous and stressed, probably being a new clerkie and all and she didn’t need this shit from the stuffed sausage cougar with bosoms falling out her top about tidying up big bongs on a glass shelf. She was just trying to make it in her little world in the big world that crunches her down every day because she doesn’t get paid nearly enough to make it these days. And I could see like this mad nuclear bomb all going off in her head and her bourbon brown eyes all turning green and I knew any minute she was going to vagina punch her, but in the end she had to hold it in, because that just wouldn’t be right, vagina punching her boss on her third day in the shoppe and even though I would of liked to seen it, seen that lady grab that hole and fall to the floor — in some kind of agony — it didn’t happen whilst I was there — despair, for the girl clerkie who had to swallow a nuclear bomb just to keep some lousy job that will just kill her in the end anyway.

I took my money from the pawn, and I took my leave and went out into the oily, electric world. The traffic was bulging like an unfortunate ski weekend sausage fest — the kind where you drift off alone. It was hot outside. The sun this big blaring white eye all boiling and roiling and cooking us to pieces down here on Earth. I turned the AC on as I drove back to the other side of town and the place where I stayed at with the old man and his crooked bones. I sailed the long, hot lanes of traffic, across the flatlands, up and over the hills, to the hot, hot hideaway where I endlessly breathe alone.