Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dear Spectacular Failure,

More things that your empire lacks that I enjoy:

Turns out I have knowledge of some things that you don't.

Spitefully yours,
~The Red-Haired Monk of Excess

Monday, June 29, 2009

Meanwhile, Back at the Lab

I had called my friends for drinks because I was just coming off a strange day. It wasn't a bad day, mind you, but rather a very good day that left me with nothing but questions. Needless to say, they all revolved around a woman.

Mark and Jason met me right on time. I had arrived early, though, so I was finishing up beer number two when they arrived. Jason gave me a knowing look, but I'm sure he assumed I was well past three drinks at that point. Jason has always thought of me as more of a child of vice than I am. I think most people do, actually. If they only knew that my nights at home were spent sober and alone with a home-cooked meal and a video game controller. Actually, I hope they never know that.

But I digress; they sat down at the bar on either side of me and ordered a drink from the bartender we all continually salivated over night after night in this shithole we spent more time at than most everywhere else. None of us had counted the hours spent here versus our own apartments, and I think we were scared to in the end since the result would favor the bar. Mark started with the obviously crass question I always loved him for asking, "So I can see it's a girl this time. You fuck her yet?"

"No Mark, no I didn't. It might surprise you to learn that I didn't fuck her because I actually like this one."

Jason, of course, seemed skeptical about my statement and retorted, "What, like, dinner and a movie shit? You gonna buy her flowers and cook her dinners and go for walks in the park? Oh shit, are you gonna pack a picnic lunch? Come on, man, you and I both know that ain't you."

"We only met after I became single again. That was three years ago, but let's all just accept that you don't know what I'm like when I'm actually smitten with someone, OK? Alright, yeah, I hate that dinner and a movie shit, but I do cook. A lot, and I think it makes a great date."

"You just said smitten," Mark pointed out.

"Ah, hell, I did, didn't I?"

"It's official; we have to take your balls now," Mark joked, "but, if it's like that then what's the problem? I mean, I somehow doubt you'd ask us to go get shitfaced if you just met a girl with promise."

I stirred a finger in the head of my fourth beer and watched the foam retreat away from the salt on my finger. I thought about the last few days and how to explain it in a way they could understand when I barely understood it myself. "We've been on a couple dates. She's beautiful, she's fantastic, and she likes cartoons, you know? It's just that it's really hard to get a hold of her and then we make out for a couple hours at the end of the night, and then she's gone and I never knew how much of it was the liquor. Still, this last time we were both sober so I know it's not that, but then what is it, and I'm thinking it's-"

"Boyfriend?" Jason asked.

"Yeah, that's what I thought too, but it's definitely not. I went out with a few of her friends. I asked. She's totally single."

"OK," Mark said looking up from his drink, "Here's what we know: She's single, flaky, but is attracted to you. She obviously likes spending time with you otherwise she wouldn't. Furthermore, we know that she's not really using you for sex, because, you know, you haven't, because you're a sucker. So she might have like, a horrible STD. More likely is that she just works a lot. Most likely, sadly, is that she's dating around. She knows that you're not gonna work out long-term, but there's just something about you that keeps her coming back. Jason?"

Jason took a long pull off his beer that one could only call contemplative. He straightened up and looked dead at me. "Concurred."

"Well fuck. Anything further gentlemen?"

"Meh," Mark shrugged, "all isn't lost. I'd tell you not to wait around for her or anything, but if you like spending time with her there's no reason to stop. Just keep your hopes and shit in check. She likes you, so maybe she'll change her mind."

"Especially if you fuck her," Jason added.

I looked at the lot of us in the bar mirror. We had our drinks in hand and everyone had such a serious and thoughtful look on their face. I started laughing in the kind of boisterous laugh that makes the whole bar look around and try to piece together what was so damn funny.

"Look at us! We're the scientists down in the fucking lab! We're the world leaders in the fallout shelter trying to figure out whether to drop the bomb!"

Jason began laughing about as hysterically as I was. Mark chuckled a bit and said "La fin du Monde."

"What the fuck does that even mean?" Jason asked in his own little, 'the hell are you not speaking American?' type of indignant tone.

"For starters, it's the name of the beer I'm drinking. It's French for 'the end of the world.' Funny thing, though, is that it's in the feminine form of speech, so it's kinda saying the end of the world will be because of a woman."

I looked down at what was now the end of my 6th beer. "Fuckin' A," I responded, "Hell with it. Let's get wrecked."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dear You Thunderous Know-Nothing

Knowledge is power.

Please try to acquire some and then write.

The Dusty Emperor of Nothing

Telling the Gods

“It is the risk of carrying the stone, to lose yourself, but the gods must know that the dead are coming.”
It was important to honor the gods. Hopa was only nine, but even she knew the life of the tribe depended on obedience to a higher power. The gods were fickle and they demanded attention.
“You will take the stone there, Hopa,” the smoky old priest had told her as they sat cross-legged in front of an amber fire, “The gods will need to know that someone has died. They will not accept your brother on his journey if they do not know he is dead. This is the way.”
Hopa knew about the way. This was not the first time her family had carried the stone. Her mother had died two years before and her father carried the stone then. He never came back. Scout Pilo had told Hopa that he had seen her father wandering the woods. His hair was wild and his feet were mangled and he was wrapped in the bloody carcass of an animal. He was calling for the tribe, yelling familiar names and screaming for Hopa, but he would never find them. He had lost himself and was no longer welcome.
“It is the risk of carrying the stone, to lose yourself,” the priest had muttered staring into the fire, “but the gods must know that the dead are coming.”
Hopa had traveled several days in her journey to the gods, but could see no end. There was no path, no way to measure any progress. The priest had been very cryptic in describing the task. “Follow the sun as it rises and the shadows as they fall. Move quickly and the tribe will be waiting for you.”
She had been quick. She ran across the land, lapping speedily at streams and ripping plants away from the soil for food. She knew what was good and, more importantly, what would make her sick. Her brother taught her. He had been a hunter for the tribe and would spend weeks away at a time, living only on what he could find. He knew about the way the water flowed and where the animals were and how to trick them. He knew how to move quickly and throw a spear and how to become invisible in an instant. He knew about Hopa and how she liked the sun after rain and how she was afraid of the warrior dances under the moon. He knew her and he had been the only one left.
“It is the risk of carrying the stone, to lose yourself, but the gods must know that the dead are coming.”
Hopa gripped the stone tightly in her hand and ran faster than she already had, faster than she thought she could. She jumped over the hills and skipped around the rocks, pushing her legs farther than they’d ever been before. Her chest tightened and her eyes watered and her muscles screamed until she stopped in a tremor of heaving and gasping. She tried to continue, but, with vision blurred, she stumbled, falling forcefully down on the thick, brown earth. Her body throbbed against the land and she let out a long and stricken wail, drawing out the dark feelings from deep inside. She lay on the cool, wet ground sinking in a treacherous grief.
But she did not drown. The tremors stopped and the wailing ceased and when she raised her head she had arrived at the valley where the gods waited and watched. They stood in a circle in large, pointed hats with great, long arms that rolled into the land and snowy, white beards that remained resolutely still despite the cold winds that rushed about them. The air at the feet of the gods was calm and crisp as Hopa approached the stone pile that had been visited so many times before; by her tribe, by her father, and now by she herself. With tenderness and humility she placed her stone on top, glad that, whatever the cost, the door was now open for her brother’s final journey. The sounds of her tribe whistled on the wind and as she turned from the stones she saw them in the distance, waving, and smiling, and calling her back home.
“It is the risk of carrying the stone, to lose yourself, but the gods must know that the dead are coming.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dear Cantankerous Curr,

I have discovered a topographical image of your psyche:

Desolate and bereft of all sources of life, just like your pathetic empire.

~The Red-Haired Monk of Excess

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


"Don't get me wrong," Ben said as he adjusted himself in the saddle, "it's not that I don't really enjoy this, but what if someone sees us?"
"Why would that be such a big deal?" Mary asked while running a hand through her hair and letting the wind take it and blow it right into Ben's face. It tickled his nose, like when he slept next to her, and he scratched it constantly.
"Well, Mary, let's see. You're married, we're having an adulterous relationship, and we're in plain sight. Oh, right, you also picked me up on a fucking dragon!"

The great beast growled almost in recognition and sounded the way a tiger would if it were several times bigger. Ben had to grab Mary around the waist to avoid being shook off by the intense vibration. Down below the people looked like little more than ants, or maybe the Brownies from that movie with the midget wizard and the baby Ben had liked so much as a child, but he swore he could see every face staring, judging, damning him for his sins.

"Seriously Mary, there could be paparazzi everywhere! What if we end up on the tabloids?"
"Ben just shut up and relax," Mary rebuked with only the slightest of irksome tones, "odds are we're too high up to see, no one would ever recognize you dressed like that, and do you have any idea how long I've been on the waiting list for him? Desmond gave it to me as an engagement gift. We were fucking engaged for 4 years before we got married, which was ten years ago I might add. Please just let me enjoy this with someone I enjoy without too much whiny fearful bullshit!"
"I still don't see why you didn't go with the Pegasus, or even the roc. Why did you have to insist on fucking Tiamat here?"
"OK, first, Pegasus is a proper noun. It's a winged horse, and their flying sucks, and don't get me started on those giant eagles; Chester O'Mally's bit his arm clean off while he was trying to feed it. Third, her name is Sparkles, and she has a pretty good grasp on the English language, so I'd watch your mouth mister!"

"Now, I have one question I desperately need to ask you while we're up here," Mary said while hoisting her legs over the side of the great beast and spinning around to face him.
"OK, shoot."
"Have you ever had sex in a cloud bank?"
"Yes. With you. In the Smoky Mountains."
"Christ, you're impossible. Have you ever had sex in a cloud bank while flying on a giant lizard?

Coming back down watching Mary glow and holding her in arms he knew weren't at all strong enough, Ben found himself thinking depressing thoughts. He dropped his shoe while being hoisted into the sky by the great reptile. He had to have it back at the costume store by tomorrow. It wasn't that he'd have to look for it, or even that he'd have to pay should he not find it. The fact that he was thinking of it at all, while in the presence of the loveliest woman he had ever met, who seemed to love him so much despite the ring on her finger, saddened him more than he could describe. Still, something occurred to him and in an instant he was laughing that boisterous laugh that initially attracted her to him; the laugh that suggested gigantic mirth.

"What's so damn funny?"
"I was just thinking. I actually hope they do get us on film."
"Oh? Why is that?"
"Can you imagine the headlines? Heiress Caught Riding the Dragon with Elvis."
"The costume is very fitting."
"Seriously, though, we need to go back and find the other shoe. I don't want to have to pay for it at the costume shop."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dear Free-Loading Boot-Licker

I was thinking about you the other day.

But I'm sure, like most maladies, that I'll get over it.


The Dusty Emperor of Nothing.


They told me to ration. “Ration everything out,” Colonel Jameson would shriek, “You’re gonna be all alone and food on Mars don’t grow on trees…yet!” It was an ambitious project. Send a man to Mars. Build a biosphere. We knew how to do it, but it was still a big puzzle. All the pieces were there, but everything had to be just so. Everything had to be just perfect or I would die. That’s what they always laid down as the bottom line for me. “George Wurster, if you don’t fully understand the schematics of this re-circulating carbon filter you could die!” “Do you want to grow crops in Martian soil, Captain Wurster? Do you? Or do you want to die of starvation cause you didn’t regulate the nitrogen levels in your garden?” Death was what I was taught to fear. Death was coming and it would only take one mistake, one slip-up, and I would open the door for death. So they taught me prevention. They taught me precautionary measures. They taught me to ration. Ration food and ration water. Ration exercise and ration sleep. Ration on-time and ration down-time. It was a complex equation, but we worked it all out. We found all the solutions. And when it was perfect they sent me off. Four years on a shuttle the size of two houses. I slept all the way there. And while I was sleeping everything happened, just like we’d planned it. The ship landed and the foundations shot deep. Each section of the ship unfolded like a flower onto the Martian surface, covering an area that amounted to a full city block. The tarps were laid out and the plants began to grow. I woke up a week later and everything was already on its way. I took my time. I went through every procedure, checked every mechanism as I’d been taught to. It was all humming right along. But the puzzle wasn’t complete. Something had gone wrong. Halfway between the Earth and Mars we’d lost communication. It’s something they hadn’t expected and there was no contingency, no precautionary measure. As far as they knew I never made it to Mars. They wouldn’t send a recovery vessel. They couldn’t. Too many variables. But I was safe. Everything worked. I wouldn’t die and that was my bottom line. I didn’t have to do much to keep everything working; it just hummed right along, the part of the puzzle that fit into place just right. I’d landed on the wall of a crater that was two clicks off of my original landing site. It was a site of frequent dust storms leaving me virtually invisible to anyone looking for signs of life on the red planet. I did what they told me. I rationed everything. Exercise, food, rest. But there were other considerations now. The communication I was supposed to have with Earth was gone. All my work was contingent on collaboration from home. I had many idle hours. I did what they told me. I rationed everything. Thoughts, moods, feelings. There isn’t much of a night life on Mars. I had a few books and a little music on a data box. Most of the supplies were intended for my work. Blank paper, chemicals and dyes, pencils and a graphing board. Not too interesting. I rationed the information. Read only a little each day. Kept it interesting. Picked a different song each week. This week’s song is pretty. I heard it in a bar once and couldn’t get it out of my head. I suck in every moment of it knowing it’s the only thing I’ll hear for a week. The singer is melancholy, but his words are important. Everyone is a burning sun. Our love is all of God’s money. Each star is a setting sun. I think it’s talking about Jesus, but that doesn’t matter. There’s a lot there to think about and I’m happy for it. The song ends quietly, like it began. Space is quiet. So is being the total population of your own planet. I don’t think we got it quite right. The puzzle’s not wrong; it’s just a different picture. The bottom line isn't death. It’s loneliness.