Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dear Sequestered Simpleton

I see you've cleaned your throne room:

Now perhaps you'll consider cleaning up the mess between your ears.

~The Red-Haired Monk of Excess

Thursday, October 29, 2009


They say you always remember your first time.

Why do you suppose they say that? Aren't we prone to remembering our first everything? It's a phrase that we could do without entirely, I think. I would very much like to throw the next person that utters it into the sun, but, as my mother used to say, that's my solution for everything.

To their credit, though, I do remember my first time. I wish I didn't. I knew a girl in college who didn't remember her first time having sex. She mentioned it in a way that suggested a sad kind of satisfaction, as if she was sad she couldn't remember, but satisfied that the potentially horrible experience was absent from her memory. It was the worst feeling I think I've ever seen. Imagine, to accept, even express some sick form of gratefulness, towards some horrible event, not because it was narrowly avoided, or that it would never happen again, or that you were somehow vindicated, but simply that you couldn't remember it happening to you. That look on her face sent chills through me that have yet to be rivaled, and I've been to space. I suppose that was another first time for me: the first time I knew what I was to do with my life.

Which brings us to the first time I was alluding to from the very beginning. You know, the whole event was really rather droll, especially for me. There was a bank, some guns, some hostages, and me, stuck in a cliche. I suppose it could have been worse. I hear as near as 20 years ago people in my profession were still wearing fabric around our necks and colors that don't occur in nature, and the opposition was joining right in. No, I was fortunate enough to be able to work in jeans and my favorite suede jacket. He wore a suit, but there was, well, here, take a look at this picture. See?

You know, we have what you might call company parties. Christmas, well, I guess it's Winter Holiday now. Force of habit. Anyway, Winter Holiday, President's Day, Veteran's Day is a big one, and of course, Capes Day. I've heard Capes day was cooked up by the greeting card companies, or the Martian Colony Separatists, or by the capes themselves. The one explanation I actually think might lend itself most to the truth is that a bunch of collectible companies came up with the holiday so they could push out t-shirts and knick-knacks with the likenesses of people who never age and never die. Whatever the case, it's nice to have a day where we can get together and reminisce about the job.

On Capes Day there's a few of us that get together to really take in why we got into this business, congratulate each other on our triumphs, lament over our failures, drink to our fallen brothers and sisters, and imagine, as we imagined when we first started, the better world we're creating down the line. Anyway, one of our traditions is to show, on a projector mind you, the photo of our first collar.

There are a total of 254 members of the Justice Legionnaires. They represent a total of 54 countries, 39 planets spread out across 3 galaxies, 2 alternate futures, and 7 parallel dimensions. I am the most gifted of all of them. The strongest, fastest, most endurable, and I have to show them Cleetus here, and they love it. They laugh and cheer and, well, the one from planet Qxitl bubbles, but we're all pretty sure it's the same thing. I have surpassed the speed of light. I have destroyed rocks twice the size of earth and touched the core of a neutron star. Meanwhile, the Grey Wolf over there hasn't even left New Jersey and can't even lift a car and his first catch was a tyrannical despot guilty of genocide.

I always turn red. I can't even help it. I mean, just look at him!

The hair!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dear Mole-Chasing Carpetbagger

It's not an exact likeness,

but I'm sure the context is familiar to you.

The Dusty Emperor of Nothing


Vernon Cable squinted his eyes against the bright morning sky.
“Fucking Christ,” he mumbled as he stood on the sidewalk in front of his apartment building. Vernon quickly shielded his vision in the crook of his elbow, blinking furiously to make the light more bearable. As he stood paralyzed on the street side, a familiar buzzing sound rattled from his pocket paired with a startling vibration that shook down his left thigh. Vernon pulled the phone from his pocket and mashed a spread of buttons to identify the source of the buzzing.
‘hey i found sum glasses 4 cheap 12 and lincoln’
An hour later the train spit Vernon out in a crowd of business. Men in suits walking with heads down, their eyes covered by dark sunglasses. Nervous wanderers with bloodshot eyes shuffling absently down the street. Vendors working the crowds, picking on the occasional passersby. “New Frames! Low Prices! Hey, you, come look! Come back!”
Vernon wound smoothly out of the bazaar, walking two blocks over through the city. Jerome was standing under a thick metal pole that supported an unwieldy, red clock. His hair stuck out in strange angles and he wore black sunglasses that flashed and flickered in no discernable patterns. Two signs stuck out from the under the clock above him, displaying the cross streets prominently. 12th and Lincoln.
“Hey man,” said Jerome as Vernon crossed the street towards him.
“Tell me,” said Vernon, “I’ve got work in, like, five minutes.”
“Oh, well, okay, um, like I said, I saw some glasses that I think you’ll like. Last night I was over here with Bev and all her shitty friends and we were walkin to this bar somewhere and, actually, I should have called you. What were you doing last night?”
“Jerome, focus. Five minutes.”
“Oh, yeah, anyway, I, um, was walking by that place over there, just out of my mind man!” said Jerome, lolling his head back and pointing to a small shop across the street, “and I looked inside and I was like, ‘man, these glasses are hot!’ and I thought of you and I’m sorry I didn’t call you then, but…”
“It’s fine,” said Vernon, cutting off Jerome before he got started, “Quit talking. Just answer the rest of my questions by shaking your head. Are they cheap?”
Head nod yes.
“Can I get connected?”
Head nod yes.
“Alright, thanks. I gotta go.”
Vernon rushed over to the shop that was set into the ground floor of the skyscraper. It had a faded green awning and a glass door that was cracked down the middle, held together by gray tape.
“Perfect,” mumbled Vernon as he pushed the door open, prompting a small bell to ring. A man with a check-mark smile appeared from around the corner.
“How can I help you?” he said, sliding behind the counter, “No, wait, I think I know. By the look in your eye you’re a man who needs some frames.”
Vernon shook his head in the affirmative.
“Well we’ve got all kinds. Is there anything in particular you’re looking for?”
“The cheapest,” said Vernon, reaching for a card in his wallet, “with texting.”
“No problem,” said the salesman, nodding to his associate at the back of the store, “George will be right out with them. Hey, if you don’t mind my asking, what are you working on now?”
Vernon pulled out his phone and dropped it on the counter with a clunk.
“Wow, this is a relic,” said the salesman, “they’re like tiny typewriters. It’s about time you went hands-free.”
“Yeah,” said Vernon, his eyes darting around the store, “well, I was on another set of glasses for a while, but I had to take some time off. You know, just had trouble sleeping and stuff.”
“Say no more,” said the salesman as his helper came from the backroom with a small plastic box, “I had a customer once who swore when he closed his eyes he could still see the screen. Isn’t that wild? It all goes away after a while though.”
The salesman opened the small box and pulled out a small set of black sunglasses and a silver rod the length and shape of a pencil.
“You ready?” asked the salesman, holding the rod up to Vernon’s head.
He shook his head yes, his eyes open wide with anticipation. The salesman nodded back and held the rod up to the bridge of Vernon’s nose, just between his eyes. Electrical sparks shot out from the rod, surging into his pupils. Vernon gripped the countertop, smearing the glassy exterior. The sparks flared wildly and were gone.
“Alright, here’s your glasses,” said the salesman as he took the card from Vernon’s hands. Vernon stood dazed as his information was run. After all his effects were returned to him he stumbled out the door, holding the glasses in his hands. As Vernon stood on the sidewalk his face was absent of expression. He slowly brought the glasses to his eyes and slipped them on. Everything went black.

And then, all at once, he saw the entire world.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dear Sedentary Stooge

Evil technology and worldly ways:

Lost all their futuristic luster when you started using them.

~The Red-Haired Monk of Excess


There is so much here that can kill me. I know that. I think about it constantly.

That little purple slug with the florescent orange spikes? Yeah, deadly poison.

That fish over there that looks real pretty with the pointy fins? Deadly poison.

Those barracuda that have been following me for the last mile or so because they're attracted to the silver of my watch? Teeth.

I swear if I see anything bigger than those fucking barracuda I'm going to freak out and firebomb the whole ocean. Yeah, I know how silly it sounds to say firebomb and ocean in the same sentence. Yeah I know I don't have any feasible way to actually firebomb anything.

But I'll fucking do it.

When I swim up to the top and float on my back I start thinking that some giant toothy beast is going to think I'm food and rip me to shreds, or that gulls are going to think I'm dead in the water and try to tear out my entrails with their beaks and I'll scream and thrash as I watch the blood and sinew and intestines and a myriad of things I never even knew I had get ripped out of my body and devoured, and my blood will all leak out and it wouldn't count for more than a speck compared to the rest of the ocean. Thinking about that, though, calms me somehow, and I'm able to look at the sky and see shapes in the only three clouds in the sky and as the terrier collides with the fire truck and merges into an amorphous blob I see something else and call "amoeba" out towards the sun.

I'm letting the tide take me in; I watch the island come to me and the waves wash over me. One gets under and carries me like a magic carpet on roller coaster tracks, fluid but jostling, and I roll in the wave and the surf and the sand without cause for concern.

I forget to breathe for about thirty seconds until my lungs begin to throw a little pain my way to let me know I should. I push my head up out of the wet sand and take a deep breath and feel life enter my body.

It's staring at me when I finally open my eyes. It's looking at me with its claws up in a defensive pose, or, I guess, what I imagine its defensive pose to be. The fuck do I know about crustacean behavior, anyway? Anyway, it's frozen in place, by, fear if the creature could actually feel something like fear. It doesn't know what to do. I stay still as it does and just look at it. I relax my face and try to give it one of those Bodhisattva stares, as if that would tell the thing that I have no designs to harm it, as if it would understand. It scuttles away so who the hell knows. Still, I realized that it was something of a kindred spirit, alone in an environment where everything can kill it, where it is out of place, even with the legs. I always used to believe they came from space, building tiny empires in the sand and coral of an adopted home, but I suppose everything finds itself alien sometime or another.