May 092012
 

Chapter 1

Miss Amanda Lynn Virtuoso climbed out of the limousine (a stretch Smart car) and tugged her jacket closed at the neck amid the wind and drizzle. Home at last. She handed Chauffrey, the chauffeur, her usual inadequate tip of $2 and wished him a good night. She had trouble tipping people with ridiculous names. For reasons of her being attractive, he didn’t seem to mind the meager bonuses.

There were glimpses of her gown’s sparkle as she ascended the staircase to her sizable-but-not-quite-a-mansion home with the deteriorating facade. Her wealth had diminished somewhat in recent years, but the building’s state of upkeep wasn’t for financial lack. She simply felt it best to present an ambiguous picture to the world in every way she could. She felt it gave her some sort of advantage, and in her relationship with Chauffrey, it certainly did. Not that there was anything romantic going on between them, despite Chauffrey’s unspoken desires. She simply kept him off-balance. Fascinated, he was always wondering what she’d do next, and this fascination is why he often did favors for her off the clock. “Chauffrey, I need a bird of prey to adorn me this evening. Please procure one before my event this evening… if you’re bored.” Or, “You with the stupid name, consider transporting this bag of antique baublery to the orphanage and bringing some cheer to whatever animals they’re keeping in that zoo these days. If that’s how you roll.” Not that her name was that great, either. Maybe that’s why she picked on other people with unfortunate names. In any case, it was always an odd request, and the time was never paid for, but he enjoyed being occupied by her. He made enough from his other clients, and she didn’t really overwhelm him with the requests. It was just the right amount of spice to keep the humdrum away. Good entertainment was hard to come by.

He sighed wistfully as the entrance swallowed her.

Inside now, appreciating the cozy warmth, Amanda hung her jacket in the closet and trotted to the nearest full-length mirror to get one last look at her spectacular evening costume. The designer was French (What’s the French word for cliché?), but despite his stereotypical fashion origins, she really liked his work. He excelled in his use of translucent materials, and this particular dress had a lot of life and depth, even for him. Every movement was a dance of light and texture. The gorgeousness of the dress made her giggle all the more as she patted her hugely protruding belly.

“Chauffrey,” she’d said a month prior, “a month hence I will be requiring a fake pregnancy. I’ve been avoiding my professional and social circles for several months already, as you know, and I want my return to be gloriously scandalous. I implore you to search high and low for an appropriate middle for me. Find me a big belly, and, in a sense, you’ll be the non-existent child’s father. It would be fun if I went around telling everyone, ‘My chauffeur did this to me,’ no?”

Of course he set about completing the task in earnest. The work paid off. She looked knocked up in the worst way.

The results were in. Amanda couldn’t stop laughing as she started going through her texts, emails, and voice messages. Ivan, a business associate, congratulated her with the text, “Finally Chauffrey seems to have gotten a good tip. ;) ” Eclair, her delicious partner in crime for many of her adventures, voiced, “I was beginning to fear you’d checked yourself in at a nunnery to have your lovechild in secret, but I’m glad you were merely waiting until you were ripe enough to drop jaws. My god, did you see Marigold’s tiny pregnant belly that she got from sleeping with the love of her life, her husband? It’s like she didn’t want any attention at all! You never disappoint, Manzy.” Chumbawamba, a Nigerian prince she conversed with online, asked her in an email to invest in the child’s future by supplying him with her personal details so he could set up a trust for the baby. She probably wouldn’t be doing that. Hmm… she’d told everyone at the party she was going to have a water birth in her bathtub, and after that email, she was thinking “tubthumper” would be such a cute nickname for the baby… if only she were really pregnant.

Tomorrow she would have to ring Eclair and do lunch, sans baby globe. She looked forward to the reaction, whatever it would be. For now, it was time to sleep.

 Posted by at 11:35 am
Nov 022010
 

I’m probably only going to post this, my first day’s effort, since I’m sure anything that follows will be even less coherent:

————————————————————————————

Neaton clapped his hands, eyes twinkling, and said, “Halle-boo-yah!”

Those around him glared. His own face remained locked in a smile, undistorted by everyone else’s reaction.

He was standing on a downtown sidewalk, peering up at the face of the building in which he lived. The graffiti surrounding his apartment window seven floors up was being painted over. Hmm… Neaton would miss the image of the drooping green breasts, but the rest of the montage failed to speak to him. And whew, now his apartment wouldn’t stand out like a drooping green thumb, wilting plants in his window notwithstanding. He’d have to remember to water them.

Kirst was sitting at the dining room table reading a piece of periodical literature when he opened the door. Not looking up, she acknowledged him with a lazy salute. “Dinner’s in the microwave,” she informed him. “The time’s already keyed in, so just hit ‘Start.’”

Kirst was often waiting for him with food (nearly) prepared, but she didn’t live with him. She simply had a key and an odd desire to see him taken care of in certain basic ways. She didn’t have any children or pets, and didn’t seem to want them, yet she seemed to need some sort out outlet for… whatever you want to call it. Neaton didn’t mind—they were close friends—but it did put him at a disadvantage, always feeling like he owed her. He did treat her to nights out on the town when he could, so at least there was that.

“Thanks, Kirst,” he said as he removed his shoes and boogied to the microwave to hit the button. “You may actually make my Christmas list this year. At least the re-gift list. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with that Jesus door poster you gave me last year. You could get lucky!”

She finally looked up at him. “Hey, if I can’t give someone Christ on Christmas, what’s the point?” she argued before quietly snickering into her sleeve, pleased with herself.

“You’re a goof. Hey, did you see they were painting over the mysterious graffiti?”

“Uhh, yes, Neaton. It’s going on right outside the window I’m sitting by. Why do you think I’m sitting here in the first place? Painter Dude was putting on a show for me before you ruined it by coming home.”

He looked out at Painter Dude. “Paint me skeptical,” he said.

“I still have no idea what graffiti artist is scaling buildings,” she wondered. “I guess he has to do something to stand out. When I think about it that way, it’s kind of sad his work is being buried under a layer of non-expression. But then I remember those green breasts and I’m over it.”

Neaton was now eating his stir fry—she made stir fry—and he swallowed so he could counter her disapproval. “Hey, alien babies need nourishment, too. Don’t hate on green breasts. Maybe out comes Shamrock Shake. Would you really deny alien babies naturally produced Shamrock Shakes? Don’t be so unfeeling.”

But she was done with that conversation. “In any case, I’m headed to the skate park to heckle the helmeted daredevils. Travers should be there, and maybe I’ll talk to a couple of the more goon-looking hooligans to see if I can get a lead on climbing graffiti artists. I simply must get to the bottom of this. I can’t have the person whose home I intrude on being targeted. That just wouldn’t do.”

“I like where this is going,” Neaton told her, letting his thumb grow upward into a show of approval.

* * * * *

The lights at the skate park turned on as Kirst approached the huddle Travers was part of, dusk being what it was. “Hey, Traversty!” she barked. “Travs! Revolve your face a bit so I can talk to it.”

Travers, a little embarrassed in front of his friends, turned around, resignation slumping his shoulders. “Hey, Aunt Kirst. What’s up?”

She surveyed the concrete landscape with squinted eyes, making it seem like the thing she wanted to discuss was going to be important, and not necessarily for everyone’s ears. Indeed, when she finally spoke, it was with, “Let’s walk over to the other side of Yonder Half-pipe.” The half-pipe was, in fact, yonder, but she wasn’t just calling it that to be a goof. It was actually named that. There was a sign and everything. Okay, there was only a sign, but the everything was implied.

Fifty paces later, she revealed her purpose. Travers listened with only semi-apparent boredom as she outlined what she wanted from him, which was to casually uncover who might be behind the graffiti of curious elevation.

“Didn’t you see the news?” he asked her. “They’ve discovered two more similar tags, one in Eastside and the other in… the Safflower district.” It was news to her. “Yeah, the cops are looking for a link, but they don’t know anything yet. I haven’t heard much from my friends except that it’s cool, and they hope the guy covers a lot more area before he’s done. I guess the one on the building in Safflower is a barcode, and if you check on what product the barcode is for, it’s the color of paint they just used to cover the one at Neaton’s place.”

“And the cops didn’t think that was a link? I guess I didn’t need you after all. I should have just watched the news. Anyway, let me know if your friends find anything out. I needed a new interest, and this should pass some time for me.” She sighed. “Not having to work can make for a boring life.”

Travers kicked up his skateboard, caught it, and pointed it toward her. “You could always take up skateboarding, Nancy Drew.”

“I’ll leave that to you and the Hardly Boys,” she said, indicating the mid-life crisis crew who were destroying themselves as they tried to grind on various edges.

“Ugh,” Travers said, which said it all.

* * * * *

“Smoke my sausage,” Neaton said to Kirst when she entered. “They’re talking about it on the news.”

“So I heard. Eastside and Safflower?”

“And apparently South Brill.”

“I heard about the barcode one. What are the other two images?”

Neaton paused to hear the reporter finish her sentence before answering. “Well, the one in Eastside was of a bunny rabbit drinking a soda pop. Those are the reporter’s words, not mine. The one in South Brill was panoramic, depicting the skate park you were just at.”

“Okay, that’s kind of creepy. I don’t know what the rabbit with the soda has to do with anything, but the others are way too tied to us, specifically. What kind of soda was it?”

“King Kong Root Beer.”

“Ooh, I could really go for one of those right now. Oh, damn it, see, it’s even creepier now. How did the artist know I would want a King Kong Root Beer?”

“The power of suggestion. I think it’s flattering we have a fan. Of course, we may have inadvertently enraged him by allowing the apartment manager to Wite-Out some of his work.”

Kirst pointed out the window. “Umm, speaking of fans, Painter Dude left a while ago, but there’s a face out there looking in.”

She wasn’t wrong. A prominently mustached gentleman who seemed to be floating peered in at them, and he even raised his hand to stroke his mustache.

“Hey, he stroked his mustache,” Kirst pointed out.

“I saw that. If it was a window I could open, I’d stroke it, too. And then I’d knock him out with my fists.”

The suspended gentleman rapped his knuckles on the glass.

“If it was a window I could open,” Neaton said to Kirst, “I don’t think I would at this point.”

Kirst was placing a 911 call. “Yes, this creepy guy is here right now, staring in at us. He has a mustache, and the mustache has been stroked. No, this is not a prank. Please get your helicopter here as soon as possible.”

The information became outdated as she hung up. A whoosh happened, and the face was gone.

“Goddammit,” she said, rushing to the window to try to see where he went. She found no sign of him, even with her important-looking squint.

Neaton stayed back, a little more put off by the experience than she was. “Kirst, can I crash at your place tonight?” She was already nodding and gave him a reassuring hug, but he continued on. “I know your place has never been our rally point, but I think you may have been right about me being targeted. Even if you’re in the same boat, at least your place is on the ground, with windows that we can open. That face wouldn’t fare so well at your place.”

“Grab your gear. Let’s go.”

* * * * *

Harvey Habilis tapped his cane against the building’s brick wall to shake loose some debris it had accumulated. He wasn’t used to the filth in this part of town. It was his first visit to Eastside.

He would have preferred his first visit to be during daylight, with a friend, but he didn’t have a lot of time. The locals were eyeing him. He could tell they knew he was out of place. He tried to walk with a little more authority, like he knew what he was doing, but it was hard to pull off given the circumstances and with the cane as a factor.

Harvey turned on Grayson Street and could see the building up ahead. Ammutory-Straub. He could faintly see the markings. He needed to take a sample of whatever was used to draw the barcode. If it confirmed his suspicions, the world wouldn’t be happy, but at least his name would mean something again. The scientific community would have to take him seriously once more, and maybe they would even pick up his tab at The Jackass Whisperer, his oft-visited watering hole. One could dream.

They knew he was coming at the front desk. The attractive brunette pointed to the elevators down the hall and told him what floor, and that there would be a gentleman named Archer to meet him. He leaned against the wall of the elevator and gave his cane some relief. Maybe he would relieve his other cane on the attractive brunette. It was in the realm of possibility if this played out like he hoped it would.

The elevator door opened, and a man with a goatee stood in front of him, looking in.

“Archer, I presume?” he asked the man. Was the man’s skin tinted green ever-so-slightly, or was it just his imagination?

It wasn’t the confirmation of his theory he had hoped for, and Archer didn’t live up to his name as he brought his impressively whirring, glowing firearm to bear on Habilis’s chest, but realization flooded Harvey as his torso vaporized and his extremities scattered. Yes, aliens were finally among us.

 Posted by at 1:55 am
Jan 092010
 
Me: I wish I could just pop my eyes out
Of course, then I’d lose them
But it would be cool if you could plug anything into your empty eye sockets and have them work as eyes
Like if some testicles were lying around
It would be weird if scrotums blinked, by the way
Her: agreed
Me: I’m glad we see ball to ball on that
Apr 162009
 

I went in for my eye appointment this yesterday morning, and of course I got the distinct impression that the woman prepping me for the real eye doctor was flirting with me, because why not? Then another one was staring at me when I was leaving. It was a weird stare, but I’m going to give myself the benefit of the doubt and say she was checking me out. When I got home, one of my online friends asked if I was “all buff” yet, as apparently I’d mentioned working out the last time I’d talked to her. “I must be looking okay,” I told her, “because when I was at my eye appointment, the women were checking me out like I was the eye test.”

Then at work I got to tell my frothing menstruation story, so it was a good day.

Mar 282009
 
Me (10:04:37 PM): What do you and your sister like to do when you go out?
Her (10:04:53 PM): shopping
Her (10:05:00 PM): maybe get something to eat
Her (10:05:02 PM): movies
Me (10:05:03 PM): Is that what I have to look forward to?
Her (10:05:05 PM): girl stuff
Her (10:05:07 PM): yeah
Me (10:05:12 PM): Sounds good to me
Her (10:05:14 PM): or we can do something you like
Me (10:06:01 PM): I’m not opposed to anything in that list. It’s about all I do when I go out. It sounds perfect.
Me (10:07:20 PM): I mean, the shopping is intimidating, just because of the crowds of people, so I may use you and [your sister] as a buffer between myself and the harsh, judgmental stares.
Her (10:07:34 PM): awww no one will judge you
Me (10:08:13 PM): You sure? I guess I won’t go around saying, “Is that a gavel in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?” then.
Me (10:08:24 PM): Order in the food court!
Me (10:11:21 PM): But yeah, no one could really judge me if I’m out with you two.
Her (10:11:21 PM): hahahaha
 Posted by at 10:49 pm
Nov 022008
 

I wasn’t going to attempt it, but someone from the Axiom board told me I’d better, since he was going to. I’m already behind on my word count, but I didn’t have a lot of time today. Here’s hoping I get a serious case of diarrhea of the fingers over the course of the month. I’m only at 369 words when the average should be 1,667 per day. It’s titled The Material of Myths, and here’s my beginning:

Cash blew like leaves across the courtyard, signifying not the Fall between Summer and Winter, but the fall of Dremel Fiefdom, who had been clutching the briefcase that had contained the money until only a few moments before. Dizzy scribbles of energy spiraled off his head as he scanned the perimeter of the courtyard, hoping to catch sight of his unseen attacker. He felt the back of his head and discovered red syrup. He ventured a taste, and he realized it was blood. The blow to his head had apparently cursed his brain with unfortunate sluggishness. He needed to gather his wits if he was to face the mystery lurker.

He tried to stand, but he found he couldn’t quite raise himself yet. He involuntarily whimpered, and his backside percussed into the well-tended grass.

The money was still being swept away by the wind, though instead of haphazard scatter, as one would expect, the wind kept all of the bills together, as if they were a group of schoolchildren being led on a short excursion off school grounds. Even in his incapacitated state, Dremel realized that the money was proceeding too tidily in a specific direction. He wondered what teacher was in charge of this field trip. Who could have known he’d be transporting this payment, and why would they risk damaging his much more valuable mind? He was obviously dealing with an amateur.

One of the pieces fell into place as his brain picked up speed. He’d been set up from the start. He’d suggested banding the money into neat wads, but Glimmer had swatted the suggestion down, saying that the recipient wasn’t going to care to count the money at the exchange, that leaving it all loose inside the case was fine. It seemed obvious now that Glimmer was just making it easy for the controller of the wind to spirit the payment away. His new mental momentum had to reconsider his previous decision that he was dealing with an amateur. Controlling wind was no small feat, though it was an overcomplicated way to go about relieving him of his package. Not exactly an amateur, but certainly not a mastermind. He was facing a brilliant dumbass.