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Sep 14, 2010

It's been a while. Count me In w/ a :toxx: for good measure


Sep 14, 2010

775 words

“…he had sickened and turned away because of his shock at seeing the buffalo, a few moments before proud and noble and full of the dignity of life, now stark and helpless, a length of inert meat…” — John Williams, Butcher’s Crossing


The police blinders only illuminated part of the Patrick buried in the snow. The other part, his lower half… it was just missing. Gone. The policemen sat in their cars, hands to heaters, waiting for the county detective to drive down and tell them what to do.

— — —

Jamie only goes out on Monday nights and Wednesday nights. That’s when the Double K has its warm drink specials: cranberry hot toddys, and spiced wine. They’re also the only nights K.K. keeps the fireplace going — “on account of the socioeconomic climate that is fueling this current rise in energy prices,” he says. Lastly, they’re the only nights Patrick works the late shift at the Technology Hut.

She was at the Double K when she heard the news, on the T.V. tucked above and away in the otherwise dark corner above the bar.

— — —

Shannon is in her slippers Googling gift-yarns for her mother’s crocheting collection, but Google thinks Shannon is in Brazil.

Localização: São Paulo. Cerca de 637 000 000 resultados (0,34 segundos)

“loving Patrick…”

The phone rang. Shannon slid her chair out and answered.

“Her Majesty’s Residence, with whom am I speaking?”


“Hey, do you know why Google would start talking to me in Spanish? And there’s this green light on my computer now. Patrick was over and…”


Jamie did her best to recount what she had heard on Channel 2. She struggled to keep her composure through Shannon’s No… No’ing on the other side, and then she fought hard through the sobbing and crying, until she ended with a “Don’t move. I’ll be right there.” She downed her drink and left. The outside walkway to her Ford Ranger was caked in snow.

— — —

Jamie lost Brent last year, around this time, around Christmas. The police found his body in the forest. Well, they found the upper part — they never recovered his lower half. The police ruled out wolves. They called it a “clean break” — Jamie, thinking about the way they said those words, threw a up a little in her mouth, and she felt the alcohol through the back of her nose — wolves, they said, would have eaten the whole body, or they at the very least wouldn’t have schemed to carry away his lower trunk. That was another shocker of a word. His “trunk.”

She thought about how he’d sit across her in the cab, but would put his hands up to the vents on her side because he was convinced they were warmer. And she thought about his funeral, when she saw him in a half-casket, tucked underneath a pressed linen sheet.

— — —

Shannon was sobbing, uncontrollably.

“I saw the loving news! The similarities are too hosed up!” she said.

They were together in the Ranger, and were driving the winding path up to Shannons mother’s house. Shannon didn’t want to be alone, or at she wanted to be less alone than she felt with Jamie. Jamie wanted to crawl into their guest room and shut herself away until the next Christmas.

“Tell be about this green light,” Jamie said. She still felt a little drunk.

“The green light?”

“On your computer, you said there was a green light? And everything was in Spanish?”

“I don’t care about my loving computer right now, Jamie.”

“Patrick was messing with it before he left?”

“He was.”

Jamie could feel warmth in her chest. And from the vents.

“I think he might have been spying on you.”

“What? gently caress you.”

The road entered Jackson Forest and it was getting hard to see past the turns. Jamie continued.

“The green light, that meant your camera was on. I think he installed something.”

“Are you loving doing this right now?”

Jamie was calculating what to say when she missed the shadowy mass in the middle of the road. She swerved, hard, and the Ranger tilted to the left, and she saw Shannon tilt with it, until Shannon was up vertically in the air, her eyes were making wide contact back down at Jamie. And then there was a crash, a wrenching of metal, and everything became an empty black.


The bison dug its two horns into the snow and shook them around for a moment, and then it reared its head up with a snort, leaving behind a mist of powder and ice. A torn patch of jean fabric floated through the air.

Sep 14, 2010

hi in

Sep 14, 2010

prompt: KFC had to change their name because what they're legally selling isn't chicken

987 words

Sycamore Grove
The man pushes his shopping cart down the aisle (clunk clunk) and stops by a tower of toner cartridges. HP.

The scheme is this: Credit card, new, Visa, $1,000 dollar spend, 10,000 mile cash back. The miles aren’t for him, but for his son, Patrick. It’ll only fetch an offseason ticket, sure, but it’s still something to do. Something he’ll appreciate.

The issue is this: who has a $1,000 dollars to spend anymore? With credit, though, you’re not really spending, and he can make do. Besides, the best businesses in the world thrive exclusively off of credit.

He takes a cartridge, fumbles with it in his hand. $24 dollars, HP. Tosses it in the basket. He’ll sell the toner (along with everything else in his cart) to one of the boys. Maybe this to Larry, who is always talking about his next big manuscript.

He’s always been keen-minded, good business sense, could sell a glass of water to a drowning man. And the drowning man would still live.

— — —

Ink. Toner. Manuscripts. Newsprint.

Indian summer. Patrick is nine years old, out in the neighborhood, his sweat pores really opening up for the first time in his life. On the sidewalk alongside him is his father. They’re going over his new paper route.

The father puts a paper in the boy’s hands and shows him the right way to wind his body back, like a discus thrower, for the perfect toss. Patrick lets it rip and it lands squarely in a bush.

They keep walking, paper-left-in-bush, a rush job but they have ground to cover and are losing hydration fast. The father carries the main stack by its ribbon while the boy holds a paper out with both his arms.

“Why did Washington have a Post?” The boy asks.

“Excellent question,” he replies. “First, Washington had an army. And armies naturally need to communicate: dispatchers, couriers (that’s you), those sorts of things. To organize all of that, you need a post.”

“I understand,” the boy says, staring at a passing mailbox — wooden, post-like.

“Which leads me to my second point. And this is important.” The father stops, wipes his brow, speaks at the boy. “The most important innovation of our times is the innovation of organization. And the most important institution of our times is the Corporation. So men can come together and do the best work of their lives.”

— — —

HP’s a good corporation. Used to be Hewlett-Packard, but everyone knew Packard was an rear end in a top hat, some stooge who got too mixed up in the Nixon administration. Never liked Nixon (or he came to not like him, he can’t remember. Does it matter?), and near everyone else today would say the same. The name had to change. HP.

That’s his theory at least. He’ll never know what discussions and deliberations went on behind those boardroom doors. Only trusts the decision made was the right one.

He stops by footwear, sees a pair of Nikes. Patrick was always a real player at basketball. He only made it out to one of Patrick’s games (busy, terribly, with work) — stood by the side of the bleachers, arms crossed, avoiding the thick of the noise and the cheer and the crowd. But he saw every whoosh, every buzz, and knew his boy had talent.

He was disappointed his son never never made college ball. That’s where you’ll make some of the best connections you’ll ever make in your life. Missed opportunity. If he had bought him better shoes…

Nike’s are the best. Fortune 500 good. He takes a pair, 12’s, $49.87.

His son’s at BU now. Studying philosophy. The boy’s mother and him don’t talk — hell, he only writes the boy letters now, him being busy at school. Urges him to get the right experience, intern, learn from the best minds in business he can.

The card has a $200 dollar limit. The best they could do, they explained, after initially messing up his paperwork (or something like that. Does it matter?) and denying him. They must’ve thought he was his son. They share the same name, same middle initial — Patrick Louis Reid; Patrick Levi Reid.

No one he know cares much for clothing, but he can fetch double for a pair of sunglasses hanging off the rack if he angles the sell right. Polarized, U.V. resistant, they are none of these things, and he’s not a liar. He’ll sell them on the chrome finish. $4.99. Ready to check out.

In the front corner of the supermarket is a bastion, a place of respite, a Kentucky Fried Chicken. He has some change in his pocket and figures why not. In line he strikes up conversation with the woman next to him.

“Did you know why the changed their name to just KFC?”

The woman shrugs at him, making a minimum of eye contact, and then stares blurry into the menu above the counter.

“What they’re selling now isn’t even chicken, it’s something else entirely. And they couldn’t in good conscious lie about it, right? So, KFC.”

The lady laughs, shifts her feet, doesn’t look away from the menu.

“At least that’s my theory. But don’t get me wrong I’ll gladly eat it,” he says. “They must know what they’re doing. Fortune 500 and all.”

— — —

In the parking lot, the man keeps going. Up onto the curb. Down 5th street. Wheels clicking with every ridge in the sidewalk. The cart’s full and he’ll never pay off his balance.

He reaches the shelter — in white wooden lettering reads Sycamore Grove.

Inside, in the room called the Cage, he has to check in his belongings before he’s allowed to enter. Doesn’t have drugs, weapons, and the young man behind the mesh has seen weirder poo poo, so he inventories the six plastic bags and hands the man a clipboard to sign.

He writes down his son’s initials, is let in.

Sep 14, 2010

ant no time like the present. i'll take one, please.

Sep 14, 2010

339 words

Diaspora in the monsoon undergrowth. They will never see their old home again, its arboreal existence snuffed out by the flurry of wind, tumble-swept, washed down and away in a current of red clay. Many drowned, and those that landed on patches of dry earth clung, escaping the drowning death, escaping the death-current — those that could had found their footing, and fled up a tree.

They climbed in a straight line, like mountaineers, each of their hairy legs an ice pick. Some climbers fell, but when they did, they did not fall vertically — instead, they were carried effortlessly with the wind, and then placed gently down onto the basin floor, to die.

In that tree, the survivor ants fanned out, swarming the tree’s community of limbs. They jiggled their antennas, and got to work.


A week passes.

The colony survives. Wedged between two branches lies a new home: brambly, a chaos of leaves woven together by silk, and sheer determination. Inside, it is dry, the only dry respite available to them. Light does not penetrate through waxy patchwork. The inside is packed, with food, and bodies. It is a throng, each ant marching in and out and up and down in the overdark, moving as a network, as a single sensory system that is wholly foreign, indescribable.

The colony will not survive. The ant queen is dead, swept perfectly away and then drowned like the others. There will be no future generation, and the workers that remain, although strong and chitinous, will slowly decay, and die, and dwindle in number until, one day, they can no longer maintain the waxy chaos of leaves. Extinction follows.


The monsoon passes.

An ant overcome with disease forages alone, far from the diaspora. It sets down the piece of junglefly it had been carrying, for its siblings to haul later.

And in a bright clearing on the jungle floor, two ants come across a husked-out beetle — they shake and perform a jig together, as if to celebrate.


Sep 14, 2010


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