Wednesday, April 22, 2009

TOM"S TALE: Chapter 1 - The New Job

I reached into my pocket and pulled out a business card. It read: "SIMON WENTWORTH - ATTORNEY AT LAW." I slid the card back into my front pocket as the elevator came to a halt. The door opened revealing a dimly lit hallway. I double checked the floor number above the elevator door to make sure that this was my floor. It was.

I exited the elevator and began walking down the damp, mildew-smelling corridor. The succession of dark empty offices that surrounded me with every step made me wonder if this truely was the correct floor. I decided to carry on to just make sure nothing was down here before I turned around.

When I neared the end of the corridor I noticed that there was a light coming from the last office on the left. The window was bright compared to the darkness that almost engulfed the entire floor behind me. "This has to be my destination," I thought to myself.

I stopped at the door and banged my knuckles against the pane of glass.

"It's open!" shouted a high pitched male voice from beyond the door.

With a twist of the rusty doorknob I swung the door open and stepped inside. The office was a pigsty. There were stacks and stacks of index cards piled high throughout the desk and tables of the small office. Coming down from the ceiling was a metal tube hanging next to the desk. The concrete floor was wet and sticky at the same time, not unlike the floor of a movie theater. Behind the desk sat a short plump man wearing a white dress shirt and a green transparent visor on his head. He looked as if he should have been dealing cards at a poker game instead of sitting behind a desk in this dingy little office.

"What can I do you for?"

"Mr. Wentworth?" I asked, quietly, uncertainty bouncing off my tongue.

"He I be. How can I help you?"

"I'm your new temp," I said.

"Good, good, very well then. Time to get started. Enough lolly-gagging around don'cha think?"

I hesitated. "Uh, sure thing. You're the boss."

I looked around the room at the stacks of index cards. They were stacked in piles.

"So what is it that you need me to do?" I asked.

"Why, my good man, you are to sit here with me and help me get caught up on my work!" he said.

This portly midget was already getting on my nerves. Not two minutes into my work day with him and I was ready to throw him out the window. Well, if this office had a window. I took a seat in the chair across the desk from him.

"So where do you keep your law books and such?" I asked, looking around for a diploma or other evidence proving that this was, in fact, a lawyer's office.

"Oh, that. Well I'm not really an attorney, but I can't advertise what I really do. You see, what I do here isn't what one would actually call 'Top Secret', but it truly is."

"Ok, then, what is it you do here then?"

"I solve, what your people call, RIDDLES"

"You solve riddles?" I asked. Then it occurred to me what he'd said: "What do you mean, my people?"

"Can you keep a secret?" he whispered, leaning towards me. I nodded. "I'm not from your world. I am a very important man where I came from. A Prince, to be exact. I was bored with my life there and wanted to help out the greater good of my people, so I traveled here and began working in this office. I know it's nothing like guarding your President or editing your movie films, but it helps our people understand the thinking process of you, shall I say, Earthlings?"

This guy was a bag of nuts and his bean has been salted long before I entered that door. Crazy or not, $15/hour is hard to pass up.

"Let's get started," the fat man said in a not so excited tone. Wentworth grabbed a few index cards off a pile sitting in front of him and handed them to me. "Start with these. Read them aloud and we will work together to figure out the answer."

"Alright." I said. I looked at the top card and read it aloud. "You throw away the outside and cook the inside. Then you eat the outside and throw away the inside. What did you eat?"

"Intriguing!" Wentworth said, etching bewilderment across his face.

I looked at him wondering if he was serious. "This is an easy one. The answer is corn."

"Corn! I would never had figured that one out. Good job!"

He took the card from me and wrote "corn" on the back of the card and put it in a plastic canister. "I love this part!" the fat man clapped his hands twice and put the canister in the metal chute and in seconds the canister was flying through the tube headed to who-knows-where.

"Where did you send that?" I asked.

"Not every secret can be told on the first day, can it?"

"I guess not." I said slightly sarcastic. "Next riddle?"

"Please do." Wentworth was excited and clapped his hands again. I couldn't help but notice that when he finally looked me dead in the face he was cross-eyed. I giggled inside as I looked away from his face to the next card.

"What can run but never walks, has a mouth but never talks, has a head but never weeps, has a bed but never sleeps?" I looked towards Wentworth, he was truly stumped. "A River."

"Oh, you're good." He stated before writing down the answer, clapping, and sending it up the chute.

We repeated this process for the remainder of the day. I would read aloud a riddle, I'd answer the 4th grade level riddles, he would write down the answer on the back of the card, clap two times, and send it up the chute for destination unknown, well, unknown to me anyway.

When it was time to stop for the day, Wentworth told me that I should have his job. He had never answered that many riddles in a single day before. He shook my hand as I left the office ahead of him and praised my fine work one last time before I headed back down the dimly lit corridor, and back up the elevator.

"This is going to be one strange work week," I thought as the elevator doors opened and I stepped inside.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Rusty Psychosis...

"I feel sick," I mumbled.

I was sure no one could hear me. We were sitting inside a dimly lit, rusty old garage. And by we, I mean the three of us, though I had no clue who either one of these guys were. I was just sitting here on this dirty couch that had the stench of fresh urine sewn into it, waiting for my brother Mark to return.

The sound of cackling laughter drew my attention as my stomach twisted and groaned. It was the curly-haired Mexican sitting across the garage on a yellow bicycle. He was staring at the orange and brown rusted walls and laughing at apparently nothing.

"That man is way too large for that bike," I thought to myself. It had to have been built for a child and here sat a man pushing three hundred pounds rocking the bike back and forth. I was anticipating the bolts to snap and for him to collapse on the cement floor. But I don't think even that would silence his laughter.

"I feel sick," I mumbled. A sharp pain ran through my abdomen causing me to grasp it with both hands. I began kneading my gut like a ball of dough.

"What'chu say about my sister?" said the skinny black man to my left. I turned my attention to him as he stood up from his chair, reaching into his cowboy boot as he turned away from me, and removed a knife as long as my femur.

"That's not good," I said aloud, but to these two, I was a ghost.

The skinny black man held the large knife high above his head as he approached the rusted wall on his side of the room. He asked his question once again and to the best of my knowledge and ability to understand walls, it did not return an answer, but I might need my hearing checked.

I focused my attention back to the large Mexican to see if he was getting any of this, but he was still chuckling away and pointing at the rusted wall. This time he wasn't looking at just a wall, he was looking at his right shoe which he must have removed from his foot and stuck it to the wall somehow while I wasn't paying any attention.

"I feel sick." I yelled out as my stomach felt the need to purge itself. Without getting up, I leaned forward and allowed my body to take control. A reddish brown liquid sprayed from my mouth in tiny beads. The rain of fluids poured and built pace as the beads became gushes in the following waves of bodily rejection. If I didn't know any better I'd say my insides have rusted out and my stomach, or what was left of it, was waging war against this oxidation.

"I still feel sick," I mumbled, staring at the liquid rust.

The skinny black man hadn't noticed my moment of illness as he continued defending his sister's name. It wasn't long after I focused my attention on him that he'd had enough with words. He threw up his empty left hand like that of a fencer and with the knife in his right hand, began stabbing and slicing at the wall.

His battle raged and with every poke and prod he made at the wall, the knife penetrated the barrier and was letting streams of sunlight into the dimly lit garage. Those tiny beams of light hurt my eyes.

I stopped fighting the light with my eyes and swung my head to my right. The large Mexican was laying flat on his back on the cement floor. The bike structure hadn't given way, it looked as if he had just lost his balance and fell over. The laughing continued.

His laughs quickly turned into coughs and his face turn a shade not unlike the color of a basketball. Then he went silent.

"Was he dead?" I thought. Truthfully, I didn't care. I only cared that it was almost silent again except for the black guy who continued his goal of shutting that damned wall up.

The Mexican's laughter began again. I placed my hands over my ears and stared into the pool of rust juice I had skillfully painted on the floor.

The garage door flung upwards, letting in too much sunlight for my eyes, blinding me instantly. I cover my eyes with my forearm.

"What are you doing in here?" a familiar voice exclaimed.

My eyes adjusted to the light and I look up to see that Mark had returned. He grabbed me by the arm and lifted me off the couch. We stumbled through the garage, towards the sunlight, and exited the rusty structure.

"What do you think you are doing?" Mark asked me as the fresh air hit my lungs instantly making me feel better. I was able to walk on my own so Mark let go of my arm.

"I don't know what I was thinking. I was just doing what you told me to do." I explained my way of thinking to him.

"What am I going to do with you? I can't leave you alone for two minutes without you going and getting warped by that damned Rust!" Mark berated me.

I realized what he was talking about as the effects of the rust dissipate through my skin leaving behind a tingling sensation. "I'm sorry Mark, forgive me. I have a problem. I can't control myself around that junk."

"I know, man, I know," said Mark. "Let's just go home."

We entered his pickup truck and slam the doors. I smile as I can sense the smallest patch of rust under the floor board. My smile quickly turns to a frown as I feel a pain in my stomach.

"I feel sick," I mumbled.

The Addict (story from 2005)

I stepped across the threshold, exiting the Anderson Recreation Center. There was a chill in the night air. I was dressed in my Sunday best. A brown three-piece suit that used to belong to my father, a pair of polished up dress shoes, and a pair of wire rimmed sunglasses. Tonight was all about me and my accomplishment.

I screwed a Marlboro into my lips, lit it with my favorite Zippo, and tossed the lighter in my pocket. I took a long drag off the cigarette and reached my hand back into my pocket. My fingers fished around the lighter until I felt the coin like medallion. I rescued it from the depths of my pants pocket.

The gold and black coin shined in the florescent lights protruding out to the darkness, where I stand, from inside the double glass doors of the rec center. I read the words "To Thine Own Self Be True" that circled the golden triangle in the middle of the coin. Inside the triangle sat the number "1" staring right back at me.

Had it been a full year already? Had all 365 days flown by this quickly? The medallion was proof. This AA meeting meant so much to me. Not exactly how you think.

I'm not an alcoholic. No seriously, I've never been an alcoholic. I chose AA because they don't have clubs for my addiction. You see, my addiction is sick. It's morbid, disgusting, and a down right crime against God. I'm addicted to the taste of human flesh. Yes, I know, I am a cannibal.

Ricky interrupted my train of thought when he exited the rec center in his usual fashion… loudly.

"Hey, there's the man of the hour!" Ricky was more happy about tonight then I was. His fat ass got to have some free cake. "Got a light?"

I reached into my pocket dropping the medallion inside and retrieving the lighter. As I handed it to him I couldn't help but stare at his chubby sausage-like fingers attached to his fat, sweaty, delicious looking hand.

"So, how you going to go celebrate? Want to get a few brews?" Ricky's fat chin jiggled with his laughter. "Just funning' you, pal!" He laughed some more and slapped me on my back.

I smiled and thought to myself about the few beers that I was going to drink once I got home.

Ricky is my AA sponsor. I can't stand that tub of lard, but I put up with his B.S. out of pure morbid curiosity. He is always calling me at all hours of the day and night, yapping about his personal issues and how much he wants to go off the wagon. So, just in the spirit of going along, I talk him down. Funny thing is, I'm usually doing it while swallowing down some beer.

Ricky starts into a loud coughing fit.

Doesn't he know that smoking is bad for you? Especially when you're chasing four hundred pounds. He needs to join cupcakes anonymous.

"Thanks for the light. I've got to get going. I'll call you tomorrow." With a nod of my head and a wave of the hand, Ricky walked off into the darkness of the parking lot. I tossed my smoke onto the asphalt. With a twist of my shoe, I extinguished the butt. Moments later, Ricky drove off in his minivan.

Man, he looks delicious. I bet he tastes like a Christmas ham. All he needs is a honey basting, a few pineapple rings, and some cherries. I'd definitely go with a red wine with him. Great, now I'm hungry.

I entered my car, started the engine, and stared at the Anderson Recreation Center. I knew that this would be the last time I would be leaving this building. I backed out of my parking space and exited the parking lot.

You see, I made myself a deal when I moved here one year ago that I wouldn't kill and feast for one solid year. It was sort of a test of wills I placed on myself. It was rough in the early stages, but as you can see, I won.

I moved here from across the country as a precaution for my own safety. I needed to eat. I needed to kill and eat. I was addicted. Problem was, the police were getting close. I had to get out of there. So, one transfer request from the plant where I worked and here I was.

The police kept finding the inedible scraps that I would dispose of once I was done picking a body clean. That wasn't a good thing. The local press even had a name for me, The Bloody Beast. I hated that name. It's such a dumb name. If I could give myself a cool name it would be The Eater or The California Cannibal. Way cooler I think. Don't you?

Anyway, I high tailed it across country. I stopped to eat in Barstow, Boulder, Des Moines, and Chicago. Ah, nothing like a meaty Chicago style deep dish. If you catch my drift.

It was after my pizzas in Chicago that I had finally realized that my appetite had become more then just eating to live. I was living to eat. I enjoyed the hunt, finding a tasty man or woman, the kill, usually your basic tied upside down and gutted just like a deer technique, and the feast. It was exhilarating. It was my high, but I knew that I had to stop. At least for a little while.

That's where my AA idea came in so handy. I need a support group for my times of need in the very beginning. It was rough, I drooled at the thought of gnawing on my neighbors, my coworkers, and even my mailman. Over time, I eventually learned to control my urges.

I bet you're saying, "hey you want to eat Ricky. You said so yourself." Yes, I did say that, but after a year of wanting to, I haven't. By controlling my urges, in no way means I don't get them at all. I get them all day long. I just don't act on them.

I drove my car around for about an hour in the "wrong side of town." I was looking for someone to help me celebrate now that my year has come and gone. I wanted something different. Something new. I wanted… her.

I pulled up to the street corner and waved an Asian prostitute over to my car. I rolled down the window as she stuck her head inside.

"Need a date, baby?" The hooker asked.

"Yes I do. Hop in." I told her with a smile from ear to ear.

She got into my car and I drove off. I played her game and handed her a hundred dollar bill. She was happy about the money, but I was even more happy than she. After all, I've never had Asian food before.

The Information Super-HATEway...

"We live in a great day and age. Will we notice our imperfections before it's too late?"

Anyone over the age of twenty five can still remember what it was like living in a world without the Internet. Those were the summers of active lifestyles where children, like myself, would have nothing to do inside during the day. Sure, that left a lot of time for breaking windows, fighting, cursing and all sorts of debauchery. Idle hands are the devil's play thing, you know. We also found time to play ball, ride our bikes, play games and be creative by using our imaginations.

Today, with online social networking sites, viral videos and gaming, it's easy to stay indoors and spend hours in front of the computer. Hours of daylight lost waiting for replies from friends about emails/instant messages, leveling up a character on your favorite game or even just watching stupid people do stupid things on youtube.

When the internet was brand new to the public, surfing the web meant checking out websites that interested you in hope of learning or sharing great things with other people. Chat rooms were huge and the place to be if you were to reach out to others and meet new exciting people. Not one site cost money to view the first year or so the internet was growing in popularity.

Today, many sites offer premium memberships with a monthly cost to view sections of the website. Prices that aren't justified for their content.

Chat rooms are almost obsolete. They have been replaced by message boards/forums where instead of meeting new people, posters would rather flame the person who posted before them.

By today's definition, surfing the web means to visit the same sites you visit everyday and maybe once in a while you will find a new page to add to the list. At least until you get bored of that page and forget about it entirely.

The internet has become something no one could have predicted back in 1995. It's a place infected by hate. Everyone is a critic and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this writer feels the trend of hate has influenced almost everyone.

Do a search in your favorite search engine for "_____ review" and fill in that blank with any topic. Be it movie, book, video game, tv show etc. Click on any result from the search and see what you will find.

You'll find either, long, drawn-out, most times nit-picking, reasons as to why the reviewer disliked whatever subject he/she is reviewing. Or, you'll find a short review of why the subject was liked by the reviewer. If this is the case, the review will be followed by comments by readers of the review saying how "dumb" "stupid" or "ignorant" the reviewer was because they liked whatever it is they liked.

Hating anything and everything anyone likes is the new trend for the new generation of internet visitors. It's ridiculous. It's pointless. It's destroying what the internet was meant for, information sharing.

Trends come and go. So, we've got that going for us.

--The Marv--

PS -
No one has given me a good explaination as to why good reviews tend to be fractions of the size of bad reviews. I'm open to theories.