Monday, April 21, 2014

And There She Was

So. Would you like to hear a story tonight?

*nods*

Very well. As you know, if you go back far enough in the history of mankind, and if you peel away the layers that make up all of the stories ever written, spoken, or even thought of, that they can all be broken down into two categories: Comedy and Tragedy. Which would you like to hear?

*chooses*

You sure?

*nods*

Okay. Well, this story starts (as most of them do) with a person. A guy, as a matter of fact. A guy named Henry if you wanted to get really specific about it.

On this particular day (geez, a Tuesday! You keep trying to focus on the pointless details, then you’ll miss the bigger picture. Quit interrupting the flow of the narrative and just lay back and sink into Henry’s world. It’s worth it if you pay attention.)

Now where was I? Oh yes. This particular Tuesday morning was very rainy. It was the kind of rainfall that you only see in Ridley Scott movies about Harrison Ford either killing or humping murderous androids. The kind of rain that comes down and soaks you to the bones, like it has a personal grudge against you. So, as you can imagine, Henry was pretty relieved when the subway train finally pulled into the station and he was able to escape his watery hell.

As Henry navigated through the crowd of tourists, octogenarians (Who rode the subway because it was the only way for them to have contact with other humans. Humans who were trapped and forced to hear the stories the old people constantly spouted.) and people who obviously enjoyed eating at “all you can eat” buffets, he pulled out his Mp3 player, (that’s what the kids call them, right? Portable phonographs?)

Henry had few interests or hobbies in his life. He just didn’t have the imagination for that kind of stuff. But when he listened to music, well, that was an entirely different thing. That’s when Henry would melt into the world in his mind. He would use the music as his canvas, where he could paint anything he wanted, and a surprising amount of the stuff he imagined did not involve naked women lusting for him. Instead he would use the music. Bend it, shift it, mold it into amazing landscapes. Places that could only exist behind his eyelids, but which fit the music perfectly, as if they were costume designed by a kind of musical surrealistic artist. And if you could ever peer into Henry’s mind, everything you saw would make perfect sense and you’d not only wonder who could weave such gloriously perfect tapestries of sound, visuals and emotions, you’d wonder why you never heard that particular song the same way that Henry did.

Because of the rain, Henry felt a bit wistful, and decided on songs that were appropriate for pondering random nothings on a Tuesday morning. Pressing play without looking at which song he had chosen, Henry settled back in his seat for the long ride into work.

As the music played, a woman began to sing. Henry wasn’t sure what she was singing, or if it was even in English, but it didn’t matter. It was her tones that broke through the barrier of comprehension and reached Henry. Her voice seemed a little melancholy, but not completely sad. More like she was resigned to something. Almost as if she was trapped in a situation over which she had no control, but was doomed to repeat, like some kind of infernal merry-go-round. Henry imagined her as being in a never-ending cycle of yearning and pain with some lover. The beauty, joy and happiness of being together soured and made bitter and vile by their inevitable separation. And then the cycle started all over again.

The singer dared Henry to make this journey with her. To see what she saw and to feel what she felt. Whenever the music grew like an ocean wave, Henry could feel the connection the singer had with her lover. As the music reached its crescendo, and the wave crashed, Henry felt lost, swirling around in the cascade of loneliness and abandonment.

While Henry was listening to the song (“Nebulous” by the artist Mr. Brooks? Henry didn’t remember downloading it and that certainly wasn’t a man singing.) he scanned the other passengers in the subway car. The car was silent, save for the screeching of the train on the tracks and the sound of the air rushing between the car and the wall of the tunnel. You could tell the regulars, the ones accustomed to riding the train. They either had headphones on, like Henry, or had their faces buried in books or magazines. But they all had one thing in common: they kept their eyes down, or to themselves.

Except for her.

Her head was up, her eyes facing forward. The rain had destroyed any kind of hairstyle she had crafted for herself that day. Her make up ran down her face and made it look like she was crying black ink. It was in contrast to the redness of her lips. She looked over in his direction, but not at him directly. To Henry, it seemed as though she had what Soldiers called “the thousand-yard stare”. He wondered what she was looking at or thinking about. From beneath her mess of hair, Henry noticed that she was also wearing earphones. He wondered what she was listening to. Country? Rock? Rap? Pop? Ancient Gregorian chants? Adam Corolla’s latest podcast? The recorded screams of death from her most recent victim in her cannibalistic murder spree? (Anything’s possible these days, you know. Always remember to Protect Ya Neck.) He couldn't begin to guess.

Henry thought that she had an ethereal beauty to her, even after being soaked by the rain. He knew that it was probably the combination of the weather and the music, but he felt that he could accurately divine her back-story.

Let’s see, he thought to himself, she’s riding into the city, but I don’t see a backpack or briefcase, (which isn’t to mean that it’s not under the seat. Also the fat guy in the seat in front of her obscured her outfit.) so it may or may not be that she’s going to work. She may be going to a friend’s place, or she has a job that doesn’t require her to carry anything around, or that she’s coming home from work. Too many variables. That was a dead end. So Henry decided that with her slumped shoulders and vague staring, that she was just coming back from a shift at some job that probably involved having to deal with the public at large. He decided that she was probably on the receiving end of phone calls from idiots who had complaints about products not working properly, or forgetting to unplug their electronic devices and then plug them back in, or who wanted to order that automatic taint-scratcher they saw in an infomercial at 3 am. That would explain her glazed-over eyes. She probably spent the last eight hours listening to the dumbest of the dumb saying the stupidest of stupid comments. Henry knew if he had a job like that, he’d be wishing that bars opened first thing in the morning, because that’d be the first place he’d go after work.

As far as Henry was concerned (or, face it, wanted to believe) she probably had a crappy boyfriend who most likely didn’t treat her the way she ought to be treated. He probably didn’t even have a job and mooched off of her. Henry wouldn’t be surprised if Dumbo (as Henry had already dubbed him) brought other women over to the apartment while Veronica (Why not? Henry was always a sucker for women whose names started with the letter V.) was out making money for both of them. She deserved better than that!

The song that had been playing when he first noticed Veronica, eased gracefully into the next one, which was just as haunting and evocative as the previous song. He wondered how long she’d be on the train. How long he’d be able to look at her before she reached her stop and was out of his life forever. Because, as far as he could tell, she erased the clouds from the sky and already made his day brighter. Hell, she was probably going to be the highlight of his day. 

As soon as he thought that to himself, Veronica’s eyes shifted, focused and landed on him. As if she could hear what he was thinking. Are you a mutant? He silently asked her. Does Professor X know that you’re away from the mansion?

No visual response.
Ok, he thought, just checking.

At that moment, the subway train entered the next station and grounded to a halt. It wasn’t Henry’s station, he still had three more stops to go, but her eyes turned toward the door and it looked like Veronica was getting up.

“Veronica” stood up, revealing an expensive pantsuit. Then, she bent over and picked up a bag that had been sitting on the floor.

Well, there goes my theories, he thought. He had to admit, he was disappointed. In the world he had created for them in his head, things were bright and wonderful and exciting and fulfilling. Much better than her current life with Dumbo. But it turns out that it was just a combination of music and wishful thinking.

Oh well, it was fun, he thought as she walked by him through the door and out of his life. That’s when he glanced at her bag when she passed by him and noticed that the tag on her bag read Vanessa G.

Henry quickly jumped up and hopped off the train. While doing so, he switched his MP3 player to “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers.

Well, a V name is a V name, he said to himself with a smile.
The end.

*question*

Which kind of story was that, you ask? That’s for you to decide.






 [j1]

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

OUBLIETTE


Almost there. He was almost ….there. But not quite.

It was harder then he first thought it’d be. He knew it’d be no walk in the park, but this was more than he’d anticipated.

Besides, he thought, what the hell does “walk in the park” mean? They aren’t normally known for being easy. He knew a few women that were easier to walk on than a park. He also didn’t understand the origins of “drink like a fish.” What’s that all about? Oh well, that’s just the way it is, he guessed, nobody ever questions the words that come out of their mouths. Mindless repetition makes the world go ‘round.

Speaking of mindlessness, back to the task at hand. The undertaking. The hardest part was figuring out which ones have to go. It was painfully obvious that some had to go. They had to be deleted. Erased. Destroyed. But which ones?

For example, there was the time he broke that kid’s nose in elementary school. There they both were, on the playground during recess. The kid was a bully. This bully had been teasing him and getting on his nerves for weeks now. So what if he was a little scrawny? So what if his parents worked long hours and he didn’t get to see them that much? What business was it of the bully’s? So he punched him. With a crowd around them, egging him on, he’d cocked his fist and broke the bully’s nose.

It felt so good. So righteous. He had stood up for himself and showed that he wasn’t a coward. He and his family were strong, and the cheers of the surrounding horde of dirty nobodies, (their faces lost to time), agreed with him. But at what cost?

He hurt the shit out of his hand. It was bruised and stiff for days. And as for the bully, he had been shamed. Brought down and shown to be full of nothing, in front of his peers. His nose suffered severe damage and he had bandages over much of his face for weeks, if not longer. Stright up Owen Wilson nose. He was a laughing stock for the rest of his days (kinda). The bully was lucky that little kids have the memory retention skills of Kardashian fans.

So take that memory as an example, he said to himself. Should it stay or go? It straddled the line of being both good and bad at the same time. Is it in or out? That’s a tough call. He’d put it off, until he was able to sort out the ones that he knew for sure needed to be gotten rid of.

He thought back to what made him originally decide to mess with, (“Alter” is what they officially called it, but he didn’t like that term. It was too clinical, too neat and sterile.) Everybody knows what the process really was; he was messing with his mind, his brain, his thoughts, memories and personality. “Alter” was the wrong word, “messing around” or perhaps even “wrecking” seemed more appropriate.

His original purpose was one of the most typical and base reasons: a woman. He was tired of songs on the radio evoking memories of her. He was tired of scents in the breeze making him whip his head around trying to find the source, because it was the scent she wore. He was tired of situations on tv shows and movies dissecting their relationship so well, and not on purpose. Last week he even saw a girl who wore a similar pair of socks and it stopped him short. Even socks? he thought. Jesus Christ! Who reminisces over a pair of god damn socks?!

He thought it’d be easy to excise her from his memories. But he didn’t realize how much memories were woven together, perhaps even tangled, in the most complicated pattern ever designed. It was like trying to decode the human genome, or trying to take off a chick’s bra with two fingers. Very frustrating.

So far he’d lost all memories of his dog, Jay, that he’d had for ten years. (At least, he thought he had. He couldn’t remember.) Also gone was what his favorite food was, along with any food allergies that went with it. So that would be a fun adventure, rediscovering both. He was also pretty sure that he was an adult, but a few birthdays were missing. And who is Mr. Brooks?

It’s worth it though right? He asked himself desperately. He would no longer remember anything about her or their time together. It doesn’t matter if the memories were good or bad, he couldn’t take the chance, they all had to go. Some sacrifices need to be made. Or else, it’s just a sad, pointless slog through life. Then again, maybe he was just a pessimist. He didn’t know anymore.

Once he’d finished going to town on his memories, he’d be a new person. Make no mistake about that. A new man. Would he be better, or worse? Only one way to find out. And in the end, the funny thing is that all that loss would affect him the least. Because he wouldn’t remember a bit of it.

Wait a minute, what was his name again?

Monday, April 07, 2014

Hell Froze Over

Dec. 8, 2013
DAY 1: Well, it looks like the weather men were right for once. Guess I should have played the lottery last night too. My odds of winning couldn’t have been any worse than the meteorologists.

For the last week, all the news outlets: television, newspapers and internet, have been warning us about an imminent “snow storm of the century.” Considering that we’re only 14 years into this infant of a century, I don’t know if that claim really means much. Of course, that didn’t stop the rest of the stupid population from running out and buying groceries and supplies. It was worse than every Black Friday combined. 148 people were killed the first day. Most were trampled, others were run over for parking spaces. Still others were just outright murdered because they tried to get the last box of Pampers, or whatever.

It only got worse as the week continued. Riots sprang up all over the east coast. At food factories, grocery stores, even farms. People were desperate to stock up before “Goliath” (as it had been dubbed) arrived. Oddly (or, in retrospect, maybe not so oddly) liquor stores and gun stores got it the worst. Which, when combined, became the poster child of what’s wrong with this damn country.

With two days before landfall, the President addressed the east coast, to assure us that all would be well. We, as a nation, were strong and together, we could overcome any obstacle. I laughed so much I threw up.

Goliath landed this morning. Between family, neighbors and friends, there’s 14 or 15 of us in the house. Including Mr. Brooks, who nobody seems to know and nobody knows how he ended up here.

As far as supplies go, we have a good amount of food. Pooled with the food that people brought with them and we’re in good shape (unless we lose power). In case we do lose power, we have an assload of candles, a bunch of flashlights, a lot of batteries of various sizes and even some hand-crank lantern/radios. Even though everybody is treating this like the end of days, I’m a bit more skeptical. It’s not like they’ll have to call Marshal Law or anything. People scare too easily.

DAY 8:  It snowed for four days straight. Leave it to the weathermen to get one storm right and it’s the one that devastates an entire coast. Snow was up to four feet in some places. New York (as usual, they had to show everybody else up) got the worse of it at just under six feet. Ice was everywhere. Fire hydrants were frozen. Firemen learned that the hard way when they tried to fight a house fire in South Carolina that accidentally happened when the family inside tried to make a fire for warmth. Lakes and rivers barely stood a chance. The temperature was in the low 20’s and getting lower.  

Our electricity finally went out yesterday. Surprised it lasted this long. Luckily for us, our stove and hot water heater run on gas, so we have hot water and can cook some stuff. (that’s how it works, right?) Can’t say the same for the elderly in Boca Raton (Rat’s Mouth? Really? How high was the person who named that place?) the EMS people found the first five bodies the other day, and another 15 yesterday. All the bodies were frozen stiff. The result of which made the corpses look like something out of a Looney Toons cartoon.

DAY 24: Well, Marshal Law was declared. Considered what I wrote in a previous entry, I guess I was asking for it. Anyway, now that shit has gotten really out of hand, some people in the group want to go on foraging/raid missions. Turns out that there was a stockpile of guns and ammo in the cellar. Which leads me to believe that this used to be Pablo Escobar’s summer home, or something.

So far, initial foraging expeditions have brought back three bananas, two slices of American cheese, a tennis ball (chewed up and heavily coated with dog slobber). A copy of A Beautiful Mind, starring Jennifer Connelly and a Penthouse magazine, (which may sound pointless, but trust me, in this weather, even some solo friction can warm you up.) finding more food is paramount, we’re almost out. Next we’ll be eating our shoes, like 1930’s hobos. I don’t want to be a hobo!

DAY 84: Out of the original 14 of us, we’re down to eight. We’re all emaciated, with various sores, vitamin depletion and illnesses, (except for Mr. Brooks. He looks fine and smells delightful, which is a mystery since he’s wearing the same suit he wore when he got here and I’ve never seen him bathe*) I think uncle Luke has small pox and aunt Jon (it’s not his fault that he’s a woman born in a man’s body) has colic.

Disposing of the bodies of our loved ones (and Henry. Screw that guy. He never helped with anything. Just sat there, listening to music and babbling about some chick named Vicki, or Vanessa or Verruca. I don’t remember and who cares anyway, he’s a Henrysicle now!) wasn’t easy. Kind of heart wrenching, in fact. It took me a whole seven seconds to work up the courage to chuck my mom’s body into the street. Throwing out the dead pets was easier. All it took was a quick punt. As a house record, I sent the puppy 45 yards. Which may not sound like much, but that mutt was frozen rock-hard. I almost broke a toe and ended up walking with a limp for the next few days.

DAY 101: There’s been a lot of whispering going on the past few days. It all started last week (Man I hope I’m getting these days and weeks straight. All the cold is in my brain and it’s making it hard for me to think. Luckily for me, my Spongebob pillow finally broke his vow of silence (turns out he was a Buddhist monk and only pretended to be stuffed with cotton, asbestos and Chinese newspapers in his spare time.) and he’s helping me to maintain my fragile sanity.

Anyway, last week, we were raided by the Johnsons from down the street. We lost most of our food, a couple of people were shot and our couch cushions were sexually violated. Schnietz Marphis was not happy.

This whispering has me nervous. I know that we all have cabin fever, most of us are on the verge of cracking up completely and Spongebob has informed me that he noticed some people caressing knives, eyeballing us and licking their lips. I’m going to have to gather the other two wretches** so that we can defend ourselves, if need be. Weapons aren’t ideal, we have a ski pole, a bottle of hand sanitizer and a lampshade. But I’m positive that with determination and a little spunk, we will turn the tide on these wannabe cannibals, and win out the day!

DAY 102: Boy was I wrong! Those fiends attacked in the middle of the night. Roscoe went down immediately, with about 20 fondue skewers protruding from his face and chest. The cannibals made a good choice, Roscoe’s ample fat reserves would make for good eating and the tallow from his blubber would keep their lamps lighted for days.

After Roscoe went down, Paul and I managed to escape through the bathroom window. The bad news was that Paul and I weren’t dressed for single-digit weather. I was only wearing my smoking jacket, my fez, my monocle and only one slipper, (I may being living with a group of savages, but by god, I will not stoop to their level. Apocalypse or not, I’m still a gentleman and I still take tea at precisely 5 pm. God save the queen!)

And Paul was naked, save for a sock on his junk, (I don’t know if he crazy glued that thing on or what, but throughout the entire chase, it never fell off.)

We tried hiding out in a neighbor’s garage, but changed our minds when we saw the entire family that had committed suicide in the car by gas inhalation. Hanging out in a place like that is bad juju.

Luckily, the family had a woodshed in the backyard and we were able to safely make it there. Well, to be honest, I made it in safely, Paul was kind of in the way of me closing the door, so, umm, he fell, or was pushed into the snow. Nobody can be sure. Spongebob saw what happened, but in an odd turn of events, his tongue was accidentally cut out and he could no longer talk.

DAY 103: It’s three am and I’m tired as shit. They’ve been banging on the walls for hours and it’s starting to get to me. Now I have a better idea of what Anne Frank went through, and I have to say that she’s a pussy. Anybody can handle Nazis, try dealing with cannibals who you used to play spades with at family reunions.

Aww, shit, looks like one of the flimsy tin walls is buckling. This may be it. Let me make it clear though, I won’t go down like a punk. I’m going to scratch and pull out as much hair as I can, Jerry Springer style!

Alright, here they come. This might be my last entry. If so, then for whoever finds these, my last words, just know that the gold is buried in the

*Not like I’m sitting there watching him wash himself or anything, I’m just saying that I’ve never seen him go to the washing area, a.k.a. the boot room.

**As a surprise to nobody, Mr. Brooks was nowhere to be found. Don’t even know when he left or who he was. Forever a mystery.

Monday, March 31, 2014

This is why it pays to schedule

“Good afternoon and thank you for calling Nefericorps, here for all of your nefarious and diabolical needs. How may we help you today?”

“Uhhh, yes, hello. I was hoping to set up an encounter with the Paladin?”

“Okay sir, we can set that up for you. What is your name and what time frame were you looking at?”

“Ummm, yeah, right. Ummmm, I’m the Distributor, and I’m hoping for a fight downtown next Wednesday?”

“The Distributor? Okay sir, let me just see if we can fit you into the Paladin’s schedule. Hmmmmm……, well sir, it looks like the Paladin’s next available time will be Thursday, June 19th, around, 2:15 am. Does that work for you sir?”

“What? June? But that’s months from now! The tigers and jellyfish will probably be dead by then. Not to mention that the summer city bus schedule hasn’t been released yet!”

“I’m sorry sir, what did you say your name was again sir?”

“The Distributor!”

“I see, and what does that mean?”

“I don’t understand the question.”

“I mean, what’s your angle? What do you ‘distribute’?”

“Death and destruction! Fire and brimstone! Fire and ice! Salt and pepper! Liver and onions! Whatever be your worst nightmare, you fool!”

“Liver and onions? So whatever people fear, you distribute”
“You got it buddy.”

“And exactly how do you ‘distribute’ these fears? Do you carry a bottomless bag? Mental powers? And are things distributed evenly, or do you just kind of wing it? Do you have a set plan that the hero can deduce in order to get ahead of his crimes? Or do you just fly by the seat of your pants? Speaking of which, what kind of crimes do you intend to commit? Even more importantly, have you committed any crimes yet? Are you registered?”

“Registered? I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about. One of my henchmen is in charge of all paperwork, I’ll have to contact HR and get back to you. As for crimes, I like to rob banks, menace the general public, knock over seaside banana-stands and challenge heroes to epic battles!”

“Okay, any aspirations for world domination? Control over reality or perhaps even the universe?”

“Nah. I’ll leave that to villains with ambition. I’ve seen what happens to those guys and it’s not pretty. You’d be surprised at the various shades of guts can come out of one person.”

“Yeah…., I bet. So you’re just a run-of-the-mill villain? So we’re looking at about a Level 3 villain threat?”

“Well, I’m not that lame, I mean, I’ve got powers, I’m not just some goofball in a costume. I’m at least a Level 3.5 or Level 4.”

“Powers? So are you a mutant? Altered human? Alien? Time-traveler? Other? What did you fill out on the application form?”

“Well, I’m not entirely sure about that. I haven’t had a chance to check. Let me do some brainstorming with my crew and I’ll have an origin story for you.”

“You don’t have an origin story yet? Hmmmm, that will cost you Mr. Dispenser. It will work against you for application acceptance.”

“The Distributor, you ninny! Listen you red-tape jack ass, I can make your life miserable with a wave of my wand, or a wave of my hands, or my ray gun, or lasers shooting from my forehead. We haven’t decided yet. Whatever does best in the focus groups. I just want to fight the Paladin!”

“To be frank…. Mr. Distributor, did you say?”

“You know what my damn name is. And if I ever learn yours, I’ll make sure that your skin will be flayed from your bones and I’ll make you eat it!”

“Did I not introduce myself? I’m sorry sir. I should have done that at the beginning of the conversation. I broke protocol. My name is Gene and this call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes.”

“Whatever dude, jut set the encounter up for next week, alright? My plans are pretty precise, very convoluted and the majority of it is based on unbelievable luck for me and incredible stupidity from my enemies. It took me months to plan, and if I can pull it off I’ll look better than Paul Newman and Robert Redford in ‘The Sting’!”

“Well, as I was saying, guy, is that the Paladin has an extremely busy schedule. When he’s not saving the city, the planet, or giving bullies wedgies, he’s out in space, fighting alien menaces and the personification of fear, anger and other elemental and Jungian archetypes. It’s all very stressful and requires his complete attention. In the rare time when he isn’t doing battle, he’s either at his favorite bar, getting super drunk, or getting some tail. He’s a Level 13, and you’re just a Level 3.5 at most, (and that’s being generous). He doesn’t really have time for a low-level villain such as yourself, sir.”

“Come on Gene! There’s got to be something or somebody available next week.”

“Let me check with my co-worker Mr. Brooks. Give me a moment please.
Well, it looks like you’re in luck sir. If you’re willing, Professor Lord will be available next week.”

“Professor Lord? That guy’s a chump. But beggars can’t be choosers. Alright Gene, let me put my scheduler on the phone with you to work out the details. And next time Gene, I swear to all that is a curse and blight across this galaxy, that I will get what I demand and have better service!”

“Thank you Mr. Distributor. I hope that I have been helpful today and met your nefarious needs. Feel free to call Nefericorps at any time for future requirements.”

“But wait! Don’t hang up! I haven’t gotten the details yet!”

*CLICK*

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Loneliness of the Short Distance Runner


My heart was going like crazy. You know how you always hear those metaphors and similes about people’s hearts beating really fast and really hard? Yeah, they’re all true and the whole area is so saturated with sayings that I’m not going to waste my time adding a new one. Just pick one you like and run with it.

Speaking of running, that was what was currently causing my increased heartbeats. Well, at this point it wasn’t running so much as it was more like a controlled stagger, or perhaps a determined scurry. Between the salty sweat burning my eyes, my heart doing its best to break its way out of my chest and the fact that my feet felt like I had decided to take a stroll through a bed of hot coals, I was not having fun. And I was only 1.5 kilometers in.

What was I doing, you ask? Why was I doing it, you wonder? Easy, I was running a 5k race, for charity. That charity being “Tats for Tots” (because I firmly believe that every infant in America should have a tramp stamp.) Actually, a friend convinced me I should do it. He said it was a good cause and it’s great exercise. After he woke up from my bitch slap at such a ridiculous concept, he offered to pay me money instead. I can’t turn down a good bribe. (Be sure to take note of that. If I’m ever a referee at a game you’re playing in, it may come in handy, hint, hint.)

Sure I used to run all the time in the army. I’d run from chores, responsibility, accountability, etc. But it’s been a few years. I’m not the spring chicken I used to be, (what does that make me, a fall hen? And why a chicken? I’m a dude. But I digress.) I have a spare tire big enough to hide a shipment of cocaine smuggled in from Mexico. Which meant that I had to begin my training.

* Cue training montage. Shots of me doing one-armed push ups, squats while holding a car, pulling a train with my teeth and other such normal things that I do on a regular basis. Have “Superballs” by Insane Clown Posse playing over it. *

After a grueling 23 minutes of training, I knew I was ready. Which was good, because the 5k started in ten minutes. Which about brings us up to speed (get it?) to where we were at the beginning of this non-linear story.

I never realized how much my body is an old collection of broken down junk. Maybe people are on to something with the whole “eating healthy” “diet” and “exercise” thing. Maybe I should have treated my body better so that it would treat me well in return. Maybe I should have bought those steroids from that shady Bulgarian doctor.

Oh well, too late now.

I decided to fight on. I wasn’t going to let this measly 5k beat me (how far is that anyway? I’m American, I don’t believe in the metric system). So I focused my mind like a steel trap, honing it on my one goal. I concentrated on my destination. I willed my body to ignore all aches and pains. I pushed myself harder, faster. My eyes never wavering from the finish line. I had become the definition of running. My body and mind were perfectly in synch. I was an arrow, a missile, a rocket. Launched at a target and ready to complete my goal. I could not be stopped. I was the Flash, Sonic the Hedgehog and some third really fast fictional person in popular culture. Everything became as a blur to me. Time slowed, I felt like I was running through thick, viscous air. People looked frozen in place as I sped by them like a bus that couldn’t go under 50 miles an hour or it would explode (?). I ran through that finish line tape with all the joy and pride of somebody who just one the Nobel Prize for curing boob cancer, (you’re welcome ladies.) I had done it! First place! I set out to accomplish something and did it with determination and zeal! I climbed that mountain! And as I stood there, proudly, with my chest out and thunderous applause in my ears…

… I woke up. The EMT guy said that I tripped on my laces and the starting line and knocked myself unconscious.

This is why I don’t get out of my recliner.