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Time Enough At First

It was only s’posed to be a quick trip.

Just in and out and back home for more of the Twilight Zone marathon.

But I’d finally had enough-a the signal cutting out and it was time to get a new connector cable that didn’t black out the image every 15 seconds. I swear it was like I was tryin’ to watch a crisp beautiful painting on a flip-book.

So I figure enough is enough and I’ve got a job with a little expendable income for some of the small pleasures. After the old man figures out he’s got all the time in the world for his books, I throw on some slacks and a blue work polo (it’s the only shirt not stained with pizza sauce or nacho cheese within reach) an’ head out to the nearest neighborhood electronics store.

Walkin’ into the place, I was greeted with that smell o’ new plastic and shipping boxes. The noise from those stereos, TVs, and computers created a kinda hum that makes you feel like a baby again. I bee-lined it to the audio-video section, hopin’ I could get back home before those pig-faced doctors tell the hot broad that she looks like she was beaten with an ugly stick.

I found the cables and started comparing ‘em. The three foot long one was all I needed, but the 20 foot one was only five bucks more. Way longer than I’d need, but what if I wanted to mount the big screen up high on the wall? Or over the bed on the ceilin’? I’d never get up for a weekend again. Nah, I tell myself. I’ll make do with the three footer.


I turned to head back to the cashier when, I swear, the prettiest girl I’d ever seen turns the corner and meets eyes with me. I’m telling ya, she smiled so big like the Fourth of July at the sight o’ me.

“Well, hello there,” I say.

“You!” she says. “Oh I’m so glad I ran into you!”

Now I’m rackin’ my brain tryin’ to figure if I know this girl. Nothing’s coming to mind.

“Yeah,” I say. “Me too.”

She giggles and it’s like little angels singin’. I’m smitten but I’m trying hard to play it cool.

“What’s uh… what’s going on?” I say, trying not to let on that I can’t place her.

“I uh, I wanted to ask you something,” she says.

“Shoot. I’m all ears,” I say. I leaned up against the rack and knock a couple o’ USB cables off their hooks. I caught a couple, but three more clattered to the floor. But I ain’t even bothered because there’s that little laugh of hers again.

“Well, if you’re not too busy, maybe you can uh, follow me?” she says.

Now I’m dyin’ to see where this goes so I drop the cables in my hand and indicate for her to lead the way.

She starts heading toward the door and, I swear, I’m thinking this might be one of them hidden camera shows. There’s no way a girl this cute would just lead me away. I’m not even thinking of the Twilight Zone at all at this point.


Right before we reach the doors, she pulls a sharp left, heading down the computer printer aisle. She stops immediately in front of a huge display of ink.

“Okay,” she says. “I’ve been looking all over town for ink and my printer is model EX-3615. But anywhere I go, there’s only EX-3610 or EX-3620. Never anything in-between. Should I just buy one of them and hope that it fits in my printer? Or should I buy both? Is there a return policy if it does’t fit in the printer? Does the warrant void if the box is open? And if so, is there a discount buy-back program with the store?”

I stood there with my mouth open. What do I know about printers? Well a little I guess. I use one from time to time at the shop, but the accountants handle the ink.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I don’t think I can help you there.”

Her little smile faded away and my heart sank.

“Well, could you help me find another one of your associates? Or your manager?” she asked.

“Manager? Look, I dunno what you think but…” I trailed off, looking down at myself.

The blue work shirt. I look around us and I see it for the first time. The employees walkin’ the customers around, wearin’ their blue polo shirts, tryin’ to sell them on the bigger flat screens, the louder stereos, the computers with more memory and speed.

“What was that?” she asked.

I looked back at her.

“Sorry,” I say. “These printers, they always get me a little riled up. So confusin’. Let me take a look… Ah, there, you see there on the back of the 3610? In the fine print it says its certified to work on all models rangin’ from 3610 to 3619. So that includes your 3615.”

She looked at the box and that smile of hers returned.

“Oh, thank you. Thank you so much! That explains a lot.”

“It’s my pleasure,” I say.

She turned to walk to the checkout and I started fantasizin’ ‘bout seen’ her again. Maybe I could make this a weekly thing, I think. Show up here an’ start helping’ a few folks on my time off. You know, get to know my fellow man without a paycheck. Outta the goodness of my heart. This could be a new chapter for me.


“Excuse me,” I hear behind me. Someone was tappin’ my shoulder.

I turn to look and I’m face-to-face with a pimply, teenage kid.

“Yeah?” I say.

“What’s the difference between an ink jet and laser jet and which would be better for printing concert flyers?” he asks.

“How the heck should I know? I don’t work here,” I say, “Beat it, kid!”

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Futility of All Ambition


Time traveler.

What sort of images does that elicit for you?

Men and women of science, throwing caution to the wind, bravely subjecting themselves to dangerous forces, emerging from a colorful vortex into a world of gleaming technology. Or perhaps in the other direction, finding themselves among the uncultured and undeveloped of an era gone bye. Stepping from their vessel and hailed as some prophet or God to bestow knowledge untapped upon the masses. Perhaps as an inquisitive explorer or a stoic messenger of dire caution.

Science fiction has glorified this image time and time again, but in reality, we believe it an impossibility. “If there have been or ever will be time travelers, we would know already, right? Because someone would have surely meandered into our own timeline in all of documented history and told us so!” This is what logic dictates.

Well… we have. Tried to tell you, that is.

But when we travelers open our mouths to speak, you of your present turn away, disgusted. Revolted. For we do not share either the shiny jumpsuits or the Victorian coat tails that your science fiction dictates. We emerge from the wormholes in rags, our bodies worn down to dried husks from the journey. Health deteriorated. Unfit for society. Mentally unstable.

On the contrary, our minds are very much alive and we yearn to share with you the secrets of our travels. We wish nothing more but to share in conference and learn from your culture as you learn from ours. We wish to tell you about the fate of this world. How so much that you hold dear will be washed away into oblivion while other things that you take for granted will be implanted forever in humankind. All the same we crave to share in your age, a world that we have only ever imagined in folklore and stories told told to us as children.

Yet, something in the jump separates the cerebral process from the animal instinct of base survival. While we should be sharing notes on society and technology, we are left trapped in a diminishing body that wanders the streets, scrounging what it can for its next source of immediate sustenance.

The stories we had heard about your time often included cautionary imagery of street vagabonds. Homeless beggars soliciting for loose change and sleeping on sidewalks. But like some cruel cosmic joke, we who have conquered science and braved the temporal jump have ourselves become those very wanders. Unable to warn history that our miserable existence had been the ultimate price for cheating time.

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My Dog Ate It


That poor dog. That poor, poor dog.

That’s all I could think while my brain wrapped around the incident occurring early one autumn morning, watching as my sister Bernadette held a blue shoelace in the air, tilted her head back like a baby bird, and slurped the shoelace down her throat like a piece of limp spaghetti.
Let me start over.
We used to have a dog. Rocky, a young boxer that we had rescued from a shelter. He was a rowdy little scrapper, always bursting with energy. At the mere sight of a leash, he would run laps around the dining room table, much to the anxiety of Mom and her prized antique China cabinet.
They had warned us that he may be problematic, having come from such a troubled household. Nothing dangerous, just temperamental if left alone too long. Bernadette and I promised to take care of his training and let him know his boundaries. I’m proud to say that he was far less trouble than we had been warned.
One morning, I sprang awake to a shrill scream, followed quickly by loud and angry growled cursing. I followed the noise to my parent’s room where Rocky sat huddled by the bed, taking a furious berating from Mom. All about the floor were remnants of her favorite pair of slippers. As Bernadette entered the room, drowsy, Mom redirected her lecture from the dog to us. At that moment, she instituted a 3-strike rule: if Rocky had acted out like this again, and again, we would have to give him away to another family.
Rocky did not leave our sight for the next week. Bernadette and I watched him, hawklike, taking shifts throughout the day, waiting to discourage him from chewing up any other valuables. To avoid incident at night, we put his bed  in Bernadette’s room and made sure to shut the door.
Despite our precautions, we awoke to Strike 2 after only 10 days. This time the victim had been Dad’s leather work shoes. The leather had been picked clean off them like a chicken carcass, leaving the tough rubbery sole. This time, Rocky was huddled in his bed in Bernadette’s room while he received his tongue-lashing from both Mom and Dad. Bernadette and I had sworn we closed him in the night before and pleaded his case further citing the fact that neither of us had ever seen him act in such a way during our airtight surveillance. Or ever for that matter. Nonetheless, Rocky was on his last leg and his chances of staying in our family were looking bleak. I made myself his personal bodyguard, watching him every waking moment and double-checking the latch on Bernadette’s door each night.
I awoke one morning to find that my running shoes had been torn apart, cotton and bits of rubber everywhere. It was as if a grenade had gone off in my closet. As I scrambled to pick up the pieces, Mom knocked on the door and invited herself in. I must have been quite a sight, half asleep and juggling armfuls of shoe material. Her face steeled and she turned to march down the hall to Bernadette’s room. She flung open the door to find Rocky curled up with Bernadette, both of them sound asleep and covered in tufts of cotton like a fresh layer of snow.
What followed was a heated conversation about responsibility and promises, shouted between Mom’s lectures and Bernadette’s sobs. I interjected to point out the odd fact that both our bedroom doors had been discovered closed and Rocky’s obvious inability to open doors and close them behind him. Mom just chalked it up to our attempt to cover up for his mistakes, a theory more or less justified by my mad scramble to rid my room of evidence. Bernadette and I were fighting a losing battle and we just had to give up.
We found a nice home for Rocky: a young pair of married fitness trainers. They were sure to give him plenty of opportunity to run about and exhaust himself.
As the seasons changed and school began, we didn’t talk about Rocky around our parents. It had been just as hard to say goodbye as it had been for Bernadette and me. She and I were also still reeling over the fact that we hadn’t done anything wrong. We were certain that Rocky was somehow not responsible for the messes, a suspicion confirmed mere days later, when Bernadette woke to find that her boots had been mangled to pieces.
Mom and Dad tried to justify this, saying that they were probably chewed up from when Rocky was staying in her room, and she had only now just noticed. Nonetheless, they checked all the doors and windows for possible entry and exit points for a wild animal.
Which brings us up to date. We had installed a new security system just yesterday that would beep loudly should any door or window be opened, an alarm sounding if one of us fails to enter the keycode after 30 seconds.
I woke up at 3 AM to the sound of ripping seams and muffled movement coming from my closet. I froze and drew my covers up, lying completely still and pretending to be a pile of pillows under my blankets. I listened intently and the sounds continued, once in a while accentuated by the smacking of some animal’s mouth. Whatever beast had framed Rocky was there now, feasting on my tennis shoes.
Cautiously, I moved my covers and slowly stepped out of bed. I moved in slow motion, hoping not to disturb the squeaky springs in my mattress. As I inched closer to the closet, my heart was beating in my throat. WHat if this animal attacked me? What if it was rabid? I glanced out the corner of my eye at the bedroom door, ready to bolt at the slightest sign of mortal danger. For a second, I paused and considered getting proper backup. But would the unknown creature still be there when I returned? It was now or never and I had to continue forward.
I wrapped my fingers around the handle to the door and took a deep, silent breath. Inaudibly, I counted under my breath:
“One…two… … three!”
I flung the door opened wide and there, crouched down over the remnants of my Converse, was Bernadette, sitting cross-legged and blithely tearing at the fabric with her teeth. She didn’t seem to stir at all by my intrusion, but merely chewed for a few seconds and swallowed with a difficult gulp.
“Bernadette… why…?”
Still, she remained oblivious, looking peaceful in serving some bizarre inner purpose to eat as much of my shoe as she could. She picked a metal rivet out of her teeth and flung it away. She was about to get up when she noticed the uneaten shoelace by her knee, and resolved to fix that arrangement.
I suppose things are going to be different from here on out. Until she sees an expert on sleepwalking, we’ll just have to do our best to keep her safely in her bed, and to keep our shoes up out of reach in the closet.

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Sugar Mountain

Brian opened his eyes, jolting himself awake, out of the horrid dream he’d been having. He’d dreamt that he was at the office, filing insurance claims like normal, but a set of file cabinets had suddenly become sentient and inched their way toward him. He ran and hid in a janitorial closet, but he could hear them walking by the door, each step a scrape against the floor. The scraping grew and grew, Brian had only imagined the unstoppable paperwork army they had amassed, when he was finally able to free himself from sleep.

As he woke, he still heard the scraping, but it wasn’t as grating. The unbearable scratching had ebbed down to a pleasant sweep. He glanced out the window to see Dave below, pushing a heap of overnight leaves and dust with a giant push broom.

“Morning Dave,” said Brian.

“Morning, Brian! Say I didn’t wake you up with my sweeping, did I?”

“Don’t worry,” said Brian,”I needed help waking up anyway.”

“Sorry,” said Dave. “I’m just not used to working around any residents. We used to have a family of cats down by the Future-cade, but they’ve since migrated off the grounds.”

“Like I said, it’s no problem at all. I knew what I signed up for.”

“Guess so,” said Dave. “Well I gotta finish up with Grimmworld before opening so I’ll be seeing you later.”

“Sure, sure,” said Brian. “Don’t let me keep you. See you around.”

Brian closed the double windows to his two-story cottage and went about his morning routine. He pulled water from the well in the backyard and set it over the fireplace. He reached in to pull a couple pennies out of the bucket and tossed them in a mason jar on the mantle.

He unlocked his dry goods cabinet and pulled out a canister of oatmeal, setting it on the table.

When the water was hot enough, he disrobed and sat in a wash basin. He alternated between rubbing soap on his skin and ladling the warm water over himself.

He walked to the front door in his robe to empty the basin. As he poured the contents down a storm drain, an official passed by leading a group of four tour-guide trainees. She waved at Brian and Brian returned a wave, sheepishly. It made his skin crawl to imagine the explanation of his presence to the new employees. Brian headed back indoors and finished getting ready. He pressed his suit using the antique stovetop iron and buffed his shoes. After he had gathered his briefcase, he did his final check on the state of the cottage: all personal belongings were locked away in the cabinets, the stove was snuffed out and cooled, all surfaces were wiped down and immaculate. Daily he would eliminate all evidence that a person was living in that space.

He stepped out the door, made sure that it was unlocked and propped open for visitors. He grabbed his briefcase and headed down the cobblestone path.

Around the corner, a troupe of dancers and singers were stretching and running vocal exercises for the welcome parade. He passed by the boarded walls of Dino-world, plastered with handbills announcing the area’s imminent renovation. As he walked along, he heard the whirring of test cars completing safety runs along the coaster tracks overhead. He walked along the Forest Fairy trail and listened to the cheery music piping through the holes of the artificial rocks. As he turned one last corner, he was on Old Town Road. On both sides of the wide road, the store displays were being dressed and primed for the coming influx of customers and souvenir shoppers. Vents along the boulevard pumped out sweet smells to entice the customers into the bakeries for sweet treats. Brian still fell victim to the aroma, even though he knew full well that it was completely artificial.

As Brian approached the front gate, he was met with the usual sea of faces, bodies pushed up against the turnstyles, eager for entry. For many of them, this experience was a dream come true, a well-earned vacation to complete escapism. They fidgeted with anticipation.

Brian could feel their eyes on him as he headed to the exit gate on the far right.

“Off to work?” asked Tony the security guard.

“Yup. Back to the grind,” said Brian.

“You know,” said Tony,” You can probably get an on-site job in Administration or something. It’ll sure cut down on the commute.”

“Nah,” said Brian. “Wouldn’t want to live where I work. And vise versa.”

“Fair enough” said Tony. He looked up and noticed that a couple of guests that may have caught wind of their conversation. “Well, Sir… I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit to Sugar Mountain. Please come back soon!”

“Oh, don’t you worry,” Brian chuckled. “I’ll definitely be back. Maybe tonight.”Image

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Hair Of The Horse

“Una quesadilla con carne asada, mi hermano. ¡Con todo! Pero no… no… quiero caballo.”

The vendor smiled politely, amused at the swaying mass of inebriated college student on the other side of the counter who just told him he “didn’t want horse.”

“¿No quieres… cebolla?”

“Sí. Sí, amigo. No cebolla. Lo siento para la…” I waved my hands in the air searching for words. “La… confusion.”

He nodded and set to work on crafting one of his famous $2 quesadillas, one which could easily sell for upwards of $7 or $8 on the American side of the border. But he seemed utterly satisfied to get by on the wide-eyed drunk young adults that stumbled by his stall during Spring Break.

I turned to Reid who was also in the process of ordering a quesadilla.

“I told him I didn’t want a horse.”

Reid laughed and placed his order. He ordered in English. Of course he did. The vendor knew English perfectly. He had to know it in order to make money off the American tourists. Had I been sober, I would have also ordered in English. I wouldn’t have wanted to accidentally insult the man and sully decades of beautiful culture by showing off my proficiency as dictated by my limited exposure to the language through Spanish 130.

But sober decisions like discretion had disappeared hours before with dinner margaritas, shots at the hotel, and open bar at Señor Frog’s. All bets were off and I was slurring Spanish while attempting to wax poetic about my frustrations with my love life.

“…pero no quire dormir con ella. Solo quiero tener su mano en mio, y a veces besarla.” I had said as we had reached the hotel room with our savory bounty.

“I’ve gotta be honest with you, Joey. I have no idea what you’ve been saying for the past 10 minutes. All I hear is ‘taquito taquito, extra ranchero salsa.'”

I stared at him in disbelief.

“Have I been speaking Spanish this entire time?”

“Yeah, pretty much the entire time after we got our food.”

“Shit, man. I’m sorry.”

Reid laughed. “Don’t worry about it, man. This has all been really funny. Here, eat something.”

I didn’t remember eating my food, but I damn well remember it spewing out of my stomach amid a bittersweet swill of alcohol and bile. After an indeterminate period of kneeling over and spitting into the toilet, I vaguely remember three blurry shapes lifting me up to carry me into the next room.


I woke the next morning with a horrible cramp in my neck. The culprit responsible was the bag of cottonballs that dared to identify itself as a pillow, and a military-style cot stretched so tight it could have doubled as a cutting board. I glanced around at the dark room to see all six of my friends cuddled up cozily on two queen-sized beds.

Under the influence of the previous night’s debauchery and the solid block of muscle and nerves at the base of my skull, I reacted to my exclusion from their hospitable sleeping conditions sourly.

“You guys are assholes” I said under my breath. Or at least I meant to say it. What came out of my mouth was a gargle of equal parts gutteral pop and acidic croak.

A moment later, I was out walking the streets and alleys of Rosarito, Mexico. I hadn’t bothered to let anyone know I had gone. I was mad. I was also not of sound mind, honestly. I had some cash in my pocket from the night before so I figured I would find a place to get breakfast.

I turned a blind corner and looked down the alley to find the ocean staring back at me. I dropped the idea of breakfast and wandered across the sand. Unlike the California beaches I had known my whole life, the slope of the sand was minuscule, virtually nonexistent. You could wander 50 feet from the edge of dry land and only stand in inches of water.

I walked along the water, hypnotized by its ebb and flow. I had been walking a few minutes when the whine of some animal made me jump. I stood still, listening, hoping to find a directional clue to the sound’s origin. When no sound came, I shrugged off the occurrence as a figment of wishful thinking and started walking back to the hotel.

As I headed down a random alleyway, I heard the whinny again. It was right in front of me.


Deep in a nook between two night clubs was a corral of horses. There had to have been about 24 of them, all hitched to wooden posts. I approached one cautiously, unable to tell if they were tame or in some process of being broken in. The horse had a beautiful blond mane and remained completely still as I reached out to touch its face. I sensed no hostility from him and so moved in closer to continue petting him.

“Good boy, good boy,” I said, gently.

At that moment, a local man came running up the beach. Worried that I may be perceived as a thief, I stepped away, though as he neared, I saw that he was smiling.

“Quieres caballo?” he asked.

Holy crap, I thought. He wants to sell me a horse.

I had a choice to make. I could have told the man that I was only admiring the beast before walking away awkwardly. Or I could engage with this man and humor him into thinking that I was willing and able to buy a horse, despite the fact that I had neither the facility or means of keeping it.

You can bet I chose the latter.

“Quanto cuesta?” I asked, putting on the airs of a Western entrepreneur. My masquerade had apparently failed on opening my mouth. Gone was the silver-tongued bilingual I was hours before in my drunken stupor. He could tell I was just a gringo tourist.

“Seven dollars. Half hour,” he said. Rental hadn’t even crossed my mind until that point.

I must have been smiling like a damn fool while I fished into my pockets for the cash. He took my money and pointed to all the horses in a sweeping gesture, non-verbally handing me carte blanche to chose my worthy mount.

At that point I had already established a connection to my blond companion. Heck, he was the inciting means by which I came privy to such a deal. I placed my hand on his back to indicate my selection and the caballero placed a footstool at my feet.

“You ride before?” he asked.

“Yeah, a little. Un poco. Anos pasado.”

He pushed me up on the horse and handed me two lengths of leather rope. He indicated the rope that led to the horse’s mouthpiece.

“This… steer” he demonstrated. He held up the other piece. “This…” he mimed striking the horse’s backside, “faster.”


As the sun crested the town and began to warm the crisp morning air, I rode along, drinking in every detail.

“What the hell is going on?” I chuckled to myself. I was in Mexico, beating a hangover by way of riding a horse, barebacked, down the beach at sunrise. What the hell, indeed. “I’ve got to remember this one.”

Though everything was so clear and alive in that moment, I must have shorted out all of my senses, for words alone can no longer suffice to describe the feelings I was experiencing.

I’ve told the story many times: to my panicked travel companions back at the hotel; to the friends back in my suburban home town; to my family, always enthusiastic to hear about my latest adventure. But each time I tell the story, I always stop at this point and feel a twinge of pity that my audience can hardly feel the mixture of completeness, utter joy, and panic at that this wonderful elation had a time limit.

It was, in a tremendously poor excuse for words, the reason for living.

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No Time For A Title

There’s no time.

There never is.

“I want to lend you this movie. You should watch it,” she says.

“I don’t have time,” I reply.

“Just give it a chance, will you? It’s my favorite.”

She hands it to me and I walk out the door.

I bound down the steps and to my car.

The film in my hands is a DVD, but I don’t have a DVD player.

I head to the electronics store.


I jump out at the front, my car still running.

An attendant starts telling me I can’t leave my car out front, but I’m already inside.

I grab a DVD player and dump cash at the register.

I pass the attendant who’s saying something about security.

On the way home, there is traffic.

I drive on the sidewalk.

No time.


I jump out of the car and run through my open front door.

The TV is still on and I plug in the DVD player.

I insert the film and I watch.

The audio isn’t hooked up correctly, but there’s no time to fix it.

Watch, she said. Not listen.


The film is mostly long unmoving shots.

I press a button to fast forward.

As I watch, blips of chipmunk dialogue flit in and out.

The people onscreen spend a few seconds together and then without each other.

They return to each other intermittently. Then they part again.

Then they’re together again in time for the credits.

I pull the film from the player and return to my car.

I retrace my steps to her apartment.

The gate is locked but there’s no time to dial her.

I climb the tree nearest her window and crawl in.


“Here,” I say, thrusting the DVD into her hands.

“You changed your mind about seeing it?” she asks.

“I saw it. It was very romantic.” I say.

She stares dumbfounded, not saying anything.

3 seconds of this is enough.

No use waiting around for more silence.

No time.

“Bye,” I say as I crawl out the window.

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July 4, 2012

“Come on, Buddy, where are we headed?”

“I… I like to party…”

We weren’t getting anywhere. I had already driven him 5 miles out west, doubled back, crossed two bridges, turned around, snaked through some darkened neighborhood, made three turns, and ended up in front of a closed bar.

“Andy,” I said pointedly.

“Wha?” he murmured.

“Look out that window. You see where we are?” It took all his strength to lift his head 3 inches to look. He wasn’t connecting the thought.

“That’s Mulligans,” I said. “That’s the bar where I met you earlier tonight. Remember? Fourth of July? Fireworks out the window? They stopped serving you and you got pissed off, remember?”

He started to say something but instead found the prospect of going back to sleep much more enticing. The car idled in place as we sat in silence. I had the urge to drop him right there and leave him on the sidewalk. At least he was sure to know where he was when he woke up.

“Look, man. You have to tell me something.” I said. “Anything. An address, a nearby store, an intersection, anything. You didn’t want a cab because it’s too expensive. Think of me as a free cab. Now where do you live?”

“I already told, you,” he gargled. “I like to party.” I had to think of some other way to get through his stubborn refusal to tell me where I could take him. This was a man who seriously wanted to keep celebrating, long past the point of his own consciousness and the shutdown of his motor skills.

“I like to party too,” I said. “So here’s an idea. Let’s continue the party, keep it going. How about we bring the party to your house, huh? You can call up that waitress who gave you her number. I’ll call some people from work. We’ll do jello shots and throw confetti? How does that sound? You just have to tell me where the fuck we’re going!”

“Hey man,” he slurred. “I’m not down with your attitude right now.”

Well, that failed. I was starting to regret my decision to escort this belligerent party pile home.

“Okay, how about this?” I said. “Let’s start all over. Hi there! My name’s Joe.”

“Mmmmm… I’m Andy.”

“Nice to meet you Andy. Where do you live?”

“555…145…2344324 something, I don’t know… off two streets. One of them’s a guy’s name and the other’s a girl.”

“Seriously, dude, can you think of anything that’s near it at least?”

“Just go… to Cumberland. Off Savannah,” he muttered sleepily.

That may have been enough info. While he drifted back into his nap, I took out my phone and punched the key words “Savannah Cumberland” in a local map search. To my relief, there was one right on Savannah in Jensen.

I put the car in gear and started to inch forward, when my passenger yelled, “Wait!”

“What? What’s up?” I said. Maybe he had a new piece of information.

“You should give my homie a ride too,” he said. I looked out the passenger window. I checked in front of us, behind us, everywhere.

“Who are you talking about, Bud?” I asked.

“This guy right here,” he said pointing at the window without even opening his eyes.

“There’s nobody there,” I assured him.

He opened his eyes with that distant gaze of the somnambulist traveler between worlds and peered, perplexed out his window. His mouth moved silently as he took stock of his senses, sorting dream from reality.

“Sorry,” he said. “My bad.” He fell back asleep.


After a few more unsuccessful tries (intermittently narrated by an imaginary conversation he was having with a lady friend), we finally located his house. He spilled out of the car and stumbled up the driveway, walking in circles and staring at the ground.

“What happened to my shoe?” he asked.

“You probably left it on the sidewalk when I dragged you to my car.”

“Oh… well that sucks.” he said, turning around to open the front door.

“Don’t worry, I can go find it for you,” I said. Why not, I thought. This night’s been weird enough.

“Whatever,” he said. As far he was concerned, it was just an accepted casualty of the night. “See you later, Bro Namath,” he said as he disappeared into the house.


I drove off in the direction of downtown. By this time, I had already combed the neighborhood so thoroughly that I knew it as well as if I’d grown up there. As I crossed an intersection, a police car pulled up behind me, its colorful light signalling me to pull over. On any normal night, I might have felt nervous. But this was just frosting on the crazy cake that night had been. It only made me laugh.

The cop stepped up to my open window and I hadn’t even bothered to turn my music off. I bobbed my head to the rhythm and smiled back at him. He informed me that the light over my license plate was out and in need of replacing, a feature I didn’t even realize my car had. He took my identification and called into dispatch to verify my records. As he waited for their response, he broke whatever ice there was left with some small talk.

“Where you headed?” he asked.

I ran the words through my head and responded the best way I could without sounding crazy. I mostly failed.

“I’m… I’m on my way downtown to find a friend’s shoe.”

“A shoe?”

“Yeah. Well, he’s not really a close friend. We just met tonight. At a bar. But he was a sloppy mess and I forced him into my car. We spent the last hour and a half trying to find his house and we just now realized that his shoe was missing. So… I’m gonna go find it.”

The cop stared at me, uneasy, but definitely not worth any further questioning. He handed my license and registration back to me.

“Well… get that light fixed. Have a good night.”

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Exit Antigonous

A cold reading of Act III, Scene 3 of The Winter's Tale.

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Calloused Warriors

"On the count of four, we'll begin."

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