Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Al Bruno III Gift Shop... Open 24 hours a day!

IN THIS TWILIGHT tales of lost gods and fragile transformations

This collection of 13 stories transports you to a world where both dreams and monsters lurk in the shadows, where love and forgotten rituals fight for control of the human heart, and where the madness of eternity can be glimpsed in a single segmented eye. This anthology collects some of the best stories from Al Bruno III's website and includes the novellas 'Chad's Oracles', 'Fully Vested' and 'The Mask Collector', available for the first time anywhere.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

IN THE MIDNIGHT OF HIS HEART a novel of horror and obsession

To all outward appearances John Sig is just an old man living a quietly in an empty old house. His one pleasure is when he heads down to the local diner and visits with his favorite waitress Angie. When Angie disappears, John sets out to find her. For an ordinary old man that might seem like a foolish idea but John Sig isn't human, he's a monster living in the shadow of a nightmare thirty -five years old.

In The Pit
This is the comic book I wrote, that sadly it never made it past the first issue. Too bad I had envisioned a fantastic tale of serial killers, Canadian pro wrestlers and exploding toilets. Still though I think you might enjoying reading the first issue, it is still available as a PDF file. There are also some preview pages at the sight below.
Order away and weep for what might have been.

Some of my best work is available from the fine folks at Eden Studios. My contribution to their game lines has been mainly in the area of fiction. The rules and setting information was written by other very capable folks like Richard Dakan, CJ Carella, Jack Emmert, George Vasilakos and M. Alexander Jurkat. Believe me, they did all the hard work. If you are a fan of role-playing games or a fan of zombie movies then the books below are going to be right up your alley.

Enter the dark world of survival horror. The Dead walk among us. This role-playing game allows you to play in a world infested by the walking dead. The main rulebook includes rules for character creation, combat and everything else you need to play in a world of survival horror. Also detailed are the multiple campaign settings so you can customize the type of "deadworld" you wish to explore. 232 pages.Hardcover.Cover Art by Christopher Shy.
Click here for ordering information
A must-have reference for All Flesh Must Be Eaten, the Zombie Master's Screen is filled with charts and tables. From fear to weapons to outcomes, every reference that a prepared Zombie Master needs is packed onto a four-panel screen. The flip side of the screen scares and delights the players with full-color zombie images. The Screen is packed with a 48-page booklet, including a ready-to-run adventure introducing the Cast Member to the horrors of a zombie plague, and pregenerated characters with complete bios, statistics and resource information. Cover Art by Christopher Shy and George Vasilakos.
Click here for ordering information

Written by Richard DakanThe first supplement to All Flesh Must Be Eaten opens whole new vistas for a walking dead campaign. This tome brings together the thrills of Hong Kong action films and the excitement of flesh-craving horror. The match of these two genres may not have seemed obvious at first, but the pleasures that arise from it are undeniable. After all, zombies and Hong Kong style action make a perfect fit. What better match is there for a relentless series of lightning kicks and a hurricane of bullets than a target that can’t die? The pulse-pounding danger just never stops. Besides, what martial arts master worth his salt doesn't ache for the ability to use his own intestines as a deadly whip? For the undead, no problem!Softcover.Cover Art by Christopher Shy.
Click here for ordering information

Written by Al Bruno III, CJ Carella, David F. Chapman, Patrick SweenyBased on the original concept by George Vasilakos and Ross IsaacsEdited by M. Alexander Jurkat, David F. ChapmanCover art by Jeff ReitzInterior Art by Storn Cook, Thomas Denmark, Talon Dunning, DW Gross, Jon Hodgson, Chris Keefe, Jason Millet, Matt Morrow, James Powers, Gregory Price, George Vasilakos From the creators of All Flesh Must Be Eaten, similar in style but this time . . . with apes! Terra Primate has no specific setting. The only constant is the concept of intelligent apes. Planet of the Apes is a movie about intelligent apes, but then again so is Congo. As long as the characters are interacting with intelligent apes -- or are intelligent apes themselves! -- the game could be set in the pulp era of adventure, on a post-apocalyptic Earth, on a faraway alien planet, or downtown on Main Street. The main rulebook includes rules for character creation, combat and everything else you need to play in a world where man is the missing link! Also detailed are the multiple campaign settings so you can customize the type of "Apeworld" you wish to explore.

(Recommended Article) Review: Lemora by BLOOFER LADY

Innocent Lila Lee (Cheryl Smith) goes on a journey to meet her gangster father when summoned to his side by the mysterious Lemora (Lesley Gilb). What does Lemora want from her and will Lila’s innocence be forever shattered?

Bloofer lady really loves this film for the simple fact that it is so gosh darn strange and surrealistic. The full title of this film is Lemora: A Child’s Tale Of The Supernatural, which pretty much is what this whole film is about...

Visit the Horror Crypt to read the entire article

(Recommended Reads) "Beached" by J.M. Strother

An unnatural chill hung over the beach, making for a miserable end to a very bleak day. The mother ship was lost, more than half the crew dead. Maurice longed for the comfort of a fire but Omar refused to allow one. The Philippine Navy was still patrolling. Running lights of a corvette passed not far offshore less than an hour ago...

click here to read the rest

5 Women 10 Vaginas And Not Enough Brainbleach In The Whole Goddamn World

Tyra Banks Talks to Women With Two Vaginas (VIDEO)

Watch This: Official IFC Trailer for 'Mutants' - Horror Squad

Watch This: Official IFC Trailer for 'Mutants' - Horror Squad

Oh this looks dark as HELL!

(Insane News) Former Lancashire town mayor jailed over knicker thefts

The mayor of a Lancashire village who got his “sexual kicks” by sneaking into bedrooms to steal and violate women’s underwear has been jailed for two years after he was caught out by a secret camera...

click here to read the rest

Link found on

(Recommended Reads) "Itch" by Jack Roth

It all started with an itch. It started on Carvin’s arm, just a simple itch. Before his fingers could get to the spot between the bend in his elbow and the large freckle on his bicep, the itch moved...

click here to read the rest

Friday, February 5, 2010

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Eighty Eight

Judy Bauer didn't really have anything against the guy but how could you not taunt someone that had taken a vow of silence?

MY SUPA LIFE Brings the heartbreak and the robots

Get the full story here!

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Eighty Seven

None of the Local Heroes liked dealing with vampires but they had become a seasonal problem after Great Undead Hoedown of 1975.

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Eighty Six

He was one of the rare individuals that considered a colonoscopy to be a form of sexual healing.

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Eighty Five

Special Agent Krump realized that being put in charge of 'Operation Nerf Dildo' proved he wasn't taken seriously.

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Eighty Four

The most famous member of Emo Force had claws and super-healing. They called her 'the Cutter'.

(Recommended Reads) Meet Cascade Lilly's JO CARTER

Jo inhaled deeply as the doctor prepared to inject the barbiturate into her neck. She felt the sharp point of the needle prick at her skin and breathed out. Relax, don’t panic. Wait.

As the needle started its slide into her vein Jo took another deep breath, flicked her head to the right, at the same time lurching violently toward the doctor. Before he could react, she opened her jaw and clamped her teeth down on his wrist with the force of a bear trap...

The series starts here

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Eighty Three

Laser-Face, the man with the hologram head was a master of disguise with death ray eyes. See? His theme song practically writes itself.

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Eighty Two

Again and again she complained to the Angels of the Lord that the Pagans were ruining the Rapture for everybody.

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Eighty One

Out of ammo they held the Nazi's off by throwing eggs. Such is the legend of Force Hen from Navarone.

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Eighty

“It's not a recipe for disaster,” Jason Magwier said, “more of a rough outline really.

(Recommended Reads) "The Sabotaging Swede" by Chance

This brandy tastes a bit funny, pour us another one my dear fellow…

I say, have a look at this, says here the Wright brothers will have a machine capable of powered flight before the year is out. Ha! What rot. Zeppelins are the way forward. Trust me, in ten years’ time, they will be all over the skies of Europe...

click here to read the rest

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Seventy Nine

It was easy enough for the Maven to capture the Crime Countess once she realized only one store in town sold leather bodysuits.

KiNDERTRAUMA: Shows us the Aliens Rap!

I love the Internet...

KINDERTRAUMA is worth your time

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Seventy Eight

He had been in prison and he had been married with children, at least in prison he had a better chance of uninterrupted lovemaking.

If you remember these toys then your best years already behind you. (Like me!)

Plaid Stallions : Rambling and Reflections on '70s pop culture: Matchbox Fighting Furies Gallery

And yes I did have these toys... I miss them almost as much as I miss my Micronauts.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

(Insane News) Police: Man stuffed 75 bottles of lotion in pants

Police: Man stuffed 75 bottles of lotion in pants

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - Police say a Massachusetts man who stuffed 75 bottles of body lotion in his pants couldn't slip away from authorities, hampered by slacks that were nearly bursting at the seams...

Trailer for the movie THE SILENT HOUSE

A horror film done in one continuous shot?

Stop by Gore Gore Dancer Movie Reviews for more information!

(Recommended Reads) "Pupal Stage" by Maria Protopapadaki-Smith

He fed it human hearts, and freshly harvested ones at that. He hated getting them, but the alternative was unthinkable. Every time he was coming down from the high it gave him, his conscience would rear its weak head and he would be overcome with remorse. But as time drew him further away from its last feed, and his last high, he found himself feverish and thinking of the logistics again – how to get another heart for it without getting caught...

click here to read the rest

(Recommended Reads) What Cain Did by Amy Taylor

The moment I saw her I knew she was more than just another beautiful woman in a bar. I hadn’t had the best of days, and honestly, I didn’t feel like talking…but there was just something about her…

click here to continue

The Nick Of Time (and other abrasions): Tombs Of The Blonde Dead part one- In The Garden Of Duchesses

The Nick Of Time

(and other Abrasions)

Tombs Of The Blonde Dead

part one

In The Garden Of Duchesses


Al Bruno III

Gurlich Mansion was the house that smut built and by all accounts it was one Hell of a house. It had an indoor swimming pool and an outdoor one as well, there was a huge dining room, a library, a private cinema, and of course there were the bedrooms; bedrooms of all sizes and shapes, bedrooms that had once played host to the famous, the infamous and the occasional lucky nobody. The only thing more numerous than mansion's bedrooms was the bevy of beautiful women that visited, partied and sometimes lived there for years on end. Larry Gurlich kept this a veritable army of undiscovered starlets, unnoticed models and sullied ingenues pliable with liberal doses of expensive champagne and false hope.

He sat behind his antique desk, giving the words he would speak tonight another going over. It was memorized of course but at seventy-six he no longer fully trusted his faculties, after all hadn't he forgotten that young model's name just a few nights ago? In the throes of passion no less!

Another sign that his glory days were far behind him. This new generation only saw him as an amusing relic, or a punchline; but it was more than that- Gurlich Enterprises' brand of pornography was fast being eclipsed by the Internet, home video and, worst of all, respectability. Larry got up from his desk and stretched. He should have expected this, especially when you considered many
Girly Magazine monthly centerfolds – or Duchesses as the most popular centerfolds of the year came to be called- had found their way into the movies and TV over the years. Larry couldn't think of the precise number right off the top of his head but it was enough to keep nubile and trusting girls coming to Los Angeles by the busload.

It amused Larry to imagine that some of the women that he and his guests had found so delightful over the years might have retreated back to the Midwest on the very same buses in hopes of finding anonymity and respectability. He imagined a constant exchange, a perfect self-renewing system; bimbos into farm girls and farm girls into bimbos.

Sometimes he wondered if it was it time to hand over control of his empire. But to who? He had heirs of course- bastards one and all- but not a one of them had a brain for business.

The glare from the setting sun had faded enough that he could watch the party taking place in the wide, maze-like garden some three floors below. His eyesight, and his memories were strong enough that he could enjoy the delights taking place without actually having to mingle with the Hollywood carrion that his parties seemed to attract these days. There was a time when he had personally vetted the guests and the guests of the guests but it as all too tiring, especially when the same old faces seemed to make it in no matter what. Larry had learned to trust his security staff in matters like this, they were experts at keeping things under control and under wraps.

There was an expensive telescope by the window he used it to give the festivities a once over, he paused whenever an interesting specimen of femininity caught his eye. He hadn't spied any future cover girls or girlfriends yet but the night was young. The band hadn’t even started playing yet. He spied a trio girls sitting on the concrete ledge that bordered the Koi pond. They had their shoes off and were dangling their toes just a few inches above the waterline watching the fish crowd and gape and beg.

Larry chuckled, there was a metaphor for women in general if ever he saw one.

Abandoning his telescope he turned to examine himself in one of Gurlich Mansion's many full length mirrors, he always wore slacks and a tie, always something tailored and expensive; he wouldn't be caught dead lounging around in his bathrobe and he'd told Hugh Heffner so on more than one occasion. Larry was sure the snappy clothes helped him stay so young looking, that and just a touch of hair dye. Sometimes however the young beauties he brought to bed with him made him feel twice as old, had girls always been so damn aggressive and energetic? Or was it just that he got winded so much more quickly these days? Just as well he had always preferred to lie back and watch the show.

Straightening his tie he went over what he was going to say one last time, trying to find the right tone for these kinds of things always left him feeling uncomfortable. How much was too much emotion? How much was too little? You had to be careful what you said when you were a whipping boy for the far left and the far right.

Finally he turned away from the mirror and gazed at the coffin in the center of the room, it was shocking pink and held the earthly remains of the 1987
Girly Magazine centerfold of the year 'Chrystal Lustre'. It was hard to believe she had died so young, even harder to believe she had died of complications from a liposuction. The thing Larry remembered the most about her was her pale blonde hair, so pale it was almost the color of snow. Her hair color and breast size had changed almost half a dozen times since that first photo-shoot but he would always remember her as she was in that first centerfold spectacular,

But she was gone now, lost to memories and back issues and just like the eight girls before her she had asked to be buried on the grounds of the mansion, in the Garden of Duchesses.

click here to continue

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ALICE COOPER!! (the only rock star I ever had nightmares about)

One of my favorite songs of his...

Alice Coopers Nightmare - Some Folks
Uploaded by publicanimal9. - Watch more music videos, in HD!

(Recommended Reads) " Moonlighting" by Peggy McFarland

"Listen. Do you smell something?" That was still her favorite line from Ghostbusters. Jen flipped through the channels, saw nothing else interesting and decided, why not, it'd been a while. She returned to Comedy Central, perched on the edge of the couch and waited for a commercial break...

click here to read the rest

(Greatest Movie Review Ever? Maybe) Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies: Bay of Blood (1971): Or How I Learned To Stay Out Of The Real Estate Market

Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies: Bay of Blood (1971): Or How I Learned To Stay Out Of The Real Estate Market: "Cease your blubbering as Bava's genius washes over you, much like Jesus jumping out from behind a bush to scare you during your morning jog. Only this Jesus has a last name of Sanchez and is dressed only in a fertilizer sack, his turgid member tenting the front as he screams incoherent Spanish obscenities at you. You turn to run but trip over your iPod Shuffle's headphone cord, a moan escaping your lips as Jesus mounts you and begins to thrust in time to the tinny sounds of 'Come On Eileen' issuing from your device lying nearby in the grass."

Yes that bit of genius is actually part of the review.

And yes I did laugh so hard I got a nosebleed.

Long Live The Duke Of DVD!

I think somebody just got fired!

You've probably seen the video already but just in case... someone got caught looking at spicy pictures during a live TV segment...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

In The Shadow Of His Nemesis chapter forty nine

In The Shadow Of His Nemesis

Chapter Forty Nine



No one entered the swamp but the foolish and the doomed and nothing ever came out but terrible rumors and whispered legends. The surrounding forest was posted as private property but the true owners had never been a matter of public record. There were occasional disappearances in the nearby town but search parties avoided the swamp as a matter of course.

The swamp has clammy and humid at night. The vegetation was thick and lush, with plants that obscured the water and tall bent trees that choked off the sky. Cicada songs and the chirping of frogs filled the darkness. In the distance other creatures splashed and fought, sharp eyed mammals and solitary birds; hunting beasts all of them.

The two men that made their way through the fetid, knee deep water were neither foolish or doomed, but they were predators ancient yet new. Despite the darkness and noise they moved through the marsh without pausing to consult a map or check their bearings.

One of the men was broad shouldered with features that seemed to naturally settle into a placid smile, he wore jeans and a plain black t-shirt. “It’s so close Piers,” he said.

The handsome but stern looking and he wore and expensive three piece suit that was stained and torn to ruins. He bristled, “My senses are just as sharp as yours Mr. Grant.”

Up ahead of them was a shoreline clogged with lily-pads and weeds but before that the water deepened submerging both men to their waits. Insects fled ahead of them as they moved, snakes darted back and forth in the water.

Mr. Grant tsked, “You really shouldn't have worn that.”

“We are what we wear,” Piers said, “and I won't let some retrograde element try to drag me down to his level.”

“What do you think of the new girl?”

Piers glared turned to glare at him, “Frivolous.”


“She keeps winking at me.”

Mr. Grant chuckled, “That’s the new generation for you.”

The water level began to recede but by the time the men reached the shore their clothes were filthy and Piers had lost one of his shoes in the more. The leaches that had latched onto their skin were curling in upon themselves and hemorrhaging a fluid that only slightly resembled blood.

The plant life that bordered the shore was more lush and varied than anything else the swamp had to offer; some of the blooms were so strange and fragile looking that it was hard to imagine them surviving long in a garden much less a place like this. Piers grabbed a handful of them and tried to wipe the worst of the muck off his tie.

“Once again let me remind you that when he gets here I will do the talking,” Mr. Grant said. “You're no diplomat.”

“Diplomacy is for people that aren’t sure they’d win in a fight.”

There was a structure in the clearing up ahead. It was lopsided building with walls the color of bone. They drew closer to the structure. It ten feet tall and made from uneven slabs of rough marble that created an archway that seemed to be on the verge of toppling. The sounds of the swamp took on a reverent aspect. The soft light that spilled from the structure cast cast impossible shadows. Licking his lips Piers moved towards the entrance only to have Mr. Grant catch his arm, “Steady on old man. All in good time.”

“I didn't think they could be so beautiful...” Piers choked, “I should have realized...”

A thick sounding chuckle silenced him, both men turned to see a shape moving out of the shadows. It approached them, revealing itself into the half-light; first the head, with silver eyes and fur the color of blood, the features blunt and bestial, then the body, four legged thick and leonine.

Mr. Grant bowed, “Galen Dela Worg I presume?”

End of Book Three

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Seventy Seven

The citizens of Stoneville were proud to have Frogman as their official superhero, they accepted him warts and all.

The PARADISE OF HORROR has some short horror films that will melt your face off

The rest of the videos are here at THE PARADISE OF HORROR.

Be sure to give this website a hello and a follow!

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Seventy Six

Some of his days at work were busy and some were boozy and he didn't think much of the mornings after either.

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Seventy Five

Zeth hated not having some kind of handgun with him, knife fights were too bloody and unprofessional.

Yet Another KICK ASS trailer...

<a href="" target="_new" title="Kick-Ass - Trailer">Video: Kick-Ass - Trailer</a>

Well thanks to TWITCHFILM I may have to break my Nicholas Cage embargo

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Seventy Four

Sure they had told her to expect anything but she didn't know pirates knew how to use toboggans.

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Seventy Three

An evil villain with a body made of toxic waste was not unheard of, a body of toxic waste with an evil mind was something new.

5 Second Fiction Eight Hundred and Seventy Two

Bad Dungeon Masters don't go to Hell, but they do have to live in their own campaign worlds.

Monday, February 1, 2010

And now a teaser for the film ZONAD

once again courtesy of TWITCHFILM.

Drew Daywalt's Short Horror Film 'Suicide Girl'

Very well done I thought. Thank the SCREAMSTRESS for showing us this one.

(Repeat) February: The Month That’s Trying to Kill Me

February: The Month That’s Trying to Kill Me

Most people have adversaries in their daily lives, a snotty co-worker, a shiftless in-law or rude neighbor. I have a whole month that’s out to get me. For some February is the shortest month, for some it’s Black History month and for others it’s the month of Valentine’s Day.

But for me February is the Month That Dripped Blood.

Fact: I was working at Nice Shopper, and it was the coldest day that Albany had seen in a lifetime and a half. It was close to -20 with the wind chill, so naturally I was sent out to get carts. The wind had blown all the carts to the far end of the parking lot and I could only retrieve them in sets of three because anything more would get blown over. By the time I had finished my hair was swept back from my reddened face and I felt like a character from a Robert London story. There were lines at every cash register so I threw off my coat and set to work. It took my cold-addled mind a few moments realize that everyone one was staring at me. Finally one of the cuter cashiers said to me, “Al. Your nose.”

Visions of frostbite filling my head I grabbed for my face- and my fingers brushed the stalactite of frozen boogers dangling from my right nostril. Sure some of you out there might think that was pretty funny but it’s snot.

(…Auuuuugh yourself this is quality material here.)

That was the start of a long week.

Fact: It was my Junior year of high school, and I was trying to play the field, trying to romance both my beloved Lilly as well as a sophomore girl of dubious sanity but considerable cleavage. I figured my brother and father could do it, why not me? And besides if I was going to try and get my friends to call me ‘The Love Machine’ I damn well better be sure to back it up.

Of course I hadn’t actually told either girl that I was playing the field, I guess I was trying to be more or less the stealth bomber of love. It was the afternoon of Valentine’s Day that most of my friends started trying to beat me up. Now with my friends this wasn’t necessarily a rare occurrence but they had never been so organized before. Finally I confronted them, hoping to reassert my position as the Alpha Nerd with a combination of guts and memorized dialogue from Doctor Who. Then I saw each and every one of those sneaky bastards standing around Lily. Now this was too much. They were trying to move in on my main squeeze! I barged in the middle of them and asked what the Hell was going on.

That was when Lily confronted me with her Valentine’s card. Well, actually it wasn’t her Valentine’s Day card, it was the other girl’s but I had accidentally switched them.

Yeah, that the start of a long week.

Fact: My first bout with kidney stones came the same week that my beloved mother-in-law had a heart attack. (And that is no sarcasm, I do love her bunches.) I tried to stick it out, hoping the whole thing would literally pass but no luck there. So I had to have my wife drop me off at the emergency room so I could get better while she took care of our daughter, they were both exhausted by the ordeal.

To this day I am not sure what route my wife took to the Emergency Room but I can only assume somewhere she took a side trip to the Twilight Zone because that night was one of the strangest of my life. It began simply enough with lots of waiting then when they finally admitted me they had me dress in one of those drafty hospital gowns and left me sitting on a bed in the hallway.

Why you might ask? Because it was another cold February and all the local homeless people were checking themselves in for phantom ailments so they could stay warm. The place was packed; it was standing room only, or in my case trying to sleep in the hallway with your ass hanging out room only. The hobo sitting on a bed closest to me decided to strike up a conversation, and if I hadn’t been so tired and miserable I might have asked him what Tom Waits song he had escaped from to torment me.

Instead I just listened to his tale of travel, of his Native American wife he only got to see twice a year or so because she lived in Canada.

And by the way, Canadian women? Between this and all the nerds who say that have girlfriends up there I have to say get some standards for heavens sake.

Apparently my hobo friend took my bleary eyed indifference as a sign of friendship so he tried to give me one of his less filthy hats as a present but that was when the doctor showed up to get me the medical care I so desperately needed. I was never so happy for a painful and invasive prostate exam and yes that includes the one at the Eden Studios Christmas party.

With a prescription in hand I called a cab to take me home and wouldn’t you know it of all the cabbies I could have ended up with I got the one who wanted to try and get me to invest in the television pilot he was trying to film in Vermont. This was not what I needed because I can honestly say as that as a wannabe writer that loves to talk up his latest hopeless project there is nothing more annoying than a wannabe writer trying to talk up his latest hopeless project.

The cab ride ended before he could get into the intricacies of his series bible but when you’ve heard the pitch for one series that combines elements from Lovejoy and GI JOE you’ve heard them all.

So I got home and unlocked the front door, only to find my wife had put the door chain on as well. I chuckled over this and knocked on the door about ten minutes later I remember my wife mentioning that she wanted nothing more than to take a sleeping pill and turn in. After another ten minutes of homeless knocking I started walking to the local 24 hour diner so I could use the payphone and wake my missus up.

It was going to be a long walk.

So, where does that leave us today? First things off I woke up feeling profoundly squishy inside and I spent most of my shift trying not to erupt into a series of farts that would sound like an AMC Hornet drag racing with a tank full of bad gas. Then I had a training seminar in the afternoon, I believe it was focused on budgeting our time more effectively to improve shareholder value… well at least that’s what I think it was about. I fell asleep ten minutes in because I had been up all night writing blog entries.

Somehow I made it through my shift without skidmarking my underwear so I headed home, but first ironically enough, I had to stop for gas. I’d been putting off refueling because it had been so darn cold out the last few days but there was no putting it off any longer. I got to the gas station, popped open the tank and then realized I was on the wrong side of the pump so I spent a few moments dodging other cars and getting my car lined up correctly. Then I went in and bought twenty dollars worth of gas. And I started pumping.

But there was something wrong with all the pumps on that side of the station, and it was pumping gas at about the speed of a penny a second. As I stood there shivering, watching my twenty dollars of gas move like twenty dollars of molasses I thought to myself- it’s gonna be another long February.

But aren’t they all?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

As always Aeron Alfrey's MONSTER BRAINS has something to like totally blow my mind...

and as you can see today's post was no exception.

Stop by MONSTER BRAINS and wish Aeron Happy Birthday!

Welcome To Hell, Here's Your Smock part one

Price Breaks and Heartaches
a journal of retail and failed romance
Chapter One
Welcome To Hell, Here's Your Smock
part one

(The stories you are about to read might be somewhat true. The names have been changed to protect the people I love and because I have a god complex.)

Sixteen years of my life were devoted to working in retail. Sixteen years, just think about that for a minute. People have done less time for murder.

This is the story of my first encounter with that harsh, competence-starved environment.

My first job was at a local supermarket chain, to avoid lawsuits we'll call the place Nice Shopper. I was seventeen years old and my stepfather felt it was time for me to 'straighten up' and get a job. I wasn't too happy about, after all I had a lot on my plate at the time- puberty, Dungeons & Dragons, the Super Mario Brothers video game and of course the new season of Doctor Who on PBS.

Anyway, he had a connection at the Nice Shopper and he got me a job as a stockboy without any kind of interview. I just came in one day and they handed me a smock and a broom and told me to get sweeping. A lot of my jobs have started out that way. I think when I get to Hell they're going to give me a broom and a smock and tell me to start sweeping.

So there I was, pushing a broom for money for the first time. Over the next few weeks I did my best to learn the ropes but retail training in those days was a slapdash affair at best. One of the managers would yell at you to do something and if you did it wrong they'd yell at you again. Still though, I learned; I learned that when packing groceries, the potatoes do not go on top of the eggs, I learned that floors should be mopped with circular motions and that anything else was a violation of corporate policy and I learned that customers could be as unforgiving as a pissed off dominatrix with saddle rash.

And I would learn to hate recycling.

It's those little 5 cent deposits that are on every bottle and can, the government's little way to get you to not clutter the environment with plastic, glass and tin.

I stood behind the counter that surrounded the bottle returns register, the sickly-sweet odor of old soda and the sour tang of spilled beer filled the air; it was a smell that would haunt your nostrils for days afterwards. The line was four cartfuls and three customers deep. The customer glaring across the counter from me was old with a face that was set into a perpetual scowl. A stream of curses was constantly percolating under his breath – he cursed the wait, the store and of course me. He was one of our best customers.

There were buttons on the register, one for each brand and company, I don’t know why Nice Shopper felt we had to track the incoming bottles when all we were going to do was just crush and mangle them a heartbeat later. The thing was though, if the bottle wasn’t on the keypad we weren’t taking it back. That was the rules, environment be damned.

“I'm sorry sir,” I explained. “I can’t take this bottle back. You see this is a brand specific to one of our competitors and also there are bloody fingerprints all over it.”

There is no sight more disturbing that seeing a grizzled customer bristle but that’s what happened, “Oh, you'll take it back you little pissant. I didn't loose my femur bone fighting the Nazies so some little pimply butterball could cheat me outta five cents.”

I tried to stay calm, “Sir, this comes from the Stop and Shop. It's right across the street.”

The grizzled customer’s voice began to raise, “Just give me my five cents!”

With no other recourse I signaled for our afternoon front end manager, “Excuse me? Mr. Streicher?”

Mr. Streicher looked up from his clipboard, “Bruno! Why aren’t you getting carts?”

Cart gathering was a singular obsession of Mr. Streicher’s. “This customer has an off brand bottle,” I explained, “He wants us to take it anyway.”

“Oh you’re going to take it!” The grizzled customer said, “If I have to get the newspapers and radio down here to tell them how Nice Shopper tried to cheat a man out of his taxes I’ll do it.”

“You know sir they’ve got this new thing called a Tee Vee…”

Mr. Streicher drew closer to me, his knuckles whitening on his clipboard, “You need to work faster Bruno, get this wrapped up so you can get those carts.”

By now customers and Nice Shopper employees alike were watching this exchange, “Look, I’m doing the best that I can but there are four… no wait, five people in line behind this gentleman.”

“You need,” the afternoon front end manager repeated, “to work faster.”

With that Mr. Streicher strode away, I just stared after him stunned and angry. Of course it was at that moment that the grizzled customer spat on me, “PTOOIE!”

Thankfully there was a roll of paper towels nearby, “Sir please don't do that. I'll cash your other bottles in but there isn't-”


I turned away to from the next volley of phlegm and denture cream to see Ms Bardiz, our prissy head cashier, striding up to the bottle returns register. I was sure she would help me. I wondered if the police would soon be escorting this customer from the building. “What on Earth is going on?” she asked.

“Thank goodness you’re here.” I dabbed at my face with a paper towel.

Ms. Bardiz poked me with a blunt, unpainted fingernail, “Look Albert, you're being paid to work. Not socialize with the customers. There are cashiers in desperate need of baggers and I find you here lolly-gagging about.”

“I'm am not-”

The grizzled customer took that as queue to start spitting again, “PTOOIE!”

I tried to explain again, “Ms. Bardiz, there are five… six other people in line for me here and I need to go and get carts too. Maybe I shouldn't be the only stockboy on duty at this time.”

Ms. Bardiz just shook her head, “I think you need to put some effort into budgeting your time more effectively.”

She turned to go, the mob of customers and garbage pickers loomed closer, “Please don't leave me-”


Then the store’s public address system hissed to life, “Albert cleanup in Aisle 7. Albert cleanup in Aisle 7. This means you.”

My jaw dropped, “Lord....”

“PTOOIE! Oooo got him right the mouth that time!”

(Recommended Reads) "Merrick Tree" by Donald Conrad

None of Merrick Chelsworthy’s victims were ever recovered and that alone should be enough to make him the most memorable case I’ve ever had.

Those hunters came into the station with a story about a stone altar. And then they started in about all those faces carved into the trees; it made Archie and me wonder. So we went out there...

click here to read the rest

(Recommended Reads) "The Family Business" by Dana

Miranda did tarot readings Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at a coffee shop near the downtown campus. It was a good location. She got students coming in looking for love life and exam advice. She also got a lot of businessmen and bankers seeking advice in their love lives and the markets...

click here to read the rest