Saturday, May 1, 2010

(Recommended Reads) "Get Gone(Crowndon, Part 1)" by Jessica Rosen

Sometimes I noticed the soot covering me. It turned everything filthy on Crowndon. We had to burn whatever we scrounged up for fuel. Between that and the factories, ash was a constant mist. The snow was full of it. When snow melted in my hands, it left trails of light skin.

Days were spent finding stuff to scrabble through the next day. Lucky ones worked in the factories. They had food most days and their windows were stuffed, keeping the wind out. Mam wasn't a lucky one. We stayed hungry and cold, but she taught me how to scrounge. She once found a tattered sweater. It hung over my scrawny body to my knees, flapping over my hands. It was perfect...

click here to read the rest

(Recommended Reads) An untitled story by Sarah Ann Juckes

What if the tree is not a Mummy tree after all, but a finger tree? I hope it is a Mummy tree, a finger tree sounds scary. It might rap on my bedroom window at night and sneak into my armpits and tickle me to death...

click here to read the rest

(Recommended Reads) "Quietus" by Catherine Russell aka ‘Ganymeder’

The worst thing about the zombie apocalypse was the damned unicorns. It was easy enough to escape human zombies; they were slow moving, chronically uncoordinated creatures with very little brain power of their own. Perhaps that was why they hungered for the gray matter of others...

click here to read the rest

(Insane News) Man Accused of Masturbating In His Car Or "Hey buddy! Both hands on the wheel!"

From the KITSAP SUN


A 27-year-old Port Orchard man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of indecent exposure after a woman told police she saw him masturbating while he was in a car next to her at a stop light.

The woman told Bremerton police the man waved at her while they were at the stop light at the intersection of Wheaton Way and Sheridan Road. When she looked he was pleasuring himself, according to police reports. She called 911 and the man drove into a parking lot a few blocks down the road.

Police traced the license plate to a Port Orchard man, whose driver's license photo they added to a photo montage. The woman reportedly identified one of the photos immediately as the driver, reports said.

An officer arranged to meet the man in Bremerton before his work shift, and confronted him with the allegation. The man allegedly admitted to the act. Police booked the man into Kitsap County jail on suspicion of indecent exposure and set bail at $5,000.


(Recommended Reads) "A Puma In Search Of Her Cub" by Anthony Venutolo

Rebecca was having that kind of day. When one of the stock room boys referred to her as a 'puma,' she didn't know whether to be insulted at assumption of her age or complemented by his attraction...

(Recommended Reads) "Cruisin'' by Laura Eno

Debra leaned against Tom as they stood on deck, watching their ship sail out of the harbor. There wasn't much to see in the dark, since their departure had been delayed for several hours, but they were finally on their way now. Some of the passengers around them continued to mutter about the inconvenience. Debra couldn't understand their attitude. Whether the ship moved or not, weren't they still enjoying the amenities?...

click here to read the rest

Friday, April 30, 2010

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy Six

Karl enjoyed the porno remake of THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW right up until the appearance of Aunt Pee.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy Five

"Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool me three times and someone's getting shot."

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy Four

If she told him once she told him a thousand times he had a brain tumor that effected his memory.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy Three

For years his parents argued that their son hadn't died during a breath-holding contest, he was just holding on to his record time.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy Two

Her body was an erotic amusement park but he wasn't at least this tall to enter.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy One

Her body was an erotic amusement park but he wasn't at least this tall to enter.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy

The argument during dinner left her feeling all torn up inside, the double helping of super hot chicken wings didn't help either.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Sixty Nine

He kept several answering machines in his house and let them fight it out whenever he got a call.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Sixty Eight

It was the most racist ghost they had ever encountered. "Just what we need," Magwier said, "a wight supremacist."

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Sixty Seven

When living in a kingdom of magic and enchantment inadvertent bestiality was almost inevitable.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Sixty Seven

When living in a kingdom of magic and enchantment inadvertent bestiality was almost inevitable.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Sixty Six

The Maven grabbed a barbecue, the Crime Countess grabbed a hibachi, they started hitting each other. It was grill on grill action.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Sixty Five

The Maven grabbed a barbecue, the Crime Countess grabbed a hibachi, they started hitting each other. It was grill on grill action.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Sixty Four

The incredible Bratman gained his powers after being bitten by a radioactive toddler.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Sixty Three

All we are is dust in the wind but the Lunt family were more like lint in the dryer.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Sixty Two

Amazing Ed liked to brag about his 'alien costume' but buying a cape in Mexico didn't count.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Sixty One

And one beating later Psychotic Kid learned not to make wisecracks about a cyborg having 'junk in his trunk'.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Sixty

A freak accident with a can of spray-on tan and a beer bong was only the prelude to the ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT DOUCHEBAG.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty Nine

A freak accident with a can of spray-on tan and a beer bong was only the prelude to the ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT DOUCHEBAG.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty Eight

Chunky McBride stayed away from strangers with candy but after he encountered a stranger with pastries he was never seen again.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty Seven

They banned Karl from the pool after he got his penis caught in the filter, he sued them for not having a bigger intake valve.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty Six

"This must be what the Rapture is like," Audra smiled, "except there are no Christians floating up to Heaven going 'Nya Nya!'"

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty Five

Karl was heartbroken to learn that a Syllogism was not a money shot involving a clown.

(Recommended Reads) "Bedlam" by Kat Del Rio

She walked upon the broken stones scraping her nails along the church bricks. The dove flew above her head guiding the way. It was cold here in the shadows. The gothic cross hung haphazardly from the steeple. She had never wanted to come here. Even as a child it scared her...

click here to read the rest

(Recommended Reads) "Hidden Heroes" by Jim Wisneski

I had her. She was mine. Months of planning, weeks of following, sleepless night where I'd count the same sixty-four ceiling tiles in my bedroom, and I finally had her...

click here to continue

(Recommended Reads) "Oldest Trick in the Book" by Neil Shurley

Burt shoved the gun against my forehead.

"Cute," he said. "Very cute."

"Thank you," I stammered...

click here to read the rest

(Recommended Reads) "Silence" by Michelle Sussman

The ceiling is screaming at me again. I'm lying in bed staring up at it, dark, dingy and cracked. It's an old home, collapsing under the weight of the memories I made with my wife and family...

click here to continue

IN THE SHADOW OF HIS NEMESIS: What We Talk About When We Talk About Broads

The following is a condensed chapter from my serial novel but it is enjoyable as a stand alone piece.

____________________________________________________________________

What We Talk About When We Talk About Broads

(an excerpt for In The Shadow Of His Nemesis)

by


Al Bruno III




"TIM! PUT THAT GOD-DAMNED CAT DOWN!" Warren Talbot shouted to be heard above the Cream CD thundering from the stereo.


"I'm just playin' with her!" Tim replied, pitching Princess from his rough grip, "Hey! I thought cats always landed on their feet."


Collin held his sides, quaking with laugher. Isobel had only been gone for an hour and a half but already the house was degenerating into chaos; two empty six packs worth of beer cans were stacked on top of the television, empty Burger Clown wrappers lay on the floor and the Lazy-Boy had been upended in Tim's attempts to 'pet' Princess.


Warren gave up and got himself a beer. Tim and Collin were his best buddies and thankfully old enough to buy alcohol but it seemed like all they wanted to do was get on his nerves at every opportunity.

Warren sipped his beer carefully, "Why don't we go out someplace?"


"Like where?"


"I dunno. A nightclub maybe."


Collin rolled his eyes, “Oh please."


"What's the problem?" Warren asked.


"Even if we could get you in, we can’t have a good time with you along. You just sit at the bar and sulk."


Tim laughed evilly.


"I do not sulk!"


"Oh yes you do." Tim cackled.


"I just like to check out the ladies."


"Too bad none of 'em ever wanna check you out."


"You'll see, one of these nights the right one will come along."


Collin put the video on pause, "Warren, you can't go to a bar loaded with college girls getting drunk on their parents' money and expect to find love. It's like going to Burger Clown in search of a nutritious meal."


"Maybe I'm not as cynical as you are."


"Maybe you just haven't gotten burned enough times." Tim tossed the now empty beer at the pile on the TV, toppling them.


"I still believe in love." Warren said.


"I'll believe it when I see it."


"You're just not looking."


"Yeah. Right. Give me one example."


"Okay." Warren stared into space for a few moments and then turned his attention back to his two best friends, "There was this guy, I guess it was back around World War One, he was a lawyer, he had a girl waiting for him back home- the standard American dream stuff. He got hit with that poison gas the Germans were using, and somehow it gave him something like the Elephant Man's disease."


"Oh really?" Collin said, "And what color are the clouds on your world?"


"Shut up. So he comes back from the war and starts getting all deformed. Not gross like the real Elephant Man, he just turns all big and ugly. So his life falls apart, nobody wants to go to some freak lawyer and his girl dumps him for somebody normal."


"Translation," Tim snickered, "Nobody in the Talbot family."


Princess poked her head out from behind the couch, her whiskers quivering, her body low to the ground.


"So do you know what this guy does? He goes to Hollywood and becomes an actor. He does monster movies as 'the Creeper'. They bill him as the only actor in horror movies that doesn't need make-up. So while he's doin' these movies he meets this gorgeous actress and she falls for him. They end up getting married, the end."


"That's it?" Collin asked.


"Yeah."


"What a stupid story!" Tim buried his face in his hands, "Of course this Creeper guy got a girl, he was a movie star!"


"Oh come on!"


"You said it yourself she was an actress. The bitch probably thought it was a good career move, maybe she wanted a part in his next movie."


Warren shook his finger, "You know you have a serious mental problem."


"Hey, I'm not the one who can't face reality."


"And what reality is that?"


Collin unpaused the video.


Tim spoke slowly, using the tone he reserved for slow witted children and officers, "The reality is that all this women's liberation stuff is crap. Women are only interested in one thing when it comes to long term relationships- money. They'll go for the best provider every time, just like they did in caveman days. And believe me that's the first thing they look for, they can sniff out cash like bloodhounds."


"Do you know how paranoid you sound?"


"That's why you can't get any! You gotta pretend you're rich, you gotta have rich attitude. They way you slouch and sulk, the chicks just know you're living with your parents."


Warren found himself trying not to slouch, "After hearing this I'm not in the least bit surprised that you've never been in a long term relationship."


"Maybe so." Tim stood and made his way back to the refrigerator, "But I've seen more pussy than you've dreamed about."


Ever on the lookout for unwanted hands, Princess crept beneath the endtable and laid down.


Warren threw up his arms in resignation, "OK, you're right, all women are moneygrubbing slime, all men are dogs. I guess I'm just different, and maybe someday I'll find a girl who's different."


"You say that now but after a few more years of teasing the weasel you'll go for anything that moves."


The Pink Lagoon had reached its sticky conclusion, Collin turned to them, "OK, I say we go a nightclub but Warren has to ask a girl to dance."


Warren blanched slightly, "What?"


"Yeah." Tim said poking him with a meaty finger, "And if ya don't I'll beat the shit out of you."


"Fine!" Warren snapped back, "And if you don't ask a girl to dance I'll..."


"You'll what cheesedog?" Tim raised a fist.


"Never mind." Warren backed down, "Let's just go. I’ll get my coat."



____________________________________________________________________


To read more of the story click here!


(Recommended Reads) "The Way Of It" by Marisa Birns

Little Joey looked down at the gun held out to him.

"C'mon, take it. I ain't got all night," Dix said, and poked him in the ribs...

click here to read the rest

(Recommended Reads) "Two Guys And A Flask" by Anthony Venutolo

Inside a rundown trailer somewhere within

the steel-framed heartland, they drank

in the dark, these two guys and a flask...

click here to read the rest, or hear it via podcast!

(Recommended Article) "PSYCHO II" reviewed by MAD MAD MAD MAD MOVIES

My dearest readers, I bid thee welcome, for it is I, the Duke of DVD, once more standing firm at the gunwale of cinematic mastery. Legs spread, I weather the pitch and yaw of the stormy seas of forgotten film minutiae, striving evermore to land the white leviathan that is silver-screen awesome. Do not despair, gentle readers! Together we shall shed light on the deepest of mysteries, catching the rare glimpse of that pallid abomination that slides through the ice-cold, inky blackness...

click here to read the rest

(Recommended Reads) "25 Cents A Day" by Michael Solender

Surrounded by the rhythmic bass of humming clothes dryers, Paulo carefully folded yesterday's paper and placed it on the barren table adjacent to the bench where he waited for his sheets final spin down. He calculated that he had 31 quarters left to carry him through the weekend...

click here to read the rest

Thursday, April 29, 2010

GEEKOLOGIE shows us the wonder and WTF of a Candyland tattoo.

My barely coherent review for THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE aka Dieter Laser is the creepiest motherfucker on the planet.







This movie.

This fucking movie.

Wow.

I just got done watching it on VOD and wanted to get my ideas down on virtual paper as soon as a could. I need to get to work tomorrow but I don 't know if I'll be able to sleep truth be told.

So about the movie. The movie as you may or may not know is about a pair of tourists that are taken prisoner by a mad scientist that wants to graft them mouth to anus to form a human centipede. This is some grotesque stuff here and it is realized in scenes that are the grandest of the Grand-Guinol. There are scenes in this film that will make your skin crawl.

But for me that isn't enough to interest me in a film. The HOSTEL/SAW series of films never held much interest for me, (I did find INSIDE and MARTYRS to be very effective and involving films however.).

One thing held me riveted for the length of the film: Dieter Laser.



This man is like something like the result of gene splicing Klaus Kinski, Christopher Walken and Udo Kier. He makes this film, every second of this film without him this movie would have been a grotesque and involving oddity like BLOODSUCKING FREAKS or CANNIBAL FEROX.

See the movie for this man alone, the body horror takes a back seat to him.

But that being said, the final images of the film is one of the most bleak and haunting things I have ever seen.

That is my opinion and my opinions can be a little strange- for example I never cared for THE GOONIES, BUCKAROO BANZAI or GHOSTBUSTERS but I watch PHANTASM every year for my birthday because I love it so much and consider the Lugosi-Karloff film THE BLACK CAT to be one of the best horror films of all time.

And we will now close out this post with the trailer for THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE.










Actually instead lets ask Dante and Randall how they feel about the film...



Wednesday, April 28, 2010

MY SUPA LIFE knows what boys like and guys want!

PLAID STALLIONS shows us the coolest kids in school!

THE HORROR DIGEST's excellent review of BLUE VELVET

My journey through Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments has come to a close with a 2nd and complete viewing of David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Originally, Blue Velvet was the 3rd DVD that I received when I began my Netflix account back in August, of which the sole purpose was to rent movies on the list that I had never seen before. Perhaps it was a particularly nice day or my head just wasn't in the game--whatever it was I could not for the life of me get past the first 20 minutes without my mind wandering. I attribute this to the fact that you have to be in a certain mood to watch a David Lynch film. I know this because I also attempted to watch Eraserhead not long before my first attempt at Blue Velvet and it didn't work then either. Maybe it's just a summer thing, or maybe I hadn't come to grips with something as strange and unusual as the surreal world of David Lynch yet. But no matter, spring has awoken this ability and I am now able to watch and sort of comprehend what has happened before my eyes...

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty Four

When the Mathmagician used algebraic equations to create a rabbit she wasn't just pulling the numbers out of her hat.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty Three

t wasn't until he got loads of sand in his costume that Psychotic Kid truly understood what it was to have gritty adventures.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty Two

He was the only knight of the round table that liked to play pranks while in his armor. He was a full metal jacknape.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In The Shadow Of His Nemesis chapter sixty one

In The Shadow Of His Nemesis


Chapter Sixty One


BY AL BRUNO III




Friday November 30th 1996




There was a spread of tarot cards on Jack’s bed, Roxanne studied them for a time before returning them to the deck and reshuffling. The cards were handmade, a skill taught to all the Lunt women, they were circular and elegantly illustrated. Those illustrations seemed to almost dance by the lamplight. She was naked, her skin and she bedsheets were still damp. She asked, “Are you going to do it?”


“Do what?” Jack grunted. He was exercising at the other end of his room; his sweaty hair hung loose around his face obscuring his expression.


“Let Galen kill Magwier.”


“From what I hear Magwier's been killed before.”


“Really? One of those is he?”


“I still might let him try,” Jack said, “we all know he’s up to no good.”


She smiled when he took off his shirt, “He’ll have to get past Magwier’s bodyguard.”


“Zeth? I doubt he’d be a real problem. Besides maybe Sig and Galen can team up, divide and conquer,” his expression soured as he spoke. Laurel House was supposed to be a place of refuge and love but things like this always happened- blood and treachery were built into its foundations.


She fanned the cards out again and laid them in a complex pattern, “The Hanged Man keeps showing up, so do the Lovers.”


“The Lovers?” Jack stretched, twisting this way, bending that way. He didn't need to exercise to stay fit but he liked the sensation himself, it reminded him of the old days, of leaping from rooftop to rooftop and terrorizing all the pretty girls. Even now they still told tales of old Spring-Heeled Jack but he was dismissed as an urban legend, as a prank taken too far. He lowered himself to the floor and began doing pushups, “You mean us?”


“Oh please,” she said, “you and I both know who it means. Hao and her pet.”


“He's not a pet, she's serious about him.”


“I pity her then, she might as well marry a mayfly.”


“That’s not very nice.”


“For my money I think she’s in love with the idea of mourning him,” Roxanne said, “you can see it in his eyes. She wants an excuse to kill herself. Here's hoping that when her self-inflicted grief makes her commit suicide that she has the decorum to do it somewhere past the treeline.”


“Roxanne...” Jack tried to sound like he was chiding her but he felt himself starting to get irritated. How could she so cold? Sometimes he wondered what his relationship with her would have been like if she hadn't been such a demon in the sheets. If she hadn’t known just what he liked. Maybe he would have stayed Castellan, maybe her body would be rotting somewhere out past the tree-line. He changed the subject, “What else do you see?”


“The Tower,” she replied, “I keep seeing the Tower.”


“Not good,” Jack stopped his push ups and sat on the floor, looking up at the woman who shared his bed but not his heart. She was an oracle so why didn’t he just come out and ask? It was at moments like this when he longed to return to his home and to the rooftops to know the feel of something soft, helpless and ripe squirming in his arms. After a long pause he spoke, “What do I do?”


“Kill them,” Roxanne said, “kill them both.”





Click Here To Continue

(Recommended Reads) "A Night Of Splendor" by Laura Eno

The night of the Goddess Ball found a reluctant Chronos, resplendent in his tux, following Death into the ballroom to mingle with their peers in the cosmos...

click here to read the rest

The trailer for BURNING BRIGHT looks pretty intense!

Trapped in your house with a bengal tiger during a hurricane?

Thank you CHUCK NORRIS ATE MY BABY for reminding me not to have pet tigers.

(Recommended Reads) "Initiation" by Louise Dragon

Rusty hinges ground on the screen door. His friends laughed. "No such thing as ghosts," he recited & pushed open the door.

Neal Dodge looked back at his new friends and forced a smile.

I can do this, I can do this, I can do this. The words played in his brain like a neon sign.

click here to read the rest

(Recommended Reads) "That Smug Smile" by Anthony Venutolo

It was the night before he went back to Korea. Well, maybe two nights before, but Cindy distinctly remembers Jimmy saying,"I'll be right back, hon. Just gonna go see Auggie a bit."...

click here to read the rest

PLAID STALLIONS gives us a glimpse of SHEER UNADULTERATED MANLINESS!!!

Why can't I be this cool?

Monday, April 26, 2010

(Recommended Reads) "Late Bloomer" by Maria Protopapadaki-Smith

(Maria didn't get a chance to post a #fridayflash this week so I thought I would post LATE BLOOMER- not only my favorite story by her but also one of my favorite short stories in general.)


Gods do not always beget gods. It is rare, but sometimes it happens that the union of two perfectly ordinary gods can result in a mortal child. I fear I might be such a child. I am 14 - not far from 15, in fact - but my back is still bare. A few months ago there was another in my group of peers who had not sprouted yet either, so no one was worried. Late bloomers, they called us. It will come, they said. You will sprout when you least expect it, they promised. But my back is still bare...

click here to read the rest

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty One

Rick wasn't afraid of the collapse of civilization; he'd been looking for an excuse to drink his own urine for years.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty

The villainous Gobbleslob turned his competitive eating skills into a super power. No buffet was safe.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Forty Nine

There was a generation of super heroes that narrated their lives in a film noir style. Captain Hero blamed it all on Frank Miller.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Forty Eight

The Maven awoke tied down and in the path of a killer Zamboni. She felt her blood turn to ice.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Forty Seven

The commandant of the prison camp tried to crush Lt. Marvin's spirit but Lt. Marvin's marriage had left his spirit pre-crushed.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Forty Six

No one in the Legion Of Protectors knew that Dr. Mystical liked to let his homunculus play under his robes.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Forty Five

The massage feature for the recliner is a little more expensive, the happy ending feature for the massage is a LOT more expensive.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Forty Four

In the Catholic version of chess the Bishops move priests around the board until they get cornered.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Forty Three

She explained that her investigations would take her from one seedy bar to the next, but in reality she had a drinking problem.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Forty Two

As far as Amoeba Man was concerned a costumed crime-fighter had to right to complain that his faithful butler was a transvestite.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Forty One

Amazing Ed squared off against the Die-Cleaner in a busy laundromat, this was a fight to the finish- they were starch -enemies.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Forty

"I've encountered Dracula and the Frankenstein monster," Magwier said, "but all the do is bitch about being in the public domain."

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Thirty Nine

After a few hours they gave up on the food ever arriving, but that's what happens when you order from Godot's Pizzeria.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Thirty Eight

Once the natives killed their prisoners with molten gold, but hard times left them lowering Abner Deggent really hot porridge.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Thirty Seven

In a dark and cruel future THE WORLD'S GREATEST GRANDPA trophy can only be won via combat to the death.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Thirty Six

"Trick the vampires into fighting the zombies?" Lorelei said, "That's so creepy it just might work!"

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Thirty Five

The warriors of the tribe beat Abner Deggent with fistfuls of mangoes, it gave a new meaning to the term 'fruit punch'.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Two Hundred and Thirty Four

The collapse of civilization wasn't caused by the remake 'Casablanca' starring the cast of 'the Jersey Shore' but it didn't help.

The Fries And The Fury part seven

Price Breaks and Heartaches

a journal of retail and failed romance

Chapter Two

The Fries And The Fury

part seven




Work, friends and mix tapes conspired to make January a pleasant blur but once February hit everything slowed back down to a crawl. Maybe it was the constant cold, snow and rain, maybe it was the fact that the staff of Empire Burger seemed to spend the entire month passing the same cold back and fourth, or maybe it was Valentine’s Day. Lord but I hated Valentine’s Day back then, but this Valentine’s Day was the worst of the lot because the district manager was there.


We rarely saw Mr. Cushing; only two things brought him to our location; Secret Shoppers and his mistresses. Secret Shopper days were easy enough to deal with. You see the Empire Burger home office paid ‘Secret Shoppers’ to stop by, order food and then grade the location on service and food prep quality. If the franchise failed too many of these clandestine inspections they could be fined or have control of the franchise taken away.


Not a perfect system I admit but a workable one, except for the fact that thanks to a complex web of bribes and intimidation Mr. Cushing always knew the when, where and who of the Secret Shopper’s visit.


Some secret eh?


A Secret Shopper was always signaled by Mr. Cushing blowing in and sending the management into a panic. No matter how smoothly the day might have been going everything soon erupted into confusion. The staff always got the Secret Shopper’s order right but the regular customers were at mercy of the dark gods of food poisoning.


Those visits however were brief, blitzkrieg-like invasions that ended as soon as Mr. Cushing gave the all clear. Much worse were the days his mistresses came to visit. To this day I am still not sure why Mr. Cushing chose to meet his never ending stream of hopeful strippers and morally compromised college girls at our location. Were I to have a mistress I would choose to meet her at a bar or some seedy hotel; then again if I had a mistress my wife would most certainly find out and castrate me with a dull butterknife.



*




“But he’s been here for hours.” I said.


“I know.” Ms. Colley said, “I know.”


“And he insists on working the drive through window.”


“I know.”


“He’s making fun of the customers and I think he’s drunk.”


Her voice became a growl, “Al I know. He’s meeting one of his girlfriends here.”


I shook my head, “This doesn’t make a damn lick of sense to me, besides he’s married.”


“Can you please just go work the broiler?”


I did as I was told loading burgers and trying to make small talk with my coworkers, “The new guy on the registers is working out pretty good. I mean for an old guy he’s always smiling.”


“Dude.” Rick said, “His face is stuck that way. He’s had some kind of a stroke and can’t pay his medical bills.”


“Oh.”


Rick looked up from his fries, “I’ve had about enough of this place, they’ve got me working too many hours and it’s ruining my school work.”


“Then just tell them to put you on part time.”


“They won’t. They say they will but they keep calling me in on my days off.” Rick explained, “If I don’t come in when Mr. Prowse asks me then he’ll cut my hours too much and I won’t be able to afford school supplies.”


“That stinks.” I said wondering when I should start getting serious about college myself. All I really knew was that I wanted my writing. Sure I knew I should have something to fall back on but I wasn’t sure what I could do or what I wanted to do. I had tried my hand at stand up comedy but that really didn’t seem like a reliable back up career and besides audiences tended to throw chairs when I was on stage.


“Hey Al!” Rick said startling me from my thoughts of higher learning and flying furniture. The green screen had lit up for an order of seventy five fish sandwiches for the drive through. Fish sandwiches were rarely ordered and went bad very quickly so we only made one when it was ordered. They were the freshest food we made. “That’s impossible. It must be a mistake. Even Aquaman wouldn’t order that much fish.”


“I’m not sure Aquaman would order a fish sandwich.” I commented, “It might be someone he knows.”


Then the green screen lit up again, this time it was for an order for seventy five small fires. “Ok. Something’s gotta be wrong here.” Rick said, “I’m going up front. Get some fish patties ready just in case.”


“All seventy five?”


“No!”


And with that Rick headed up front to the drive through window station. There was some shouting but I couldn’t hear precisely what was being said over the sound of frozen fish patties submerging into hot shortening. When the shouts ended I saw Rick storming out of the building, he paused at the entranceway to give the finger to everyone who could see him and then he was gone. I don’t even know if he ever came in for that last paycheck.


As he left Rick almost collided with Ranya. Ranya was here on her day off and all dolled up with her leather miniskirt and pentagram broach. I wondered if she was going to put in her two weeks notice or something like that. Mr. Cushing was wobbly on his feet but he practically ran out from the drive through station to meet her. I shook my head as they left and wondered which of the two would survive the evening with their dignity intact.






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