Thursday, May 27, 2010

THE SCRAPYARD DIARIES: Burma Shave


THE SCRAPYARD DIARIES
Burma Shave

by

Al Bruno III


The desert heat pressed down on us, making every footstep a misery. We kept glancing up in the hope of seeing a town or a gas station beginning to resolve itself in the distance but all we saw was the asphalt of the interstate cutting a straight line to the wavering horizon. I was glad to have someone to walk with on this Hellish trip but I rarely spoke, the man I walked with was the regional sales manager for a software company named Spaulding and he talked enough for the both of us.

All I know is someone's getting sued. I don't give a crap if the car is a rental, this is lost wages and time,” he said, “did you see those potholes? It's a wonder they don't have a wreck every week and twice on Sundays!”

Both our cars had been damaged by potholes so wide they had almost cut across the road yet neither I or Spaulding had seen them until it was too late. We had been heading in opposite directions but ended up having to pull over to our respective sides of the road within a few yards of each other.

And this is an interstate! With all the money we pay on taxes they should be taking better care of these roads, they're the arteries of the nation. Shipping and commerce, you know what I mean?”

I nodded in agreement. Spaulding had tried to call a towing service and the police but his cellphone couldn't find a signal; I, on the other hand, had no cell phone, no credit cards and even my car wasn't properly registered. Every since I quit my job I had been living a ghost like existence.

How long do you think we have been walking for?” Spaulding said, “Must have been hours and not a single car has come by. There's a new off-ramp near Eden's Corners, I bet it's funneling off all the traffic. Not that it's any kind of excuse for this kind of shoddy up keep. I mean look at all those potholes! It never ends.”

While none of the dents in the asphalt passing us now were as deep as the one that damaged our cars, there was a jagged quality to them I found singularly unpleasant. Each hole in the blacktop gaped like the mouth of a lamprey. I made sure to walk on the uneven, litter-strewn side of the road.

Spaulding pointed ahead, “I know the town up ahead, not much of a town really. The only business making any money is a scrapyard. They've got a store that used to be a Woolworth's but it's owned by some old fart, he runs it by himself and you can tell. His daughter runs the lunch counter and she's not a bad cook. Just stay away from the pork chops.”

Wherever this town was there was still no sign of it, and the sun was beginning its downward descent. I did not want to have to walk this stretch of desert at night, there was too much emptiness here. The desolation left my stomach churning. I couldn't wait to reach the town my companion was talking about but I suspected it would be some time before I could leave. There was no way I could pay for the kind of repairs my car would need.

There are no kids, it's like some kind of a retirement community. Everyone's my age or older, heck even the town whore is pushing fifty,” he gave me a mischievous nudge, “but she knows what she's doing so who cares?”

Another ninety minutes of walking and pointless conversation and it was dusk. I had heard about how cold it could get in the desert at night and I didn’t want to think of how dark it would get. I wondered quietly if we would see the lights from the town soon and I worried that this was all some waking nightmare I could never escape.

My bladder groaned, I excused myself and headed for a nearby roadsign. Spaulding called after me, “Don’t shake it more than twice buddy!”

As I relived myself I thought again of the circumstances that had brought me here, not just the potholes or the dwindling funds, I considered everything. There were times when I worried about my sanity. It wasn’t so long ago that I had entertained such lofty aspirations but now all I hoped for was to sleep through an entire night and awaken feeling safe.

The sun had almost set and the sky had turned a murky shade of purple. I could barely read the print on the weathered old sign- ‘BURMA SHAVE’. I chuckled at the thought this was more of a relic than an advertisement. A sound reached my ears. At first I took it to be the sound of wind moving through trees but there were no trees, only solitary cactus and half-dead bushes. Then I thought it might be the sound of an evening tide but in a desert that was an even more ridiculous idea. Finally I decided that it must be an approaching vehicle and I quickly finished and ran to the roadside.

I found myself alone, there was no sign of my companion anywhere. I called his name but there was no answer. A faint slithering sound caused me to turn around just in time to see something pale disappear into the blacktop.

The gloomy dusk left me uncertain of what I had seen but sometimes I’m certain what I had seen was a human hand slipping away as though it was being swallowed by oily liquid.

Spaulding had called these roads the arteries of a nation but what might happen if those arteries became starved for blood?

As the last light of the day faded into darkness I began to run, keeping my every footfall far onto the soft shoulder.

(Recommended Reads) "Rufus Bent" by Marisa Birns


Leaves sprouted from his fingers and his feet had taken root to the ground when he woke up in his recliner. However, Rufus Bent was not alarmed. Though his family argued that he was too old and feeble to live alone anymore, he always knew he would stay on the land that once belonged to his granddaddy...


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The Trailer for GOTHIC & LOLITA PSYCHO the CITIZEN KANE of gothic and Lolita psycho films

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Eighty

Throughout the 1950's Abner Deggent protected America's interests from Communist spies, mad scientists and cannibal beatniks.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy Nine

Captain Hero underestimated the abilities of evil chef Julia Infant and she beat the stuffing out of him. “Good gravy!” he gasped.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy Eight

At long last Magwier had possession of the legendary and mystical Maker of Moons- he was surprised to find it had a hand crank.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy Seven

The Mathmagician user her powers to divide up the most of the villains but someone else would have to deal with the remainder.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy Six

He said zombies were a metaphor for the plight of the underclass, that didn't save him from the undead feasting on his testicles.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy Five

She had studied Ancient Egyptian erotica for years and it was always about the mummy shot.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy Four

Commander Infinity was the most powerful superhero on Earth but he had one weakness- asphalt.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy Three

By now Lorelei was so jaded that when the monster appeared her first thought was that now her term paper was going to be late.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy Two

Abner Deggent bragged he could deal with those pornographers with one arm tied behind his back.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy One

Outraged mimes took to the streets of River City; it literally was a quiet riot.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy

He stole coffee and sugar successfully but they caught him creaming in his jeans.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Sixty Nine

She had been in a twenty-year relationship but then tragically LAW & ORDER was canceled.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Sixty Eight

She wanted fame but they rejected her novel, her demo tapes and her every audition; when they rejected her sex tape she gave up.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Sixty Seven

It was a great poker game but he'd consumed far too much coffee. The question was should he stay or should he go?

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Sixty Six

No one in the mansion suspected that every night Catherwood the butler was secretly farting into their hats.

Monday, May 24, 2010

In The Shadow Of His Nemesis chapter sixty five

In The Shadow Of His Nemesis


Chapter Sixty Five


BY AL BRUNO III




Friday, December 3rd 1996




“Johnny?” Angie’s voice was ragged, “Hey Johnny...”


“I’m here.”


The room was still dark but Sig had done his best to clean the sick from Angie’s body and the mattress. The broken furniture and the holes in the walls had taken care of themselves while he made his farewells to Isobel and the others. The room looked as though nothing had ever happened. Sig had brought a pitcher of water and some crackers in case Angie needed them but he only had to look at her to know she wouldn’t be able to hold anything down.


“There was someone in the room Johnny,” she said.


“That was Isobel. She’s going to get us medicine.” Sig ran his cool hand along her feverish skin.


“No not her, I heard her but I was too tired to talk. There was someone here when you were gone,” she said, “like a ghost but not like Magwier.”


“I don’t understand.”


Could she have glimpsed the thralls of house? If she had...


No! Sig refused to consider such a thing. Not when he’d sacrificed so much to save her from a living damnation. He had thought Laurel House would be just a stop on their journey, a place to recover from their disastrous visit to Hampton Beach but they had gotten comfortable. Well, she had gotten comfortable and that was enough for him.


Sig could never be at ease in a place like this, he wasn't meant to live like a tick on the back of a great and terrible beast.


“I feel so sick,” Angie said, “like there's knives in me...”


“Don't worry,” he said, “get some rest and everything will be all right soon.”


How long would it take them to get back? Isobel was only human and she would slow the others down but Sig knew she was the only one he could rely on. She was a pure spirit, a human spirit. That wasn't always enough in this world but what other choice did he have? Everyone else here was either too selfish, too insane or too damned to be relied on. Roxanne carried treachery in her blood, Bodivar had left his sanity in the ruins or Woldercan, Magwier was never to be trusted and Zeth was his lapdog. Jack and Hao were good enough company but they had both been responsible for dozens of deaths; how else could they have come to serve Laurel House. And as for Galen? Sig bore him no grudge but how could one turncoat trust another?


Sig didn’t even dare pray to blessed Phalen, not when he’d mortgaged his soul twice and again over the years.


Poor Isobel! She didn't know how alone she truly was in all this; even her own brother carried the mark of something terrible within him, of something waiting to be born.


“Something's wrong Johnny...can't you feel it?”


“I'm not going to let anything happen to you,” he said but the words left him feeling like a liar.


Angie said, “Something's wrong...” before dropping off to sleep again.



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5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Sixty Five

Lady Cruella preferred to use soap on a rope so she could have self-cleaning submissives.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Sixty Four

Judy liked going down on her boyfriend but she refused to swallow, she didn't think vegans were technically allowed to.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Sixty Three

From then on he always prefaced "I could eat a horse." with "I'm so hungry" and he was never accused of bestiality again.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Sixty Two

The Local Heroes crossed paths with The Brotherhood of Evil Janitors and things got really messy.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Sixty One

Using the dark arts they summoned a pan-dimensional being from outside time; but even it couldn't explain the LOST season finale.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Sixty

People had been saying things were worse than Hitler for so long that when Hitler did come back no one knew what to say.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Fifty Nine

Abner Deggent wasn't the sort of man to hit a woman- not when a choke hold was so much more effective.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Three Hundred and Fifty Eight

The strange barbarians spent so much time working out and oiling their bodies that they rarely had time to rape or pillage.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

(Recommended Reads) "Through the Darkness and the Screams" by Katherine Nabity

Mama was putting clothes on the line when they came to tell us that Pa had killed himself. I remember the wind whipping past, snapping Lily's bloomers and petticoats and my union suits. The windmill was going like tomorrow would never come...

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(Recommended Reads) "In Which An Old Friend Turns 30: Waka Waka Waka" by Kate Sherrod

Can it be thirty years since we first learned
A hungry man can live on yellow dots?
How many million quarters have been burned
To hear the waka waka? Must be lots!
I ever was a duffer at this game;
One only was there in my little town
And that where I dared not go, to my shame --
The high school kids were scary, hangin' down
At the convenience store, when it was new.
Now where the arcade games were, you will find
A low-rent humidor of cigarettes.
I wasn't totally deprived, though, mind:
I too wasted much time with no regrets.
I had to go to Rawlins, that was all
And play at Roller City. 'Twas a ball.

click here to visit THE SUPPERTIME SONNETS

(Recommended Reads) "The Security Guard" by Eric J. Krause

Why did this shit always happen after midnight? Garcia never had to deal with this crap. Todd reached for the distress button, but paused. Maybe it was just a drifter looking for a warm, dry place to bed down during the thunderstorm. Since the craze of super villains in trashy trench coats started, it was hard to tell them apart from the bums...

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(Recommended Article) "PHANTASM III" reviewed by THE LIGHTNING BUG'S LAIR

Making a sequel is one thing, but creating a film series is something entirely different. Most films stumble with their sophomore effort, and by the time it gets around to the third installment both the audience's interest and the creative imperative have waned. Sure there are a few exceptions, Nightmare on Elm Street 3 springs to mind, but I could list dozens of films that never needed a third movie. Take for example The Howling III: The Marsupials or Superman III, did anyone really need those films to be made?

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(Recommended Reads)" Mid-life Reality" by David Masters

Jason's dream of being famous didn't shatter in an instant...

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(Recommended Reads) "imagination'' by ecelliam

your nearness gives pleasure to the senses..it makes a plateau ..a golden hue.
embracing me and you...a stable condition on my feelings...
a range of emotional excitation..interjecting a beautiful view.

like when the sun is about to set..
.....my body stops.. I cease to exist..
like the sun ceases..at that moment projecting beautiful rays.

feelings inter my existence.as when you inter my embrace..
enclosing a love..

a grace of...something far above..
.. leaving just a trace .. .

as a delicate..and lovely melody.. dances inside my mind..
entangles tunnels..vissions..glorious..views..
as if I was intertwined in the flash of those you left behind..
when I think of you...as if your touch is real..in my imagination is what I feel.

when you leave..is like when the melody ends..the sonatas...the voices of the arias....gone from the voices that were there.

tears so vast..so great that interrupts the rain..
like the grains of send..in a river-bed...moving like the blood in my veins..
disturbing your en brace.

tears that disturb the beauty that was there..
just before I feel your touch....once more it's just my imagination .. .

it is therapy..it's the sadness part of my voice..
my imagination..becomes excitation once agar....once again..

stabilizing a culture in my heart..stabilizing the purity..

the purity of love.....
That has been left......afar-

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(Recommended Reads) "Mistaken Identity" by Johanna Harness

It was the year our community leaders made a Big Deal of reading The Maltese Falcon for The Big Read. They liked doing things together: reading books, presenting scholarships, honoring cops, going to church. They gave me a scholarship that year, despite the fact that I did not go to their church. My friends told me it was a matter of time before they took it back. I couldn't decide if it was a lucky break or if it was a case of mistaken identity, but I didn't question it. I was a senior in high school and I had to think of my future...

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The Fries And The Fury part eleven

Price Breaks and Heartaches

a journal of retail and failed romance

Chapter Two

The Fries And The Fury

Part Eleven






How did I end up in this situation?


Every man asks himself that-usually right after his honeymoon, after the first time he has to change a diaper or after that first day of basic training.


I think the question applies to the situation we are exploring here as well.


I was working the lunch rush at Empire Burger, despite all my complaints and concerns I had found myself adrift in a warm current of mediocrity and I wasn’t struggling all that hard against it.


Then Lilly showed up in line, her lips pursed to place a meal order and remind me that when it came to her I was always left holding the pickle. She was my first love, my high school sweetheart, the girl that could send my wangdoodle to Def-Con 1 status with a bat of her eyes.


But why this girl? Why was she the one when I went to school with lots of girls that were cute in one way or another?


The more cruel of my readers (you know who you are) might say it was because she was one of the rare girls that spoke to me in those days.


Maybe.


The more astute of my readers (there must be one of you out there somewhere) might observe that while she was a pretty girl with a sweet personality, she was in her own way, a bit of a nerd as well.


Perhaps.


However there is something more to it than that. I didn’t set out looking to fall for her, I wasn’t really trying to fall for anyone. Junior High had taught me that the teen romance of John Hughes’ films was not for guys that wept like babies at the end of STAR TREK II.


I had met Lilly at the start of my second year in ninth grade.


And yes I failed ninth grade. In the New York public school system yet. The mind still boggles decades later.


So there I was having to take ninth grade all over again; it was like purgatory with standardized testing. In that sad strange year I made many of the friends that stayed with me all during and long after high school. Lilly was one of them, and while I noted she was darn cute and I like her a lot but I never even considered making a move. As far as I was concerned a guy like me didn’t dare.


Until that day in early October that I was in the office waiting for a bus pass and I saw this kid I barely knew. He was a small, skinny, geeky sonovabitch yet he didn’t travel in my social circle. Even now I couldn’t tell you his name or much about him without an old yearbook in front of me.


But that day he asked me if I was Al Bruno III. I admitted I was and braced myself for verbal or physical abuse.


Instead he said, “Do you know Lilly has a crush on you?”


I’m not sure how the conversation ended, all I know is that some small, skinny, geeky sonovabitch had just allowed a sliver of hope into my hopeless existence.


What happened then? What happened then was that the next few years of my life became a sad, embarrassing, wonderful and humiliating soap opera. The kind of soap opera only a teenager could have.


There’s more to it than that, if not for my chasing Lilly I would never have met the woman I married. If not for my chasing Lilly she would never have met the man she married. If not for my chasing Lilly you wouldn’t be wasting your time reading this story!


Almost twenty years later, via the miracle of social networking, I would ask Lilly about that small, skinny, geeky sonovabitch and why she told him she had a crush on me.


Here’s the kicker dear readers. She barely knew him, she knew him less than I did and she had certainly never had a reason to confess to him that she wanted me to bury my acne-laden face in her still-developing bosom.


So here I am, a forty year old man looking back on his teenage years and realizing that his entire life story hinges on the actions of a kid he never spoke to again.


Looking back, I’m grateful for all of it, every moment of it.


But at the time of my taking Lilly’s order at Empire Burger I wanted to punch that small, skinny, geeky sonovabitch in the face and piss in his milkshake.



*




At first I didn’t recognize her; she had let her hair grow out and was wearing sunglasses. It was Lilly and she was on the arm of someone new. He was a familiar face as well, Jessie Leggatt; he had been a freshman in high school when I was a senior. We knew each other but really only enough to say hello in passing. He had a lot of the same hobbies and interests that I did, we even looked a little but like brothers. They only real differences between us was out age.


And that he had a working car.


And washboard abs.


And he had her.


The happy couple recognized me and came straight up to my register. I wanted to crawl right into my change drawer in my die. Still though, I tried to keep things professional. “Lilly!” I said, “How are you? You look great! And hey there Jessie. You’re looking… ripped.”


Jessie gave me a causal salute that somehow set his biceps rippling, “Al. I thought you’d be making your living as a writer by now.”


I squirmed, “I’m kind of between projects now. So who have you two been- I mean what have you two been doing togeth- No I mean… Oh never mind. Can I take your order?”


Lilly gave me a giggle, “Look at you, you're blushing.”


“It’s a rash. I’m allergic to French fries.”


“Oh.” She said, “I’m sorry to hear that.”


Jessie gave me an appraising once over, “You know if you did more crunches it would make your immune system stronger. I haven’t been sick since that time I got into those bad protein shakes.”


“Wow.” I said, “That is interesting. Can I take your order please?”


I was the only cashier currently on duty not suffering from some form dementia and there was a line starting to form. I felt like any moment I was going to burst into tears or leap over the register and tear out Jessie’s throat with the shattered remains of a ‘Blue Velvet’ collector’s glass- part of a six glass series.


“Come on Al,” she said. “Don’t hold out. What have you been doing with yourself since graduation?”


I swallowed hard and reminded myself not to mention that Christy Canyon video, “Oh this and that. Trying not to make a fool of myself of course take a look at this uniform and decide for yourself how that’s going.”


“You still crack me up,” Lilly gave Jessie’s arm a squeeze. “What did I tell you about him Jess? He always tries too hard at everthing.”


Jessie nodded, “It’s like if you use too much weight you’ll lose definition but gain mass.”


“I never saw it that way,” I nodded back. “Now for the love of God please order something.”


“What do you recommend?” she asked.


“The shakes are terrific.”



*




I kept busy for the rest of my shift, I never saw them leave but I know in my heart they were arm in arm and sharing a laugh. When it was time for my fifteen minute break I excused myself to the freezer and took out my rage by punching the boxes of frozen patties. It was kind of like that scene from ‘Rocky’ except Rocky didn’t get winded nearly as quickly as I did and he didn’t end up trapped under a pile of collapsed cardboard and hamburger.





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