Saturday, February 19, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Neil Lansing, 33, was charged with drug possession and smuggling contraband in jail for having 30 items tucked up his anus, the Sarasota Herald Tribune reported.
Using a rectum as a smuggling compartment is nothing new in Florida, but this has to set some kind of world record or at least a state jail system mark.
On top of 17 blue pills and a cigarette, Lansing was able to fit six matches, a flint, a syringe, some lip balm, an unused condom and a receipt from CVS....
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
IN THIS TWILIGHT
By AL BRUNO III
“And then what?”
Lake Wales High School was shaped like an E; the top and bottom ends of the E were the auditorium and the gymnasium, the middle was the cafeteria.
“And then I ran.” Thelma explained. An entire weekend had passed since her bizarre encounter with Chad Lunt and those 48 hours had helped diminish the worst of the memories. Those faces she had seen, they must have been a trick of the light and as for those girls…
“You ran?” Samantha Reid said. She was a heavy girl, with frosted blonde hair and an easy smile, “Just when it was getting good.”
A short boy with dark eyes and a too-long hair nodded, “I bike by that house every day while I’m doing my paper route.”
“Maybe you should see if they want a subscription Peanut.” Samantha said.
“Maybe I’m afraid to,” Peanut’s real name was Steve Cross but he had always been shorter than the other kids, and since the seventh grade everyone from teachers to students had taken to calling him Peanut “although the tips might be memorable.”
The three of them had been sitting together at lunch since last spring, after catty remarks and conspiratorial whispers of the more popular girls had driven Thelma away from the more upwardly mobile tables.
“Look,” Thelma said, “I don’t know who those guys were, or what was going on there but you can count me out.”
“They were probably all college kids getting high.” Samantha mused, “College boys always have the best weed.”
“Oh really?” Thelma said. When Samantha said something like that Thelma could never be sure if she was bragging or being truthful. All Thelma really did know that since September Samantha had runaway from home twice and had one pregnancy scare.
“Really,” Samantha said, “and if you ask me you just read too much into the whole thing. If this Chad dude is sitting on a nice fat lawsuit check, he sure as hell is going to have a bunch of girls at his beck and call. The two biggest aphrodisiacs in the world are washboard abs and a personal fortune.”
Peanut sighed sadly, “I am so screwed when I get to college.”
“Poor Peanut.” Thelma said, “I should have taken you to the dance.”
“Oh sure, and I’ll just pencil in regular beatings from Winston from now until the end of time.”
Samantha waved her hand, “Oh he’s too busy with his new girl. Any regrets there Thelma? I mean that was a pretty good set of abs you left behind there.”
“She can keep those abs,” Thelma said, “I’ve got better things to do with my time.”
There were three businesses and an abandoned gas station bordering the road that led to Eagle Ridge Mall. An oil change place, a game store and a fast food restaurant called Burger Clown. Clad in her polyester uniform, Thelma walked the circumference of the Burger Clown parking lot, a dustpan in one hand, a ratty broom in the other. Cars sped by, filling the air with exhaust.
The routine of school and home was broken up on Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons by flipping burgers. It wasn’t the best job in the world but it got her out of the house and earned her a little spending cash. On the days when the manager was there the job was pretty bearable, mostly because he spent the majority of the shift locked in his office drinking. Unfortunately this Wednesday night wasn’t one of those shifts; the assistant manager, Blanche Costello, was in charge and she was a bear.
If someone had told her about Blanche, Thelma would have rolled her eyes at the obvious exaggerations but truth was unfortunately more irritating than fiction. Blanche was skinny, with over permed hair, over tanned skin and a prodigious nose. She reminded Thelma of nothing more than a cartoon buzzard. Thelma also learned quickly that the only thing Blanche hated more than her life was the teenagers she had been put in charge of. When Blanche held court the employees were not allowed to talk to each other while on the clock, breaks were skipped whenever possible and lunches were grudgingly granted late in the shift.
Sixth months of working at Burger Clown had taught Thelma not to cross the woman, but there was a history quiz on Thursday morning and she really wanted that fifteen minute break for studying. Fifteen minutes in a four hour shift, was that so much to ask?
Apparently it had been. The request had sent Blanche screeching and the next thing Thelma knew she was outside searching the parking lot for trash and dog poop.
Well it could be worse. Thelma tried to tell herself as she walked around the parking lot. On Saturday she made two of the college guys climb up onto the dumpster to jump up and down on the garbage so it wouldn’t have to be emptied for a few more days.
Thelma gagged a little at the memory of the smell those boys brought back with them. At least this punishment duty got her out of the building and away from Blanche for a while.
I’ll just get to school early and study in homeroom. Thelma decided as she walked along the rear of the parking lot, picking up wadded paper cups and napkins. The oil change place had just closed up and the game store seemed to be open for business on a purely random basis. Their darkened edifices left her laboring in the sunset. Thelma bent to work at a particularly hardened piece of gum and then just gave up and sat down on the curb. She stared sullenly across the parking lot to the abandoned gas station.
I should just quit. I bet Samantha could get me a job working with her at the Fashion Bug, or heck maybe Peanut could get me a paper route. Anything but this, anything…
A black pickup truck pulled into the parking lot of the empty service station. Thelma sat up, she had heard from one of her co-workers that hookers took their johns to the back of the building to turn tricks.
Turn tricks. Thelma mused at the turn of phrase. There were so many metaphors for that one thing, and it seemed that between high school and work she had heard just about all of them. Meanwhile my Mom and Dad still haven’t had ‘The Talk’ with me yet.
The truck’s engine idled, the headlights shifted from low to high beams. Thelma waited wondering what she would see, wondering what she wanted to see.
She certainly didn’t expect the see Chad get out of the truck. The very sight of him sent competing shudders of fear and excitement along her spine. Chad walked around to the passenger side and pulled out a bulky shape wrapped in a dark dropcloth. He hefted it and brought it over to the gas station’s front entrance, the front door of the building swung open with a nudge of his hip.
He half-dragged half carried the shape into the building, the door swung to a close behind him. Thelma held her breath, expecting him to come right back out again but he stayed in there.
What’s he doing? She wondered, What’s he getting rid of?
A body? Naturally that was her first thought but why hide a body in such a public place? There were a dozen safer places to do something like that, forests were few and far between in Lake Wales but the ones they had were lush. Thelma thought again of the girl on the mattress and the men kneeling over her. The more she thought of their faces the more she was certain it all had to have been a trick of the light. You didn’t see faces like that anymore- there were surgeries and cures.
Lights flashed in the abandoned gas station, brief eruptions of emerald-tinged illumination that filled the buildings dark windows and faded away. It was as though Chad were striking a flint, or playing with firecrackers. Thelma wondered if she could get closer without being discovered. She stood, leaving the dustpan behind but keeping the broom in case she needed a weapon.
Thelma made it halfway across the parking lot before Blanche Costello caught sight of her and started yelling for her to get back inside and start manning the fry station.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Newlyweds spend the weekend in bed making babies. Older couples spend the weekend in bed because their kids gave them the flu.
Upon becoming corporate trainer her first goal was to make sure no one ever got trained well enough to replace her.
18 Valentine's Days and in a row no less.
Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Paper Hearts And A Red Haired Tart
That first day of the soft opening ended with Patty being fired. The employee handbooks stated you couldn’t get fired until you had gotten several written warnings, that way there was a paper trail to cover the company’s behind. I can only assume that management figured Patty didn’t know that.
They moved Bud to run the front register but he was really unhappy about it, his career path with Paper Shredder had more been geared towards hanging around in the receiving area with Chuck.
I made good grades in every subject but algebra, man that was some painful stuff. I don’t know what was wrong but my mind, the same mind that can remember the scriptwriter for the Doctor Who episode ‘The Brain of Morbius’ was actually Terrance Dicks writing under the name Robin Bland couldn’t even resolve the simplest of equations.
Kevin and Alice were a couple now, occasionally they brought Sarah along and we all went to a movie or out to a meal. I always met them there, as there was no way I was going to let Kevin and Alice into my car again and there was sure as Hell no way I was going to sit in the backseat of Kevin’s car. I shudder just to think of it.
It was Marvin who told me that Corey had dropped out of college already. I was more than a little surprised, he always seemed to be the smartest of the bunch of us.
It was in the first week of October that I decided to stop by his house and see what was happening with him
Like most of my pier group Corey lived at home, it was just his father now because his mother had died years ago when there was some kind of natural gas leak in the house. Corey's home stood out from all the others because the lawn was un-mowed and the tall trees rose high over the house it self. The place was slowly falling into disrepair, the paint was peeling and the front porch was nothing more than a dumping ground for bric-a-brac and old newspapers. I parked my car in the dirt driveway of the house and knocked on the door.
After a short while Corey's Dad answered, he was a security guard at a local bank and from the look of him he had been sleeping in his uniform. “Oh hi Albert,” he said. “How have you been?”
“Keeping busy sir,” I said. “Is your son at home?”
He stepped back to let me in, “Oh sure sure. He's in the parlor, you should get him to go out. He's been moping around the house too much.”
I walked into the parlor and found more clutter. I remember coming over to watch wrestling on Saturdays and Corey's Mom serving us lunch. It didn't even look like the same room anymore but the old easy chair was still in one corner and Corey was in it.
At first thought he was asleep, then I realized he was just sitting there staring at nothing.
“Hey,” I said. “I miss you at school.”
He didn't move, “Hi Al. How are the guys?”
“I think Kevin's in love and Marvin's doing good, when he's not picking fights with the professors.”
Corey smirked, “That's Marvin.”
“So what happened?” I asked. “Why did you quit?”
“I just...” he shook his head side to side. “I got a lot of problems.”
“Just problems,” he sighed. “plus I knew what they were saying about me.”
Now that was news, “Saying about you? Who was saying things about you?”
“Everyone,” he said. “Just everyone. I don't want to get into it. It gives me a headache.”
None of what he was saying made much sense, for as long as I'd known Corey no one ever had a problem with him, “What are you going to do now?”
“I think I'm going to work full time for a while. Maybe go back to school. I dunno.”
“Do you want to go out for a bite to eat? We can talk some more.” I jingled my keys for emphasis.
“Sure,” he finally moved, standing up and stretching, his spine crackled. “Just let me get my hat.”
The restaurant was called ‘The Ground Round’ and it was somehow caught between being a steakhouse and a family restaurant. The food was OK and there was free popcorn but every few months the entire menu changed. Since I and my friends were regular patrons these sudden shifts in culinary focus left us feeling like we were trapped in a slow motion buffet.
Corey and I got a table near the bar, he spent a lot of time staring at his placemat and barely said a word until the waitress showed up.
“Hello,” she said, “I’m Faye and I’ll be your server today.”
I looked up from my menu, “Hi, I think-”
But she wasn’t done talking, “Are you ready to order?”
“Yes. Now I’ll start with-”
“Our soup of the day is French Onion and the chef’s special is swordfish steak.”
I paused thoughtfully and then said, “Well that sounds-”
“If you’re ordering alcohol I’ll need to see your ID.”
Corey sighed, “I’ll have bread.”
“The bread’s free,” Faye explained.
“And some water.”
“That’s it?” she was incredulous.
Corey still hadn’t looked up from the table, his fingers were spread out before him, “Yeah.”
“Fine,” our waitress said frostily, “I’ll be back with your bread and water. Then you can place your order if you’re ready.”
“But-” I started to raise my hand but she was already gone so I turned my attention back to my friend, “Is that all you’re going to get? Just bread and water?”
“Don’t you have any cash?” I asked, “I can spare a few bucks if you’re hungry.”
“I’m not hungry,” Corey explained, “I’ve got problems.”
I tried to figure out what kind of problems could have Corey down in the dumps. He was always the most normal of my friends, all the girls liked him and he was a natural car mechanic. At times he was a little awkward and self-conscious but that wasn’t such a bad thing in my opinion.
When the waitress came back I worked my way through her veil of hatred and placed my order for Fettuini Alfredo. All Corey wanted was some butter for his bread and a bendy straw for his water.
“What is up with you?” I said, “You can talk to me.”
“It’s nothing...” he said, “you wouldn’t understand.”
This was getting me nowhere so I decided to change the subject, “So get this, I just found out from Kevin that he went behind my back and dated Lizzie. You remember Lizzie from high school? From Art Club? I dated her for a little while.”
“Yeah.” Corey nodded.
“Of course after she broke up with me I dated her friend Agnes,” I grinned fiendishly.
“Of course then she broke up with me after I took her to the Junior Prom,” I frowned.
Corey buttered his bread slowly, “I went out with Agnes for a while.”
“It was a double date with Lizzie and Kevin.”
“She said I was cute.”
“But...” I felt dizzy, I was glad I was sitting down, “...I went out with her.”
“Yeah, but you weren’t going out with her then.”
“That’s not the point. Friends aren’t supposed to date other friends exes. It’s a rule,” I said, “I mean it must be a rule somewhere...”
Corey chewed his bread thoughtfully, “What do you care? She wasn’t your great love Lilly.”
“That’s not the issue here.” I knew my love life was a disaster, I could accept that, I couldn’t accept the idea of my friends picking through the ruins for traumatized survivors.
“She said you never even put the moves on her,” Corey explained, “you hardly felt her up or anything.”
It always amazes me how quickly my anger can turn into embarrassment, “I was being a gentleman.”
“She was not looking for a gentleman,” Corey finally smiled, “if you get what I mean.”
The waitress brought my order, except that it wasn’t anything remotely close to what I had ordered. I didn’t complain, I was too busy trying to wrap my head around the idea of Agnes wrapped around Corey. I said, “You guys... you guys... did it?”
“No,” he laughed, “it wasn’t like that.”
I felt oddly relieved, “OK then.”
“She just gave me a hand job.”
And suddenly I was glad I hadn’t gotten my Fettucini Alfredo.