Saturday, January 27, 2024



Al Bruno III


By the time anyone sees this, it will be too late, and I will be at peace.

I am not the first person to find themselves tired of life, and I won't be the first person to put an end to it all. Some people commit suicide via handfuls of pills or with warm baths and cut wrists. That isn't for me. That's too gentle, too clean. It doesn't show enough contempt for what this world makes of you. I'm going to cut my own throat, left to right, ear to ear, and I'm doing it in the morning. I would have liked for there to have been a sunrise for my final moments, but the forecasts are cloudy with a chance of rain.

One more disappointment.

The blade is in my hand, a well-used boning knife with a serrated edge. I've been preparing for almost half a year, studying medical journals and tracing the path the knife must take. This isn't the kind of thing you can practice easily, but I think I've developed a foolproof technique. One clean cut will sever both my carotid arteries- just so long as I don't lose my nerve or fumble the job. The last thing I want to do is survive and have to explain what I have done.

I've decided to do it in my home while wearing my best suit. I will be standing in front of the window with my favorite album playing, Abbey Road, and I will make the cut in the pause between 'The End' and 'Her Majesty.'

A gravesite has already been purchased, and a closed casket and a quiet burial have been requested. My will specifies that my estate will be liquidated and dispersed to whatever charities might be interested.

Don't think I've chosen this path because of some kind of mental illness; this may be the sanest decision I have ever made. Life has its joys, but I think that if you really keep track, the tragedies always outweigh the triumphs. We all try so hard, but in the end, what is it worth? Everything dies, everything rots away; the evening news gets bleaker, and the nights grow longer. The old sayings like "Better to have loved and lost" or "If you first you don't succeed try, try again." are cruel platitudes created by one generation to pass their misery on to the next. 

Some philosopher said it was better to have never been born and I can't say I disagree with him. Better never to have been born at all but in absence of that better to die.

I'm sure you're shaking your head at this, wishing you could have told me how wrong I was. You probably think life is sweet, and you might wonder why I didn't reach out to my friends and family. To someone that might profess to care about me.

But that would be impossible because they're all dead already. 

I had to practice my foolproof technique somehow.


Thursday, January 25, 2024


Al Bruno III

The old saying is, "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves," but in the end, I only needed one. I have no regrets for my years spent planning and executing my vengeance upon Creighton Tillingshaft Jr.

It should never have come to this, and I like to think that if he had just paid for his crimes, I would have tried to move on, but that man did not take responsibility. There was no denying that my thirteen-year-old son was dragged beneath Creighton Tillingshaft Jr's car for 180 yards; there was no denying that Creighton Tillingshaft Jr had fled the scene of the accident, leaving my boy to die by the side of the road like an animal. The authorities thought he was driving under the influence, but by the time they caught up to him, there was no way to prove it.

The trial was a sham; the Tillingshaft fortune saw to it that his team of doctors and psychiatrists spoke of 'dissociative episodes' and addictions. His lawyers questioned my parenting, scolding me for allowing my boy to be out delivering papers at five in the morning. In the end, all my son's killer received was a hefty fine, community service, and twelve years probation.

Was that all my boy was worth to them?

It is a painful thing to outlive your offspring; my wife had died in childbirth, and the thought that my son would not attend my grave as I attended his mother's left me not entirely sane. I bought a gun and tried to decide if I wanted him dead or if I wanted to die myself. Eventually my perspective changed, I became colder. I let my love for my son twist into a dream of vengeance. I vowed to never rest until I saw my boy's killer on his knees.

Years were spent watching and planning; I came to know his life better than I had known my own. Finally, shortly after his fortieth birthday, I began to move against Creighton Tillingshaft Jr. At first all I did was let him know he was being watched by using the skills I'd spent years honing. His family heard footsteps echo through the house at night. They would investigate to find a door or window open. They started finding newspapers delivered to their front step, though they never subscribed, and their mansion was behind walls and a gate. Those papers were not new; they were from the year my son died. He began to panic; he hired security guards that never found anything amiss and bought guard dogs that disappeared to be found dead weeks later.

Once the Tillingshafts were good and rattled, I backed off; I waited a year; I could afford to. Then they found Creighton Tillingshaft Sr. dead; everyone said it was a simple heart attack, but I was responsible. The old man wasn't even a week in the ground when I struck again. Seventeen-year-old Creighton Tillingshaft III took a tumble down one of the crowded stairways of his college. His injuries left him a paraplegic; months later, an opportunistic infection took care of the rest. That blow made my son's killer turn his back on the sobriety he had embraced twenty-five years ago. That drove his wife away, leaving him alone in that big mansion with just his servants, but I soon took care of them. For all their professed loyalty to the Tillingshaft family, a few well-planned accidents and some threats from the shadows were all it took to send them running.

After that, I waited again, knowing that eventually, despite his near-constant drunken stupor, my son's killer would realize what I had done. It was a cold February morning when he came to me. He screamed and cursed until he collapsed into a sobbing heap.

Does Hell await me as punishment for what I've done? I don't know, and I don't care.

It was worth it to have the once great Creighton Tillingshaft Jr fall to his knees on my long untended grave.

Monday, January 22, 2024





The woman lay on a hospital bed that was too large for her room, groaning and shifting in pain as her final moments approached. She glared desperately at the young man emptying her bedpan. Her grip was strong, and he nearly dropped it.

"Please..." she had said, her voice shrill yet weak, "Please be sure they bury me in my blue church dress... and my own clean underwear. Sometimes they forget the underwear. Don't let them leave me nude under my clothes. Please."

The young man turned away, trying to hide his smirk and eye roll. 




Stark white, fringed with lace, and roughly the size of his head. Granny panties for a woman who had never been a granny. How had these panties gotten into the box reserved for photo albums, doilies, and Precious Moments figurines?

"They should have been in the laundry bag with..." Brett thought aloud, "...the blue dress."

Had there been a hole in the bag, or had he been careless? Or was it another similar-looking pair? He shrugged. It was too late to worry about it now. Great Aunt Jill was freshly buried under six feet of fresh dirt in Silent Memorial Cemetery.

Barely suppressing a mean-spirited chuckle, he tossed them into the kitchen trash as he went out onto the porch to grab a breath of fresh air.

No, he thought, Not THE porch. MY porch. I earned it.

And the old hag hadn't just left him the house; he'd gotten every penny of her money, which was a lot. Great Aunt Jill had been

rich, not super rich, but rich enough to never need anything- rich enough to have family members coming to her with their hands out morning, noon, and night. However, since she was stingy, Great Aunt Jill stayed rich and got richer.

"...Nude under my clothes." Brett took in the crisp fall air; that was just one of the many stupid and neurotic statements he'd heard from the woman over the last eight years. There was a big box out at the curb; it was brimming with her paintings and statuettes depicting the suffering of Christ. He thought of how they depicted Jesus in his oversized loincloth. Was it any wonder the woman thought that visible panty lines were a sign of virtue and modesty?

After a few more minutes, he headed inside; there was a lot more to pack up if he was going to transform what had once been his prison into a bachelor pad. He thought to himself that his life shouldn't have been this way, that at twenty-four, he should have been on his own and living a life of acceptable debauchery. All the people he had gone to high school with were out in the world; even if they were losers that were never going to leave town at least they were starting their lives.

And why? Brett thought. Because their parents had given them breathing space to make mistakes and be kids. But not me. Oh no, all I got was Great Aunt Jill.

He had been just sixteen years old when his parents gave up on him. Yes, he had gotten into trouble, but it was the standard teenager stuff- shoplifting, school fights, and marijuana possession. Unfortunately, it had been just enough shoplifting, school fights, and marijuana possession to leave him at serious risk of going to juvenile detention. Good luck and good lawyers had helped Brett avoid that fate, but when it had all blown over, his parents told him he would be sent to live in the bucolic wasteland of Elmira, NY. It was there, they were sure, that Great Aunt Jill would 'straighten him out.'

In retrospect, he wished he had taken his chances in juvie.

Brett remembered his parents dropping him off here to leave him in the care of a relative he had previously only seen at holidays and funerals. A relative he only remembered because of her bell- like shape and dry kisses. As soon as Brett finished waving goodbye to Mom and Dad, his new guardian laid down the house rules - no loud radios, no TV except for educational and religious programming, and no video games. It was lights out at 10 PM. There was no lock on the bathroom door, so if he dared to pleasure himself in a righteous household, she would catch him, and he would find himself doing Hail Marys while kneeling on pencils.

That was when Brett made the mistake of asking her what a Hail Mary was.

A dozen Hail Marys later, she took him to his new room up in the attic. It was just a bed, a lamp, and a chest of drawers. The wind whispered through the cracks in the windowsill, making him shiver as he imagined the cold drafts that would come with it.

It took Brett a little while longer to clear out her wardrobe. For a woman who had only seemed to wear six to seven outfits her whole life, Great Aunt Jill sure had a lot of clothes stuffed into bureaus, dressers, and closets. Once that was done, he started to break down the hospital bed she had used for the last few months of her life. He pushed the bed out onto the front porch; the Hospice service had promised to pick it up by sundown. That done, all Brett had left was clearing out the junk drawers. He tossed anything that might remind him of her.

He found a black and white photograph in the far drawer of the kitchen counter; it was mixed in amongst the pens, pencils, rubber bands, and broken rosaries. It was of his Great Uncle John, who died just a few years after his marriage to Great Aunt Jill. Everyone said it was a tragic boating accident, but sometimes Brett had to wonder if her nagging and lunacy had driven the man to suicide. Brett swept all of it into the trash.

By nightfall, he was surveying an empty house. On Monday, he would visit the lawyer regarding the disbursement of the

inheritance. Then he could put anything he wanted in the place- a giant television, a pool table, a fantastic sound system, anything at all. Brett decided to celebrate with a sandwich and one of the beers he had cooling in the fridge. It was probably the only beer that had ever rested in that refrigerator.

He made himself a sandwich to go along with it and ate blissfully, thinking that, at long last, the future was his.




From the ages of sixteen to twenty-four, Brett had learned a great many things beyond the basic necessities of survival, like keeping the house neat, his manners perfect, and how to sneak down into the basement laundry room at one AM so he could masturbate. Brett also learned that his parents weren't coming back for him and that he'd been written off.

No, not written off... sold off. Brett thought.

He was sure that was why his parents had stranded him in Elmira, trying to win Great Aunt Jill's heart and a place in her will by giving her the one thing she never had.

A son of her own to care for, dote on, and emasculate.

It didn't matter how many times he begged to come home. It didn't matter that at every family gathering, he felt himself drifting further and further from the emotional orbit of his parents and siblings until they started to treat him with the same kind of cool affection they'd reserve for a third cousin.

He treasured the memory of his relatives at the reading of the will, their hopeful faces turning to shock when they realized they were getting the financial equivalent of a Walmart gift card.

Four months later, those same relatives were coming to see Brett, not that often, but often enough. They came with their hands out, and he slapped them away.

Not even when his parents came to him with a business plan for a cheese shop or when his uncle needed money to keep his house. Not even when his sister begged him to help her afford to care for her severely disabled child,

That was another thing he'd learned from her, "Never a borrower or a lender be."

There was a knock at the door. Brett paused to look at himself in the full-length mirror of his bedroom: dark sweater, skinny jeans, and a killer goatee. He was ready. Brett answered the door and found Melanie waiting for him. She was an assistant librarian at the college, which sounded dull, but he didn't care if she gelded horses for a living. What mattered was that she was sexy, easy to talk to, and she'd swiped in the right direction on the hookup app he'd been scrolling through non-stop for the past month.

Brett led her to the dining room; a spaghetti dinner was simmering on the stove. Since Great Aunt Jill had expected him to prepare dinner regularly, he'd had to quickly learn how to cook, and she was not one to give a culinary lesson more than once. He'd always resented being her personal chef, but now, basking in the compliments from Melanie, he was almost grateful.

There was wine; there was small talk, and there was a moment when she wiped a bit of tomato sauce from his chin with her fingers and then licked them clean. And with that small talk, his planned desert of homemade tiramisu went by the wayside. They kissed and wasted no time finding their way to Brett's bedroom. They kicked off their shoes and panted nonsense words to each other. Brett was so aroused he felt dizzy. It was finally going to happen. He was finally going to become a man. He was finally going to put into practice all the things he'd dreamed about for over twelve years.

Brett slowly peeled away Melanie's clothes, savoring every moment. Her blouse and bra fell to the floor as he nuzzled her neck and explored her smooth skin. Their bodies pressed together, the heat between them growing stronger by the second. Melanie removed his sweater and cooed at his freshly shaved

chest. Then her hands moved down, unbuckling his belt. She began to stroke him, and he felt his knees quiver.

Eagerly, he reached down and undid the zipper of Melanie's skirt. By the time he had it off her, she had begun to talk dirty. Really dirty. Her skirt pooled at her feet, revealing the stark white lace- trimmed panties she wore.

Brett felt his entire body go cold. He looked back up the length of her, hoping it was a trick of the light or one too many glasses of wine, but no. They were there, the waste band riding high up near her navel and the leg holes riding low. They might as well have been a pair of bleached bicycle shorts. He got them off her as fast as he could and threw them across the room.

But it was too late. The damage was done. Brett's arousal had quite literally dwindled away to nothing, and despite Melanie's considerable skills, there was no going back. She made excuses and quickly got dressed; she didn't stay to talk and give him time to recover. Soon enough, Brett was all alone, despising himself and gorging on tiramisu.




Melanie never talked to him again, and it almost seemed like she'd put the word out. The app went silent. There were no pings of interest or responses to his direct messages. It was the end of his online journey, so Brett tried his luck with the bar scene, but he spent more time eating poorly made chicken wings and sipping watery drinks than he did making conversation. He worked hard to keep himself from glaring at the happy couples around him or the smooth talkers making the rounds.

He tried college bars; he tried sports bars and pubs. He even tried a gay bar, but that was by accident. Finally, he found his way to a dive called the Bunkhouse. It was tucked away on a side street, the building's neon sign hung crookedly, and its paint was

peeling. The pool tables were poorly maintained, and every employee from the bartenders to the house band was sullen and disinterested; it was there he got his second chance; her name was Olive, and she was middle-aged with a leathery tan and a tiger-striped skirt. She had frizzy hair and crooked teeth, but when he bought her a drink, she bluntly asked him if he wanted to get his dick wet.

He was too desperate to turn down the offer. Olive brought him to her car and ushered him into the back seat. She didn't care that they were right there on the street. She was rough when she pulled down his pants. He told her he didn't have a condom; she told him she'd had a hysterectomy. Then she stopped talking for a while and went to work. She was even rougher with her mouth, but it was enough. Brett wanted to complete this rite of passage. He wanted to graduate from being a boy to being a man. After a few minutes, Olive shifted around, accidentally elbowing him in the gut as she maneuvered her knees to either side of his head. Her nylons rasped against his ears. She told him that it was time to return the favor. Brett reached up, caressing her backside. He thought to himself that maybe this wasn't so bad after all.

A car drove past, headlights briefly illuminating the backseat to reveal her white, oversized panties. Instantly, Brett began to hyperventilate and thrash about. Olive took this as encouragement and began to grind harder against him, which only made him thrash harder, which only made her grind harder. This continued seemingly forever, only ending when Brett fainted.

One hour later, he was driving home, the stink of Olive's perfume on his clothes a constant reminder he had woken up to find an EMT kneeling over him, a crowd of onlookers surrounding him, and his pants around his ankles. Apparently, Olive had shoved him out of her car and fled the scene.

What the Hell is happening to me? He wondered. What more could possibly go wrong?




Despite owning a perfectly good washing machine and dryer, Brett had begun taking his clothes to the Pristine Fold and Dry laundromat every week. Not because he didn't have time but because he was trying to get to know the assistant manager better. Her name was Emily, and over the last few weeks, he'd managed to learn about her pet bird, her useless college degree, and her passion for painting.

Every week, he learned something new. And today, he'd learned Emily was a lesbian.

With a disappointed and angry grumble, he carried his two bags of freshly washed clothes inside the house. It had been four weeks since the disaster with Olive. During that time, Brett had attempted to make connections naturally by striking up conversations with women he encountered at work, the coffee shop, or Walmart. Unfortunately, most of them brushed him off, but there were a few instances where he managed to go on first dates. However, those never led to second dates. Brett tore open the plastic bags and started sorting through his clothing.

He remembered the heated conversation with the last girl that had turned him down. He'd demanded to know where he went wrong, and she responded with a hint of pity, saying that he was a perfectly nice guy but was trying too hard.

That turn of phrase only frustrated him further. Trying too hard?

He only had what he had in this world because he had tried hard, tried hard to get a good education, tried hard to excel at work, and, of course, tried hard to keep Great Aunt Jill out of a nursing home where her estate would have been nickel and dimed away to nothing. He deserved that honors diploma; he deserved his promotion to manager in less than a year; he deserved Great Aunt Jill's fortune.

Didn't it stand to reason that he deserved some wild nights in the

sack? Hadn't he earned it?

She probably isn't really a lesbian. Brett thought to himself as he crammed the neatly folded shirts into the upper drawers of his bureau.

I bet she was just trying to scare me off. Brett tossed his socks into the drawer opposite and closed it again with a slam.

She's probably laughing about me to all her friends. He should have hung his pants up, but instead, he just threw them over a chair.

That’s the last time I ever take my clothes there. he vowed as he turned his attention to his underwear. He'd read numerous men's magazines on the subject of what women liked more, boxers or briefs. He'd gone with boxers in varying styles of plaid and stripes.

That was why one pale garment stood out from the rest. A pair of large, white panties. Brett reeled, stumbling backward until he struck the bureau, knocking the katana he had displayed there to the floor.

It was a coincidence. It had to be; nothing else made sense, but it took Brett a long time before he could approach the undergarment. But when he could, he tore it to pieces with his bare hands.




There was a strip club almost an hour from Elmira called the Blue Bayou. Whispers and rumors circulated about rampant prostitution among the performers, and that was enough to make Brett think it might be worth the drive. It had been more than a year since Great Aunt Jill's death, and the pangs of loneliness and frustration were driving him to the brink.

And what's wrong with paying to get some? He told himself as he turned off the interstate and found his way to the bad section of Binghamton. Plenty of guys at work like to say that all men pay for it one way or another- single guys with dinner and drinks, husbands with jewelry and appliances.

What was wrong with getting some action with a little bit of cold, hard cash? Wasn’t that just cutting out the middleman?

As Brett's car neared the Blue Bayou, he conjured up images of what its interior might look like. He had never been to a gentlemen's club before, but from what he had seen in movies and TV shows, he pictured a dimly lit room filled with plush leather chairs and red velvet curtains. The air would be thick with the scent of perfume and whiskey, and rock music blaring over the sound system would play in the background.

He could see himself sitting at the bar, sipping on a whiskey while watching beautiful women dance on stage. He imagined their bodies glistening under the stage lights as they moved seductively to the music. He saw himself casually flashing some bills, catching a dancer's eye at the bar; she was a sultry brunette with deep brown eyes and a tiny dress. He would buy her a drink, and she would casually tell him all the things he could experience in a private room.

And oh yes. He would experience it all, and then when he was finished, he would have a drink and then repeat the process. He would do it again and again until he ran out of cash or stamina. Brett was so lost in this fantasy that he didn't realize there was a police raid going on until he had pulled into the parking lot.

Flashing blue and red lights dazzled him. By the time he recovered his wits and tried to leave, there was already a uniformed police officer blocking the path of his car. The officer was tall and imposing, and despite it being almost eleven o'clock at night, he was wearing sunglasses. The officer rapped on the driver's side window with a meaty fist. Brett rolled down his window. The officer didn't ask for a license and registration - he

demanded it.

The license was in his wallet, and the registration was in his glove compartment, but the glove compartment was brimming with fast food detritus and CDs. Brett pawed through them, tossing Night Ranger and Limp Bizkit's greatest hits onto the seat beside him. Then he grabbed hold of something soft to the touch.

And shapeless.

And stark white.

And trimmed with lace.

And roughly the size of his head. Brett screamed.




A month later, Brett was jittery and teary-eyed. Whenever he went in his house, whatever he did, he found them. Searching for a bottle opener, Brett discovered one tucked away in the junk drawer. Investigating the clogged vacuum cleaner, he found one entangled in the drive belt. When he sat down to breakfast, a pair tumbled out of his box of cereal. Brett decided it must be all in his mind, so he made an appointment to visit a psychiatrist, only to flee the waiting room when a pair of panties, along with some subscription cards, fell out of the magazine he was flipping through.

Those damned panties hounded him at every turn.

No. He thought, It's her. She's haunting me. 

And Brett knew why. 

"Don't let them leave me nude under my clothes...” 

By now, the only women he saw were the ones on his computer.

Brett would stay up late at night, navigating from one website to the next until he found some explicit content that could temporarily distract him from his troubles. With just a VPN and solid antivirus protection, he could escape into his wildest fantasies: an endless supply of women in different apparel and settings

The final straw came after he finished satisfying himself with a video of a particularly nimble young woman. Overwhelmed with his normal surge of self-disgust, he scrambled to find something to clean himself up with, but the object his hand landed on wasn’t his box of tissues.

It was stark white, fringed with lace, and roughly the size of his head.

Brett went mad. He smashed his computer, ripped the television off its wall mounting, and threw it out the front window. Brett broke chairs and flipped tables. He pulled curtains from their fixtures and sent bookshelves toppling. Finally, he punched a hole in the wall.

And dozens of pairs of panties came spilling out. And everything went black.

Hours later, he found himself sobbing in the corner of the basement.

So. she wants her damn granny panties, does she?

He would see to it she got them. Brett had everything he needed in the basement: a flashlight, a collapsible camping shovel, kerosene, and a crowbar. He packed everything but the kerosene into a duffel bag. The kerosene was for the couch and coffee table.

His car peeled out of his driveway with a loud screech. The last thing he saw of Great Aunt Jill's house was the first thick plumes of smoke rising from the broken windows.

It was a dark and stormy night, which made breaking into the cemetery easy. He carefully parked his car out of sight and hoisted his equipment over the fence's low spot before awkwardly scrambling up after it, grunting with effort as he struggled to find footing on the slick surface. The smell of damp earth filled his nostrils as he made his way through the rows of headstones, his heart beating faster with every step.

At around one AM, Brett discovered the tombstone shared by Great Aunt Jill and Great Uncle John. His heart raced, cold rain drenched him to the skin. He felt exhausted, alone, and cursed, but the storm had at least softened the ground for digging.

However, unearthing the grave proved to be a lengthy, backbreaking process. Each time Brett thought he was making progress, one side of the grave would collapse, forcing him to start again. Brett remained determined. He had come too far to turn back now.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the end of the shovel hit something hard. Moments later, the coffin was uncovered. Brett took a moment to catch his breath. Would it be enough to leave the forgotten undergarments here and fill in the grave again? Would that break the curse?

How far would he have to take this? Would he have to actually put them on her?

The thought made Brett shudder with revulsion, but there was no turning back now. Brett grabbed the crowbar and, working with a low growl, exerted all his remaining strength until he felt the wood start to give way with a loud cracking sound. The stench was worse than he could ever imagine, both rancid and sweet; bile filled his mouth, and his eyes watered.

Great Aunt Jill's one-year-old corpse looked far older. Her bloated body was covered in rotting skin, and her once elegant funeral dress had been stained with sporadic patches. The features of her face were twisted into a grimace.

I have to do this. Brett thought, I have to do this.
He reached down with trembling hands and pulled up the hem of

her skirt. Then he dug his hand into his jacket pocket.

The panties weren't there.

He tried the other pocket. Still nothing.

"No." Brett said as he checked each pocket a second and third time, "Oh no no no no.”

They were gone.

Where did they go?

Clawing his way out of the grave, Brett looked around frantically for that damned scrap of cloth. He tried to remember when he last had them, but his thoughts were hazy and jumbled.

Were they back at the car? Or perhaps amidst the burning remains of the house?

Brett retraced his steps through the rain-soaked cemetery. The storm intensified, lightning illuminating the gravestones. He stumbled through the muddy terrain, sopping and desperate.

Then Brett realized, and he started tearing at himself, the crack of thunder swallowing his choking cries.




The lead caretaker walked through Silent Memorial Cemetery in the hazy dawn light. It was a quiet job he had taken on after selling his groundskeeping business years ago. He enjoyed being in nature with only birds and rabbits as his companions. Passing rows of headstones, old and new, he felt a sense of peace.

Then he saw something that sent him running back to the office;

he dialed 911 and started babbling the minute the operator answered. "I need the police down at Silent Memorial. Someone dug up one of the graves, and there's this young man lying dead just a few feet away. .. Yes, he's dead. I know a dead man when I see one! And... and you wouldn't believe what he's wearing...”

(This is an adaption of the original version of the story.)