Samsonite


The suitcase opened its mouth.

“Are you really going to just ignore me right now? C’mon, Sammie! Of all the times we’ve gone through this, and you’re going to wait until right now to ignore me? We’re going on a trip for gods’ sake!”

“Not ’we,’ Henry. I. I am going on a trip. You are not.”

Sammie then turned from the closet addressed her bed. “Do you hear that Mr. Bed. Do you hear the suitcase in the middle of the floor? Oh, the nerve!”

“Oh yes,” said Henry. “Let’s begin to mock me. Yes yes, we always love when you patronize the fact that I’m a thing now, a heartless, bloodless, jobless thing . It’s not like we haven’t been around the corner with this whole human/suitcase charade in the past. You know what your problem is?” The zipper around its mouth turned and twisted slowly as the words came out of it and formed on its face.

“The problem is that you just don’t believe in yourself. You believe something else. You think there’s actually something to this whole life thing. You think you’re just going to get on the flight and it’s all going to go nice and queenly and I’m not going to make a fuss; is that it?”

It was the only green suitcase that she had ever owned – a Stillwell’s brand. But then again, Stillwell’s went out of business nearly thirty years ago. It was the only portmanteau she head aver considered borrowing (at that time you could borrow), but they owner said it wasn’t really selling off the showroom floor. The store was partly hers anyway and she wasn’t about to go in on any sort of negotiation deals. It was the end of the night, the end of her shift, and she was done. By the time her boss found out in the morning, she would have been long gone. She was quitting that job anyway – the next day, in fact. Said the they had an advanced managerial position ant the Piggly Wiggly down on Madison Ave. – the only Piggly Wiggly that was open in Savannah.

“Helloo!” Said the suitcase, flustered.

“Stop!’ Sammie said. “Okay, okay are you done? I mean I have been sitting here listening to you prattle your old zipper back and forth, and yet, you still look at me and give me that stupid silver, well….smile.”

“And you know what, Sam? It’s gonna pay off. Listen. I have connections, We’ve talked about this. We’ve talked about how much my connections are going to help you on this flight. You haven’t even gotten on the plane yet. How can you doubt me here? Look, let’s say. It was just you and me, and we were going to the airport and you were there having this breakdown on your own…And ~”


“It’s not a break down Henry, it’s not. You died on me back there, and now just because you can’t admin that, you …Oh, you just get me so mad!”


“It was an accident!” Henry shifted on the floor and turned to face her as she spun around the room wildly, flipping through various sets of clothing.

“Not working,” he said, intending to prod.

“Don’t care,” she added in the same tone as she crossed back to the chest of drawers on her side of the bed. She looked in the standing mirror which had stood there since their marriage had been good. It looked back at her as she rummaged through her underwear draw to find a few pairs which she placed neatly on the bed next to a stack of t-shirts, several pairs of socks, and even two new pairs of sneakers. – ADIDAS – It was a new brand, but something she had to try; they were 30% off, after all.

Exasperated at his voice, “Zip it!” She cursed at him. “You’re not going to convince me to take you.”

“You don’t know that,” the zipper folded. “Besides, if you know you didn’t want to take me, you wouldn’t be having this conversation with me right now.”

“I’m not,” she said. “Look, can we just not talk about this right now? The cab is going to be here in the next few minutes, and I have to have all my stuff together. Besides, it’s not every day that a girl in my position gets to take a tip to Disney World.” She turned back to the closest and let her fingers run over the dry wooden hangers making a clickety-clack sound.

“You know something, there’s something I’d like to do.”

“Oohhhh,” She turned back to him. She was well into her sixties, and still knew how to wield her smile – the same one that got his attention the first place, the when he was still human and didn’t play with the magic that got him turned into a suitcase in the first place.

“There’s something I heard, Henry. Would you like to know what it is?”

The portmanteau didn’t counter. It was finally her turn. And she let the time drag out. She let the old stained and worn portmanteau just lie there on the beige rug of the master bedroom – the one which had belonged to her uncle’s former college friend from Cornell.

“What?” He asked

“I heard that they’re going to be opening an new Neiman Marcus at Disney world. Did you hear that?”

“No,” he said reluctantly.

She gave hm him that look where she hates her hops one direction andante turned her head the other. “What do you think of that that? It said.

“Never,….” Henry started. “Never heard of it.”

“Why would you? Well… No reason you should, actually.” She turned back around the tone closest. “They sell suitcases. Samsonites. Supposed to be very good.” She allowed her hand to rifle through the hangers again, turning back to the closet.

Then she paused. “Very good.”

Clickety-clack.

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Why the Old Man Smiles


It’s 11:22 p.m. and before I crash, I need to tell you about how my day ended.

Today had some stress to it. It’s a Sunday – a day off, but still, there was some stress. If you’ve ever been a student (so, I presume most of you), you’ll understand what it’s like when your vacation ends and there’s that one day where you’ll have to get back to school…and then of course there’s homework, tests to study for, lab reports, essays to write..that kind of stuff. And that’s if you’ve ever been a student.

But this especially hits home if you’ve ever been a teacher. If you’ve ever been a teacher, you’ve no doubt experienced that time when your vacation ends and there’s that one day when you’ll have to get back to work…..and then, of course, you will have had to have prepared all of the homework, tests for the students to take, the components of the lab reports, the rubrics for the essays you’ll have them write….that kind of stuff. All the stuff that, as a student, you just sort of expect is going to be there, and as a teacher, you never knew that you had to prepare.

            But it’s there – all that stuff.

            Today was a day in which I was doing all that kind of stuff. During the course of the day I got e-mails from students asking me why their grade was an A- and not an A, I had thoughts about the parents I’ll be speaking with throughout the term, I opened my e-mail for the first time in two weeks and had to respond to each of those. After all that I had to figure out how not to use a certain grading tool because of some of the disadvantages it brought me last term, and learn how to use another grading tool with which I am completely unfamiliar.

            And, finally, AFTER ALL THAT, begin planning for the week.

            Hours. It took hours off the day. I had to somehow manage to sneak in a lunch there in the middle, and then get back at it.

            Then there was dorm duty. The kids were great, but there are 40 of them and none of them have homework, and they all want to crowd in the same room and have yelling conversations when my colleague’s bedroom is right next door. In the meantime, there are other students walking in and out, traipsing through the hallways yelling out the names of their friends. “Hi,” I say, “who are you again?”

            So there’s that.  Four hours there.

            It’s 11:00 p.m. The day is done. It’s very black, dark, and cool out. I have but to drop by my office, drop off some books, send some e-mail messages, print something, use the restroom, and then I can leave.

            Done. Walk outside. <DEEP SIGH>

            Then, stopped, in the middle of the quad, I just want to listen to the silence. It’s so quiet, I just want to hear that.

            I look up….

            …and begin to laugh.

            Not a chuckle, a giggle, or a snigger. A full laugh. An out-loud laugh. A hearty gut laugh.

I take a breath and bend over laughing aloud again. I look around at where I am, in the middle of a quadrangle, surrounded by dormitory windows (some on, some off), and in the middle of the night’s silence, I’m laughing aloud.

            To answer why, here is what I see.

 

Many of you just see a moon, but what I saw this.

 

            Here he is, my guardian, my spirit. And in that moment he reminded me that I was worried about bullshit – that all my worries were completely irrelevant. Considering how very vast the great Great Cosmos is, and I am getting anxious over the infinitesimal.

            Now that’s true love. Thanks for the reminder.

The Man Behind the Mic


by

L.P. Stribling

    The man who stepped onto the podium in the middle of the last quiet moment of humanity wore a suit which suggested he was the true face of patriotism. The small two-cent flag on his black suit’s lapel was tilted slightly, but would pass for centered for the majority of those he met. His eyes flashed hard at the center camera below him, his gaze rocketing into every living room of the nation; in the following seconds, those same eyes would release into every living hollow on the planet that contained a pulse of human life.

    He smiled and began.

    “My fellow World Order people, today we have shown that…”

    From the back corner of her living room, Dena Metrin’s heartbeat brought itself to her attention as she watched the screen, almost panting.

    “Please tell me you’re close, Rick.“ Her eyes darted over to the man hunched over his computer at her left. His fingers ran across his keyboard as if he were epileptic. White text sprayed across a blue screen. The pencil in his mouth had a body lined with bite marks. He had been rolling it around in his mouth clamping his teeth down slightly as he worked. As long as Dena knew him, it was his own peculiar way of dealing with stress. When he bit all the way through it, he would spit it out and pull a fresh pencil from the pack next to his keyboard and begin anew.

    “Err,” he said through his pencil. “Ah depfinilhee feek ahm gehng crossr.” She reached out and threw the pencil out of his mouth to the ground.

    “What?”

    “I said,” he repeated, still looking at the screen, his fingers not slowing, “that I think I’m getting…closer!” The last word erupted from him as the screen began raining white text as a full download of something was coming in.

    “Good,” Dena said, “because I think we’re about to get to the pretty bad part.”

    “…it’s not that often, and we all know this, that we have an opportunity in our history to really change everything that we’ve done – all the mistakes, all the backwardness, all the evil and wrongdoing.” Pause. “Well now, ladies and gentlemen of this beautiful moment. Now is that time, and you should feel a tingle run through you in knowing that you are alive here to witness it, because..”

    “Okay, so now how long? Remember, we only need the microphone. That’s what he’s going to use.”

    “Eah,” Rick said, another pencil in his mouth being gnawed on at breakneck pace. “Uss a fsheew mor sekns.” The keyboard sounded like each key was being hit with hard rain.

    “…and with that I’d like to begin by saying ‘so long’ to our past.” The man motioned off camera with a nod of his hands. The building behind him, almost half a mile away, the backdrop of every presidential speech in the history of the nation shattered as a missile came from the sky and blew it directly from its center outward.

    The sound rocketed the people; the cameras shook, and screams were heard from every angle off camera. The man’s beady eyes focused on his audience without any emotion; he nodded as if this was the reaction he had expected all along.

    “Okay, I’m going to need you to make those magic seconds happen right now because…”

    “…and you can see,” he went on, his voice stern and heavy, “that we are on the precipice of greatness! We are ready for change, for tomorrow, a bright tomorrow. We are ready for…ladies and gentlemen, we’re ready for a makeover.”

    “Got it!” Rick yelled.

    In their room, the only sound came as the pencil dropped from his mouth and clicked a bit as it hit the floor and came to a roll and then stilled. Three hundred miles away, HBC’s main camera shook slightly as the man behind the mic grabbed it from the podium and tore it free to hold it aloft in one victorious hand.

    “Behold!” He yelled. “Our makeover!” He turned the mic upside down and pressed a button on the bottom.

    The nation, the world watched. Nothing.

    He pressed again twice, three times. Nothing.

    “Fucking thing!” He slammed the microphone down and stood back from the podium reaching into his vest under the pin of the nation.

    “Welcome to the new you!” He yelled, drawing the revolver out and aiming at the audience, pulling the trigger faster than the audience could comprehend.

    BAM! BAM! BAM! “Welcome!” He cried with each shot. BAM! BAM! “Welcome!”

    Bullets riddled his body and the man dropped to the stage. All camera screens went black then.

    Dena slid to the floor and loosed a sigh. She and Rick said nothing for a long time. Rick’s box of pencils lay untouched.

    “Well,” she said breaking the silence. “There’s that. Take us home, Rick.”

Seconds passed before the rain started again.

Superhero Dick and the Brave Cat


batmen

Superhero Dick knocked at the door of the unsuspecting nameless civilian with an unfamiliar and uncomfortable rapidity. He stood there in true stoic velvet uniform – all deep red from the cowl down to his painted toes. The golden SD monogrammed insignia was an extra bold glow against the white pine door.

“Sir or Madam!” he said. “Please, it’s urgent that I use your facilities!”

The last time he recalled his voice being so nervous was when he faced off against the Hank the Glimmering Shrew back in August. It wasn’t the most common of scenarios, but what was done that night was what had to be done – the sixty seven windows, the boxes of sugar, the eggs, and leftover butter rolls. All of it had to be done. The civilian population recalls what it recalls – usually the story is twisted and tweaked, but still, what happened was certainly necessary.

Moments after the second rapid knock, sounds of unlocking from the other side of the large wooden door floated though the wood and then, the seal loosened and the door opened several short inches, then stopped. 

Peeking between the gap was a gaunt man. The ladder of wrinkles on his forehead aged him twofold. His eyes squinted behind his spectacles and his voice was both a shriek and a grunt.

“Who in the -“

“Please, kind citizen,” began Superhero Dick, throwing up a palm in the face of the unknowing homeowner. “It is necessary I use  your facilities.”

The wrinkles on his nose flared up at Dick’s response.

“Whaa? Why in the hell for? Get the hell outta here, you goddamn homo vagrant!” the man moved back behind the door and made to close his home.

“Sir, please,” Superhero Dick blocked the closing door. “If you truly value your home, you’ll need to let me use your restroom.” Without waiting for an answer, Dick pushed his way boldly into the man’s abode, gently-but-firmly allowing the man to back up into the depths of his own entryway.

“Now, first I’ll ask you to look here,” said Superman Dick, lowering his hands right in front of his package, making his fingers into parenthetical shapes around his junk. There was a huge bulge there.

“Now! The primary reason there’s such a huge issue here is because, again, I need to use your facilities. Suffice it to say, sir, that it is a matter of National Security. The size of what you see here has nothing to do with my personal sexual preference, sir, but with how I’m about to save you. Your life, your house, your family, husband, girlfriend, and possibly your pets. Everything is currently in danger.” Dick stopped and looked around. “Got any pets?”

The man’s eyes frowned and confused, shook his head first slightly.

Dick eyed him and leaned in.

The man nodded.

“Spot! Here boy!” Dick bellowed through the house.

fatcat1

A slow meow accompanied a fluff which leaned and fell over itself several times. It approached Dick, but several feet away, it fell to the hard wooden floor and collapsed into sleep.

“That’s Spot?” Dick asked.

“I’ve always called him Sylvester,” said the man.

“No matter!” said Superhero Dick. “Tell me you have a porcelain bowl!”

“The man eyed him with one eyebrow cocked high above the eye. “What?”

“Your facilities, sir, your toilet, is it porcelain?” Superhero Dick leaned in more and raised his voice to ensure that he was getting his point across.

“I don’t know what they make ‘em out of nowadays, but this house is old, Red, pretty damned old. I would think that everything from the flusher to the pipes is porcelain. Isn’t that what they’re all made out of?” Realizing he had gotten off track, he shook his head and again focused. “But that doesn’t matter. You are not using my head!”

“Quick! We must away!”

In one swift movement, the superhero snatched the feline from the floor and dashed through the house. The cat slunk from it’s new perch in the crook of the muscleman’s arm as it was whisked away.

Superhero Dick rushed into the bathroom and locked the door. He turned to the sink and dumped the sleeping cat into the shallow water basin.

“Don’t worry, Sylvie; it’s for all of us. All you have to do is stay out of the way.”

Superhero Dick unbuckled the neon yellow Ultra Belt at his waist and dropped the spandex of his lower extremities to the faded yellow tiles of the bathroom floor.

“Hey!” a pounding came from the outside of the door. “You cannot be in there without my consent, you! This is my house and you are a smelly…odd-looking..fellow,” coughed the old man. “You come out of there at once or I’m calling the police. You hear? I’ll report you, dammit. Don’t think I won’t.”

Superhero Dick turned to face the door, his feet shoulder-width apart and his fists neatly rested on either side of his hips. “Have no fear, kind citizen, Superhero Dick is here for the safety of all!” He turned back to the sink and placed the cat softly therein. With his other hand, the superhero snapped the lid from the toilet with a crack and  placed it over the cat.

He exhaled. “Spot, you’ll be remembered for saving your nation. Be brave.”

The cat gave a acquiescent purr of confusion.

While holding the toilet lid on the cat, the superhero looked at his large blue-faced INVICTUS watch and counted down. “Five, four, three, two….”

The ground beneath him began to rumble and the house shook.

“What the hell! You son of a -“

KRREEEEEAAAAAAA~

SLOOOP

The lid fell as the Spot was sucked through the sink and the underground pipes of his once comfortable kitty abode.

Seconds later, the rumbling stopped, and for effect, Superhero Dick flushed the toilet and replaced the lid after washing his hands. Several handfuls of old long unwashed fur dusted the once white water basin.

When he opened the door the old man stood there, his eyebrows hovering over full-blow balls of confusion. “What the hell happened?! Where’s Sylvester?”

Superhero Dick placed a comforting hand on the man’s shoulder and kept his tone low. “Sir, be proud today, for today your pussy has been sucked into legend. He’s a hero, sir, your pussy.” He dipped his head for a moment of silence. “I’ll make sure the name ‘Spot’ is remembered, here, now, and forever.”

With nothing more and leaving the old man looking through his bathroom and the house calling for his cat, Superhero Dick left. Once again, he had saved the day, the nation, and possibly the planet, from total annihilation. And no one save the old man in his wake would know.

Socks in the Washer


Where in the gods have they gone?

I remember putting two socks in, but when it was time to pull them out. Poof! Gone. It’s like the spin cycle is so strong that it creates some sort of a sartorial black hole into which only certain AMAZING socks are somehow chosen to make a sacrificial trip.

What in Hades happens to the socks? Are there things living in my laundry system? Mini sock-gerbils that sneak in through laundry-machine trap doors and come into the middle of a cycle onto to steal my favorite pair of Space Invader dress socks? Uuuahhh! That’s annoying.

Are these them?

Nope. Oh great, wait, not only are these NOT the socks I”m looking for, but they’re two socks from another two pairs of fantastic dress-sock duos that I love. That’s three pairs of mismatched socks!

It’s Friday. I’m just gonna shake this off. Somehow.

Ready Player One – a flash book review


 

Ready Player One Paperback CoverReady Player One, by Ernest Cline, is the best book I’ve read in the last five years. I love the world the he creates – a quasi-post-apocalyptic setting in which all members of reality are wired into the “Oasis” – their preferred alternate reality in which all of their life-like activities take place.

The book is filled with 1980s movies, music, and video-game references and it’s a true treasure hunt. It has all the elements of a fantastic action adventure with bad guys, humor, puzzles and a love story.

If you loved Stephenson’s Snow Crash, you have to read Ready Player One. Period.

Raine & Bastion: We’ve been discovered


Raine: “We are discovered. We must flee, immediately.”

Bastion: “What? Wha–? How? How in the hell did they find us?

Raine: “Shall we sit down for drinks and discuss? Shit, man, just go!”

Bastion: “Okay, okay. But, the girl. What about her?”

Raine: “What about her? We found her in penury and poor health.”

Bastion: “And?”

Raine: “And that’s how we leave her! Do you need a rule book? Here are the rules: We leave now, we live. We start thinking about the other poor scrapes of humanity around us, we die. Questions?”

Bastion: “Yes. What if we’re wrong?”

Raine: “Then at least cowardice will allow us to consider further options. Dither if you will, mate, but I’m off. Make haste now or spend eternity with the dead heroes. Your choice.”

Bastion: “Okay, okay. I’ll go. Have you got my mints?”