Sunday, July 21, 2013

Getting it up

Jonathan always laughed at the Cialis commercials. He was twenty six. No problems there. He and Julie would laugh at the people in the bathtub. They would laugh at the way the laundry room would turn into a Tiki hut and the people would start slow dancing. Then one night Jonathan had a problem.
I don't know he said to Julie who was waiting.
Maybe you drank too much.
He had drank a lot and things were not happening. The next day he didn't think about it and saw the same Cialis commercials. That night after the bars he climbed into bed. Julie rolled over and he stripped off his clothes.
What's wrong?
I..I don't know.
Did you drink too much again?
Jonathan shrugged.
I must have.
The next day he thought about it all day. He turned off the television when the couple started slow dancing in the laundry room. He looked at the bedroom with dread. Three days passed and Julie said nothing. On the fourth night she waited for him when he came out of the bathroom.
He had turned over and was facing the way.
I don't feel good.
You mean you cant get it up.
Jonathan stared at the wall.
He really wanted to slow dance in a Tiki hut in the worst way.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Diane dated Cliff casually. Over Christmas break they were bored and dated more. She always said Cliff was the horniest guy she ever knew because he was so aggressive. Still they never did it and Laura knew they wouldn't because Cliff would never commit.  They went to a point and then she stopped him. This went on through Christmas until the big snow storm hit and they ended up at a friend of Cliffs house who never went to college.
Its just a party he said when they entered the old house.
Ok Laura said.
She was always up for a party. They drank heavy and Cliff pulled her into a bedroom with a dirty bed covered with old clothes. They rolled around like they always did. Laura let Cliff take off her shirt and then her bra. This was standard and usually Cliff brought himself off. This made Laura always say he was the horniest guy she ever met.
Cmon... you want it he said while they rolled around on the dirty bed.
I told you I don't want to do it yet.
Cliff reached over and switched off the light.
Laura felt his body arch against hers and then his strong hands pulling down her pants.
No...I said...No.
You want it he said ripping down her jeans. Cliff was a wrestler for the college team and very strong. Laura felt her underwear ripped in half .They both had drank a lot and it seemed like the bed was very squishy.
She felt her legs and then Cliff push in. They did it with her pulling against him as he leveraged his body. She felt him come and then he rolled over to side. They got dressed and drank some more. They even dated a few more times and then school started again. Laura never saw Cliff again and it was about ten years later she realized she had been raped.

Sometimes a dream is all you have...The Pitcher


Saturday, July 6, 2013


Rob heard the bong water and then the smell of noxious old putrid pot. He pulled the door open and the was Toby from the down the hall still holding the bong.
You fucker.
Rob grabbed him by his shirt and threw him across the small dorm room. He flew and hit the edge of the bolted down dresser. An immediate black eye rose up like a Scarlet flower. He jumped up.
Calm down...calm down Toby said, looking shaken.
Get the fuck out of here.
He did and Rob slammed the door. He stood in the quiet of the dorm room. They hated him on the floor and this was the latest incident in a long string of bong water, shaving cream, throwing shit against his door. He couldn't wait for the semester to end. He heard a knock on the door.
Tobys roommate Mike stood there with fists clenched.
Cmon you want to fight someone then fight me.
Rob stared at him. Mike was bigger with hair ringing a smooth head. He had a large mustache.
C'mon you pick on someone your own size.
Rob stared at him. He didn't want to fight Mike even though he was behind a lot of the bong water dousing. They had words before and now he was here with fists raised like some  old pugilist.
C'mon you talk all your shit...lets see you do something about it!
Rob couldn't move. He was off guard and felt afraid. He stepped forward.
Mike...Mike...he pleaded.
He raised his hand to Mikes shoulder.
Coward Mike sneered turning away.
The next day in the cafeteria Rob saw Mike and Toby at their table. He stared straight ahead and heard their laughter. At the end of the year he moved off the floor. Six months later he saw Mike in a bar. He left out the back door.

Monday, June 24, 2013


They are talking about your book
Oh really.
Yeah....I didn't care for it.
You read it?
Oh yeah....I just hear your voice coming through.
I just don't believe people talk that way.
Georgia didn't like it either.
Franks wife shrugged.
I couldn't get through it.
James felt his face warm. They were sitting out on the patio. The night had been one of old friends until this. Now they sat there with the body bleeding all over the pavers.
Well...I think it is more YA.
No....That was Cliffs wife. A teacher. She shook her head. I read YA all the time and its not YA.
James looked for oxygen.
Maybe it doesn't appeal to some people he offered.
They sat in silence for a long time. No one could think of one thing to say until Georgia and Frank left. On the drive home James and his wife discussed what had been said and became really angry. After his wife fell asleep James drove in silence and bled all over the car.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Where is she
I thought she was with you.
Rob ran down to the waters edge. A million people down for spring break in Florida. His heart pounded. Gone. Just gone.
Where is she his wife screamed.
I don't fucking know he screamed back starting to jog. Looking. Looking. Looking. Where. Where.
Hailey! Hailey! Hailey!
He ran and ran and then realized she could not have gone this far this fast unless someone had taken her then, then...
He ran back the other way and saw his wife running toward him.
Did you see her?
The world would not be the same. Nothing. From this moment on a dividing line in his life. He looked way then the other. She was gone. Gone. There was no way to find her. Every psycho pervert in Florida had her. They were all here now.
Hailey Hailey Hailey
His wife crumpled into the sand.
Ron stared down the beach unbelieving. Life had just ended for him
He whipped around and saw the stringy haired blond eight year running toward him. Crying. Crying. Crying.
HAILEY his wife shrieked jumping up.
They all hugged in the sand.
I was lost...I was lost...
I am sorry...his wife wailed.
Ron hugged his little girl. Not this time. Not this time God.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Hanging

We had just broken into the frat house for the tenth time and beat it back to our club which was a parachute draped over trees. Kauffman was there smoking with two other highschoolers.
Which one of your faggots told your mom about the club?
 Nobody said anything but Kauffman already knew.
It was you he said to Dickey.
 You know what happens guys who rat out the club?
Dickey shook his head.
We hang them.
The other two highschoolers grabbed Dickey while Kauffman threw a rope over the tree.
Lets these be a lesson to the rest of you ladies.
 He put the rope around Dickeys neck. Dickey was bawling now and none of us knew how far Kauffman would go. He and the other two highschoolers hoisted Dickey up. He grabbed at the rope around his neck but his face turned bright red and then he started pumping out snot. Nobody said anything and there was only the sound of Dickey strangling.
Hey you little fuckers!
Frat rats! I screamed.
Kauffman and the highschoolers dropped Dickey and then we all ran. Even Dickey ran with the rope trailing around his neck. By the time we got to my house we were all laughing. Dickey laughed. the loudest.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Purse

It was there on the sidewalk. Jimmy and Dan ran up and grabbed it. They looked both ways then took off for the woods. They didn't stop until they were deep in the woods and looked around making sure no one had followed them.
Open it.
I am!
Yo...fifty bucks man.
Jimmy looked at Dan.
You cant say anything about this to anybody.
I wont.
Probably some lady on the bus forgot it.
C'mon...lets go buy some candy.
They went to a drugstore and bought a bag of candy then went behind a firehouse and into the alley. Jimmy pulled a brick out of the crumbling back wall of a garage.
Alright...there's forty two bucks left. We hide it here and nobody comes and get its unless we are both
Jimmy put the brick back and they split up. Two days later Dan went back to the alley and found the money was gone. He called Jimmy.
Did you take the money?
What do you mean?
It's gone!'
How do you know?'
I checked.
Jimmy paused.
I thought we were supposed to both be there.
Dan felt his face turn red.
Maybe you took it and are now saying its gone, Dan!
No I didn't! I swear!
Ah...well, maybe somebody else stole it. No big deal.
Jimmy hung up and Dan never brought the money up to him again. Years later after he moved from the city he realized Jimmy had conned him.

The Hot Wife

He was obviously a slug. The man was playing a computer game on his phone. The beard. The tennis shoes. Jonathan thought about moving but he had to wait for his son to come out of the dentist office. He was reading a novel on his Kindle. The man obviously didn't move. He was busy playing the game with his kid.
Beat that.
I cant the kid squealed.
Jonathan redouble his concentration.
Dude I just beat you.
No you didn't.
Yes I did.
The man took his coffee and drank loudly. Jonathan rolled his eyes. Some kind of construction worker. Some guy who worked with his hands probably lived in a trailer.
Yo dude. I'm awesome Awesome.
Jonathan felt sorry for the moron. Some kind of a pathetic life.
The door opened and in walked a stunning blond with a giant rock on her finger.
Oh you guys are playing a computer game...having fun.
I am mommy.
The bearded man never looked up. Jonathan couldn't help but stare. The woman had a body to kill for. Clear blue eyes. She wore pearls. What the fuck. She was this guy? This guy?
Ready dude?
The dentist will see you now.
The family left Jonathan to his novel that he couldn't read if he wanted too now.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


His bike didn't look right. No. It was pointed down. John left the coffee house and ran out to the bike rack.
They had stolen his front tire. Somebody had ripped the front tire because he didn't put his chain through the wheel. So now he couldn't ride home.
John looked around and saw another bike like his. A Trek. He glanced around again.
Fuck it he muttered and ducked down and pulled off the wheel from the bike. He eased the bike to the ground and slipped it on his front forks.
Take that he muttered One good turn deservers another.  He unchained his bike and rode home and made sure to lock up his bike somewhere else. A week later he was at a different coffee house and had just finished when he looked out again. He stared. Where was his bike? He ran outside and saw the stolen tire from the other bike chained to the rack but the bike was gone.
He had chained the front tire but forgot to put it through the frame. He stared at the stolen tire chained to the rack. John looked around but no one was stupid enough not to chain their bike frames.
He walked home and stole a kids bike off a back porch that someone stole from him a week later after they used bolt cutters on his chain.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Tony was crazy about his privacy. So when he found out Robin the new girl lived in his neighborhood he was careful to never mention where he lived. She was a twenty something who had moved in with her boyfriends parents. Tony did not want to mix the two worlds. Work was work and he kept his separate self for the home. Who he really was.
Ding dong.
Tony was in his pajamas. He pulled the door open and there was Robin.
Is this your dog?'
Tony stared at his black lab.
Yes he sputtered.
He came to our house. This is Jack my boyfriend.
Tony felt the wind through his pajamas. Jack and Robin were both smiling at him.
Thank you he muttered taking the dog.
See you tomorrow at work.
Tony shut the door and felt violated. He locked up the dog. The next day Robin laughed.
I never thought I would see you in your pajamas she sang out in the office.
Tony hid in his cubicle. A week later the door bell rang again.
Hello is this your dog?
Tony was in workout Gortex and faced a woman about his age.
Yes...he muttered.
You work with Robin right?
I thought so....well here.
Tony took the dog inside. The next day Robin came up to him.
You met my mother in law.
She said you were working out.
Robin shrugged. 
It kind of sucks living with her.
Tony paused.
Why is that?
Oh you privacy.

Rocket Man...the American Dream upside down

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Burning Leaves

Dan always came into ninth grade choir smelling like burnt leaves. Toby was a baritone and Dan was a baritone but Toby always felt like Dan sang down a few octaves. They shared the same music stand and Toby flipped the music while Dan hunched down and sang into the floor. Toby always told Dan the same thing.
I think you are too low.
Dan always just shrugged and said whatever man.
But Toby wondered about the burned leaves. First of all choir was first period. That would mean Dan got up and started raking leaves about what...six AM? And then burned them for an hour before getting to school. It was plausible.
A couple times Toby had to compensate for Dan because his voice was so raspy. Another thing was Dan would spit with a phit phit sound. Like he had a sunflower seed stuck in his teeth or something. And the burned leave smell really came on when they hit the heavy duty choral numbers. Dan smelled like he had inhaled the smoke from the leaves. So he asked him one day.
Hey Dan.
Do you like  burn leaves or something in the morning...I mean no offence but your clothes really smell like burned leaves.
Dan looked at Toby with blood shot eyes  then smiled.
Yeah man. I burn leaves in the morning.
Oh just wondering.
It wasn't until college that Toby realized Dan had been stoned to the bone every day.

Rocket Man...the American Dream upside down


I wasn't a burn out but went out to the smoking lounge sometimes. I was a jock who walked all walks of life. Sonny was a burnout. Neil Young burnout with long hair and fatigue jacket. We were about to graduate and Sonny got off at our bus stop.
Brother H. You want to participate?
Are you sure brother H? Have you ever partaken?
No...I said but it was the end of senior year.
We met another burnout named Miles at Sonny's house and went to his basement.
Brother H is going to join us in our celebration.
Miles had a beard and dark  glasses. A known hardcore stoner.
Very good he said.
We passed around a joint and I laid on the ground while Sonny and Miles laughed.
Can you play that song again?
Sure brother H.
Stairway to Heaven was cued up for the tenth time.
My body is electric I said while Robert Plant told about the girl climbing the stairway to heaven.
Miles and Sonny broke up and continued smoking.
After graduation I never saw Sonny again. At our twenty year reunion he came back in a Porche. He had  started his own golf equipment company and was a multimillionaire.

Rocket Man...the American dream upside down

Monday, April 29, 2013

Wedding Tats

I'm not going to wear that dress.
You have to. Your tattoo is showing
I'm proud of my tats.
That may be but it is inappropriate to have a dragon above your bust line.
Mom...this is 2013...most of my bridesmaids have tattoos!
I know. I know. That is why we need a high neck line in case someone else decided to put a dragon their chest.
Brittany scowled in the dressing room. She loved her tat. It was a blue dragon and reached across the top of her boobs like some creature from the dark. Five years ago it had been all the rage and while she was tired of it in a way she didn't want to hide it. She was who she was and she didn't want to cover up her breasts because her mom was squeaming. is not a big deal. Just move up the bust line a few inches dear. I think we can live with that.
Brittany pulled up her dress in the mirror. No. It looked like she was getting married in 1975 or something. She let it fall and her vision fell back in place. The dragon was very sexy and Gary loved it when they were having sex and drooled all over it. She stared at her mother in the mirror.
No. I want the dress the way it is. Its my wedding and my tat!
Her mother met her eyes then shrugged.
Alright...alright...but the wedding photos will look very strange to you ten years from now.
No they wont.
Brittany was married and her wedding photos came back clean. Her mother had all tats digitally removed. Her daughter took revenge by getting another tattoo on her stomach. Ten years later after her second baby she spent fifteen thousand dollars to get her tats removed.
It hurt like a bitch.

Rocket Man...the American Dream upside down

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


It's too high.
What do you mean it's too high
I can't see it. You put it too close to the ceiling.
George felt the blood rushing his face. He had worked hard to convert the den to a recovery room for his wife. A double mastectomy deserved that. But now there was a problem.
Look Kate. You have your chair here. You have your remotes here. And you have your window here. And now you have your television here.
Kate frowned.'s too high. Cant you make it lower?
George felt the irritation between his eyes.
It is not too  high! Look!
He jumped into the La Z Boy recliner and pulled up the handle.
I am now reclining and I am going to watch television. He hit the remote. See... you can see the television perfectly from here!
Kate stood in her robe with her arms crossed.
You're taller than me.
What! No I'm not! George released the recliner and stood up. You're just being difficult and complaining the way you always do. The television is not too high!
I'm the one that got cancer Kate said quietly.
I know! I know! But you are also the one being a bitch!
Kate stared at him dully.
Look...I'm sorry...just just...sit down...please just sit down and try it.
Kate sat down in the recliner.
There now turn on the television...there...isn't that nice? You have a window to look out of. You can control the television. A tray for your meals and you have a great view of the screen. Now...istn this all great? Right...isn't this a nice room I set up for you? Right?
Kate stared at the television and frowned.
It's still too high.

Rocket Man...the American Dream upside down


Saturday, April 20, 2013


Ron and I were adjuncts.
There was one spot for tenure and after the announcement we were in the faculty lounge talking shit.
Larry is an asshole. He's never going to give it to me I said.
Yeah...he won't give it to me either Ron replied.
I really hated the chairman. The dude just wouldn't give me any fiction classes. All Lit classes
Well...I should tell him what I think of him I said.
Yeah....I might too Ron said.
Maybe we should both just quit on the same day. That would show him.
Ron  nodded. He had just published a novel and had some of the fiction classes.
Yeah. I'm tired of working for hotdog money he said.
Yeah fuck him. I say lets go over to Loyola man. At least we get some respect.
I might just do that Ron said.
The guy is a prick.
Ron can I see you a minute Larry said opening the door.
Sure Ron said putting down his head and walking out.
I stayed there open mouthed.
I ran into Ron ten years later in a bar. Full bump. Tenure. He had a beard and patches on his sleeves.
I was working at a realty office.

Rocket Man...The American Dream upside down

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

One Night Stand

They met on the bus. She lived in Lincoln Park and Toby asked her out that night. The bars were deriguer and they got smashed and went back to her apartment. The sex was amazing and on the floor and backwards and in a lot of different other ways. She wore a Japanese robe when they were done and they ate pizza on the floor and then passed out. When Toby woke he had one foot in the pizza box and his head pounded like someone had just kicked him.
I guess you'll call me then she said still in her robe, sitting up.
Sure I will he said pulling on his pants.
I really enjoyed last night she purred
Me too.
Toby found his shoes and his wallet.
It was so much better than Bruce.
Toby stared at her.
Oh don't worry...he's not my boyfriend or anything.
Toby shrugged. That's cool.
He's just a gay guy I had sex with before you.
Toby felt his heart jump up.
She shrugged. Yeah...a couple nights ago. But he wasn't as good as you.
Toby swallowed. A gay guy?
She sat down in her Japanese robe and smiled.
Uh huh.
Toby beat it out of her apartment and got tested right away. This was the eighties and people were dying all over the place from AIDS. He sweated it out for two years and then got married.

Monday, April 15, 2013

David Foster Wallace

 I never really knew him. We went to the same school for our MFA's and at parties the dude was always surrounded by girls. They already knew he was the heavy hitter. I was just trying to get my arms around Hemingway and Fitzgerald but David already had his arms around everything. And then he went off and became famous. I went to the bakery and worked the night shift and hacked out crappy novels nobody wanted.
And then I read Infinite Jest. Stopped somewhere you know in the beginning. Information overload. They say he was a very depressed dude and tell you the truth I couldn't follow his novel. But I mean this was the shit. Everyone said he was the man. Out pynchoned Pynchon and all. Just like at school everyone surrounded the dude and knew he was the man.
And by now I had gotten some printer to publish my first book. All emotion you know. Life shit. I wasn't into information the way David was. I just saw life the way it was. People  struggled liked hell and then they died. In between was life. That's what I wrote about.
Then David committed suicide and the literary world mourned. I had quit my job renting apartments and was struggling along doing loans and writing on the side. I read all the obituaries and I even went back to read Infinite Jest. Couldn't stick to it. The dude was brilliant. Lot of information. Like at that party man way back when.
Everyone knew he was the man.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Randy knocked on the door.
He waited. Tammy was already a month behind. He waited outside the screen door.
Just a minute.
He turned away then Tammy was behind the screen door.
Hi Randy.
He swallowed. Tammy was in a towel with her hair wet. The towel rode high.
Tammy...I'm here for the rent.
She smiled with her green eyes luminescent behind the dark mesh.
I don't have any money. The brakes on my car went out and I had to get them fixed.
Enough was enough. She had a different excuse every month. She lost her job. She had health issues. Now the brakes on her car.
Listen have to pay me the rent.
She stood in her towel and stared at him.
I know. I don't have the money...but I can pay you the rent.
Randy frowned.
You can pay me the rent?
Yes...She smiled again slowly, the towel clinging to her.
But you dont' have any money he said slowly.
Randy stared at her. Tammy smiled again.
Why don't you come in and I'll pay the rent she said softly.
He didn't move. He was married. He didn't move.
You'll pay me the rent he said huskily.
The summer breeze blew between them.
Tammy opened the door slowly.
Come on in and I'll get you the rent, Randy.
Randy hesitated, then walked into the apartment.
Tammy was never late again.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


We can go under the chain.
No I don't think we should.
Jim looked around. The park was empty. An empty park in Maui. Who would really care?
He and Jenny ducked under the chain with their cooler of drinks and sandwiches.
They sat down on the ground and began to eat.
This is nice.
Jim looked around. Hawaii. This was it. His wife was pregnant and this was their last hurrah of sorts. He saw an old pickup truck pull in on other side of the chain.
Who is that?
I dont' know.
The man looked Mexican. He glared out from the window.
What do you want?
Jim stared at him.
I'm sorry.
You want some?
Jim shook his head.
I don't know what you mean.
The man leaned out of his window.
Get the fuck out of here.
He had heard of an underbelly in Hawaii but he dint believe it. Jenny stared at him.
What did he--"
Get the fuck out of here the man shouted.
Jim shut the cooler and pulled his pregnant wife to their car. He walked feeling the mans glare. They drove back to their side of the island quickly.
They never went back to Hawaii after the baby was born.

Monday, April 8, 2013


Rick heard them splashing around.
What is that?
Rats. They swim in the toilet at night.
Rick stared into the darkness of the basement apartment.
Jenny moved next to him. They were naked. They had met online and now they were at her place.
Do they do that every night?
But what know you have to go?
Oh they leave when you turn on the light.
Rick stared at Jenny's eyes. She was from Indiana  and less than five foot tall. She had stripped to that old Bodenes tune Red Red Wine then passed out on the couch. Now they were in bed.
That's creepy.
Yeah. We had them in the basement of our house where my dad lived.
Rick tried to see her in the darkness.
Why did your dad live in the basement?
He moved there after my mom tried to stab him in his sleep with a steak knife.
Rick felt his heart bump up. He swallowed.
What happened then?
He woke up. She only stabbed him in the arm. He moved into the basement after that.
With the rats Rick said swallowing again.
Yes she said snuggling up against his chest.
With the rats.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Get Out of Jail Free Card

Jeff and I were pissing in the alley when they walked up.
Three guys in raincoats with their hands in their pockets.
What are you boys doing here?
Jeff stared the cop back.
Oh are you some kind of wise guy? Pissing in alleys. That's against the law you know the older cop says.
Jeff always talks smack and I knew we were in for it.
We haven't done anything wrong he says.
The cop stared at him.
Yeah. We just had a burglary. Looks to me like it could be yous two guys.
I'm sweating now. I know how it goes down in Chicago. You don't want to be around when there is crime.
You cant accuse us of something we didn't do Jeff continues.
Oh yeah the cop says. Well how about I take you down to he station and find out about that?
I figure we were fucked at this point and throw my last card.
Lets see some IDs from you two clowns.
I pull out my wallet. The other two guys are already cuffing Jeff. I flip out the card the cop gave me on vacation a couple years before. The  cop squints at me.
Where'd you get that card?
Bob OHalloran I answer.
He looks at the other two cops.
Let him go. They take the cuffs off Jeff.
Have a good night boys they say walking down the alley.
I put my card back in my wallet with a shaky hand.
In Chicago it's  all who you know.

Rocket Man...the catcher in the rye of the Great Recession

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bar Fight

The frat guys they didn't know we worked there.
I was behind the DJ booth and they couldn't see me.
They thought Jimmy Gallo and Paul were all alone. And when Jimmy cut them off and said no more shots they figured they could beat his ass. But Richy and Timmy were at the bar and they were both South Side Golden Globes guys. When the first frat guy swung at Jimmy Richy knocked him cold We all started fighting then. There were six frat guys but we started beating them toward the door.
Richy was punching and breathing hard through  his teeth like a bull. We got the frat guys into the door way and then we started kicking them and then they all fell down the stairs. Richy and Timmy knocked three of them cold in the snow and they laid there until the cops came.
Jimmy had us pull down the curtain and when the cops came in we acted like nothing was up.
So you don't know nothing he said to Jimmy.
Jimmy had put back in his false tooth that one of the frat guys knocked out.
No sir. I don't know what those guys are talking about.
They say you guys beat the hell of them for no reason.
Nope. Not us.
The cop looked at us. Richy and Timmy were sitting at the bar and I was back behind the DJ booth.
Yeah. Sure. He said.
But he left and the frat guys all eventually went home. There was a lot of blood in the snow.
Jimmy laughed.
I really loved that he said.
That was a long time ago when Rush Street was Rush Street.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Stu got the Genius Grant.
Something like a half million. We had gone drinking after a book signing like ten years before. I just had a book out and had done pretty well. Stu had a book that had disappeared and was teaching. Anyway I figured I go to the library and watch him read. I figured he might want to go for a drink afterward.
 So I get there and there are lots of people waiting around. Then old Stu comes walking in. He has on a dark sport coat and some lady is hovering next to him.
Hey Stu! Stu!
He squints.
Oh...hey Joe.
You wanta go out and have a drink after your speech?
Stu looks at me.
I really cant Joe.
The lady is staring at me like I'm some kind of bug. I mean I had my glory you know. My book hit the list for a week and then fell from site. I had been there. Its been a while but I was all over the place for a while.
Come on. Remember when we went drinking before?
Stu does one of those fake smiles.
Not really Joe.
Sure..after our reading at St Marys. Remember?
I'm sorry Mr. Deter has to go.
Sure. Sure.  I say. So how about it Stu? A drink.
I really can't Joe. I have to go to a play rehearsal for one of my short stories.
Sure Stu...some other time.
The lady hustles Stu off and everybody goes in to hear him read. I drive home. I didn't need to see Stu read. I'm no genius or anything, but I've been there.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Belushi's Best Friend

This is John and me in high school and here we are in the we are with Dan Akaroyd and John Candy...oh here is Eddie Murphy.Terrence looked at the faded pictures in the scrapbook. They were only people in the basement bar and it was three AM. Chicago was cold and deserted and Terrence wanted to get home but he wanted this interview.
So would you say you were John Belushis best friend?
Angelo leaned down and snorted off the bar. He shook his head fast.
Oh yeah. We were buddies all through high school. He gave me the money to buy the bar.
Yeah...I think it would make a great know our friendship. Maybe you could write it and we'll split the money.
Sure that would be great.
Angelo stared down at the scrapbook.
Yeah...I was supposed to go to the funeral but there was a limit on the invitations. Private. I think Akaroyd didn't want me there. Jealous about John and I.
Terrence nodded. He had been doing this for three months. Coming to Angleo's bar and waiting to get an interview. Every time they got as far as the scrapbook. Angelo grinded his teeth.
Yeah John had it all man. Everything you could want. Fame. Money. All the chicks in  the world.
He stared at the scrapbook.
And he fucking OD's.
Angelo leaned down to the bar and snorted another line.
He stood up and held his nose.
Maybe you could write a book about that.  

Monday, April 1, 2013

Getting Published

Hey handsome.
Jerry turned from the Queen.
Don't you want some of this?
The old Queen hiked up his skirt.
Jerry turned away again.
What are you here for?
I'm meeting someone.
The Queen shrugged.
Suit yourself honey.
He hated this. He hated being here. But he needed the blow. He needed to keep his publisher in coke.
The old Queens stared down the bar. It was one of those basement bars you wouldn't know about unless you were gay. Chicago gay bars were like that. Cheeks. The Manhole.
Jim came out form the back holding a brick phone. Wired.
Oh there you are. I thought you were coming an hour ago. It doesn't matter. I have what you wanted. Bruce you old bitch stay away from him. Ok come in the back. I have the package.
Jerry followed him into the back where there were stalls. Jerry didn't want to know what was going on in the stalls. He kept his eyes straight ahead.
Here you go.
Jim turned around as his brick phone went off again.
Hello! Hello! Oh this fucking thing! I hate these fucking things!
Jerry handed him the money.
All set then....well let me know darling if you ever want to come over to the other side.
Jerry nodded and walked quickly out of the bar and up the stairs into the sunlight.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

New Kid

Now there goes a real faggot!
John turned and saw the blond haired boy laughing against the wall. He was surrounded by others who grinned at him. John dropped his bagged lunch on the lunchroom floor and grabbed the boy by his shirt and pinned him against the wall.
What'd you say?
The boys feet were off the floor.
Hey there! Hey let go!
John was bigger and could easily have thrown him down.
Let go! Let go he yelled turning red, struggling against Johns grip.
John let him go and the blond boy regained his composure.
You better not try that again. Pick up your lunch and get out of here!
John hesitated then grabbed his sack lunch and walked on. He ate by himself in the lunchroom the way he always did since he moved from Baltimore .
Mark Eddington sat down next to him
Hey... do you know who that was you pinned against the wall?
No he shrugged.
That was Randy Calley! The captain of the football team!
John shrugged again.
You better be careful dude.
Mark left and John finished his sandwich. He was a little afraid but there was nothing he could do now. The week passed and he found himself in the far wing between classes. He was walking down the hall when Randy Calley turned the corner.
They stared at each other then Randy nodded.
How's it going?
Good John answered, feeling his heart.
He walked on and for the first time felt like he might make it in Chicago.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Perfect ACT

I got a perfect ACT. Yeah. Not one wrong. People made a big deal about it but all my life things have come to me easy. I never studied in high school. Got all As. Even my dad said I was brilliant and he's a big time scholar at the University of Chicago. My mom too. She said I had a brilliant mind and she's a big time professor too. And so I went to Yale.
 Blew everyone away for the first four years. Then blew them away in Grad school. Published all sorts of papers in economics. You'd think I was the President or something the way people treated me. So I went to do my doctorate and submitted  my dissertation for review. And like they didn't like it. They said it was all wrong. Said my thesis was wrong. I didn't know what to do really. I stayed in my room for like a month. Because I didn't know what was wrong
So then my parents came after the second month. I had a beard by now. They took me home while I tired to figure out this thesis thing. I played X box for two years trying to figure it out in my room. My mom took me to every psych she could find. Nobody could figure out what was wrong with my thesis or what to do. Yale said I couldn't come back. They said I blew it and there were no second chances.
 Mom got me a job at a not for profit in Oregon. We are trying to make fuel out of cow dung. They don't pay or anything but there is like no pressure. It takes a while to figure out how to make fuel out of shit. And I'm still trying to figure out the thesis thing anyway.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Good Man

Tyler came out of the building into the drear of  winter after dropping off resumes.
His feet hurt and he had just enough money for a cup of coffee. He had been unemployed for two years. He flipped up his coat and  saw the Chicago newspaper. They were his age. They had sold an app for a billion dollars! Tyler  stooped to the paper box and read about the two twenty somethings who sold their Instagram app to Facebook. A billion dollars! And he couldn't get a fucking job.
He stood up and hunched against the wind cutting down Michigan Avenue. His eyes watered. He turned and saw the lady fall. She collapsed on the sidewalk and went into convulsions. Tyler ran over and grabbed her arms.
Lady! Lady! Are you alright he shouted
She was small and Asian. Her  eyes rolled back. Her teeth clenched. He pulled out his wallet and jammed it into her mouth. Then he took off his overcoat and put it over her.
You're going to be alright lady...alright he said holding her.
He heard someone next to him dialing 911. He kept the coat on her until the paramedics pulled him off and went to work. They put her on a stretcher and wheeled her away. One of them held up his coat and wallet.
These yours buddy?
Yeah. I thought she might swallow her tongue so I put the wallet in her mouth.
The paramedic handed him his coat and wallet.
Good man he said clapping him on the shoulder.

Toilet Sex

Derek you didn't give me a New Years kiss yet.
He stood up from the ice machine in the motel hallway. Julie's New Year hat was crooked, her blue eyes gleaming.
Where's Melissa and Joe?
Passed out in the room she said moving closer.
And then she kissed him and tongued him. They came apart at the sound down the hall.
Where do you want to go she whispered pushing up against Derek.
My car he answered.
They ran into the motel parking lot and found his car locked. They ran back through the snow into the lobby. Derek saw the MENs room and grabbed Julies hand.
Where are we going?
Into a stall he called back pulling her into a stall after making sure the MENs room was empty.
Julie whipped down her sweats and sat on the toilet. They started and the toilet water sounded like rain. When Derek came he hit the flush. They went back to the room and climbed into bed with their steadies. They had toilet sex three more times after that. Sometimes in the MENS room and sometimes in the LADIES room.
Years after Derek  moved to the suburbs he heard Julie had hung herself from a closet rod in Chicago.
Rocket Man...the American dream upside down

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Alice Cooper

Dude that's Alice Cooper Gary whispered.
I know.
They stood in the elevator with the little man holding his groceries. Devin had gotten used to celebs in his parents apartment building. Pitchers. Actors. Rockers. that really him?
Devin shrugged as they ascended in the elevator.
Yeah. I've seen him around a couple times he whispered back.
Gary stared at the little man with longish hair. He was staring at the control panel.
Schools out forever Gary hummed
Alice kept staring straight ahead
Devin had seen him in the grocery store once before by the vegetables. They had all rocked to his anthems. Eighteen. Schools Out. Snakes. Goth makeup. Blood. Now the little man in the elevator who was trying to ignore Gary.
Cause Im eighteen...Gary hummed.
The elevator opened and Alice Cooper left with his groceries.
Gary stared after him.
Dude! Alice Cooper!
Devin hit the close button.
Rocket Man...American dream upside down

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Last Elevator Operator

Jimmy was the last elevator operator.
All the others had been replaced by automated elevators. He was from the South Side and had done well for himself. He married Marie from the Jewelry Exchange on the twenty fifth floor. She was very Italian and a beauty. He ran the elevators of the building and wore a sport coat. He had come very far from his dad the cop.
His favorite thing was to override the elevator for people. He did it with a steel rod that inserted into the door and allowed him to keep the doors open. He did this for the Governor when he came to the building. The Jewelry building was on State Street in Chicago and known for the best diamonds. He also did it for Joan Lunden who was a television personality.
One day he opened the door for a woman on thirty fifth floor.
Are you going down man?
The very pretty woman shook her head.
No but thank you.
Jimmy pulled back the rod and nodded to the lady. He didn't hear the elevator release and stepped into the shaft and fell thirty five floors down to the bottom. The paramedics had to go down into the shaft to get his scattered body.
They automated all the elevators after that.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Greatest Generation

What are they doing?
How the hell should I know, Betty.
Well Jesus! I didn't know people could do things like that!
Betty. People do it all sorts of ways now.
But on television! They put this on television!
Well its your favorite show.
But how could they do it that way? They're all on top of each other!
I guess that's how they do it now.
But three people?
It's your show.
Wait a that a Jap?
How the hell should I know.
That's a Goddamn Jap Frank!
Yeah,,, I guess it is.
Turn that off right now! Turn it off!
Ok's off.
I'm not going to watch some Goddamn Jap having sex after what they did to us.
Yeah... I wouldn't think they put that on television.
Rocket Man...the American Dream upside down


Where is she?
I thought she was with you!
Kevin jumped up and ran down to the surf and looked both ways on the Florida beach.
Nothing. The million people of spring break.
Go that way he shouted but Julie was already running down the beach. He took off the other way. She was gone. People streaming up and down the beach. Someone grabbed her. Someone grabbed his eight year old daughter. Murdered. Dismembered. Raped. He turned around. He had gone too far. She could not have gone this far. People. People. People.
Did you see her Julie screamed, crying.
No he shouted.
They passed and now he was running the other way. How far. She was gone. This was the day his life changed forever. Nothing would ever be the same. Death. Death was preferable. There were so many fucking people. She was gone. Grabbed. Snatched. Call the cops. 911. He stopped and turned back and ran to where they had been.
Where is she Julie screamed hysterically.
Kevin shook his head.
She's fucking gone! He shouted
Gone. Gone. Gone.
Kevin stared at the ocean. Unbelieving.
He turned.
And there she was walking toward him. Crying. He ran like a crazy man and picked her up.
I was lost daddy! I was lost!
I know I know he said, holding her tight, sinking to his knees in the sand.
Julie fell over both of them.
Oh God...Oh God...she whimpered.


Monday, March 25, 2013


Toby heard the dryer and turned over in bed and stared at the breasts. His window was only a few feet away from the brownstone and every morning the blow dryer woke him up. She had moved in a month ago. The woman began to feel her breasts. She did this every morning in the bathroom while drying her hair. This fascinated  Toby. Somebody masturbating while getting ready for work.
  She finished and the lights flicked off. Toby turned back over in the early darkness and went back to sleep. He ran  into her a few times going into her building. She was a blond young professional always pecking her Iphone. She nodded at the writer next door who obviously had no where to go.
 And every morning they had sex. Toby watched her and fantasized. It wasn't a girlfriend but it was a communion. And every morning he watched the careful fingers massage, feel, finger, rub. His whole day was arranged around making sure he woke up to the blow dryer.
 And then it stopped. No blow dryer. No breasts. Toby wondered if she lost her job. And then she moved and a new tenant appeared. A guy. Toby watched him squeeze a zit one morning and pulled down his shade. He ran into the dude one day as he  came back from the bars.
Yo...what up.
He  shrugged
Nothing man.
Toby paused.
Hey...did you know the chick who was here before?
He was drunk and swayed.
No...but she busted her lease that's how I got this sweet crib he said.
Toby frowned.
Why'd she bust her lease?
He shrugged.
Dunno man....guess she had breast cancer or some shit.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

First Job

Frankie rang the doorbell with the pizza in his hand. He waited. He rang the doorbell again. It was his first job and he was running late.
Hang on someone called out from inside.
He waited and balanced the pizza. The door flew back and a large curly haired man in a robe appeared. He was very hairy and sweating.
Jesus! You really have bad timing!
The mans robe was barely closed and his chest glistened.
Sorry I'm late Frankie muttered.
Yeah...well like I said your timing wasn't so great the man said breathing hard.
He handed Frankie a twenty.
Keep it he said shutting the door.
Frankie drove back to the pizza parlor where Tony  from Chicago was making another pizza.
You get that one there?
Yeah...Frankie frowned. I think the guy was working out or something.
Tony frowned with flour on his cheeks.
 Whys that?
Frankie shrugged.
He was all sweaty and breathing hard in his robe.
Yeah...he said my timing was really bad. I mean I know I was late.
Tony stopped and stared at him. He laughed  loud.
Don't you know what he was doing?
Frankie stared at him.
Working out?
Working out! He was fucking stupid!
Tony laughed again.
You're funny boy...working out!
He flipped the pizza pie over and laughed again.
Funny man. You funny.
Frankie felt his face get hot.
He was still a virgin.

Rocket Man

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

City Life

He's doing it again.
No shit
John and George looked out the window.
He's smoking a cigarette.
How can he do that and smoke a cigarette?
It looks like he's Russian or something the way he's holding it.
George frowned.
That could be a function of what he's doing with his  other hand.
John laughed.
You have that bucket of pennies?
Yeah .
Get it.
George brought up the bucket and kneeled down by the window.
I cant believe he does it in front of his window.
Part of the thrill George murmured.
He winged back and threw a penny. They heard the ping on the window.
He's stopped!
They were both crouching by the window with the  light off now.
Do it again.
George threw there more pennies. Ping Ping Ping. 
Oh he's freaked now.
They watched the man crouch down and stare out the window.
They stared across the courtyard of the building.
You think he knows it's us John whispered.
I don't think he knows what to think.
They waited until he pulled down his shade and stood up.
Guess he wont do that again. John said.
Guess not.
The man was back the next night and the  night after that.
George and John moved back to the suburbs when their lease ended.
Rocket Man...the American Dream upside down

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Strangled by Mickey Mouse

Rick came out of his apartment really hung over from the night before.  He saw a lady being strangled.  She was in a car and the man had his hands around her neck and she was grimacing, trying to get his hands off her neck. Rick stared because the scene looked so much like a movie he saw the night before with the man shaking her back and forth.
 He dialed 911.
Yes there is a  man strangling some lady in car. I'm at 3900 Pine Grove he said going back toward his apartment building.
We will have a squad right there.
Rick kept his eye on the car. It was the middle of the day in Chicago and he had just woke up. The car with the lady and the man suddenly pulled away and roared down the street. A blue and white squad car turned the corner.
Rick stepped out in the street and flagged it down. The cop leaned out the window with blue Mickey Mouse sunglasses.
You call in about seeing some guy strangling a lady?
Yeah. I saw them. They just took off that way.
The cop nodded and roared off and screech around the corner. Rick stood in front of  his apartment building. His head throbbed from the shots of Absolute.  His own apartment had been broken into twice and someone had tried to steal his car and smashed his driver side window. The rents were low and good for a writer. 
The cop car came back around the corner.  Mickey Mouse leaned out.
I didn't see anything. You sure you saw some guy strangling the lady?
As sure as I am that you are wearing blue Mickey Mouse sunglasses.
 The cop stared at him
What are you talking about?

Rocket Man...the American Dream turned upside down


Monday, March 18, 2013

Lost in the City

I think we're lost.
No. We are in front of the projects and it's Saturday night Sean muttered, staring at the sea of young black men lounging in doorways and on the street corner.
I can't believe you did this you and your GPS--
Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop
The people were running now. The world was scattering and Sean pushed Lorens head down below the dash as his heart jumped.
Keep your head down he shouted.
The automatic weapon fire continued as Sean jammed the car in reverse  and smashed into the car behind him. The crash shook his skull. All the cars were trying to break out of the line. He tried to get the shift into first but everything was in slow motion.
Why are they shooting at us!
Keep your fucking head down!
Sean fought with the gear shift. The easiest task seemed impossible. He saw splinters of cement jumping up on the sidewalk. They were firing out of the high rise.  The world had vanished and time had slowed to a crawl. No one was on the street. It was like a war movie where someone shouted incoming and everyone jumped into foxholes.
Get us out of here Loren screamed.
I'm fucking trying, he shouted back, jamming the car finally into gear.
Sean floored it and they went through three red lights before they finally stopped. The man behind him pulled up and they met in the back of his car. 
Are you alright the man asked him.
Yes Sean said shakily. You?
I'm fine he said looking at his Mercades that was trashed.
Sean looked at him.
I'll give you my insurance number.
The man shook his head and looked him in the eye.
Forget about it. We're alive.
He got back in his car and drove off. Sean got back in and Loren stared at him
What did he say?
He said we were alive and not to worry about it.
Loren stared out the window.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Text Divorce

Hey like what up?
Nothing what up with you?
I'm like so bored.
Me too.
You going to McDonalds?
Maybe...if I can get a ride.
Me too.
My parents are fighting.
Mine are getting divorce.
Dads leaving.
NO says he's going to live in an apartment.
Yeah. He had sex with some lady from his office and they sent pictures of their junk to each other.
That's what mom said.
You going to the Bieber concert?
My dads taking me.
So...what time McDonalds?
See you there.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Foreclosure Squatters

Jenny had been in her home for three years for free, but she thought the judge might kick her out now. The lawyer for the bank stood next to her.
Your honor we are asking for a judgement of foreclosure.
The judge looked down then at Jenny.
How do you reply to this Mrs. Simmons.
I have not seen a deed judge. No one can tell me who owns my home.
The lawyer scoffed.
Your  honor my client the bank owns her mortgage.
Jenny turned to the big man in the loud suit.
You have not proved that.
The lawyer sputtered.
This has been going on three years your honor!
Young lady. How do you respond?
I am waiting for a deed your honor.
He turned to the lawyer.
Can you produce the deed?"
Not right now your honor...apparently it is missing but this doesn't change the fact she has been squatting in a home that should have been foreclosed upon years ago your honor!
The judge nodded.
Alright. We will continue this for another six months so you can produce a deed.
Jenny walked out and felt much better.
Anything could happen in six months.

Rocket Man...the upside down American Dream

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Bakery

Pete got a hernia from lifting the route books and so they hired me.
What tha fuck you doing with all them books jack?
Alonzo shook his head.
You aint going to do anything with all those books. You need a job jack.
And then he went out with the rest of the Italians. The loaves went around the bakery all night and fell off with a plop plop sound. The whole place smelled like a warm kitchen. But I was too busy with the night orders. Then Big John came in with Tony.
What in the hell. You still reading. You never going to work are you?
Then they went out and yelled and cussed and came back with more flour on their cheeks. They smoked like crazy and argued in Italian and then went back out. The bread orders died down and then Big John came in with the new guy who put his head down on the shipping table.
You drunk again you stupid motha fucka. I get you a job and you repay me by getting drunk.
The new guy kept his head down on the table. Big John shook his head.
I don't care that you are my brother in law. You make me look bad.
The new guy kept his head down.
Even when Mr. Gonnali the owner came in and fired him.
The new guy just kept sleeping on the table. I finished up my shift and put my books in my backpack and road home with hot bread in my jacket. My wife and I had the hot bread before she went to her job while I wrote all day.

Rocket Man...the American Dream upside down

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Good Samaritian

Roland looked up and saw the young man running.
He stole my purse! The old woman screamed.
Roland took off running after the speeding shaved head.  The young man looked back. He was maybe fifteen.
You better back off.
Roland shook his head, running in his Florsheim's and suit with his briefcase.
Nothing doing he shouted back.
They were running down an alley now. A man looked up at the running boy and then at Roland.
Call the cops Roland shouted.
The man just stared at him and shrugged. Roland was starting to breathe hard.  He had played football. Run track. He jogged. But he had just had a donut and coffee and felt weighed down his briefcase.
You better back off mother fucker the robber said to him again.
No way, he shouted but this time it came out: NO...WAY.
Now they were running down another alley and he was closing the gap. He could see he had on basketball shoes. Nikes. A hoody. He was holding  the purse like a football tucked under his arm. He turned his head, his eyes white.
I'm warning you motherfucker.
Give...up...the...purse. Roland gasped.
He could almost grab his shoulder now. The young man suddenly stopped and turned and pulled out a silver handgun. Roland stopped short his hands going  up.
I fuck you up you keep running he said breathing hard, nostrils flaring, eyes black.
Roland stared at him. The robber put the gun back in his hoody and took off down the alley at a light jog
Roland watched him disappear.  He turned and walked back and saw the old woman.
Did you catch him young man?
No. He shook his head, still breathing jerkily, walking past.
But what about my purse?
Fuck it, he called back, staring straight ahead like a solider. 

Rocket Man...the road less traveled is harder than you think

Monday, March 11, 2013

Eat What You Kill

Gina had written a novel about trolls. She wrote lots of novels about trolls in her bedroom.  No one wanted them. She self published one and went to the Borders to see if they might put it in the store. She walked in and was very nervous and saw a very slim girl with literary glasses. She looked like an author to Gina. Or someone who would work at the New Yorker. She took a deep breath and walked up to the desk.
Hello...I was wondering if the manager was in.
The girl was putting away books and looked harried.
I'm a manager. What can I help you with?
Gina swallowed.
Well. I wrote this book on trolls. Actually I wrote a lot of them and I was wondering if you might put this one in your store on consignment.
The bookstore woman sniffed and looked at her book.
Let me see it.
Gina handed her the book.
You published this yourself?
Gina nodded.
The woman flipped the book over and tipped up her glasses.
We don't sell self published novels. Or POD novels. And I would certainly get a different cover if I were you. That one is pretty cheesy.
She handed the book back to Gina and returned to stacking books. Gina walked out of the store with her face very red. She felt like she wanted to hide. She went home and stayed in her room and didn't come out for two days. She felt like the whole world was laughing at her. She stayed depressed for a month then uploaded her books onto the Kindle site at Amazon. She offered all five of the troll novels for .99 cents a piece.
 Six months later she made a million dollars from her sales of trolls novels. She told the New York Times  she wasn't going to move out of her room in her parents house.
 Borders filed for bankruptcy and vanished before the year was out.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Moving On

Jeff had not become a lifer yet. The writing group had a lot of lifers who came there to socialize. Robert was one of them. They sat through Roberts fiction and never commented. There was a conspiracy to never tell Robert how bad his fiction was. Then Jeff got a book contract and the group changed. He no longer felt the need to read. He no longer felt a part of the group. He had violated one of the unsaid rules by getting published.
Robert had just finished reading and Pee Wee the old writer asked for comments. Everyone started lying and saying they liked the color green. Or they liked how he described a sunset. Pee Wee was about to move on to the next writer when Jeff spoke.
We are lying to Robert.
Pee Wee looked at him.
I'm sorry.
We have been lying to Robert for two years.
The whole group stared at him. Pee Wee was gay and very diminutive.
And you are going to tell the truth now?
Jeff shrugged. Better than lying to him.
Robert had a funny expression.
Pee Wee crossed his legs and leaned forward like a therapist.
And what is the truth Jeff?
I think Robert should know his fiction sucks. It's always sucked.
The group glared at Jeff. He had just violated another rule. Pee Wee gathered himself up in gay hauteur.
You have no right to say that. No one appointed you the judge of what is good and what is bad.
Robert was smiling again.
I happen to like Roberts fiction! And I think it has shown marked improvement.
Pee Wee touched Roberts leg and winked.
So who is going to read next?
Jeff sat there not listening for the next hour.
He left and never returned.
Rocket Man...the Catcher in the Rye for the suburbs

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Kid Fame

G always thought it would be kind of cool to be in a movie. Then he was. He popped out of a ladies stomach as the devil kid.
He's got the look the agent said to his mom.
G thought that was pretty funny. He had no idea what the look was. But they kept asking him for more pictures for the magazine and then they wanted him for the commercials. And now the movie. The look was carrying him far.
So he went to the movie when it came to town. He sat with his mom and dad in the suburban theatre. G was kind of bored. He really didn't understand the movie. Something about devils and church. Filming was a bore. Waiting around. Lunch was cool and not going to school was cool. So then the film ended and all these girls surrounded him.
Can you sign my hand?
Can you sign my arm?
Can you sing my butt?
His mother glared at the girl. G thought some of them were a lot older than nine. Then it just ended. They left the theatre and went to McDonalds and then he played X Box until his mom made him go to bed.  G made a million bucks before he turned ten.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Starbucks Guts

We got to get rid of that monkee in the White House!
Jerry looked up from his computer and stared at the man in the Starbucks.
He's ruining the country! He should go back to the jungle with his wife and kids!
Jerry  stared at the man then looked at other people pecking away.He watched the man sit down at at table and take off his scarf.
He's the worst President we ever had! He wasnt even born here! He's not even our President!
Jerry  felt his heart. It was time to say something. The other people wernt even looking up. Enough is enough!
He's Hilter! A Socialist Hitler!
Jerry shut his eyes. Now was the time to do it. How dare you insult our President like that you racist bastard! That would shut him down.
I hope somebody shoots him! I really do.
Jerry felt shock in his soul. Wasnt that against the law? Somebody should call the Secret Service.He would tell this old asshole where to get off. He studied the man with the small grey mustache and pointy nose. A real moron. Ok. Right Now. Say it! Shut him down!
Hes taking honest peoples money and gives it to the welfare queens!
Jerry stood up. His heart thumped.  He began to cross the Starbucks when the man suddenly stood up and left. Jerry felt cheated. He watched him stand outside and look up and down the steet. Jerry saw that he had left his scarf on the table. He grabbed the scarf and went outside.
The man was just outside the door. Jerry felt like his body was on fire. Now he would say what he really thought!
Yeah he said clutching a cigar.
Jerry opened his mouth.
Hey you got my scarf...thanks he said takign the scarf.
The man walked down the street. Jerry stared after him and felt really cold. 
Rocket Man...Scouting gone bad

Monday, March 4, 2013

I phone Sex

Brittany  and Jim had not had sex for months. The kids. The job. The food. The kids. The job. The food. It went around in an endless circle and by the end they were exhausted and passed out in front of  Downton Abbey or the The Good Wife. didn't really matter what show they were passed out front of because they didn't see it. So they set a night to meet in the bedroom and they lay in the bed with the movie on and the candle flickering.
Why don't you turn off your phone Jim said.
I can't one of the kids might need something.
Brittany snatched it up and put on her glasses. She laughed.
It's just Diane.
Jim laid in the bed in his skivvies. He really wanted to have sex but he was worried about the job. They had just put him on a PIP (performance improvement program) and he wondered if they might fire him. His phone dinged.
Yeah Frank.
We are having trouble with that file.
Does Henry know?
Yeah. They have complained to him.
Alright...let me see what I can do in the morning.
He put the phone on the bedside table. Brittany was staring at him. The candle flickered. Their wine waited.
Ok... Jim said.
They stared at each other. Bzzzz. Brittany reached over in her negligee.
It's Janey...she needs to be picked up in an hour
That's cool. That gives us time.
Brittany texted back.
She put the phone down and they stared at each other. Nobody felt sexy. 
How about we just send naked photos to each other? Jim suggested.
 Brittany stared at him with the phone in her glasses.
Are you serious?
Yeah. Why not? Look. I'm busy. You're busy. This whole meeting in the bed thing isn't practical and frankly its kind of a waste of time. I say lets e-commerce it and get rid of this brick and mortar shit. I'll send you a provocative naked photo of myself and you send me one of yourself and then we just get ourselves off. We can even take after sex photos of us know smoking a cigarette or something.
Brittany shrugged.
Sounds good to me. It will save a lot of time.
You bet.
So the next day they each sent their photos and when Jim came home from the office they kissed.
How was it?
Great Brittany purred.
How about you?
Outstanding!  Best sex I ever had.
They stared at each other.
You hungry? Brittany asked.
You know I always work up an appetite after sex.
I'll order a pizza.
Rocket Man...the Catcher in the Rye for the Great Recession


Friday, March 1, 2013

Downwardly Mobile

Todd had been living in his parents apartment in Chicago ever since graduating from the University of Iowa that put him a cool hundred and twenty G under water. He sent out resumes to everyone in the world a Communications major could think of. Most of the time he got nothing back.  Sometimes he got back a form letter. And it had been a year. And now it was the second year. His dad gave him a hundred dollar bill before he left for work.
Go out and have some fun.
He had been pretty depressed. College educated. Bright. Ambitious. No job. No job. No job. He partied hard because there was nothing else. And with the hundred bucks he headed for Rush Street to meet up with some friends. The drunk fest was typical with no women really interested in the twenty five year old who lived with his parents. The Great Recession was chugging along and sometimes Todd wondered if he would ever leave his parents apartment.
And now he was walking to find a cab. Two AM. Drunk. Just munched. Hot dog. Fries. Shake. Ride home to bed. But he was horny. It had been like a year. looking for some.
Todd turned and saw a black woman looking up and down the street like a cop. She had on tight sparkly pants and heels. Todd shrugged.
What are you thinking?
I give you a blow job for five dollars.
Todd stared at the waiting cabs down the street. What the hell.
The woman motioned him into the alley. Todd looked both ways and nonchalantly strolled into the alley.
Give me the five bucks.
Todd fished out his wallet. The older woman took the five bucks and looked up and down the alley.
Alright...drop your pants.
Todd pulled his pants down and and felt the November air on his ass. The woman went below him and he tried to get into it. But her mouth felt dry and kind of used up. It was like a dry sock. He saw a man stare into the alley and felt really weird. She was doing something below him  but he couldn't see because of her head.
Hey...that's cool. I'm good he said.
She stood up and nodded.
Alright...And then she looked both ways and walked out of the alley. Todd buckled his pants and caught a cab home. He felt pretty  disgusted with himself. A new low getting a blow job from a hooker in an alley. He resolved to stop his slide toward downward mobility right then.
The cab pulled over and he realized the hooker had stolen his wallet.
Rocket Man...the novel of suburban hell

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ten Thousand Sexts

It started very innocently. Jeanine was Mikes account rep. She was single and they would text back and forth about her dates.
The guy last night couldn't even get it up!
That is not my problem.
I'll bet!
Just like that the sexting began. Mike had four kids and a wife of fifteen years in the suburbs. Jeanine was ten years younger and lived in the city.
So you must have been pretty wild before?
I got laid a lot Mike sent back.
I can see that...are you well equipped?
A lot of woman say about you?
I love a good cock.  Size does matter.
The sexting exploded. Mikes phone buzzed constantly and they dared each other with each sext. Jenine sent a picture of herself on a topless beach.
Nice tits
I have a nicer ass.
And do you like it that way?
Mike tried to scrub his phone in case one of the kids or his wife picked it up. But there were so many and Jenine kept up the stream even at night. Mike went out to the garage to continue sexting. Jenine began sending nude shots.
You like?
You are hot...more?
Jenine sent pictures of herself getting off. Then she followed up with video porn clips. Mike sat in the living room in the middle of the night sexting. He sexted in the morning, on the train, in the bathroom. He took pictures of himself and sent them.
Ohhh. You are big. More?
When his wife found his phone in his jacket there were ten thousand sexts. The reason for the divorce in the legal documents was infidelity. Mike protested and said he had never sex with Jenine. His wife stared at him in the lawyers office.
 Really? Ten thousand sexts and you want me to believe you didn't have sex? Please!
After he told Jennine he was getting a divorce the sexting stopped. Not one sext. Mike sent a text asking if she would like to go to dinner. His phone buzzed.
Dating someone new!  LOL.

Rocket Man...funniest serious novel since Russo's Straight Man. Chicago Sun Times

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Online Dating

Claude sat in the Denny's booth and watched people walking in. He felt his heart. Love did this to you. Your heart. The sweaty palms. The funny fluttery feeling in your stomach. Yes. He was in love. He had been married twenty years and had forgotten what love was. Not the old obligatory love but the kind he felt when he was in high school. He found himself humming all the time now.
He looked up to a pimply girl with a nose stud and bright red hair. She was bigger than he was. Claude stared at her with the coffee steaming below.
I'm Julie...are you Claude?
His mouth opened.
She slid into he booth chomping gum and smirked.
Oh you mean because of my pictures. Yeah. I figured you wouldn't respond if I put my real picture on she said clasping Goth nails. But I'm still the same person Claude you have been talking to for the last year.
But... He felt a hollowness sin his soul. You never were that...person? names not Julie either. Its Heather. That was this Julie bitch who is stuck up twatty cheerleaders photo I lifted. Heather raised her eyebrows. But what the fuck. I'm the same little highschooler you've been lusting after with your horny bullshit.
Claude was sweating.
I'm sorry. But I...cant really do this. You were dishonest with me.
Heather frowned.
Oh fuckng come on!You re the one with the family meeting fifteen year old high school girls at Dennys. Whose being dishonest here, Claude.
He felt his heart beating against his chest. Sweat broke out all over his body.
I can't do this...I am sorry. I have to leave.
Heather flashed him. The phone flash stunned Claude and he saw nothing. Then she came around the booth and jammed herself next to him.
No you don't Claude she said putting her toungue against his ear.
What...what the hell are you doing!
She held the camera up. Flash .He was blinded again.
Claude stared at her as she went back to his side of the booth.
Heather took out her gum and tapped her camera.
Lets see...yeah...I think I'll share this to Facebook.
Claude felt himself burning up.
You cant do this--please don't!
Oh and guess who friended me yesterday. Your wife. I thought you might turn into a shithead when you saw me.
Claude felt the blood leave his face.
What do you want...I will do anything....
Heather sat back in the booth and stared at him.
You're an asshole. I really liked you Claude.
I'm sorry. I was just in shock. You are a very attractive young woman...I think we can continue with our relationship. I do...really.
Heather stared at him then slung her backpack up and stood up.
Fuck you Claude.
No...please sit down he pleaded, starting to cry. I'll lose my family!
Heather held up her phone with her finger on the send button.
Maybe next time you wont be such an asshole Claude.
Heather pressed her phone and left the Denny's. She lit a cigarette outside, slushing along in the snow. She shook her head.
Guys are such assholes.
Rocket Man...the American Dream upside down

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tammys Likes

Tammy loved Facebook. She loved posting pictures of her trips and getting likes.  She loved that people liked her photos. When they went to Switzerland she posted a hundred  pictures. She posted pictures of their trip to Hawaii. The likes were amazing. They went to the White House and she cropped a picture of the President so it seemed like she was standing next to him. A hundred people liked that photo.
I just cant believe you are with the President!
Tammy preened and then posted a photo of herself in her swimsuit.
You look so hot!
You look fabulous!
You are a babe!
The likes increased. Then she posted a picture of herself in a bikini from ten years before. The likes and comments poured in.
You are luscious!
How do you keep in shape!
You have the life!
Several men asked her to friend them. She did. Someone posted a link to American Idol and told her she should try out. During all of this she barely thought about her son. He had been having trouble at school. They fought quite a bit. She grounded him. She took away the keys to his car. He would bother her a lot when she was on Facebook. She often snapped at him.
Can you please please leave me alone, Toby! I am doing something important.
Sure mom he said glaring at her. Tammy didn't care. She was posting their pictures from Paris and she looked unbelievable in front of the Eiffel Tower. More likes. The next day she got a text.
She opened her page and saw a picture of herself naked. Just out of the shower. Under it was a caption.
The comments poured in.
What a whale!
What a pig!
Man I wouldn't wish that on any man!
Creature from the deep!
Tammy's  likes hit an all time high.
Rocket Man...the Catcher in the Rye for the Great Recession Generation


Monday, February 25, 2013


Hey that really you?
Hello Nathan.
Wow. Imagine finding you on Facebook after all these years! LOL
Yes. It is amazing.
You look great Jennifer! It's like you haven't changed at all since college.
Well thank you.
I mean I know you are married and I see you have kids!
Oh yes...three.
Wow! Yeah. I'm no longer married...still looking for the right one. LOL.
I imagine that is hard.
Not too bad. I'm glad you friended me...I was  just remembering  all those great times we had!
College was really fun.
Hard to believe really. I mean here you are with kids and a husband and me with no one but I mean we dated...what three years?
I think so.
Right. Ha. I was just thinking about that bar we used to go too...Billy Goats...remember?
LOL. I mean we had some great times.
We  certainly did.
And like remember that  one night. I think we had a few and we ended up walking all the way back to the fraternity.LOL
I think so...
LOL. We never made it. Remember? We ended up in those peoples yard?
I'm not sure I remember this...
Sure. We ended up you know in their front yard...and we...well you know...we had a few. LOL
I really don't remember this Nathan.
 Don't you remember?  I just remember how AWESOME it was...LOL....I mean it was pretty cold out and I remember how cold the grass was and we could see the people in the window! know what I'm talking about...right there in their yard! LOL

Rocket Man...the Catcher in the Rye for the Great Recession Generation


Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Old Painter

John had been waiting to see the old painter. He lived in the far Western burbs and needed an infusion of culture. A shot of real life from his normal nine to five. When his friend Paul invited him to go drinking with the old painter in a dive bar on the edge of Chicago he jumped. The house was in a run down neighborhood. John drank in the street people and the feeling of impending crime.  The old painter showed him various things he was working on.
This is a lady you can pull around he said pulling on a shopping cart with a metal boob.
John stared at the painting.
That's something.
Oh yeah I just make whatever the old painter said hitting him with bad breath.
They went into the basement where an easel and paints were set up.
This is where I paint.
John breathed in gas. A furnace leak he thought. Sulfur. Maybe a bad sewer. The darkness of the basement was depressing. The old painter looked at him. How about a Scotch?
They left for the bar and the old sculptor was hungry.
I want a pizza. he proclaimed staring at a menu.
Can you order me a pizza he asked the young androgeny.
Well you can call the place yourself.
No. I want you to order it for me.
The young androgeny shrugged and took their drink orders and left.
This is a young crowd the old painter said.
John looked around. He didn't think it was so young.
Its good to see a little bit of light when you are in twilight, huh guys?
 John smiled. They talked about the Civil War. The old painter pelted him with halitosis and talked about Grants philosophy. The pizza came and the old painter ate almost all of it. He became boozy.
We are old men. he said to no one.
Someone said to me your lucky you're an artist he shouted above the music.  It's a Goddamn burden the old painter said shaking his fist at the heavens. But what can you do? You suddenly are just old and that's it.
 They drank and then went home and John drove  back to the suburbs with Paul.
What's his wife like?
Paul squinted.
She's quiet and demure. Not at all like him.
 John went into his home and climbed into the bed next to his wife and their daughter. He stared at the ceiling and listened to their breathing. He was very glad he wasn't an artist.
Rocket Man...the American Dream Upside Down

Friday, February 22, 2013

Starbucks Mom

Hey Ms. G Is that you?
Wendy had on the headset and felt her face warm
Yo. Ms G. I thought that was you...hey dude your mom is working at the Starbucks!
Wendy felt herself freeze up but she had to bang out a latte, a mocha, and two fraps.
Alright boys. Pull up to window 2 she said in the microphone, lining up the cups and hitting the steam. She dropped a cup and pulled up another one. She hadn't told Jerry about working at Starbucks. It was a just a job and since Guy lost his sales job and was now working at Best Buy it was just the way it was. She heard the sound of music in the open drive window.
Hey Ms. G...Yo Ms. G! Is that really you?
She went to the window. Ryan driving his Range Rover who lived in the largest home in Brooklane. And she just smiled. Just smiled. They weren't worried about losing their home. They were not on food stamps or Medicaid. His mother was not working at Starbucks for health insurance and groceries.
Hello Ryan. That will be thirteen seventy five she said taking the money.
Yo Ms. G...Jerry is in the back. Hey Jerry man it's your mom dude. She's working at Starbucks!
She squinted into the leather recesses.
Hi mom her son  muttered looking down.
Hi sweetie.
She handed Ryan the change and then his tray of drinks.
Yo...thanks Ms. would have thought I'd see Jerry's mom working at like Starbucks he said smiling toothily.
Wendy smiled quickly and then the Range Rover left the window. She turned to the steam machine and was thankful for the heat. The steam wouldn't look like tears then.

Rocket Man....funniest novel since Richard Russos Straight Man...Chicago Sun Times

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Performance Improvement Plan

The PIP was on his desk when he came in. George grabbed it up and went into Henry's open office.
What the hell is this?
Henry looked up behind his large desk.
What, George?
This! This fucking PIP!
Henry sat back. He looked great for the morning. Shiny shined. Teeth cleaned. Hair watered.
You mean the performance improvement plan he asked calmly.
Yeah. I come in and find this...this...thing on my desk. I got kids and a mortgage,  Henry. I don't need this extra stress.
Henry clasped his hands and smiled gently.
I have kids and a mortgage too, George.
Oh please. You live in a mansion and your kids all go to private schools. It's not the same
Henry laughed lightly.
Its not a mansion. Look, we had a good meeting yesterday George and so I just put it in writing.
Henry held the PIP up and read.
And if these conditions are not met then termination is an option. He looked up. That's putting it in writing?
This is not a witch hunt George. I want you to succeed more than anyone else.
I do. And so does Diane.
She hates me George muttered.
She is your processor. She doesn't hate you George.
Yes she does. She hates my accent. My files. What I eat. She hates me.
Henry clasped his hands like a counselor.
Look. Lets implement the plan we talked about and then the PIP will go away.
The only reason to have a PIP is so I won't sue you when you fire me he said dully.
Henry laughed again.
George. George. That's just not true.
Yeah it is.
Its for your improvement George. Not your termination.
Uh huh.
George left Henry's office and sat at his desk. He stared at the PIP. He signed it and left it on his desk. One week later Henry canned him.
Rocket Man..the novel of fathers and sons

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Short Cop Story

So I was sitting there in my apartment of the Thai food place with the window open and I hear clank clank clank on the fire escape. Two cops walk right by me and continue going up the fire escape toward the roof. I stick my head out the window.
What's going on?
Ah...missing person. Gotta see if we can see the guy through his window this really fat cop says.
So I swing out on the fire escape because I have nothing going on the story front and its a  hot night and I'll do just about anything but face that blank screen.
You see anything the skinny cop calls up to the fat cop.
Nah...I think I got to go up to the roof.
I climb up the fire escape to the next landing and the skinny cop looks at me with this bored expression. The fat cop is already on his way up to the roof. My building is like five feet away from another building. Chicago is all jammed up like that. So the fat cop reaches the roof top and stares across.
Can you see anything the cop yells up.
No. But I think if I lean over I can see into the window the fat cops yells down.
So while the skinny cop and I are watching the fat cop leans between the two buildings like a bridge. He blocks the sky and we are looking up at his big belly.
How about now?
Yeah. I can see into the apartment. There's nobody there.
The cop next to me shrugs.
Then lets go.
The fat cop doesn't move.
Hey. I cant get back! You gotta come up here and pull me back!
The skinny cop shakes his head.
No way. I'm afraid of heights.
I'm stuck the fat cop says.
I'll go up and pull him back I say.
The skinny cop shrugs.
Suit yourself.
So I monkey up the stairs and reach the roof. The fat cop has his hands on the other ledge and is trying to look over his shoulder.
I got you I say grabbing his gun belt.
Don't let go he says.
I wont.
I hold onto his gun belt with both hands  and plant my feet., two, three!
I jerk back and the fat cop comes back with me and staggers a few feet. He turns and shakes his head.
I'm getting too old for this shit.
And then he clanks back down the fire escape with the other cop. I go down and swing into my apartment and sit down at the glowing screen. I busted out my story in a half hour.
Rocket Man...suburban life gone bad.