Category Archives: Fiction

Obama Poops Wrong, Conservatives Agree

A recent poll of self-described conservatives, as well as independents who are full of crap and are actually Republicans, revealed a startling list of things Barack Obama does incorrectly, including pooping and pooping-related activities.

“I poop in a Port-a-John on a construction site, usually,” said one Southern Ohio respondent.  “Have you ever seen Barack Obama poop in a Port-a-John?  This guy’s supposed to represent us, but the only place he wants to poop is an Air Force One toilet with a fully-functional French bidet in it?  I don’t think so.”

Over 81% of respondents agreed that President Obama should make an effort to not be such a limp-wristed sissy boy about where he poops, and to try harder to connect with Main Street Poopers, some of whom are perfectly happy pooping outdoors in broad daylight.

“What I want to know,” said another respondent, “is how does he have all this time to sit around pooping when there are three wars, a crisis in Japan, and the NCAA tournament going on?”

This was a common sentiment – fully 915% of respondents agreed that no matter what, the President should never be doing anything except talking into a microphone to the American people, talking on the phone to other world leaders, giving the thumbs up to military commanders, washing cars for conservative Senators, and extending tax cuts for really, crazy rich people.

Similarly, the same poll suggested that when a President is elected, his duty lies not in meeting his campaign promises, but instead in obeying the most recent polls, which are really like four-dimensional voting vortexes, trumping the actual votes with their temporal, polymorphic Super Accuracy Pellets of American Consensus.

For example, 51% of respondents agreed that any majority in any poll at all is reason enough to completely invalidate the policies a candidate ran under. 

Like health care reform, which was a cornerstone of Obama’s campaign – and which did among other things get him elected – but then certain polls showed that if you rephrased his campaign promises using more conservative language and repeated use of the word “comrade,” a majority was against the same promises.

That’s the tricky, metaphysical way that the American people voted for a man who promised health care reform with a public option, but then staunchly agreed that such a thing would be a communist, soul-destroying attack on everything America ever stood for.  In just six months.

Which is also why the Republicans won the House in the next election, a clear mandate from the American people to Washington:  Do everything the Republicans say, do it the way they say it, and maybe we should be throwing garbage at the President whenever he walks into a room, instead of playing that one President song.

You don’t need to yell at us, 88% of respondents agreed – because polls don’t lie unless they’re bullshit left wing media polls, which are dumb.

Other statistical surprises:

  • 77% suspected the President doesn’t fold the toilet paper before wiping his butt, instead balling it up, which they described as “wasteful,” “lazy,” and “not very green.”
  • Just 12% believed that Barack Obama had the stones to pee in the shower, instead stepping out to use the toilet like a simpering, pansy-ass Mama’s Boy. 
  • Among the foods that Obama should not be eating, respondents overwhlemingly chose chicken, beef, carrots, anything green, lamb, tacos, portabello mushrooms, pizza, turkey burgers, sushi, eggs, turnips, Pez, cereal, fruit, hot dogs, popcorn, spaghetti, fish, candy bars, Girl Scout Cookies, Slim Jims, peanut products, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
  • A solid 100% believed that the President bombed Libya too late, with another 100% agreeing that he never should have bombed Libya because he’s Kenyan and not really the President.  Five million percent were outraged that the French got to bomb Libya first, while 8% believed that Libya had nothing to do with pooping at all.
  • 166% of respondents described the specifics of Obama’s pooping preferences as both “an outrage against God” and “definitely some of our business.” 
  • One bright spot for the President, the respondents were in unanimous agreement that Obama could potentially do something right, if for example he were to announce publicly that everything he does is wrong and then resign.
  • The study also showed that although the vast majority – eight million percent – sincerely and fervently prayed to God every single morning and night that Obama would magically turn white, a significant portion admitted to an irrational fear of such a development, many of them citing the Joker’s feelings toward Batman, and the whole Who Would I Hate If He Were Gone thing.
  • 100% of respondents indicated that the First Lady should never speak or leave the White House, though admittedly 0% were able to come up with a complete sentence which could be accurately attributed to Mrs. Obama.
  • 87% believed that the President’s bracket was “wasteful” and “possibly homosexual and communist at the same time,” whatever that means.
  • Suggestions were varied in terms of what Obama might be able to do to change his abysmal poll ratings, some suggesting that he resign (70%), leave the planet (88%), fornicate with an intern (66%) or get really into an addictive X-Box game, like Starcraft 2 or Gears of War(44%) and not come out of his basement til he beats it.


Either way, the poll spells trouble for Obama, who was no doubt relying on the Comically Confused And/Or Racist Vote for re-election in 2012.  The White House has declined to comment on the poll, citing “fiction,” “satire,” and a “lack of interest in blogs and bloggers.”


Posted by on March 26, 2011 in Fiction, News/Commentary


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Future Tom Blog Force: Stupid Rising

Spang and I were wearing cowboy hats for some reason, getting some sweet, Eastwood-caliber lighting going on our profiles, so we made sure to use really serious, scratchy voices when we talked to each other, because we’d already agreed to be fictional today.  And we were floating on an iceberg in the Arctic Ocean, our ostriches tethered next to us, and yes, they were wearing hats, too.

Spang smacked his lips and shivered and said, “Why so fictional?  This is kind of distracting and my toes hurt.”

“Aliens,” I told him, and then we squinted at the sunset for a solid forty seconds, nodding.  It had been exactly three and a half days since either of us had shaved.

Spang finally said, “I’m not following you.  I was talking about conservatives, and how after eight years of staunchly insisting that war protesters were unpatriotic for speaking out against the President, they’re suddenly perfectly fine with talking about Barack Obama like he’s a hunchbacked busboy in a Victorian Era nut house, and throwing garbage at him, too.”

“They’re pretty comfortable with that,” I agreed.  “How about when that one guy stood up and screamed ‘You lie!’  Can you imagine if a liberal Congressman did that to Bush circa 2002?  Now go ahead and imagine a black liberal Congressman.”

“Pandemonium, that’s what it would be,” Spang said.  “I mean, the whole thing begs the question:  What exactly is Barack Obama allowed to do that doesn’t suck?  I mean, can he go to the bathroom?  Eat a cheeseburger?  Have sex with his wife?  Pet his dog?  What?”

Absolutely true – it was all over Facebook. “The guy fills out a bracket and shoots a round of golf, and instantly every Johnny Conservative on Facebook is wondering why with all the trouble in the world, the President has time for anything except constant, solid, 24-hour Presidenting.”

“And then God forbid the guy should actually fly to Japan,” Spang pointed out.  “First thing you’ll hear is, how much did it cost for Obama to go to Japan?  Is Obama wasting your tax dollars in Japan?  Did he bow too low?”

“And not just that,” I said.  “All over Facebook it would then say, hey, why’s he helping Japan when we have plenty of problems over here?”

“Where’s our bailout!?”

“It’s disrespectful, plain and simple.  So blatantly disrespectful that it’s hard to let it slide.” 

Spang shook his head and said, “But damn it, you know – I’m trying to just ignore it, because it’s so unbelievably, irrationally, nauseatingly stupid I hate to justify it with a response.  And also, I’m afraid to find out if these people I know and hang out with sometimes – are they actually the rock stupid idiots they appear to be when they talk like that?  Or do they know that what they’re saying is bullshit, but they say it anyway just to carpet bomb Facebook with Obama negativity?”

“Like a digital cropduster,” I mused.  “Spreading stupid on purpose, instead of just standing around with your finger up your nose, being that way.  Which would be worse?”

We watched a few neon pink and blue dolphins honk at us as they leapt past us in the emerald waves.  It was pretty fictional down this way, that was for sure.  I said it again:  “Aliens.”

“Yeah, why don’t you go ahead and finish that thought.”

“You ever read Majestic by Whitley Strieber?”

And that gave Spang a good laugh.  He arched his eyebrow at me and said, “No, I’m quite sure I haven’t read any Whitley Strieber books, Tom.  That’s where the gray aliens and the anal probes came from, right?”

“That’s right.  But listen, the book opens up…”

“You want a buy a crystal or some beads, Tommy C.?”

“No.  No, I sure don’t.  Listen, this is important.  The novel – and that’s what it is, a novel, in the fiction section – ”

“Like us,” Spang said proudly, patting his ostrich on the head.

“Yes, like us.  The narrator is talking to someone he knows, a publisher I think, and he’s saying that he’s worried about putting his book out because it contains all this super top-secret U.S. Government alien conspiracy stuff, and he’s worried that he’ll get killed.”


“Yes, naturally.  So the guy says to him, hey, just write it as fiction.  That way if they kill you, then they legitimize the fiction.  They’ll be the opposite of motivated to kill you.  And if they leave you alone, then they can continue denying everything and point out that your book is in the fiction section.”

“So he tells you in the first chapter of his fictional novel that he’s only calling it fiction so he won’t get killed.”

“Right.  So you can choose to believe he’s telling the truth.  But you can’t argue with him, because he’s writing fiction.  This is from 2002 by the way.”

“Ah ha.  And that’s the problem with these asinine attacks on the President – the reaction is all that they need.  It’s very clear that both historically and recently, the President is entitled to personal time, every single day.  There’s always something going on that’s important, but still – he gets vacation days whether he’s a white conservative or a black Democrat.  And again, when Michael Moore was criticizing Bush for playing golf and hanging out on his ranch so much post-9/11, this same exact crowd was calling Michael Moore a terrorist for it.”

“How dare he speak out against the President in a time of war!”

“Right.  Now we’re in the middle of two wars, and they’re feeling free to knock his books out of his hands whenever they get the chance.  I’ll be real honest with you – it makes me think it was a mistake to retire the dreaded N-word.  At least in the seventies, the racists were easy to spot.”

“And I think that’s your point.  Any response to these absolutely submoronic insinuations only causes a discussion about them.  An argument.  And just having the argument with them legitimizes the topic.”

Both the ostriches started nodding, because yes, that was my point all right, and they were pretty smart ostriches.  I told him, “That’s why I thought we should meet fictionally.  Because then we can express to anyone attacking the President for innocuous bullshit, that to rational adults, they sound like simpering, adolescent imbeciles, and that we would no sooner argue with them about it than we would argue with a Holocaust denier.”

Spang nodded at me and hopped up onto his ostrich.  “And then if they show up to argue about it -”

“Then we just point out that we’re riding flying arctic ostriches over an ocean we’ve never seen, and if they want to argue with us while we do that, well we certainly won’t have legitimized anything will we?”

“The Reverse Bangkok Bullshit Switcharoo.  Why meet absurdity with anything else?”

And so Spang and I rode off into the frigid sunset, the words “You Are Poisoning The Earth With Your Stupidity,” coming out of our ostriches butts in rainbow letters, and it was up to anyone watching us to determine if the words were meant for them. 

Oh yes and then one of the ostriches farted and it sounded like either me or Spang saying, “Screw you if you don’t think the President of the United States should get to fill out a bracket, we both know you filled one out at work, on the company dime.  Racist.”

But it wasn’t really either one of us saying that, it was just an ostrich farting.  So don’t worry about it.



Earlier:  Rein In Your Idiots, Please


And:  Future Tom Blog Force: Crisis On The Internet


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The Opposite Of Homeless (XIII)

 (Note this is a work of continuous fiction.  The first twelve parts are at these links:   Part One, Part Two, Part Three , Part Four , Part Five , Part Six, Part Seven , Part Eight , Part Nine , Part Ten ,Part Eleven , and Part Twelve)

It’s about ten minutes work, cleaning the house.  While they’re cleaning, James explains that he keeps the security system on if he sleeps there, so that the beeping will wake him up should Debbie arrive unexpectedly, giving him at least a few seconds to get up and run.

“How serious do we need to be about cleaning.  I guess pretty serious, with no one else here to blame anything on.”

“Well, yes,” he agrees.  “But nothing too crazy.  I’ve never been fingerprinted, so it’s not like you have to wipe everything down or anything.  But yes, Debbie will notice if there’s a glass of Dr. Pepper sitting on the coffee table.  She doesn’t drink carbonated beverages at all.”

“But she chain smokes,” Rose says.

“Yes,” James agrees.  “There’s that.”

They consolidate all of the garbage into the pizza box, and then James goes out to the garage and pulls the truck around, and they drive into town in it, listening to nineties music on the radio, not talking much as the rain rattles against the windshield.

When they get to campus, James is quiet, putting the truck in park at a parking meter, not looking at her, not looking at anything in particular. 

Rose says, “It’s been a great night, James.”

“What do you have to do?”  He blurts out, the desperation and jealousy as sudden and unpleasant as a serious fart would be, in these close quarters.

“There’s just a group of us,” Rose tells him.  “We watch out for each other.  Watch out for some other people.  Strength in numbers, I guess.  And it’s not pleasant, James.  We call ourselves The Grims for a reason, and it’s not as cool as what you have going, but at least I can keep my dignity.  You don’t know what I went through, James, before I joined The Grims.”

But James’ eyes tell her that he knows plenty about suffering and indignity and old-fashioned terror.  He’s a skinny guy, and he’s been on the street a while.  When he was sixteen, there probably wasn’t much of a difference between him and a girl.  Her heart aches for him, and yet she’s trained it so well.  She won’t reach out for him, won’t tell him that she feels anything at all.

Instead she says, “I’m sorry, James.  That wasn’t fair, I don’t know what you’ve been through either.  Kim and Brian, and whatever they did…”

He winces at their name, and shakes his face as if to dislodge their names from his ears.  He says, “Rose, I’m going to get out of this.  I’m going to have my own place within a month, and I’ll take you with me.  You can come with me.  You don’t have to be my girlfriend, just my friend – and it won’t be grim or awkward.  You can forget about all those people and whatever they make you do.”

“They don’t make me, James.  That’s the point.”

And he winces again, still knowing nothing, still operating entirely from his imagination.  “All right, Rose.  Whatever.  Just go do what you have to do.”


“Just go, Rose.  Seriously, I’m tired of begging you to let me treat you with a little respect.  I guess you don’t care about that sort of thing.”

And there it is, they always start hitting you one way or another, once you failed to jump on their arms.  Failed to become an accessory like a scarf or a necklace.  She searches the cab of the truck for whatever it is that she wants to say to him, and she gives up, exasperated.  Gathers up the pizza box and the empty two liter, and the rest of the garbage, and opens the door of the truck.

She says, “I’ll drop this stuff in a dumpster.  Are you going to meet met at the Pizza-By-The-Slice place tomorrow?”

He stares ahead, his hand on the top of the steering wheel, not answering for several moments, then finally he says, “Yes.  Yes, I’ll see you there.”

Rose glances over he shoulder at the damp alley, the garbage blowing around it, and she longs for a stranger’s living room, for the sanctuary that James finds in the gaps of other people’s lives.  The alley seems very stark and lonely, and for a very serious moment, Rose believes she is about to get back in the truck.

Instead she turns back to James and tells him softly, “It’s not a boyfriend.  It’s not stripping and it’s not sex.  It’s just grim, James.  Grim, but nothing that would hurt you.  Nothing that you should feel threatened by.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” James replies, and Rose closes the door, and watches him drive off into the rain.


(Note.  This was the first chapter in an ongoing work of fiction.  The second chapter will begin soon, and I will link to it here.)


Posted by on October 25, 2010 in Fiction, The Opposite of Homeless


The Opposite Of Homeless (XII)

 (Note this is a work of continuous fiction.  The first eleven parts are at these links:   Part One, Part Two, Part Three , Part Four , Part Five , Part Six, Part Seven , Part Eight , Part Nine , Part Ten , and Part Eleven)

“No alarm, no nothing,” James goes on.  “I came in to look around and found the code on the wall in the pantry within about a minute.  Pulled open a junk drawer, and found a spare key in another minute.  Then I went right back out the door, right back across the field, down the road into town, and made a copy.”

“Then you brought the original back later, and you had another house,” Rose finishes for him, turning from the refrigerator to clap her hand together.  “Got it.  So you said something about a pizza.”

“Right,” James says, taking a cordless phone from its cradle on the kitchen counter.  He dials a number from memory and verifies a few toppings with Rose, then orders a large pizza and says he’ll be there to pick it up in twenty minutes.

“How are we going to do that?”  Rose wants to know.

James points at a handmade key rack on the wall by the window, little kitties painted on it.  A single black key on a pink plastic ring hangs from one of the pegs.  “We’ll take the truck,” he tells her.

So a few minutes later, they’re driving down the country road as the wind turns to a sprinkle and then into actual rain, just as they’re entering a small crossroad town a few miles away.  James swings the truck into the tiny parking lot of Angie’s Pizza, runs inside with the stolen waitress money, and then trots back out with a pizza and a two liter bottle of Dr. Pepper.

And it’s a pleasant night.  They sit around in Debbie’s living room with Skyler, eating pizza and watching a movie about some kind of giant monster stomping around New York.  It’s not one of the monsters she would recognize, like Godzilla or King Kong.  Still it’s a good movie, and she gets more stuffed eating the pizza than she has been in a long time.

They lounge on opposite ends of the couch as the rainy night grows dark and windy, and when the movie is over, it’s nearly ten o’clock.  Rose finds herself thinking about The Grims, and where she is supposed to be right now, what she’s supposed to be doing.

She says, “I have to get back into town, James.  You said you’d drop me off – are you planning on using the truck?”

James doesn’t answer at first, he just flips through the channels, looking for something else to watch.  At last he says, “I did say that, so if that’s what you need to do, I’ll take you there.  But we can get a decent night sleep here, head back on foot around seven, and get some breakfast at that diner by the bus stop, when we came out this way.”

Rose doesn’t remember the bus stop, but it still sounds good, another true, actual meal to be eaten off a plate, like normal people do.  She gets an inkling that maybe her job with the Grims isn’t necessary, when you can float around the way James does.  But believing it would mean trusting James, something she wants to do – really wants to do – but can’t.

She says, “It’s a job, James.  It’s a job and it sucks but I have to do it.  I start skipping nights and I lose the protection.  It’s different for a girl out there, James, and I don’t have twenty houses like you do.”

“I can protect you, Rose.  I don’t know what you have to go do, but I can see that you hate it.  I can see that something’s controlling you the way you’re afraid I will, except I’m not going to hurt you, Rose.  You have to know that by now.”

And it’s true – he hasn’t made a single move on her the whole night, despite her lying back on a couch a few feet away, despite his uncontrollable pants, despite the fact that he’s a boy and she’s a girl and here they are alone. 

What does he want from her?  She turns to look at him as he studiously pretends not to notice, still flipping through the channels.

Rose says, “James, you want to take me out again tomorrow?”

He keeps looking at the television, but the corner of his mouth curls up just a bit.  He says, “I don’t know, Rose, I’m kind of busy.”

“I’ll tell you what.  Take me back to campus, the south side.  Drop me off, and I’ll meet you tomorrow at three o’clock, down by the Pizzza-By-The-Slice shop.  This time, I’ll buy you a slice.”

James sighs and gets to his feet, starts straightening the room up.  “We need to put Skyler back in the cage and get this garbage out of here.  Then I’ll get the truck out of the garage, and get you where you want to go.”


(Continued Here)

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Posted by on October 25, 2010 in Fiction, The Opposite of Homeless


The Opposite Of Homeless (XI)

 (Note this is a work of continuous fiction.  The first ten parts are at these links:   Part One, Part Two, Part Three , Part Four , Part Five , Part Six, Part Seven , Part Eight , Part Nine , and Part Ten)

Rose feels her body tense up; she bounces on her heels a few times on the concrete patio, ready to sprint back the way they came.  It’s an exhausting thought, running out into the woods just as night falls, the temperature dropping and the scent of rain heavy on the wind.

But James grins and walks casually into the the house, while Rose waits on the patio, her arms folded, looking around the yard.  It’s a secluded old house and she can see why James likes it – only one other house is visible at all, a big brick manor just a little down the road across the street. 

There are a few lights on in the other house, and the flickering of a television in a wide front window.  Rose wonders if the people who live there know Debbie, if they’ll notice lights and televisions, and if they know when she goes to work.

Now another noise starts up, the barking of a tired-sounding dog.  Rose takes a step forward, arms still folded, and peers inside. 

There’s James across a large, tidy living room, entering numbers into a wall-mounted keypad.  The numbers beep as he touches them, in the same electronic voice as the system alarm, and after four of them, the system falls silent.  Now the dog seems louder.

“Is the dog new?” Rose asks.

“No, that’s Skyler,” James tells her.  “He’s a good boy, we get along just fine.  She keeps him crated up so he doesn’t crap in the house, but I always let him out.”

He wipes his hands on the legs of his khakis and proceeds farther into the house, calling out, “Skyler!”  Then he looks back at her, his eyebrows up, and says, “Pull that door closed behind you, okay?”

So Rose closes the door and follows him into the kitchen, dimly lit by the light over the stove, where he opens the pantry and gets a bag of pig ears off the rack on the inside of the door.   Somewhere else in the house, the barking gets more rapid and excited and a metal cage clangs and thumps as Skyler moves around in it.

Rose looks around the kitchen, a tidy, autumn-colored area with frilly orange placemats at a little breakfast nook table, and crafty, decorative signs hanging up that read “Home Sweet Home” and “In This House We Serve The Lord.”   A bowl of fruit looks inviting – apples and bananas – but Rose isn’t sure what the rules are about eating the food in a house without teenagers.

Does Debbie know how many bananas she has left?  Rose peers into the sink at a single cereal bowl with a spoon in it, filled with soapy water, and she thinks that Debbie probably knows exactly how many bananas were here when she left.

She starts to ask James, but he’s already heading down a hallway, creaking across the floorboards.  He calls out behind him without looking:  “Don’t turn on any lights and don’t eat anything.  There he is – who’s a good boy?”

More clanging around and then a bunch of floppy dog noises, and then James creaks back down the hall, a small black lab mix at his heels, which trots up to Rose with the pig ear in his mouth and smells her, whining a little.  She leans down to pet him, telling him, “Hello, you good boy!”

He gets used to them pretty quick.  James leaves the two of them in the kitchen to get to know each other, creaking through the house to verify for certain that it’s empty, while Rose goes to the refrigerator to look at a few pictures of Debbie’s daughter, a bleach blonde wearing a cap and gown in one photo, a Cracker Barrel waitress outfit in another, a green prom dress in a third.  Also attached to the refrigerator door with a magnet is an admissions letter to Florida State.

When James comes back in, Rose tells him, “Debbie’s daughter looks like a whore.”

“You should see her Facebook page.”

“How did you get the security code, out of total curiosity?”

He opens the pantry again and motions her over, and when she leans in to look where he’s pointing, she blinks a couple times, shaking her head.  It’s a little Post-It, sticking to the wall next to some emergency numbers, unmarked except for the number 4506.

“Debbie goes running on her days off, takes her about a half hour.  She takes the dog with her, and for some reason she doesn’t lock the door or turn the system on.  She’s really diligent about it at practically all other times.  I watched her run a few times to be sure about the timeline, and then I came and tried the door right after she left one day.”

(Continued here…)


Posted by on October 20, 2010 in Fiction


The Opposite Of Homeless (X)

 (Note this is a work of continuous fiction.  The first nine parts are at these links:   Part One, Part Two, Part Three , Part Four , Part Five , Part Six, Part Seven , Part Eight and Part Nine)

Rose tells him she’ll wait in the hallway and James says, “I’ll be right back.”

He disappears into the dim apartment, and creaks around in there, making some rustling and thumping sounds.  A drawer opens and squeaks as it closes again.  Then he returns, jingling his keys.

“A lot of servers keep their change in big milk jugs by their beds – they get tipped in change and it accumulates.  They probably don’t even know how much they have.” 

He locks the door and then takes her wrist and slaps her hand against his thigh, startling her.  Then she realizes his pocket is bulging with coins.  They thump back down the stairs and when they get outside James says, “So I just went in there and picked up five or six bucks in change from each of them, and three dollar bills from each of them.  They’ll never miss it, and if they do, they’ll blame each other before they’ll blame a stranger.”

Rose says, “It seems like it’s just a matter of time before your luck runs out, James.”

“It almost did today, but not quite.  Not quite.”

“Okay, so where to now?”

“Now we get on a bus.”

A city bus.  They catch one just a few streets over – James seems to have the bus schedule memorized – and he pays their fares in change and they ride the bus south, off campus and down into an older, undeveloped section of town.  They switch buses, heading east, and end up on and old, dreary street at the edge of town.

It’s dusk as they start walking, James leading the way, still looking confident.  A whole different neighborhood, and though his demeanor hasn’t changed, he still looks right at home.  Still blends right in.  How is that possible?

This is an area with a lot of vacant lots, and a lot of new construction.  They’ll have this place cleaned up and looking good in five years, but for now the old, vaguely seedy element still hangs in there.  Even the signs and storefronts are rusty, dingy, made for another era and never replaced.

The people have the same look, like they’re lost in time.  Something about affluence lends itself to graceful aging – maybe it’s the clothes, the health care, the peace of mind.  Out here the old folks walk bent over, their faces sucked in half the time, bulging the other half.  And they don’t look at you, not ever.

Rose and James pass a couple of toddlers in a wide, fenced yard, one of them shirtless and chewing on a pacifier, his face smeared with orange popsicle, the other a little girl who isn’t finished with her popsicle yet.  Hers is blue. 

The two kids are pretty blunt about the flat stares they give the passing strangers.  The kid with the pacifier has something in his hand – it might be a live toad.  Behind them, a tired-looking woman smoking a cigarette watches them from a lawn chair on a simple concrete stoop.

James picks up the pace a little, trotting across the street to a wide lane leading out of the city.  There’s even a sign, telling them they just left the city. 

It’s another half hour’s hike – across a vast field crunching with withered corn husks and then into a wooded ravine.  They finally emerge behind a single, two-story house with red siding, a lightpost bathing it in harsh light.  The woods are thick around them, the old trees clicking and tapping in the purple breeze. 

“That’s Debbie’s house,” James announces, scrolling through his phone.  “She’s a nurse at St. Catherines, works twelve hour shifts.  She just started ten minutes ago.”

He shows the phone to Rose; it displays a daily calendar showing Debbie’s schedule.  She says, “I see you.”

“We’ll just swing by the garage and make sure the Elantra’s not here.  She’s got a little Nissan truck, too, but she drives to work in the Elantra.”

“You have any idea how creeped out people would be if they found out even a little bit of what you do all the time?”

James shrugs.  “Well, Debbie shouldn’t get freaked out.  A few weeks ago she put a Lean Cuisine in the oven – her microwave broke – and then she forgot about it and went to work.  If I hadn’t come in and smelled it, probably would have burned her house down.”

They walk right up to the garage window, crunching across the gravel to peer inside.  “Nope,” James says.  “She’s at work.”

He takes out his giant ring of keys and jingles them around as they crunch back across the driveway to the back door, which has a small white patio table arranged around a single chair and a few gardening tools and a small clay flowerpot doubling as an ashtray, two thirds full of sand and cigarette butts.

“A chainsmoking nurse,” Rose observes.  “Nice.”

“I feel bad for her,” James replies as he unlocks the back door.  “Husband left her for an actual stripper, moved down to Florida.  That was three years ago, just her and the teenage daughter, Meggan.  Now Meggan’s in college down in Florida, the old man gets to see her all the time – and he still lives with the same stripper!”

He cocks his neck to look back at her, getting a pursed-lipped series of very slow blinks from her, for being creepy.  Then he pushes open the door, and a sudden noise gets a little jump out of her.

A beeping.  Some kind of regular, computerized beeping coming from inside the house.

“Is that a security system?”  Rose asks.

“It sure is,” James tells her.

(continued here)


Posted by on October 15, 2010 in Fiction, The Opposite of Homeless


The Opposite Of Homeless (IX)

 (Note this is a work of continuous fiction.  The first seven parts are at these links:   Part One, Part Two, Part Three , Part Four , Part Five , Part Six, Part Seven and Part Eight)


It’s a long walk to campus, and a lot of traffic on the bike path, joggers and people with dogs.  The bicyclists call out, “On your left!” as they pass – there’s some kind of system for where you’re supposed to walk and where you’re not. 

Whatever the system is, they’re doing it wrong.  James and Rose eventually abandon the path altogether, walking instead in the grass among the pine cones and the turds. 

It’s getting breezy and the air starts smelling like rain, and the first of the leaves are already on the ground, still a little green at the stems.  They move along in no particular hurry, pausing to pet dogs and point at ducks and occasionally dodge out of somebody’s way.

The crowd is distinctly suburban, like a half-assed Gap commercial going on all around her.  Rose is surprised by how easily she blends into them, with just a single, nonsensical word down her sleeve.  This is a part of town she would normally avoid – they can smell fear in places like this.  It’s like a horror movie.

She normally hurries through an area like this, her arms crossed over her chest and she looks down while she walks.  It’s not a chicken-or-the-egg thing, either.  Sauntering around casually was the first thing she tried out on her own, and at first it worked.

But the time wears the normal off of you.   You don’t shower regularly, no one does your hair.  You’re scared all the time.  You don’t sleep.  Pretty soon no amount of casual sauntering will allow you to blend in with the civilized.  They simply reject you, like a bad organ or a virus.

So she also knows that it’s not just the Aeropostale shirt she’s wearing.  It’s James.

He wears their clothing.  Not just in style, but literally – he walks into their houses and puts it on, and leaves it there later for someone to launder.  He eats their food and access their computers and God knows what else, so they accept him.  Like they smell their own urine on him or something.

Whatever it is, he’s used to it.  He doesn’t merely walk among them, he walks like them as well.  The way they manage to sort of look around at the tops of buildings and glance at their phones and wink at each other as they stroll along.  Right there on the street, as if nothing bad ever happens there at all.

They stop on bench on the edge of campus and eat their bananas and cereal bars, and James springs for a Pepsi from the hot dog guy, with laundry money.  Then they hike all the way across campus to the clusters of apartments on the other side, where James pauses in front of a massive old Victorian house, gets out his phone and makes a call.

They stand their on the sidewalk trying to find things to look at for thirty seconds, then James puts the phone away and says, “Okay, let’s go.”

They climb the steps to the porch, where a mountain bike with no seat is chained to a metal railing, and then they walk right in the front door of the house.  James cracks up as they cross the entryway to a set of stairs.  He says, “That front door is supposed to be locked, but it only is about two thirds of the time.”

Rose frowns at a door on the first landing as they pass it.  As they mount the next flight she asks, “So, what were you going to do if it was locked?  Kind of a long walk.”

James turns and lowers his voice.  “I have a key.  I just didn’t at first.  Keep your voice down, the dude on the first floor is not too sharp, but he’s home.”

Rose concentrates on the next flight of steps and then at the top of them asks, “How’d you get the key?” 

James points to the door’s hinges, shaking his head.  “The hinges are on the outside.  Can you believe that?  They cut these old houses up into apartments, and they just don’t think it through or something.  I don’t know.  I just waited til they all went to work, then I came in here with a tool belt on, carrying a tool box.  Took the door off it’s hinges, pulled it out of the deadbolt.”

He fishes a key ring out of his pocket.  Rose gives him a flat smile until he looks up at her, and she says, “You some kind of janitor or something?”

“They’re numbered,” he tells her.  “Look.”

She looks, and indeed they are numbered, little roman numerals up into the twenties.  “What’d you use a Sharpie?”

He unlocks the door and leans inside, “Hey, Erica?  Kara?  You guys home?”

Then he walks on in, saying, “I spent less than a minute finding a spare key.  Almost always there’s one in the kitchen junk drawer, this one was on a giant Hello Kitty key ring.  I put the door back on, locked it, went down to get a copy made, came back and returned it.”

(continued here)


Posted by on October 14, 2010 in Fiction, The Opposite of Homeless