Monday, October 26, 2015

Religious People Are Peculiar

Geez, how disorganized is this court? I'd hate to be a defendant. Hey, who's the defense attorney? You? Me?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Rachel’s Clothes

I scrub the floor with her old clothes, my tired hands trembling as I drop a dirty shirt or sweater into the trash, one more piece gone. And my life moving forever into the future, though much faster than I’m working. When my time comes, I’ll still have half her wardrobe and a filthy house. But it’s the best I can do. The best I’m willing to do, Susan says. She might be right, but she always knew Rachel better than she knew me, and was first bothered when she recognized one of Rachel’s favorite jerseys next to a pail of water on the kitchen floor, like I was some madman using Rachel’s skin in some nefarious manner, like using an angel’s wings to do the mundane, if not profane. As if that could hurt Rachel, when we know nothing can hurt her now. Though perhaps we don’t even know that, not really, not for sure. There are demons enough in certain places, places I may have to give up avoiding.

Susan says I’m not ready. I never argue with Susan, not out loud anyway. There are some people who are just always right, to the point when we ignore them when they’re not wrong. I still find it awkward and miraculous that when Rachel left, Susan stayed. I long thought of them as a package deal, and expected them to make their exits together. Not to die, of course, but to disappear in a puff of smoke, to be shuttled off to the place where they both truly belong, a place I believe in only very infrequently. But here she is, Susan, with Rachel gone. Not in a puff of smoke, but in a twisted sculpture of metal and glass, and she never a fan of modern art. I wanted to put that car, what was left of it, on the lawn in front of some government building – perhaps a school or courthouse – with a panel attached to it with some clever titled I haven’t yet settled upon. Susan says I need to let go of my anger, but it isn’t anger I feel, not exactly. And she’s not one to talk there. I’ve seen her hurling stones at God and beating her own car with her fists. In those moments I am unusually calm, and I think she loved Rachel better than I did, and it’s then that I feel anger. At myself, mostly. But also, and perhaps more specifically, at everyone else. 

But that wrecked automobile should have been used for something. Rachel hated things to go to waste, but maybe she hated modern sculpture even more. “Just make a jungle gym instead, so at least children will get enjoyment from it,” she’d say. I didn’t like the sculptures either, but sometimes I would take up a contrary position if only to get in a word or two. No, that’s not it. I took up a contrary position not so I could speak, but so that Rachel would continue speaking, to give her more fuel. I always loved her voice, the passion there, even when about something trivial, something she knew to be trivial, and there’d be this twinkle in the sound, like even in her most serious moments there would be a clue to the humor if only you paid attention. I lived to hear that. At least, that’s the way I look at it now. Susan might tell you something different, might say I often didn’t listen at all. She might say I wasn’t even there to listen, that there were times when Rachel went to her if only to be sure she was heard. Or maybe not. I’d like to remember myself as better than I was, if only because that might mean I’m now better than I am. And I’d like to think that at least some of the time I actually deserved Rachel. When I was there, when I wasn’t off with those who spoke without passion, without a twinkle, without humor. With those who might not have spoken at all. I’d like also to say I’ve forgotten those others. But that’s not the case, and banging my head against the cabinets and walls doesn’t dislodge those memories from my brain, or even make their presence more bearable. At least, not yet. Rachel should reign supreme in my thoughts, in my memories, in my imagination, the others disappearing, or at least fading back a bit. Susan would say… No, I say that that should have been the case when she was here, and sometimes it was. But only sometimes.

I don’t ever want to get this house clean, but I will keep at it. And Susan may stick around to remind me of things I shouldn’t forget as well as some things I should. And after a time we’ll be gone too, soon but perhaps not soon enough.

(Copyright 2015 by Michael Doherty)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Cheryl’s Bedroom

When Cheryl finished putting up the wallpaper in the bedroom, she decided to end her life. It wasn’t just the wallpaper, and she’d be sure to indicate that in her note, though the wallpaper had definitely been a mistake. The wallpaper was the last in a long string of personal disappointments, setbacks and minor disasters, each making life a little less pleasant, nibbling away at her will to live until there was more missing than remaining. There hadn't been any major crises, and this wallpaper had seemed a harmless enough pattern in the store, when viewed in such a small section. But now that it surrounded her, staring at her from every wall, she could see it for the monster it truly was. It changed the bedroom completely, devouring and eliminating any feeling of peace which might have still existed there, and replaced it with angst and horror.

Cheryl stopped herself, waited until her breathing became more stable. She couldn’t let this wallpaper be the focus of her entire suicide note. And she wanted to keep her message brief enough that it would all fit on one side of a sheet of paper, so that her husband wouldn’t have to turn the page over. She knew he wouldn’t. If he saw it was more than a page, he’d skim it or just read the first and last lines. He was like that. He'd lose focus, he'd become impatient, and his mind would wander. Perhaps to sports. Who knows? When was the last time he’d read a book? She couldn’t recall. Maybe in college. Maybe not even then. Back then, he spoke like he read a lot. He’d fooled her, she saw now. He was no intellectual. He never had been. He was perhaps only slightly better than a moron.

No, don’t be mean, she told herself. She crossed a sentence from her note, then put a second line through it. She refrained from putting a third line through it, understanding that if her husband really wanted to, he could figure out what was written there. She guessed he wouldn’t bother, but liked giving him the option. And maybe she would end the note with “Love, Cheryl.” Would he believe that? Certainly he would.

Cheryl put the pen down and stared back at the wallpaper, at her final mistake, almost daring it to do further harm. And though it ridiculed her and insulted her and teased her, it didn't do more than that. But Cheryl had had it with insults, and decided she didn't want this wallpaper to be the last thing she saw. She'd have to kill herself in another room. The next best place would be the kitchen, which perhaps would not make the same dramatic statement as would her death in the bedroom, and might even have a humorous tone. But so be it. She took the largest, most serious knife from the drawer next to the kitchen sink. But as she contemplated various places of her body to insert it, she caught her reflection in the window, and something in her face still seemed to hold some promise, like that of a future she once imagined. And yes, perhaps it was fleeting, perhaps it was illusory, but it was enough. She returned to the bedroom with the large, serious knife, and began stabbing at the wallpaper, tearing at it, harming it, until it was in tatters, hanging off the walls in pieces. She then flipped the suicide note over and wrote simply: “I am leaving. Cheryl.” The longer message was still on the other side, but Cheryl was certain that her husband wouldn’t look at it. Well, fairly certain.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Photos From Work

Yesterday I was working in Hollywood, near the corner of Sunset and Vine. Here was the view from our base camp during the sunset. See, sometimes even Hollywood can be beautiful.

And just for the hell of it, here is a shot from today, this one in Chatsworth.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Slightly Familiar Couple

     The man looked familiar, but Joanne couldn’t quite place his face. He was staring at her expectantly, and she considered faking, “It’s nice to see you.” But then at once it hit her: This man was her husband, they’d been married for thirty-two years. He was smiling. That’s what threw her off, she decided. When did he begin smiling? It wasn’t like him. Maybe he was up to something. Or perhaps he’d banged his head. Should I check for bumps, for blood?
     “Jo,” he said.
     “Yes,” she said.
     “Happy birthday, Sweetheart,” he said.
     Oh. That. Had he bought me a gift? Had I opened it already? I wasn’t paying attention, Jo realized. Lately she didn’t pay as much attention as she used to – not to her husband, and sometimes not to herself either. But he kept smiling, and Joanne felt she had to say something in order to get him to stop. Otherwise, this could simply go on indefinitely.
     “Thank you, Sweetheart,” she said. This didn’t work. His smile only got bigger. He must be in pain, Jo surmised, using muscles in his face that have long lain dormant.
     Joanne thought about leaving the room, escaping, but for the moment couldn’t remember what other rooms stood nearby. What were the choices? Maybe there were none. Perhaps they had just this one room. Nonsense, what home has just a kitchen?
     “You are so beautiful, Jo,” the man said, surprising her again, and making her wonder if perhaps this wasn’t her husband after all. He certainly spoke in a manner very different from that of her husband. But no, this has to be her husband. And something is wrong. He must be injured. Perhaps he’s dying. That must be it. And didn’t she see him taking a pill earlier? Medicine momentarily postponing the inevitable?
     “How long do you have?” she heard herself ask.
     “All night,” the man said. And his smile somehow grew even wider.
     Well, just one night, and then this would be over, and she could get back to whatever it was she’d been doing thirty-two years ago, before she’d gotten into this mess.
      But now this man, her husband, stood up before her and held out his hand. She could see no other option but to place her hand in his, and suddenly she was on her feet too, and he was leading her out of this room, out of the kitchen, and, as she’d guessed, there were other rooms. And the room to which he took her was the bedroom. All at once she recalled what she’d been doing thirty-two years ago, because she found herself doing it again, and this man was not yet her husband. He was her boyfriend, her lover. He was the man who took her in his arms and made the world melt away, and he did that for her now. Everything around her disappeared and she saw clearly what was really important, for it was all that remained.
     “I love you, Jo,” he now said.
     “I love you, Raymond.”
     It was a truth she knew she could hold onto, at least for a little while.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Stan Diffle’s New Home

Stan Diffle climbed down from his perch atop the Johnson home at the insistence of Officer Paul Maddock, enforcer of certain laws and an imaginary friend to his wife Laura Maddock on the weekends. Mr. Diffle had been up there for nine days when Mrs. Johnson, author of three children and one book on the unsustainable habits of toddlers, first noticed him. She’d been out in her front yard, throwing telephone books at birds, when the bright yellow of Diffle’s umbrella caught her eye. Mistaking him for a bird, she aimed a telephone book at him, but came several feet short of hitting him.

Stan Diffle had, of course, noticed Mrs. Johnson earlier. Two weeks earlier, actually, and she was the reason he’d chosen that particular roof to perch upon. He’d spotted her at the local library, where she’d been checking out a copy (the library’s only copy) of her own book. He had just stepped out of the bathroom, and actually that had been his sole reason for stopping in. Stan was on a walking tour of the nation, looking for a new home after his previous residence had been torn down to make way for a giant pet store, and discovered libraries a nice source of restrooms. One look at Mrs. Johnson told him he’d found what he’d been looking for. For in that moment when he emerged from the bathroom, Mrs. Johnson was bent over, putting the book into her cloth bag, giving him a phenomenal view of her hat, which attracted him greatly.

Mrs. Johnson, when she finally realized Stan Diffle was not a bird, did not find anything attractive about him. As a bird, she found him a nuisance. As a man, she thought him ridiculous bordering on absurd, and Mrs. Johnson was no longer a woman who cared for the absurd. She’d given that up only the week before during an argument with a solicitor on the phone. She soon saw that no phone book was going to remove Stan Diffle from the roof, and not wanting to raise her voice, as she’d give up shouting at the same time she gave up absurdity, she called the authorities, whom she knew to be quite fond of shouting.

Within days of getting the call, Officer Paul Maddock arrived at the scene, bull horn in hand. Stan Diffle was at first reluctant to comply with Officer Maddock's request to come down from the roof, having become very comfortable there, and having grown more attracted to Mrs. Johnson’s hat. Stan was not a tall man, and was certain he’d be unable to see the full glory of her hat from a position on the ground, unless of course she bent down again to put something in her bag.

But the moment Stan reached the ground, the birds took advantage of the distraction to attack Mrs. Johnson, hurling back those dozens of phone books. Officer Maddock couldn’t swear whether it was the shock of the attack or the weight of the books that killed her, but he was fairly certain that she was dead. And Stan Diffle was able to get a much better look at the hat, for when she was knocked down, it landed at his feet.

On second thought, he decided, it wasn’t such a nice hat after all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Mistress Boobilicious is the object of my preposition.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Alien Stimulation

When the aliens come, and it sounds like they're on their way, it will be to meet Mistress Boobilicious. They are well aware of her charms, having picked them up on satellite imagery, and are eager to greet her in person. Earth governments need not worry about things turning hostile, for Mistress Boobilicious has the power to ensnare, control and enslave, regardless of the species or gender, or the intentions.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ella Pantoon

Ella Pantoon is one of Earth’s lesser known satellites. She circles the globe more slowly, since she travels at a distance of only nine feet from the Earth’s surface, and so is often banging into trees, houses, telephone poles, circus tents, giraffes, football stadiums. Very few astronomers care to study her, and these days even her husband and children pay her little attention, having discovered collectible card games.

But Ella stays on course, largely undeterred, undismayed, and underfed. Basketball players used to toss her sandwiches, but have since moved onto other, more high-profile, causes, and Ella must subsist on apples, bird eggs, squirrels and other things she can grab from trees as she passes by. Ella never complains, although, if asked, she’ll admit to not being all that fond of travel.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Mistress Boobilicious On The Go

Mistress Boobilicious has a suitcase full of special toys and instruments that she keeps with her at all times. So she's prepared for whenever the mood should strike her, be it at a bus stop or in a restaurant bathroom or in a changing room at a clothing store. So keep an eye out for this magnificent beauty. And if she's wearing her furry hat, get ready, because she means business.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Mathematics, Reality And Several Tiny Stones In My Shoe

In earlier sessions I revealed that I am, in fact, a small piece of driftwood. Today I explore the effect this has had on tribal warfare and prime numbers. Turning to the chart now, I see that it's crooked, but that can be fixed by a small team of fuzzy technicians just after nap time.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

All-Nighter Downtown

You know it’s going to be a fun day at work when the street for crew parking and basecamp is blocked by police at both ends because of an escaped convict, and there are no detours or instructions. After being turned around at one end, and then managing to find the opposite end, only to be blocked there as well, I stopped in the middle of the intersection, hoping to get a police officer’s attention. I made eye contact with the nearest one, but he was on the phone with his wife or mother or something (I could hear his half of the conversation, and it was not that difficult to tell it was nothing official). After several moments it was another officer who came over to me. I explained where I needed to go, and he told me to cut through an alley, which is what I did. Then, before I’d even parked, some background began asking me questions, about where to go and so on, a full hour before their call time. I was like, for the next hour you can go wherever you like. A significant portion of the background, as it turned out, spoke no English. That certainly helped things. In situations like that, you just have to laugh and make the conscious decision to be amused by everything. Besides, this was to be an all-nighter, so I had to pace myself, you understand. I couldn't get all that upset right at the beginning.

Later, an old lady collecting cans and bottles (who may or may not have been an extra - I don't even know), took a half-filled can of grape soda and poured the contents into one of the coolers, even as I stood there, frantically motioning for her not to. This was as the cameras were rolling, so I couldn't very well yell at her to cut that shit out. Not that she would have understood anyway. Besides being apparently unable to speak English, she was clearly mad. And then, as I motioned for her to come toward me away from the cameras, she said something in gibberish and walked directly into frame. It must be difficult for her. Or maybe not. Maybe her world is so simple and tiny that everything is easy. I don't know. I was glad the cooler she poured the drink into was the one full of diet sodas, because at that moment I needed a Mountain Dew.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Playtime For Mistress Boobilicious, Part 2

Mistress Boobilicious opens her magic suitcase of goodies, removing each object carefully, lovingly, almost reverently, as the slaves chained to the walls look on hungrily. Their demise is her true gift to them, and they are well aware of it, some having traveled great distances to be devoured by her sweet rage. She’s collected the objects from various regions over the years, slowly gathering the right instruments, those which will cause the most amount of pain for her subjects, and the most amount of pleasure for her. Some she designed and built herself, and the presentation of these objects signals the end of playtime for most of her slaves.