Monday, November 30, 2015

The Joy Of Knitting

     She met Thomas at her grandfather's funeral. He made her laugh by leaning over the coffin and nibbling on her grandfather's ear. It was the only thing that lifted her spirits that horrible day, and since then she couldn't get him out of her mind. He'd told her his name, but hadn't asked for her phone number, nor offered his, and she wasn't sure if she'd ever see him again. She briefly entertained thoughts of staging her grandmother's death, to bring them into contact again, but that became unnecessary when she ran into him outside an abortion clinic at the outskirts of town. She was just browsing, and he was there dropping off a friend.
     "Lilly," he said.
     "Thomas," she replied.
     And thus began their strange and delightful courtship in earnest. A few months later Thomas and Lilly would return to the abortion clinic, where he would drop her off before leaving town with an anesthesiologist. But until then, things were heavenly, and Thomas made Lilly laugh every day, sometimes by returning to his ear-nibbling routine with her grandfather's corpse.
     And then later, when his seed was being removed from her body, she thought about taking up crochet and wondered if there was a free class at the local library.
     There wasn't.

(Copyright 2015 by Michael Doherty)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Religious People Are Peculiar

Driving to my cousin's house for Thanksgiving dinner, I doubted I was going the right way. So I folded my hands and prayed, and crashed my car into a tree. Anyway, it turns out I had been going the right way. My cousin was nice enough to drop off some leftovers to my hospital room.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Boobs Malone And Her Chamber Of Horrors

Boobs Malone is one of the most feared and delightfully cruel criminal minds active in the Boston area today. She has a taste for the bizarre, which keeps her victims and potential victims alert and worried, but which keeps her minions entertained.

Michael, her latest victim, suddenly found himself dipped in chocolate and suspended from the ceiling by metal chains connected to a series of clamps attached to his body, leaving him dangling just a few inches above the floor. Boobs Malone then began whipping him, first with rope, then with a thin strip of rubber, and finally with a strand of barbed wire. The blood and chocolate collected beneath him, and Boobs Malone called in her favorite dogs and dwarves to lap it up while she stood above Michael and urinated on him, stinging his wounds and further entertaining her minions and exciting the dwarves, who caught some of the spray themselves.

Having temporarily exhausted herself, Boobs Malone exited the chamber to take a nap, leaving Michael in his suspended state. Just when he thought he couldn't take any more, he was rescued by none other than Mistress Boobilicious, surprising Michael, who had come to believe the persistent rumors that Boobs Malone and Mistress Boobilicious were actually the same person. Now he dedicates himself to his rescuer's pleasure.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ursula's Night

Each New Year’s Eve, Ursula wrote a new draft of her suicide note, promising herself this would be the year. Though now, after thirty-one drafts, it had become more habit than true intention, and she even admitted to herself while writing it that it would likely be old age or other natural causes which would eventually take her, not her own hand. At this point, it was simply a way of taking stock, seeing what she had, and what she would give up. No one, so far as she knew, had seen any of the drafts, no one was aware of this yearly ritual.
     The notes had first been kept in a shoebox, but after fourteen or fifteen years, when she’d begun to suspect that she wouldn’t in fact do herself in, she transferred the notes to a three-ring binder. And part of the ritual now included re-reading old notes. That is what she was doing, a glass of pinot noir in her hand, when the knock came on her apartment door. She glanced at the clock, as if the late hour were the only odd thing about this knocking. It was nearly midnight, only thirty-three minutes left in the year. What could be so important that it couldn’t wait until morning? But as she headed from her bedroom to the door, another question occurred to her, and she wondered why this wasn’t the first thing to jump to mind: Who could it possibly be? Her apartment complex was small, only six units. And she knew that the occupants of the other five were all away. They were college students, and all of them had family and friends elsewhere, people with whom they wanted to share the holidays, or at least people with whom they were expected to share the holidays. Ursula sometimes felt terribly old around them, but at other times felt younger herself, when one or another would take her into his or her confidence about some issue, even though these almost invariably were trifles, inconsequential items of fleeting focus. Ursula always gave them careful consideration, and answered honestly and fully. It seemed they appreciated that, being taken seriously. And Ursula enjoyed it too. Wasn’t that why she hadn’t moved out of this apartment? The other apartments changed occupants yearly, while she remained. Well, that wasn’t the only reason she hadn’t moved, she admitted to herself. Where would she go? It wasn’t that she had a solid reason to stay, but that she lacked a reason to leave. There was no one desiring her company, her presence elsewhere.
     And that once again led her to wonder just who it was that was at her door. She paused at the lock, waiting to see if the knock would come again. Perhaps the person would leave, go and seek help somewhere else. Was that it? Was it someone requiring help? If so, Ursula couldn’t ignore him or her. The knock came again, but softer this time, which startled Ursula, for it seemed to indicate that the person knew she was just at the other side of the door now, and not in the bedroom. She could no longer pretend she hadn’t heard. That option was no longer open to her, though she hadn’t truly considered employing it anyway. Had she?
     Ursula looked through the peep hole, but the porch light was out again, and she couldn’t make out any features. Why was that light such trouble? She had changed it herself only the previous week, purchasing a step ladder from a hardware store to reach it. Or had it been longer? Time had ceased to have a strong hold on her, particularly now when the students were away. The place was so quiet, not just her building, but the entire neighborhood. It felt empty, devoid of movement. And the days were so dark this time of year, it was like death entered the atmosphere and made a home in the very air she breathed. It would be so easy to slip to the other side, like taking a small step sideways. Or forward, she thought. Or perhaps like not taking a step at all.
     The knocking came again, even softer this time, barely audible at all, in fact. If she hadn’t been standing just at the door, she would not have heard it. She placed her palm against the door, as if to connect with that other side, as if to know it without making a choice, the choice to open the door, to accept whatever lay beyond. For she knew now it was no person requiring help who knocked at her door. But could it be someone offering it? She then tapped on the door softly herself, accepting the connection, letting them know she was there and that she was prepared. She had been preparing herself now for thirty-one years, since her sixteenth birthday. The record of her death, kept tidy in a binder, was the record of her life. She put her lips against the door, and closed her eyes.
     It was nineteen days before her body was discovered. Her apartment door was slightly ajar, but the students didn’t pay that any particular notice when they returned from their vacations, busy as they were with their own lives, their own plans, and their rapidly approaching futures. It was the maintenance man who was replacing the dead bulb on her porch, at the request of the landlord, who had driven by the dark building one night and worried about his quiet and lonely tenant. Seeing the door was open, the maintenance man called in, hoping to toss the old bulb into the tenant’s trash before moving on to work in another building. Later he’d swear to those to whom he told the story – and they were several – that he heard Ursula respond, that she said, “Come in.” And so he did. When he first told the story, he also included the part where he heard Ursula say, “I’m in the bedroom,” but he later dropped that, as people seemed to take it in the wrong spirit, finding humor and even snickering. But there was no humor in what he found when he did enter her bedroom. It wasn’t even the corpse, already in the process of decay, that bothered him the most. It was that binder, open to the final page, a strange sort of love letter to death. And the page’s final line, clearly written in another hand, which read, “I accept.” That was the part he told no one, not even his wife, as he held her tightly to his chest as they fell asleep every night for months afterwards, unwilling to let her roll over onto her side, as was her inclination. Eventually he’d release her, and she’d roll over, and things would return to normal.

(Copyright 2015 by Michael Doherty)

Religious People Are Peculiar

Which is more frightening?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Photo From Work

Today we were in San Pedro, where I saw three seals. Okay, I suppose it could have been the same seal three times, but no matter, it was cool either way. I also watched some kind of duck chase fish around for a while. So, yeah, it was a good day.

This photo was taken soon after I arrived at base camp just before dawn. I took a few photos during the sunset as well, but I don't like those quite as much. As for the seal, he wouldn't let me photograph him. He poked his head out of the water not ten feet from me and said hello. But when I pulled out my camera, he said "No photos" and went back under the water.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Desirable Break From Reason

All of David’s friends at one time or another became completely unhinged. And so, understandably, David assumed all men at one time or another went completely unhinged, and waited, perhaps impatiently, for his own time. Lately there had been plenty of opportunities, as his job had become much more stressful after a change in the company’s corporate structure and a resulting series of layoffs. And yet David held onto his sanity with a tenacity that surprised him. He was hoping to schedule his breakdown so that it would come at the end of a long weekend, to extend his period of rest.

Certainly it would come soon. The madness had no one else left to touch. David thought of it like a cold that all his friends had caught, and so it was only a matter of time before it got him too. He was looking forward to it. He felt there was a whole side of life that he was not yet privy to, that his friends all shared some knowledge, and perhaps looked down on him as an outsider because of his lack of that knowledge. He felt excluded, and this made him all the more eager to go a little batty.

Was he imagining it, or at gatherings did they share furtive glances and slight nods of the head, conversing in some unspoken language that David was not the least bit fluent in? There were times when he nearly shouted out for them to stop, but more than wanting them to stop, he wanted to start himself. If he could only fake a little madness, perhaps they’d include him, glance at him, teach him this language. Maybe he should tell them on Monday that he had a crazy weekend, that he was committed for overnight observation. Would they check up on his story? He couldn’t imagine they’d actually call the hospital, but he could see – and feared – that they would simply look at him and know the truth, see the lack of madness in his eyes, notice his normal skin tone and texture, his regular posture, and just know that he was not at all like them. And while now they tolerated this difference in him, if he faked lunacy, they might – no, probably would – come to despise him, to no longer trust him, to no longer think of him as a friend. And where would that leave him? David couldn’t bear to think of it. No, faking it was out of the question. He couldn’t put on the guise of madness. He must simply go mad.

David began paying more attention to everyone around him, hoping they’d leave little hints as to what unhinged them, little clues on the path to madness and clarity, to understanding. He listened to their private conversations at work, in the break room, on the subway, outside their homes, and kept copious notes of everything that sounded like a clue, that is, anything he didn’t understand. And he began keeping records of facial expressions, along with those barely noticeable nods and glances. He drew their faces, though admittedly with a lack of artistic training, and he put these drawings on the walls of his home, creating a series for each friend, and studying them, knowing they held the key to his finding lunacy. He used some of his own blood to add color to the cheeks, certain this would help bring him closer to the answers. And after weeks, patterns began to emerge. It seemed that illumination was imminent, that everything would be revealed, that madness would finally come.

One day at work, when he was making perhaps his finest sketch yet, one that far surpassed his meager skills, a joy overcame him, for he knew he was close. He could feel it. But suddenly, as he was adding the blood, and before it all could come together, he was summoned by the head of human resources. This was unusual but not unheard of, and David was not alarmed heading into the office. But when he got in, he found the head of human resources was not alone. There were two armed security officers. David was told he was being let go, released.

No, not now. I’m so close. So close. He yelled, pleaded, cried, even tried to claw at their faces to make them understand that this was the wrong time. They must let him stay. He had to remain here, with his friends, at least until their secret was made known to him. But it was to no avail. They would not listen to reason. And David knew then he was forever tethered to his undesirable sanity. He would never learn how to go mad.

(Copyright 2015 by Michael Doherty)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Looking For That Special Someone

I am once again in the market for a girlfriend. The last one didn’t work out quite the way I’d hoped. It's a shame, because I really liked her and thought she would have lasted longer. So I've decided to be very clear about the type of girl I want, and if you think you fit these requirements, please send me a message.
  • She should have a sense of humor
  • I prefer a natural blonde
  • Her hair should be just past her shoulders
  • She should be between the ages of 25 and 32
  • She must be between five feet and five four 
  • She must be comfortable in extremely high heels
  • Her breasts should be medium to large 
  • She needs to be free of allergies
  • She shouldn’t suffer from asthma or any venereal diseases
  • She has to be able to hold her breath for at least forty-seven seconds
  • She can’t get queasy at the sight of blood
  • She can’t be afraid of alligators, spiders or heights
  • She shouldn’t be all that close to her family
  • She can’t have roommates
  • Her favorite color should be red
  • Her fingernails should be a bright red, but her toenails should be unpainted
  • She cannot belong to any religion or cult
  • Her name cannot begin with the letter J or a vowel
  • She cannot work in the food industry, but should know how to cook
  • Her birthday should be in February or September
  • It would be nice if she could run, but not faster than I do
  • I prefer someone who was abused as a child, but who believes she’s gotten over it
  • She should have no physical scars
  • She should know when to use adverbs
  • She should always refer to me as Charles, not Charlie and certainly not Chuck
  • She should plan on being cremated rather than buried
Thanks, girls. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Charles M. Mortimer, Jr.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Becky's Teeth

In Becky's house, the Tooth Fairy provided teeth rather than collected them. If you put a quarter under your pillow, she'd take it and leave a tooth in its place. It was the Tooth Demon who took teeth, always very late at night when even the fairies were asleep, and usually when Becky was quite unprepared. The Tooth Demon sometimes didn't wait for a tooth to become dislodged or even loose before collecting it. His appetite for children's teeth was insatiable. Every night Becky put off going to bed as long as possible. But her parents tired of her antics and complaints, and demanded that she retire. Even then, she'd remain awake as long as she could, then would fall asleep lying face-down, hoping the position of her mouth against the pillow would make it too difficult for the Tooth Demon to get at her teeth, and he'd move on to another house in search of easier prey. Or perhaps on to her younger brother's room. But the Tooth Demon had yet to extract any of his teeth. It was only a matter of time, Becky would tell him. Stop scaring your brother, her mother would scold.

When lying face-down proved not a strong enough deterrent, and Becky lost two more teeth, she devised a new strategy. She took several wire coat hangers from the closet and wrapped them tightly, vertically around her head, effectively wiring her jaw shut. This seemed to work, and for several days Becky was able to hold onto her few remaining teeth. But each morning she'd wake with lines in her cheeks where the wire pressed against her skin, and those lines wouldn't go away in time for school. Though she worried these lines marred her appearance, she accepted them as the price for keeping her teeth.

One night, approximately a week after she'd begun wiring her jaw shut, she awoke with a violent start, to find the Tooth Demon seated atop her young body, trying to open her mouth. Becky wanted to scream, but of course was unable to, what with her mouth wired closed. It was just before dawn, and Becky's parents would be awake soon and would check on her. Becky could see just the first hint of light through her bedroom window. But the Tooth Demon saw it too, and in frustration and haste he decided on a different, more extreme tactic.

A few minutes later, Becky's mother came into the room to wake her for school, only to discover Becky's headless corpse on the bed. She quickly gathered her daughter in her arms, in the process knocking the pillow to the floor and revealing three shiny quarters.

(Copyright 2015 by Michael Doherty)

One Thing About Tina

Tina spent a small portion of her short life inside a plastic bag. The last portion of it, actually.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Religious People Are Peculiar

Rev. Richard Poole might very well have said this, but I'm almost certain that Yoda said it first.

(Maybe I wouldn't have stopped going to church if my priest had taken his sermons from the Gospel of Jedi.)

Friday, November 13, 2015


My sperm count is low. I'm down to three. I am going to use them wisely, surprise the neighbors on their way to work.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Religious People Are Peculiar

I ended up going with a different cleaning service, after reading complaints that some of the maids employed by the lord are actually thieves, prostitutes and general malcontents.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Religious People Are Peculiar

Wait - God has a dom? I guess that explains why I can never have a relationship with God. Because sexually we're both submissive.

The whole hanging-on-the-cross thing is starting to make sense now. What doesn't make sense is the bottom line on the sign.