Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Come On, Dad, We're Just Trying to Hang Out"

On that very day Abraham took his son, Ishmael, and every male in his household, including those born there and those he had bought. Then he circumcised them, cutting off their foreskins, just as God had told him. (Genesis 17:23)

Hey guys,

I’m writing this just to say that I’m really sorry about what happened at the sleepover last Saturday. It was just terrible timing, and I swear my dad is usually pretty cool. I'm not sure what got into him. He usually uses that little knife just to slice vegetables to put in this really killer pasta salad. I know I said we'd play some card games and eat snacks, but sometimes things don’t go as planned and, hey, what can you do? It was just as traumatizing for me as it was for you when my father burst into the basement with his scalpel and started chanting, "Time to peel some ding-dongs." Hopefully one day we will come to laugh about the sadistic look on my dad's face when he told us he was not playing a prank. So we’re all a little lighter in the loins, but at least it looks pretty sleek, right? My girlfriend, Rebecca, told me it looks less like a serpent now, which it pretty cool.

I would like to invite you all over next Friday to atone for the horrors we endured. There will be truth-or-dare, a basket of tomatoes, and on the off-chance my dad decides to stomp on our balls or something, I will ask that you wear a protective cup.

-Ishmael

Monday, August 29, 2011

"The Chopper"

Lieutenant Colonel Dale Erickson had been in the shit for six years. He’d known nothing but jungle, mud, sweat, blood, and death, and he thought about home and his sweet Darlene every second of every day. A transport chopper was touching down soon, but he had not be commanded to board it yet. He cleaned his rifle in silence at camp.

“Erickson,” said Major General Lance Rogers, “suit up. You’re going home. Get on that thing quick because we won't get another for six months.”

Erickson stood at attention and saluted. His face was a slate, but inside he felt an aircraft carrier had been lifted from his heart. He gathered his things and said his goodbyes to his men.

“Goodbye and good luck,” he said to Pvt. Scott Lucian.

“You have served your country well, soldier,” he said to Pvt. Chris Finnigan.

“You have shown great courage,” he said to Pvt. Chip Freely.

“Oh, Lieutenant?” said Chip Freely.

“Yes, soldier?”

“Remember a while ago we talked about that chicken restaurant in Amarillo?”

“I don’t remember. Can you please be brief, Freely? My chopper is lifting off in three minutes.”

“Sure. You've got to get this because this chicken is so delicious. They've got wings and thighs and grilled breasts, and every kind of seasoning you can imagine. Just chicken. Nothing but chicken. Well I just wanted to tell you that I realized the directions I had given you were wrong. I told you to make a left when you got off at exit ten, from Interstate 40, but it just hit me the other day, totally out of the blue, that it’s off exit fourteen, not ten! And you actually need to take a right at the stop. And then… Are you getting all of this?”

“Sure, whatever. Please be brief, soldier.”

“Oh, okay, no problem. It’ll absolutely be worth it for this chicken. So once you take a right you’re going to go about, oh, I don’t know, six miles? No, more like eight miles down the road. Actually, it might be closer to ten. Does that sound right? Ten whole miles? Either way, you’re going to have to make a left into this confusing little turn lane, and then… Are you getting all of this? Should I slow down?”

Lt. Col. Dale Erickson watched his transport helicopter lift off and fly towards home.

“Lieutenant? Are you still listening? This is going to be important, because remember, they close pretty early, so you don’t want to get lost.”

“Please be quiet,” said Lt. Col. Erickson, staring at the empty sky. “I am a vegetarian.”

"Michael Bay GPS"

Dear TomTom,

I am writing you in regard to anincident I recently had with your XXL 540TM model GPS system. The device worked fine for the first three weeks I had it, and it successfully navigated my wife and me to some weekend getaways, even in off-the-beaten-path locations. However, last Saturday, while I was driving my son to his baseball game, Derek scrolled through the Voice Settings options and selected one called Michael Bay. Suddenly our route, which was only five miles from home, was radically altered. I took this to be a live traffic update and followed Mr. Bay’s tense voice, assuming that he was leading us around some congestion at the main entrance to Ungerman Park, but the next thing I knew we were on the highway and the Bay voice was barking at me to “Drive faster,” or “Drive into oncoming traffic, you pussy.” Because of your company’s products’ stellar reviews on Amazon.com, I trusted the voice and found myself shoving the gas pedal practically through the floor of my Honda Odyssey, barreling towards screaming commuters at ninety-five miles an hour. The voice then led me on a winding course through the city, where he somehow located four plate glass windows being moved across streets and directed me to crash through them. Mr. Bay’s voice kept rising and I could sense sadistic joy in him when he told me to “Crush those fruit stands like bugs,” and “Drive on the sidewalk; it’ll be badass.” The police began tailing me at this point, on land and in the air, but instead of asking me to slow down, Mr. Bay said, “The choppers are here! Time to put on a show, hot shot,” and sent me flying through the air over a parting drawbridge. Mr. Bay wouldn’t slow down, his voice blasting out of him like machine gun bullets. This went on for an hour. By the time I ran out of gas, I was in the parking lot of the Johnson Space Center and Mr. Bay was instructing me to attach my minivan to a space shuttle. He also told me that he had made “deals” and that my “weaponry” would be arriving soon. I sat there stunned, staring at Derek, considering the trail of destruction I had just caused acting as the powerless pawn of Michael Bay's commanding voice.

When we finally returned home the baseball game had ended, but my son’s respect for me was blooming. I have never felt like more of a man. My wife was furious with her trashed minivan, but she loves the new stones I have developed in my sack. Thank you, Michael Bay voice, for making a man of me. And I also blame all of the deaths I caused on him.

Is there a way I can have Mr. Bay's voice guide me in other areas of my life? He mentioned having access to hard drugs, plastic explosives, and "loose, young women," and I feel as though my stature at the office would really rise if I had Mr. Bay's voice instructing me, perhaps encouraging me to speak my mind or destroy some copiers.

Thanks for pumping up my deflated balls,
Martin Gant

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Cool Cats and Fat Rats"

Terrence tried to cover the hole in his bedsheet with his bathroom towel, but that, too, had a hole in it. “We have a minor rat problem,” he said. “But, I mean, don’t worry. They don’t have any diseases or anything. At least none that humans can get.”

Terrence sat on the edge of his bed next to Vivian, the freshman he had just failed to please sexually. “It’s fine,” Vivian said, monotone. “I always dreamed my first time would be with an audience of rodents.” She looked at the wall. "That's a cool photo of Bon Iver. Did you take it?"

"Yeah. Well, sort of. I clipped it out of the New York Times, so basically."

Vivian had only moved to school four weeks ago and was racing to catch up with the style that would make her cool. In high school she was a doormat and in college she was determined to blossom into a vintage, thrift store doormat. She wore pink, pleated high-waisted shorts that she had selected because they were the ugliest pair in the store, and from what she had observed from the palest girl with the thickest glasses in her Women’s Literature class, that made them the best.

A few flies swirled around Terrence’s collection of LPs the same way guests did: they were searching for the record player that did not exist.

“We set off a bug bomb last week,” said Terrence. “Me and my roommate, Kyle. You should meet him; he grows his own spices.”

“Where is he now? He’s never here.”

“He’s filming an experimental documentary about yeast.”

“Does he know much about yeast?”

“He knows enough.”

A cockroach that the FDA would consider a serving of meat scurried across Vivian’s $140 used Keds.

“Listen,” said Terrence. “I think we need to talk.”

A hummingbird-sized moth fluttered to the dim overhead light. Vivian stared at it. “Does Robin Williams live here, too?”

“What?”

“Your house is totally Jumanji-fied. You know, the movie?”

“Oh, right. Was that by Wim Wenders?”

“What?”

“We’ll talk about that later. I need to ask you something. We’ve been seeing each other for what, two weeks now?”

“Yeah, ever since we both bought those organic apples from the farmer’s market.”

“The best seven dollars I ever spent. I just need to know, what are we?”

“Like as people?”

“No, like us. What is going on with us? This is my last semester before I graduate and start the rest of my life writing intelligent screenplays that will reignite Hollywood, and I just need to know where we stand so I can properly evaluate my life at this key transitional stage.”

“I think we’re just… I don’t know…”

“I don’t want to start writing my screenplays until I know where we stand.”

“You haven’t written any?”

“I have notes. Are we official? Boyfriend and girlfriend? Together? A couple? An item? A fling? A hook-up?”

“I haven’t thought about it.”

“Look at this. I made a Venn diagram. It shows us. You’re this circle and I’m this one and in the middle is what we have in common. The only thing I could think to put in there was ‘brown hair.’ But I know there’s way more in here, but I just think we’re going to have to really try to find those things out.”

A rat tugged a loaf of bread past Terrence’s dresser and neither he nor Vivian noticed it.

“So what are you saying?”

Terrence crawled off the bed and got on one knee. His kneecap drove straight through the rat’s head. Blood stained his cut-off blue jeans and leaked onto his frail legs.

“Shit,” he said. “I’ll deal with that later. Vivian, what I want to know is, will you marry me?”

As Terrence opened the ring box, a support beam creaked above him. Vivian looked up and saw a crack forming in the ceiling. Terrence’s gaze was locked on Vivian’s eyes. The crack grew exponentially, birthing generations of tributaries in an instant. The cracks spread and squealed, past the dirty ceiling fan and across mildewed patches. Vivian was too stunned to move. With an explosive crash, a two-ton rat the size of a Buick burst from the ceiling, dropping like an anvil onto Terrence. Terrence exploded on impact, sending blood and bits of undigested frozen organic pizza onto his Animal Collective poster. When Vivian ran outside, the rat stared at her, uninterested, idly chewing on a rotten cat.

The Center for Animal Control found thousands of rodents living in the attic of Terrence’s hipster heaven. In fact, the orange house Terrence rented was the Kingdom of the Rats, a mecca for rodents and roaches looking to feast on locally-grown produce and vegan burritos. For a rat with a taste for over-priced groceries, 589 North Milledge Avenue was the place to be. When Terrence’s flattened body was lowered into its three-inch grave, Vivian sat in her dormitory and said to her roommate Jessica, “I mean he was kind of cool because he was older and mature and I really considered saying yes for a second before than big-ass rat fell on him, but honestly his record collection was kind of cliché.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

"The Wife"

There is a myth from Native Americans of the Northwest called “The Man Who Married the Eagle.”

-Hey, man, can you step over here for a second?
-Sure thing. Is there something wrong with my gear?
-No, buddy, it’s not that. Some of the guys have been talking and we don’t want you to feel uncomfortable, but this trip is supposed to be a guy thing. You know, our time to spelunk into some caves and talk guy stuff. Get away from the old balls and chains.
-Oh my god. I… Is this about Brenda? I really didn’t have a clue. I thought I read the tree bark correctly and it didn't specify...
-It's kind of an assumed thing. It’s just, you know, none of us is really in the mood to deal with her saying her talons are chipping or her beak is getting fat or any sort of cloaca menstrual issues.
-No, no, she’s totally low-maintenance. She can preen herself. And she’s totally down with the guy talk, don’t worry about that. She has a dirtier mind than I do sometimes.
-Well that’s great, but there’s a little more to it. There is also sort of this unwritten rule about this trip where we don’t invite gigantic mythical eagles capable of ripping our heads off. So it sounds like Brenda, who looks to be swallowing a buffalo whole right now, is not on the guest list, if you get what I’m saying.
-Do you want me to ask her to leave? I rode here on her back, so one of you would have to take me home.
-SQUUUAAWWWKK!
-What the hell was that? What is she doing?
-SQUUAWK! SQUAAAWK!
-Why are her wings out? Men, prepare the spears!
-Don’t worry! She’s just receiving a telepathic message from her sister eagle gods. What’s that, sweetie? Really? No way.
-Is someone going to die? If one must, please let it be Reg, for he smells of duck.
-No, no. She just heard that Margaret, from over in the Chattahoochee Tribe, has put on some extra pounds. It’s nothing. I’ll go ask Brenda to fly home.
-Wait. Margaret Little Bear is fat? But she was so hot in buffalo hunting school. Does Brenda have any other information like this? Perhaps we could… accommodate her on this trip.
-Brenda is full of juicy gossip and she can also slaughter meaty beasts for us to… Brenda! No! Down! Put him down! Put him down! Bad! I’m so sorry. This is just horrible… He was your brother…
-It’s okay. It was only Reg, and I owed him some money anyway. Allow me to gather some colorful berries to dye our toenails. Brenda! Come here, Brenda and tell us who else has gotten fat!