Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Holidays!

The blog will be back in 2013, so have a great holiday!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Top Hat

So, a couple weeks ago at work we got a couple-four-ish really big monitors in. I mean, really big. Like 80 inchers. A small feud immediately erupted over who would get said monitors. Let’s just say that words were used (such as ‘doo doo head’) and then before it could spill over into violence, we were told that the monitors would be mounted around the office.

We put away our bricks and bike chains (yes, we’re old-school rumblers) and then started discussing what would appear on these wall-mounted monitors. Rumors abounded. Some thought that they’d be used for company-wide meetings. Some thought that they’d run cartoons 24-hours (my personal favorite). Others made a strong case that these ‘monitors’ were actually observation devices that would be used to watch us, so the men in black would know whom to take in the night.

In short, we didn’t know and we waited breathlessly, as the IT began the slow process of installing the mounting brackets, running wires, sighting in the machine guns, and generally being productive.

NOTE: Our IT guys rock. They’re amazingly good at what they do and nothing ever fazes them. If there was a zombie apocalypse, they would be calmly erecting defenses and ensuring that we still had internet connections while the rest of us ran in circles, screaming and trying to update our Facebook status to ‘panicked’ or ‘being eaten.’

Thus about a week ago, with the monitors all mounted on the walls and all the complicated wiring tucked neatly away, IT announced that they were going to be turned on.

The monitors. The monitors were going to be turned on. I mean, I don’t know. Maybe the IT guys really liked their work and felt a need to announce it. I try not to judge.

Anyway, we all gathered around the monitor in our area, to bear witness to the great Turning On! And then, with little fanfare, the monitor sprang to life.

And we saw graphs.

Sixteen graphs to be exact, laid out in a four by four grid. We waited and watched. One of the graphs updated.

“Is that it?” someone asked.

“That’s the feed they gave us,” the IT guy responded.


We looked closely at the graphs. They were all bar graphs and one looked like a top hat. About thirty seconds in, they all updated, becoming slightly different versions of what they had been before. This happened again, thirty seconds later.

What were these graphs and what did they mean? The bravest among us stepped close and looked at the titles. One was ’09 SPLUN.’ Another was ‘TST ADVR.’ One guy thinks he knows what two of them represent, but the rest of us are dubious. 

Needless to say, the novelty soon wore off. The graphs change slightly about every thirty seconds, so something’s happening, but we have no idea what. It could be tracking Wonder Woman cosplayers for all we know (which would be cool).

Now we just generally ignore them. Occasionally, someone will wander by, glance at the monitor and announce ‘the top hat is still there.’ Which is probably good.



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Flight and Fancy: Part 6

The mime died silently and fell across my lap, a #2 pencil sticking out of his chest like a tiny wooden stake. 

“Seriously,” I said, as I tried to get him off of me. “You could just shoot through the cuffs.”

“You didn’t say to do that!” the Dame said as she .38’d another mime in the chest. 

“It was kinda implied!”

“Look,” said the Mountebank as he punched a mime in the face, his brass knuckles making a sickening crunch. “We’re following your script, as dumb as that seems now.”

“Well, you don’t have to be so literal!”

There was a pause, filled only with the sounds of the Mountebank panting and the clatter of brass shell casings as the Dame reloaded. A small pile of dead mimes surrounded my chair and I could only imagine how the rest of the room looked, as I was still handcuffed to my chair and facing a wall.

A red balloon with a slow leak sputtered by. A car honked twice in the distance. I was getting a cramp in my foot.

“How many waves has that been?” the Dame asked.

“Four,” the Mountebank answered.

“There’ll be at least one more,” I said. “The mimes always attack in prime numbers. And,” I continued. “If someone were to remove these cuffs, I could help.”

“Look,” said the Dame, as she shoved the mime off my lap and then sat down in his place. “Don’t get excited,” she added. “My feet hurt.” She held up a yellow 3x5 card. “Step 1: Release Donna and have her call the mimes and tell them where the Mountebank is. Step 2: Temporarily join forces to fight off said mimes. Step 3: Escape in the confusion. Step 4: (optional) The Mountebank swears revenge. Is that correct?”


“And is there anywhere on this card where it says ‘Step X: remove handcuffs from idiot?’”


“Well, there you go.” The Dame sighed. “My trigger finger hurts, too.”

“Maybe you should lighten the pull on your trigger,” the Mountebank said. “My fingers used to hurt after a long day of shooting people, but then-“

“Boss!” Donald said, presumably as he ran into the room. “I had to fight my way past the mimes, but I got your Doritos and that duo-.”

The Dame fired once and a bag of Doritos flew by on my right and a duodenum flew by on my left, both hitting the wall with a sickening splat, echoed a split second later by Donald hitting the floor.

There was a moment of silence, interrupted by what could have been bodily fluids leaking out.

“Sorry,” the Dame finally said. “Reflex.”

“It’s cool,” said the Mountebank. “I think you just winged him.” I could hear the Mountebank’s slightly irregular footsteps, as he stepped over bodies. “Ah, nope. Right in the head. Well,” continued, amiably enough. “If this doesn’t work, I’m going to torture the crap out of both of you.”

“Fair enough,” said the Dame. “But we’re probably going to be dead anyway.”

“Incoming,” I said. “I just heard the mime’s silent battle cry.”

The Dame turned and looked at me. “How?”

“Does it really matter?”

And then the mimes were upon us. I wish I had some sort of thrilling narrative I could write about the battle, but seeing as how I was still handcuffed to the chair, I couldn’t really see anything. And all I could hear was the Mountebank’s occasional swearing counterpointed with the bark of the Dame’s .38.

“Are we done?” the Dame finally asked.

“One sec.” I could hear the Mountebank’s footsteps recede. “Yep,” he said, his voice distant. “All clear.”

“Great,” said the Dame. There was one more shot.

“Ow! What’d you do that for?” The Mountebank said.

“Well, we managed to not escape in the confusion, so I figured I’d wing you and we could just walk out of here.”

“Sound plan,” agreed the Mountebank.

“Thanks.” There were two more shots and suddenly my hands were free. I stood and turned.

The room was a mess, with dead mimes two and three deep, all the way to the large warehouse door. The Mountebank was just outside the doors, his hands on a thigh wound. I let the Dame lead me out, as I had no idea where anything was.

“We should do this again sometime,” the Mountebank said, as we passed.

I paused. “What? Have a fight with mimes?”

“I was actually referring to the torture bit earlier.” The Mountebank held up his corkscrew. “Fun for kids of all ages.”

“I think not.”

“Ah, well. Revenge will be mine and all that.”

Two rights, a left, a staircase going down, and we were out in the cool night air. Across the street, was the Iggy’s Buffet and my truck. I glanced behind me. “You mean all of this went down fifty yards from our last adventure?”


I glanced over at the Dame. Her .38 was gone and her oversize sunglasses were tucked into her pocket. 

“Hey,” I said. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

“You still want to hide out?”


“Well, I’d be glad to help.”

The Dame stared at me for a moment. “Two conditions.”

“What’s that?”

“Zip your fly.”

“Sure thing,” I said as I zipped. “And the other.”

The Dame took a deep breath and stepped closer, leaning her head on my shoulder. She looked up at me and for the first time, I noticed her eyes were a very average brown. “I would kill for some pancakes.”

“I can make that happen.” I reached out and put my arm around her shoulders and for one brief moment, everything was right with the world.

Then half-a-dozen helicopters painted in black and white mime colors rose up from behind the Iggy’s Buffet. Mime’s with imaginary machine guns at the doors. In a colossal puff of smoke, several hundred ninjas appeared from the West, complete with shinobi katanas and mortars. Simultaneously, dozen-odd clown cars screeched up from the East, disgorging a veritable army of clowns, carrying weapons ranging from rubber chickens to Stinger missiles.

“Oh come on!” I managed to say, right before everyone opened fire.

Le Fin

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Late Blog

I'll be finishing up Flight and Fancy in just a bit.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Flight and Fancy: Part 5

A bullet whizzed by my head, trimming off a stray eyebrow hair. The hair floated gently towards my lap and was halfway there when it was bisected by another bullet. The two pieces continued to drift down, the next seven rounds missing them all together.

“Hey,” I said, trying to make myself heard over the gunfire. “I really do appreciate this, I do, but-“

“Quiet!” the Dame interrupted. “I’m saving your sorry ass.” She crouched beside me, her shoulder brushing my arm and quickly reloaded. She leaned back out and unloaded, her .38 firing exactly 7.3 times. She ducked back as the Mountebank returned fire, each of his bullets tipped with a smiley face.

“And I’m overjoyed to see you. However, could you do me small favor?”

“What?” She said, as she pulled another speed loader out of her pocket and reloaded. The Dame was wearing one of her dark suits again, complete with black gloves and a pair of oversize sunglasses.

“Could you maybe stop using me as cover?”

The Dame didn’t pause. “You’re the only thing big enough to hide behind.”

I began to point out the flaw in her logic, but she unloaded again, directly in front of my face, briefly deafening me. I glanced over at Donna. She had fallen asleep in her chair, a tiny rivulet of drool running from the corner of her mouth.

I took a deep breath as the bullets continued to fly past me. There was already a pile of bullet casings around my feet and I sent a silent ‘thank you’ into the ether that the Dame wasn’t dropping the searing hot brass onto my lap.

A shoe flew by. I have no idea where it came from.

The Dame and the Mountebank continued their shoot out. I sighed and began idly tapping on the chair back with my right hand. One, two, blam, blam, blam. Three, four, blam, blam, blam. It was a tango in bullets, accompanied by Donna’s rhythmic snoring.

The Dame dropped behind me again. “Dammit,” she said. “I can’t seem to hit him.”

I sat up straight as a metaphoric light bulb flicked on in my head. Then it switched off again. And then on, repeating a pattern. I then realized that I don’t know Morse Code and that if I was going to have an epiphany, I should do it in a language I understood.

“Hey!” I said when the fire ebbed for a brief moment. “Stop shooting! This is pointless!”

“Is not!” the Mountebank called back, from somewhere off to my left.

I silently counted to ten, despite every fiber of my being wanting to shout back ‘is too!' “Could you please stop shooting for a second?” I said in the next lull. “None of us can get more than winged anyway.”

“Why?” the Mountebank asked. I could hear a fresh magazine being slammed into his pistol. And then I smelled cookies.

“Because we’re all main characters and this is the first shoot-out.”

The Dame poked me in the ribs. “What are you talking about?”

“Look, its simple. We’re all main characters. That means that no of us can get killed. Sure, somebody might get winged and be miraculously fine the next day, but none of us are going to die. We have to have at least two more shoot outs before that happens.”

I turned to the Dame. “How many shots have you fired?”

She shrugged and glanced down at her brass casings. “A lot.”

“And you,” I said to the Mountebank.

 “One hundred forty eight,” he said instantly.

“So, the two of you have shot around three hundred rounds at each other from maybe fifteen feet away and haven’t hit anything.”

“That is,” began the Mountebank. “Kinda odd.”

“Plot armor,” I said. “None of us can die just yet.”

“Then what the hell are we supposed to do?” asked the Dame.

“It’s gonna go like this,” I said.

Next: Part 6

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Flight and Fancy: Part 4

The Mountebank pointed behind me. “You. Find out who brought Dana-“

“Donna,” Donna corrected.

“Donna,” the Mountebank continued, “And then bring me his duodenum.”

“Yessir,” Donald said from behind me. I heard a door open and for a brief second, what sounded like tap-dancing in the distance, then the door shut.

“And now,” the Mountebank said, as he pulled a straight razor out of his jacket pocket. “The question is what to do with Dina.”

“Donna,” both Donna and I said together.

“Whatever.” The Mountebank flicked the razor open. It probably should not have sounded like a cat puking. He stepped directly behind Donna and lifted her chin with one hand, the razor ready over her face.

“Wait,” I said. “You don’t need to torture, maim, kill, or otherwise inconvenience an innocent woman.”

“I don’t?” The razor began making slow swings above Donna’s face. The saxophone began playing the theme to Jaws.

“Of course not,” I continued. “Even if I may have seemed, how should I say, disinclined to help you that doesn’t mean I may not, at some point in the future, render some assistance.”

“Is that a yes or no?” The razor swooped closer.

“Ummmm . . .”

The razor paused and the Mountebank glanced over at me.


“Oh for Pete’s sake!” Donna suddenly said, causing the saxophone to miss a beat. “You,” she continued, with a glare at the Mountebank. “Either use that razor or I’ll shove it so far up your ass you’ll be able to shave your tonsils.”

“And you,” she said, turning to me. “Man up and tell this freak to suck it.”

“I was trying to save your life.”

Donna rolled her eyes. “I work at Iggy’s Buffet. One of our cheese pizzas is more dangerous than ten of him.”

“Really?” the Mountebank said. “Do your cheese pizzas come with razors in them?”

“When the chef’s having a bad day,” Donna replied. “Yeah. And as long as we’re talking, what’s this ‘friends with shooting’ crap,” she said, looking back at me. “Are you or are you not in love with the Dame?”

I tried to shrug, forgetting momentarily that I was handcuffed to a chair. “Well, I don’t dislike her.”

“Wait,” said the Mountebank. “Why is this important?”

Donna nodded towards the door. On cue, I heard it swing open, followed by the click of stiletto heels and the high-pitched bark of a .38 firing.

The saxophone clattered to the floor, accompanied by the unmistakable ‘thud’ of a body hitting the floor, bouncing twice, and then settling with a wheez and a fart.

A quarter rolled out of the newly dead man’s pocket.

“Hi,” the Dame said.

Next: Part 5

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Flights and Fancy: Part 3

“Bring her in,” the Mountebank said. He glanced down and nudged a spilled chip with his foot. “And somebody get me a bag of Doritos. Cool Ranch.”

“Sure, boss.”

“I don’t get involved in these things,” I said. “So you can leave her out of it.”

The Mountebank leaned in close, his breath surprisingly minty. “But you did once, back in Fre-“

“Hey,” I said. “I don’t go dredging up your past and using it against you in some semi-crazed scheme for world domination, so I would appreciate it if you didn’t do it to me.”

The Mountebank nodded. “A reasonable point, but unfortunately, I’m not a reasonable man.”

The cleaver started up again, short intermittent strikes, as if someone was trying very hard to hit a very fast cockroach. The saxophone switched to the theme from Gilligan’s Island, but slow and somewhat mournful.

There was the sound of heels scrambling on concrete and a woman in handcuffs was deposited in the Mountebank’s chair. She had a Cheeto’s bag on her head and at every breath, orange dust poofed out of the bottom of the bag.

She was also wearing an orange and pink uniform that looked very familiar.

“Ta-dah!” the Mountebank said, as he yanked the bag off of the woman’s head.

I looked at her. She looked at me. 

“Hey,” I said.

“Hey,” she answered, a small poof of Cheeto’s dust rising from her lips. She looked around, and then shrugged. “What’s the deal?”

“World domination, with a side dish of the bat-shit crazies,” I said.


The fly that had been sitting on the Mountebank’s shoulder flew back to my head as the woman and I looked at each other.

Birds chirped in the distance. A car backfired. A myopic priest walked into a bar.

“Well?” the Mountebank finally said.

“Well what?”

“This is the Dame. The woman you’re in love with. The woman I’m going to torture unless you do exactly as I say.”

I took a deep breath. “First of all, I’m not in love with the Dame. Sure, she’s the only woman in the last five years who’s actually talked to me of what I assume is her own free will, but love is a little much. It’s more like a ‘friends with shooting’ arrangement. And secondly, this isn’t the Dame.”

The Mountebank blinked. “She’s not.”

“Nope,” I peered at her nametag. “Apparently, she’s ‘Donna.’ Similar, I know.”

“Oh,” the Mountebank said, managing to combine glee and anger into one weird, therapy-intensive, syllable. “Someone’s going to die.”