Stephen L. Thompson's Weekly Stories for the first half of 2008

Stephen L. Thompson’s
Weekly Stories for the
First Half of 2008


January 1, 6, 13, 20, 27

February 3, 10, 17, 24

March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

My Patriotic Duty

April 6, 13, 20, 27

May 4, 11, 18, 25

June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29





For the week of:

January 1, 2008

Hat in the Ring

Author’s note: This is the first Jonathon Davies story.

Like countless others, David woke up on January 1, 2008 with a slight hangover. After taking a couple aspirin, he put some sausage in a skillet and set the stove top on low. He then sat in front of his computer and checked his email.

Once he finished responding to all the “Happy New Year!” emails, he turned the sausages and checked his MySpace account. Reading down through the bulletins, he saw the usual “Happy New Year!” posts and several “New Year’s surveys!” But then he saw a post from dudette, “RE: Throwing my hat in the ring.” Curious, David opened it and saw that dudette had added the line, “he has my vote” to her reposting of a bulletin from some guy named Jonathon Davies. His bulletin read:

My fellow American MySpacers, I want to take the opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year and to announce the beginning of my write-in campaign for President of United States of America. I know what you’re thinking, with the dozens of people already running, why do we need one more? The reason, all the other ones suck. They’re politicians; I’m just some guy from a small town in Pennsylvania nobody has ever heard of. Why am I better than them? Well, look at it this way, I read that in 2004 Bush and Kerry spent over $600 million dollars for a job that only pays about $500,000 a year. And you wonder why this country is in debt? The schmucks in Washington only know how to spend YOUR money. But not me. I am running this campaign on my own and I will not accept any donations. I know my chances of winning are nil, so you would be better off keeping your money instead of wasting it on me. What politician would tell you that?

You may be going, “Well, that’s all fine and good, but what kind of President would you be?” If, by some fluke I did win, on Wednesday, January 21, 2009, I would invite the leaders of Congress over to the White House, set them down around a big table and say, “The biggest problem facing the United States right now is X.” (It could be immigration, social security, terrorism, whatever.) I would continue, “To face this problem, we need some legislation. Now, we are going to sit here, for hours, or days, or weeks, or however long it takes, and we are going to hammer this legislation out because that is our job: doing what the country needs.” I’ll then have the Secret Service bar the doors. There are numerous problems facing this country, but it seems like politicians only care about raising money so that they can run for office. A vote for me will be a battle cry to those assholes in Washington that they should be doing their fucking jobs. I think baseball bats should be added to the whole “checks and balances” thing as a way to get them off their fat asses and actually doing something.

I may sound bitter, and you would be correct, but I’m doing this not only for the good of the country, but also for the politicians. As it is, the country already basically runs without their oversight, I mean what exactly do they do? If terrorists nuked Washington, it would be a great loss with the destruction of museums like the Smithsonian, but the rest of the country would continue to run just fine, maybe even better. And if more people realize that we don’t need these overpaid wasters of money … who knows what could happen.

There is more to my campaign than this, but I’m sure you are like me in having election fatigue, so I’ll save my more detailed plans for the days to come. Unless I get caught up in a good book, then it might be weeks. :D

Jonathon Davies

Once he had finished reading the bulletin, David reposted it with his own “He’s got my vote.” With a smile on his face, he went to check on the sausages.


See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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For the week of:

January 6, 2008

Gladiators

Author’s note: This is a Tom and Jeremy story.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008, 7:06 PM

“Sorry I’m late,” Tom said as he sat across from his writing partner Jeremy at the café in their local bookstore. “David was giving Helen a hard time, and I couldn’t just leave.”

Jeremy, who had been jotting down notes for his epic fantasy in his writing notebook, replied, “I’m surprised you even came. The New Hampshire primary should give you weeks worth of material for your blogs.”

“I know, but since we missed last week … I didn’t want to get into a rut of skipping our meetings.”

Jeremy laid a hand upon his chest. “You care for me that much?”

“No,” Tom answered immediately. They both chuckled, and Tom hit the table with his fist and stated, “It’s the writing, damn it.” After a pause he added, “And the coffee. I’ll be right back.”

When Tom returned with his coffee, Jeremy closed his notebook and asked, “So, what’s your take on the Election ’06 through ’08?”

Tom scoffed. “I think I’m becoming like everybody else…I’m sick of it.”

“Took ya long enough,” Jeremy said.

“I kinda feel bad, though.”

“For what? Having smoke blown up your ass by dozens of politicians, what do you have to feel bad about?”

Tom smiled. “It’s…” he stopped and thought for a few seconds. “I’ve always said that the worst part of our political system is that it’s not about the person’s qualifications, but how much money they can raise, or how well they blow smoke up our ass. But the other day I caught myself hoping that Hillary doesn’t win the nomination, not because of anything doing with her, but because if she does then every ‘I hate Clinton’ person will come out of the woodwork and the election will be this long, bloody, muddy, slugfest that will … only result in people being more sickened of politics.”

“Maybe that will be for the best. If people become truly disgusted with the way things are done, isn’t that the first step to change them?”

Tom shrugged. “In a perfect world maybe, but what does that have to do with this one?”

Jeremy chuckled and nodded. “True.”

“I just feel bad,” Tom explained, “that instead of doing the honorable thing and judging a candidate on what they stand for, I’m judging them on what other people would do. Political campaigning has finally corrupted me. I was even considering not blogging about politics until a month or two before the election. Be like everybody else and try to ignore it.”

Jeremy took several sips of coffee before asking, “What would you blog about besides politics?”

Tom shrugged. “Well, they restarted American Gladiators last Sunday.”

Jeremy coughed. “That would probably be more entertaining.”

Tom raised an eyebrow at his friend. “Are you saying my current writing isn’t entertaining?”

“It isn’t.” Jeremy kept a straight face for a split second, then gave a toothy grin. Tom just rolled his eyes.

“Here’s an idea,” Jeremy said, “maybe you could combine American Gladiators with the primaries, sort of Political Gladiators.”

Tom thought for a second. “Could you picture Hillary versus Bush in Joust?”

Jeremy sat back and after a moment replied, “Yes, yes I can.” Leaning forward he said, “What I was thinking, is that since there are four living Presidents, they could be the four Gladiators in Gauntlet. First you have Bush, who they keep saying is one of the most fit Presidents. Then his dad, who despite being in his eighties still parachutes every now and then. Then Carter, who’s probably bulked up a bit swinging a hammer. Then Clinton would be the anchor.”

Tom nodded. “Interesting. But Bill would probably just step aside and let Hillary pass, if he knew what was good for him. That wouldn’t be fair to Obama or McCain or Giuliani.”

“Maybe not. Could you picture Bill giving Hillary they old ‘One-Two’ with those big, foam boxing gloves they wear?”

After a few seconds Tom said, “That would be the number one video on YouTube.”

For awhile both men just sat, lost in their thoughts and drinking their coffee. “I was just wondering,” Tom finally broke the silence, “how many people will watch American Gladiators compared to how many people will actually vote come November?”

“Well,” Jeremy thought for a second. “The election is reality, where as American Gladiators is fantasy. I mean, if they were going to make it realistic, it would be American Couch Potatoes.” He then patted his stomach.

Tom chuckled. “What would the challenges be? A pie eating contest?”

“Something like that, probably.”

“Who would take the place of the Gladiators? If currently they are bigger and better than the contestants…”

“Well, obviously it would have to be the 700 pound people they forklift out of their homes.”

Tom stared at Jeremy for several seconds. “The truly sad thing is; people would watch that.”

Slapping the table, Jeremy said, “That’s entertainment.”

Looking away Tom added, “And the collapse of Western civilization.”

Holding up his coffee cup, Jeremy said, “Hail Caesar, the civilization about to collapse salutes you.”

Tom could only raise his own cup and tap it to Jeremy’s.


See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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For the week of:

January 13, 2008

Impacts

As he closed the lid on the packing crate, Dr. Jürgen Helbert took one last look around the tiny office. Despite being base commander for almost nine years, the high cost of shipping items from Earth meant he had few trinkets to pack; only some books, photographs, interesting rocks. But his most valuable possession he was leaving behind.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?”

Jürgen turned to his successor, Dr. Alice Holdridge and smiled. “That,” he nodded to the simple glass case hanging behind, now her desk, “I’m leaving for you, and all your successors. To remind you why we are here.”

Alice walked around the desk, took the case off the wall, and looked inside at the old, yellowed newspaper. After a few moments she said, “It’s odd to think … this paper is only a few months younger than I am.”

“You’re making me feel old.”

Alice laughed. “That wasn’t my intent.”

“I know.” As Alice hung the case back up, Jürgen said, “I will say that you have aged better than the paper.”

Turning around Alice smiled and said, “Thank you.”

Jürgen started at the case and was transported back some fifty years. “Growing up, I thought all adults read newspapers, not knowing my parents were different. While they got most of their news online, each morning I found them at the breakfast table going through the three or four newspapers they had delivered. My father once tried to explain it as the satisfaction of tangibly holding knowledge in your hand, but my mother explained it better as a matter of finality. ‘You could spend the rest of your life reading the news online,’ she said, ‘but you’d only scratch the surface. You would always be going to other sources or checking for updates because you could. But with a newspaper, or a book, once you’ve read it, you’re done. All you can do then is go about your day, living your life.’”

Jürgen paused, and Alice sat on the edge of the desk. She had heard the story several times before, but it was still fascinating.

“My father,” Jürgen continued, “shook me awake and almost shouted, ‘Something hit the moon!’ Groggily, I followed him into the living room where the three of us sat and watched various news anchors reporting that a few hours earlier a large meteoroid had struck the moon on the edge of Mare Spumans forming a crater some 200 meters in diameter. The moon had already set where we were, so we had to wait until that night to see it for ourselves. But for the rest of the day we saw numerous telescopic and spacecraft images of the new crater from our couch. As well as countless experts explaining what would have happened if the object had struck the Earth instead.

“At the time I only had a slight interest in astronomy; I had wanted to be a footballer. We had a small telescope, but it had sat unused for a couple of months. But on that day, as I watched those images and animation of what had happened, I just knew I would become an astronomer.”

Jürgen returned to the present. “A few hours later, when the papers arrived, my parents turned off the TV and we sat and read all the versions. This one,” he pointed at the case, “we considered the best. So my father set it aside and a few days later had the case made and hung it in the living room, saying, ‘Try to do that with a screenshot.’ Seven years later when I discovered my first comet, he took it down and said it was right that I should have it. It had changed the world, and it had changed me.”

Turning to the case Alice said, “It’s strange. I’ve only known a world where asteroid impacts have been taken seriously.”

“I know. It’s amazing that even a couple decades after watching a comet hit Jupiter, numerous near-misses with meteoroids of all sizes, countless scientific reports, as well as novels and movies, it was this one insignificant – on the scale of the solar system – collision that woke Humanity to the danger of asteroid and comet impacts. That little crater on the moon loosened the purse strings for new ground and space-based telescopes, and this,” Jürgen waved at their surroundings.

Alice looked around and said, “Too bad the meteoroid wasn’t a little bigger, maybe we could have gotten better accommodations out of it.”

Jürgen scoffed. “I know it doesn’t look like much, but this was home, and I’ll miss it.”

Holding her hands out like scales, Alice weighed his situation. “Living in an tiny, underground complex in a permanently-shadowed Mercurian crater where the air, water and food has all been recycled several times over, working at an underfunded observatory whose goal is to find Apohele asteroids, knowing that if we miss one it could someday hit the Earth killing millions, versus living in a beautiful condo with fresh air, water and food, looking out over the rolling, blue-green Sandran hills, you’re only worry making it through a few dissertations.” For a few seconds her hands continued to go up and down before she said, “Tough call.”

Jürgen laughed. “Want to trade?”

“Hell no.”


See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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For the week of:

January 20, 2008

Makes You Wonder

Author’s note: This is a Jonathon Davies story.



“Hey Jonathon, what’s the deal with that bumper sticker of yours?”

Jonathon finished typing the sentence he was on, then spun around in his chair. Stan Leiff from three cubicles down stood leaning his forearm against his cubicle wall. With a smirk, Jonathon explained, “It reads ‘nonconformist’ but it’s upside down. Because a conformist would put a bumper sticker on right side up so you could read it.”

“I got that, dickhead, I mean the other one, the ‘Jonathon Davies for President.’”

“Oh, that one.” Jonathon shrugged and explained, “A few weeks ago I launched a write-in campaign for President of the United States.”

For several seconds Stan just stared at him. “You’re serious?” he finally asked.

“Of course. Do you think I only use that bumper sticker to pick up chicks?” Pointing at Stan he stated, “That’s just a perk. I’m really running for President because I think I’m better than all the schmucks that are currently running.”

“Uh-uh. What party are you running for?”

“My own. I think one of the biggest problems in this country is that the ideological goals of the parties take precedent over the basic welfare of the people. I mean, it’s expected that this year the candidates will spend a billion dollars on ads trying to convince you they care about … education to win your vote. Me, instead of telling you I care about education, I’d put money like that towards schools.”

Stan smiled and asked, “And how much money are you going to spend on your futile campaign?”

“I’ve spent some twenty bucks on the bumper stickers – do you want one? – and one day I might set up a webpage. For now I do it all through email, MySpace, and message boards.

“And that’s another reason I’m better than those schmucks. There are people in this country who after working forty years, have no pension. They now have to work at Wal-Mart for six bucks an hour or whatever, and they have trouble paying their medical bills. But these yo-yos will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to get a job that only pays $500,000 a year. And you wonder why this country is fucked up.”

You can get your own “nonconformist” bumper sticker at the 137 Store.


See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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For the week of:

January 27, 2008

Always With Us

Author’s note: You may wish to check out my Pentan 101 section for background information on the Pentans.



Afterwards, many people claimed the get-together was their idea, but really, anyone with a calendar and basic math skills could have figured it out. Regardless of who had the idea first, on January 27, 2167, three research vessels met in an empty – but convenient – sector of space to mark the 200th anniversary of the deaths of their namesakes. To make the meeting, the crew of the Virgil Grissom – along with half-a-dozen Pentan scientists – broke away from cataloging the primitive life forms on Angaraka. The Edward White II stopped mapping the heliopause – where Sol’s influence finally yielded to interstellar space – and the Roger Chaffee left off the mining survey of Sigma Ceti’s Oort Cloud.

The three ships docked, and friendships were renewed or started. A short memorial was held for their long lost comrades, speeches were made, and vast amounts of food and alcohol were consumed; few of the crews went to bed alone that night.

But one who stayed alone and missed most of the partying was the Captain of the Grissom, Amuis. She had taken the watch so her crew could enjoy the festivities, and sat on her bridge with only a bottle of Hades Beer as company. While her eyes stared at the main viewer – which showed the ship’s status superimposed upon the distant stars – her thoughts roamed over the past two centuries.

“I thought I would find you here.”

So caught up in her thoughts, Amuis had not heard John – the lead Pentan scientist – roll onto the bridge in his space tank. She frowned at the alien in his aquarium on wheels and said, “We should put a bell on that.”

Through the clear front plate she could see John’s skin turn from the normal deep blue to a confused green. “A bell?” he asked through his translator. “What for?”

Despite her slight annoyance at being disturbed, Amuis had to smile. “It’s a common threat adults make – at least it was with my mother – to keep kids from sneaking around.” She then gave a large smile to show John she was only joking, and was glad to see the green fade and be replaced by the scarlet speckles of laughter.

“I understand,” he said.

Amuis nodded and asked, “So, why were you looking for me?”

“I was recording my report on today’s activities and I had a few questions. Most of the crew is otherwise engaged,” Amuis had to smile at that, “but I assumed you would be here.”

Smiling again, Amuis shook her head and took a sip of beer. For the past week the Pentans had been … interrogating was too strong a word but it fit … the humans as to the meaning and purpose of the celebration. The humans had even started a pool as to how long the Pentans would keep asking about it; Amuis had twelve days. “Ask away.”

“After the events of today, do you feel closer to the men you honored?”

She was going to answer with an emphatic “Yes,” but she stopped herself. After a moments thought she said, “I think they’ve always been close, just lost in the multitude of countless others. But today, the spotlight was on them, so they seemed closer.”

Turning back to the viewer Amuis continued, “Before you came in I was thinking how different, far-away their world was. At that point in time, humans hadn’t even been to the moon.” Spreading her hands she said, “Now look at it. I’m a third-generation Martian exploring the stars.” After a brief pause she added, “And I’m sharing my thoughts with an alien.” Again John’s skin was covered in scarlet speckles.

“Now,” Amuis asked, “may I ask you a question?”

“Of course.”

“Is there anyone from the distant Pentan past you feel close too? Someone you would like to honor?”

There was just enough room inside his tank for John to swim in a tight circle. After several laps he stopped and spoke. “For several of your centuries after we first left our planet, we were confined to our star system. We knew if we were to survive our star becoming a red giant we ourselves would have to leave. We spent several decades hollowing out an asteroid and turning it into a generational starship. Before it could be launched, our scientists made the breakthrough of tunnel technology. Our great generational starship was made obsolete.”

“What happened to it?”

“For many centuries it was used as an ecological test bed, until the structure began to fail.” John swam around his tank a few more times. “I have often wondered about my ancestors who were willing to set off to the stars, knowing they could never return but also never to reach their destination. I must admit, it is an alien concept to me.”

For several moments, neither said anything. Then John said, “You should know, many Pentans were worried that our contacting you would shatter your society. We knew how long it took us to, as you say, come to grips with our technology and many doubted you could handle the sudden change. However, we are amazed at how far Humanity has come since we first discovered your species. You have done more in a century then we did in a thousand years. There is no telling what the future holds for you. Those men have worthy descendants.”

Amuis smiled. “Such praise, coming from a species building themselves a new homeworld.”

John’s skin speckled in a grin. “Building a new world is easy. We only take pride in that we are willing to see the eleven thousand year project through.”

“So,” Amuis sipped her beer, “your generation starship was not in vain. It was just the first version of your new homeworld.”

“Indeed it was.”

“Where is it now?” she asked. “Could we visit it? See how it’s faired over the millennia?”

“I’m afraid not,” John answered. “It was one of the first asteroids we collided together to form the core of our new homeworld.”

Amuis nodded and sipped her beer. “It will always be with you.”

John’s skin took on a tinge of white sadness. “Indeed it will.”

After a few moments, Amuis left her chair and knelt before John’s space tank. “Grab a shrimp,” she told him. With his skin again a confused green, he reached into a tiny cage and brought out one tiny, blue shrimp. Amuis held her beer bottle against the front plate and after a second John mirrored the gesture with the shrimp. “A toast,” Amuis said, “to those that will always be with us, no matter what.”


See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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For the week of:

February 3, 2008

Hallelujah

Driving home on Friday evening with dinner (a pepperoni pizza and a six-pack) Tony stopped at a red light. Looking around he saw a small sign stapled to a telephone pole that grabbed his attention. It read, “Looking for answers? We’ve got questions,” and a web address.

A little over a year before, Tony’s mother – who had beaten breast cancer – was killed when an oncoming car had hit a patch of ice and crashed into hers. At the funeral the priest had droned on and on about the Glory of God and had barely mentioned his mother. All the relatives and friends remarked on how lovely the ceremony was, but Tony had been infuriated. It was his mother’s funeral; it shouldn’t have been a time to thump the Bible for God.

Not that Tony had anything against the Christian God; he was Christian because that’s what his parents told him growing up. They went to church every now and then, but Tony hadn’t gone since high school and hadn’t given it a second thought. But his mother’s death started him wondering. What caring god would let her beat cancer only to turn around and let her die in a freak accident? And the idea that “The Lord works in mysterious ways,” was not comforting.

Thinking he must have missed some deeper meaning to Christianity while growing up, Tony started watching the big name televangelists hoping they would fill in the gaps. But the ones he watched seemed only to care about gay marriage and abortion. And making money. By no means was Tony a biblical scholar, but he doubted Jesus ever had two coins to rub together. So these millionaire televangelists must have been following some other “Jesus.”

Tony was open minded enough to think that maybe Christianity wasn’t the “One True Religion.” But what was? He had never bought into the whole meditation and incense of the New Agey/Eastern religions, and he wasn’t going to go with the kooky ones like Scientology. And while atheism was tempting, Tony just had a feeling that there had to be something out there. So his spiritual awaking left him with countless questions, but no answers.

When Tony got home, he sat down in front of his computer with a couple slices of pizza and a beer, and just out of curiosity checked out the website from the sign. Between the banner ads ran the following:

Welcome to our little corner of the web. We are unsure if names are really necessary, but instead of just calling this “that web thing” we call ourselves the Question Commune. Our basic tenet is the following: the universe is too big and old and humanity is too small and young for us to have THE ANSWER. Anyone telling you they have THE ANSWER is probably just trying to con money from you. (In case you’re wondering, we make the money to keep this forum going through revenue from the ads. I know, having all those ads around the screen can be annoying, but would you rather have us asking for money all the time? We also have a donation button, but feel free to ignore it.)

Basically, if you want to join our endless questioning (which is pretty much all we do, since we know so few answers) all you need to do is sign up below. (Don’t worry, we will never sell your email address to spammers, we hate them as much as you do.) Then you can log into the forum and be bombarded with questions you didn’t even know could be asked. The forum only has a few rules: 1, be civil. 2, don’t come in and say we are all going to burn in hell unless we convert to your religion. It’s likely we’ve all heard that before, which is why we’re here instead of at your place of worship.

Question away.

Tony read through that twice, then thought, What the hell? So he signed up, but he did use one of his disposable email accounts.


Later that night

Dave wound his way through the crowd – purposely steering towards the hotter women – until he got to the bar. He ordered a beer, and looking around he saw that his college friend Jason was sitting next to him finishing off a beer. “Jason.”

Jason turned and his eyes widen in recognition. “Hey man, what are you doing?”

They shook hands and Dave replied, “I’m getting drunk. How about you?”

Jason lifted his empty bottle and said, “I’m ahead of you.”

“Just like old times.”

“Damn right.”

Dave’s beer arrived and he took a swig while Jason ordered another. “What’s it been, a year? What’ve you been up to?”

Jason laughed. “Oh, I started my own religion.”

“What?”

“Not really, it’s more of an online religious commune thing.”

When the bartender returned with Jason’s beer, Dave told him, “Dude, I think he needs to be cut off.”

“No, I’m serious.” After paying for his beer, Jason took a small slip of paper out of his wallet and handed it to Dave.

What’s this?”

“The web address for my ‘Question Commune.’ You should check it out. If nothing else, just go there and click on the ads. That’s how I’m making money out of the thing. I’ve made about twenty bucks this week.”

Dave shoved the slip in his pocket. “Twenty bucks?” He then brought his hand to his chest in a mock heart attack. “You can quit your day job, man.”

“Hey, you have these rich schmucks who go, ‘Send me your money, and the Lord will repay you,’ who make millions. But they have to get up in front of thousands in their mega churches and rant and rave and thump the Bible and put on a good show. Me? All I did was put up something about how the universe is too big and humanity too small and we can’t know everything, and people are so desperate for meaning in their lives that they eat it up. All I have to do is kick out some trouble makers every now and then. And the people want to support the site so they click some ads and they tell their other desperate friends and so on and so on. The site’s only been up for a few months, but it has grown pretty steadily. If it keeps going as it has, in another six months or so it will be paying for all my beer.”

Dave looked at Jason for a few seconds, then clicked the two bottles. “Hallelujah.”


See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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For the week of:

February 10, 2008

Happy Darwin Day

Tightening his coat against the late winter wind, Josh quickened his pace as he walked down the sidewalk. He hoped the other petition gatherers had remembered to wear warm clothing. It would be a tragedy if the weather prevented them from gathering enough signatures before the next school board meeting. While Josh had no children himself, he did feel it was his duty to protect other people’s children from Darwin’s vile theory of evolution.

He stopped and reminded himself, “Remember, small steps,” before continuing to the next house. His group knew it was unlikely that they could convince the school to scrap the teaching of evolution right away, but they hoped with the petition to show that the people wanted their kids to be taught alternatives to evolution. Once that step was accomplished, then they could start working on getting Darwin banished from school altogether. That thought warmed Josh.

Just before he turned to walk up to the house, there was a bright flash. Instinctively he brought up his hand to shield his face, but when he lowered it the drab suburban street had been replaced with a dimly lit space. Looking ahead he could not see anything, but got the feeling of unimaginable vastness.

Josh looked at his feet and saw that he was naked and quickly covered himself. Then, he asked himself, “Is this the Rapture?” The warmth he got when he thought of the end of evolution was a match compared to the bonfire that burned in him now. With a wide smile he stepped forward and walked into a transparent, curved wall.

Confused, Josh followed it with his left hand and saw … a man? “He” was tall with thin arms and legs, very pale, bald, and had very delicate facial features. What made Josh think it was a man was his penis, which Josh could not help but notice seemed abnormally small. The man – who seemed to be a similar clear cage as Josh – smiled at him and nodded.

Josh turned around and let out a choking scream. In another clear cage was a caveman. Josh knew that God had created man in his current form, but the stout, hairy, man with a protruding brow matched the image given by the lying evolutionists.

Not knowing what to do, Josh fell to his knees, closed his eyes, and began praying. He prayed over and over for God to deliver him from this devilish nightmare. Several minutes later, he noticed a bright light flashing through his eyelids. Hoping his prayers had been answered, he took a deep breath and opened his eyes.

A large, glowing ball – flashing numerous colors in complex patterns – floated before Josh’s cage. Six smaller, dimmer, balls with less complex patterns floated next to it. The balls hovered before him for a few seconds, then moved to be in front of the pale man.

Josh again closed his eyes and prayed. Soon the pleasant warmth of his cage was replaced by bitter cold. Not wanting to risk opening his eyes again, he kept praying. Minutes passed; his knees hurt, his teeth chattered, and his ears and nose had gone past numb and were beginning to hurt.

“Are you alright?”

Josh opened one eye and saw the suburban street – and his clothes – had returned. Standing before him was an elderly woman wearing an enormous winter coat. “You’ve been kneeling there for ten minutes. Are you trying to make yourself sick?”


See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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For the week of:

February 17, 2008

The Mongoose Sleeps in Pajama Bottoms

Ed walked up to the cubical his friend Josh shared with Sharon. Sharon was not there and Ed slowly looked around the office before leaning in and whispering, “Is the giraffe happy with his sauerkraut?”

Josh stopped typing and nodded a few times before replying, “The printer is almost out of paper.”

Ed smiled. “Do you have any black pens? Mine are all green.”

At this point Sharon returned with a cup of coffee. Just as she sat down Josh said, “The pencil sharpener in the front office is broken, use the one in the library.”

Sharon groaned and told Ed, “Go away, and take him with you. He’s been driving me up the wall all afternoon; and I hear it’s your fault.”

Ed took a shaky step backwards and in his best Sergeant Schultz said, “I know nothing!”

Both men then burst into laughter. Sharon looked from one to the other and shook her head. “You guys really need help.”

That morning

At 10:00 the company CEO called everyone together to discuss all that was happening with the company. Rumors of mergers, buyouts, takeovers, and pink slips had roamed the hallways for weeks; often disguised as coworkers. He wanted everyone to know what was going on, which was that there was a lot of talk, but nothing definite had happened. Yet. There were a few options that were being discussed, but he couldn’t tell them what they were because he didn’t want to say one think only to have something else happen.

“And finally,” he had said, “I know that things are confusing now, and one way people deal with confusion is talking, but I ask you to refrain as much as you can. I’m not really worried that I’ll wake up tomorrow and read in the paper that we’re moving the business to … Guatemala based on word from ‘inside sources,’ but because I know that one of these days I’ll walk into the men’s room and I’ll hear someone talking – very convincingly – that we’re moving to Guatemala.” Most of the people chuckled at that. “Rumors create unnecessary worry, and they cut into productivity, which you all know is something I frown upon. So, the final word is stuff is going on and I promise I’ll let you know as soon as something definite happens. Until then, please don’t talk about it. I would really appreciate that.”

Walking away from the conference room, Ed asked Josh his thoughts on the situation.

“I still say that ######### is going to ####### ### ##### ##### # ####### ####.”

“Shhh,” Ed told him. “We’re not supposed to talk about it. Do you want us to go to Guatemala?”

Josh laughed, then pretended to become very serious. “Sorry, sorry. But hypothetically, a hypothetical company might hypothetically do ….”

“Oh God,” Ed cut him off. “We’re going to end up talking in code.” He then gave a bark of a laugh and looked to his left and right before whispering to Josh, “The mongoose sleeps in pajama bottoms.”

“What?” Josh shouted. “They’re going to blow up the building and sell us all into slavery?”

“You’re not supposed to talk about it.”


See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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For the week of:

February 24, 2008

Jonathan Davies’ Stand on the Issues: Immigration

Author’s note: This is a Jonathon Davies story.



These little “Stand on the Issues” essays are my way of letting the American people understand where I “stand on the issues.” Clever, aren’t I?


First off, a fact. Illegal immigrants are in the country illegally. That is something that cannot be avoided. But something else that cannot be avoided is that there are an estimated 12 million of them in the country. The problem has been allowed to get so bad that the normal, legal responses are no longer viable. So what do we do? This is my plan.

I would work to get legislation passed that would set up a specific – finite – period of time (probably one year) during which individuals who are in the country illegally can register for citizenship. They would pay a modest processing fee and be subject to background checks. Now before everyone starts yelling “amnesty,” there is one other factor. They would be citizens, with Social Security numbers and all the rights of legal citizens, except they would not be allowed to vote for a period of ten years. That is their punishment for being in the country illegally. This ten year period would only apply to adults. A seventeen year old illegal immigrant could register for citizenship one day, turn eighteen the next and register to vote. Once that one year registration period is up, the program would be stopped, and anyone in the country illegally would be subject to deportation.

That would take care of a few million who are already in the country, but what would I do to slow down the number coming here? I say slow down because I doubt it can ever be stopped. My thinking is that it would be a better use of money to hire more Border Patrol agents then to build a wall, since a wall only makes people work on ways around it while Border Patrol agents are more flexible. I’m reminded of the Maginot Line, which was a line of fortifications the French spent millions of francs on during the 1930’s to stop a German invasion, only the Germans ended up going around it. I would also look at ways to improve the Mexican economy. If more Mexicans could find good jobs in Mexico, they wouldn’t have to come here for work. I would also work on reforming the current immigration policies, including guest worker visas.

This is a complex problem and it requires many solutions, not just amnesty or a wall.


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For the week of:

March 2, 2008

A Bill by Any Other Name

Author’s note: This is a Tom and Jeremy story.



March 4, 2008
7:02 PM

As Tom sat down with his coffee across from his writing partner Jeremy, the latter asked, “Should we wrap this up quickly so you can run home and watch the results?”

Taking a sip of his coffee Tom replied, “I figured I would at least finish my coffee first.”

Jeremy laughed. “So, what’s your prediction?”

Tom took a deep breath and let it out his nose. “I predict that this election will drag on annoying the crap out of everybody until … probably March of next year.”

“When the 2012 campaign begins.”

“Exactly.” Tom took another sip of his coffee. “I really hope Hillary looses tonight, not because I have anything against her – well, at least not too much – but because I just want a short break before the fall bloodbath begins.”

Nodding, Jeremy said, “You just need to take your mind of politics. You should write more.”

For a second Tom just looked at his friend then he burst out laughing. When he brought himself back under control he said, “Actually, I do have a writing question for you.”

“Shoot.”

“Have you ever had a beautiful little idea for a story and you start writing it, but there is one little fact you should double check and when you do you find out it destroys your story?”

Jeremy drew in a breath. “Ah, I see you too have suffered at the hands of wikification.”

“Is that what the kids are calling it these days?”

It was Jeremy’s turn to burst out laughing. “Personally, I prefer wikified.”

Tom brought his hand to his chest in a mocked gasp. “You mean I’m not the only one this has happened to?”

“Did you think you were the first and would get to name it?”

“Hell yeah.”

Jeremy chuckled. “And what brilliant nomenclature were you going to use?”

Sitting up straight Tom swelled his chest and said, “I would have called it, Douged.”

Jeremy almost choked on his coffee. “What? ‘Dug’ as in dig?”

“No, D-O-U-G.”

“Oh, oh.” After a pause Jeremy asked. “Why?”

Tom took a big sip of his coffee and set it aside. “Last week I saw something and I was just so pissed off and this perfect little story popped into my mind. It starts with this guy and his wife in bed. She’s doing sudoku or something, and he’s watching the news getting more and more pissed off. Finally, he says, ‘That’s it. I can’t take this anymore,’ and he gets up and starts getting dressed. His wife asks where he’s going and to answer he walks over to the wall and opens a secret panel. The wife jumps out of bed and says, ‘Phillip, you swore you’d never use that again,’ but he goes, ‘I know what I swore, but this has to stop.’

“The next scene is Phillip in Honolulu in … what was it … 1961. He’s in this hospital talking to this guy whose wife has just had a son. ‘Congratulations,’ Phillip says, ‘what are you going to name him?’ ‘Oh,’ the new father says, ‘Barack Hussein Obama.’ ‘Ah,’ Phillip says. ‘I’m not so sure about that middle name, you know how kids are, they might tease him for it. Maybe you could use a nice, bland, middle name. You know, Mike, John, Douglas.’”

Jeremy interrupted with, “Barack Douglas Obama?”

“It could work.”

“Wait, wasn’t he named after his father?”

Tom clenched his fists and let out a strangled little growl.

“Ahhh.” Jeremy sat back. “Wikipedia strikes again.”

“Yes, I was wikified.”

“Wait a minute,” Jeremy patted the table. “You had a character with a time machine, and the only thing they use it for is to try to change somebody’s name so that present day morons wouldn’t be able to make a deal out of it?”

“Well, the last scene was Phillip returning and asking his wife what Barack Obama’s middle name is, and she shrugs and goes, ‘I don’t know.’ He starts to get into bed and he asks what the big news story of the day is, and his wife replies, ‘Britney farts in public, film at eleven.’” Jeremy’s face turned bright red the laughed so hard at that. Tom waited for him to stop before finishing his story. “So, Phillip looks from the TV to the hiding place for his time machine and asks, ‘Honey, we wouldn’t still have some condoms lying around, would we?’”

“Okay,” Jeremy said taking a deep breath. Lifting his coffee cup he went on, “I salute you in finding an acceptable reason for using a time machine.”

“Oh, and never having to hear about Barack Hussein Obama again isn’t acceptable?”

“Well, there’s always going to be morons. Was it last year people were going, ‘Obama, it sounds like Osama?’ What are you going to do to stop them?”

“Shoot ‘em.”

Jeremy raised an eyebrow. “You’ve been hanging out with me too much.”

“True.” Tom laughed. “I know there’s always going to be morons. I mean, seriously, those Obama/Osama people must think that Bill Clinton and Bill O’Reilly are the same person … they’re both named Bill.”

Jeremy stroked his beard. “You know, I work with a Bill.”

“You work with a former President? Why haven’t you ever told me?”

“I was keeping him for myself.” Jeremy then began laughing so hard he had to set his cup down.

“What?” Tom asked.

In reply Jeremy only said, “Shatner.”

“Oh God.”

With his arms flailing before him, Jeremy did his best Kirk impression. “I … did not have … sexual relations with … … that woman.”

Tom slapped his forehead and said, “We really need help.”

Picking up his coffee cup Jeremy observed, “No, we need to write more.”


See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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For the week of:

March 9, 2008

Parallel Opinions II

From the Opinion Page of the
Parallel World News
March 10, 2008
By Robert Miller, general editor.

I am in a tough position. Part of me wants to say, “I told you so,” but the rest of me knows that is not appropriate given the circumstances.

Here is a refresher timeline of the events leading up to this tragedy. In December 2006, the spy satellite USA 193 was launched and failed shortly after reaching orbit. Early this year, the Bush Administration – citing the possibility of the one meter in diameter fuel tank full of toxic hydrazine surviving the uncontrolled reentry and crashing in a populated area – announced its plan to attempt to destroy the satellite using a modified anti-ballistic missile. Cue the international outrage every time Bush wants to do something. For weeks the world’s media was full of allegations that this was just a test of an anti-satellite weapon; a way for the US to flex its muscles after the Chinese test last year. With the public outcry was so great, Bush back downed and no attempt was made to destroy the satellite and it was allowed to crash, which it did this past weekend. And while the “Everything Bush does is evil” crowd were mostly correct in that most of the debris fell harmlessly into the Indian Ocean, some debris – including the fuel tank – crashed near Kipini Kenya. Enter Jomo Wahu, a name the world should never forget. We’ll never know if he thought he could sell the one meter in diameter chunk of metal for scrap, or he could get some kind of reward for it, or if he just thought it looked neat, because he died an agonizing death as he rolled it to his village.

Now because of a rarely known and until know never invoked treaty called the Space Liability Convention, Kenya can sue the United States for damages including compensation to Mister Wahu’s family and the cost of decontaminating the affected area. This could easily run into tens, even hundreds of millions of dollars, not to mention the cost of bad PR. Whether the satellite could have been destroyed weeks ago using a ten million dollar missile is unknown, but we should have tried. Mister Wahu deserved that much.


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For the week of:

March 16, 2008

Farewell, You Carbon-Based Biped

I was saddened to learn of the death of Sir Arthur C. Clarke. There are many people I admire, but I have few heroes, people I would really like to meet just to shake their hand. He was one of those people, but now joins Carl Sagan, Eugene Shoemaker, and others who I can only shake an imaginary hand.

I wondered what would be the best method to mark this passing of a man most people think of only as “that 2001 guy.” What I decided on was that I would reread and encourage others to read Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! Collected Essays 1934-1998. These essays cover a range of topics, from space travel and science fiction to underwater exploration and writing. They barely scratch the surface of who Sir Arthur C. Clarke was, but you have to start somewhere.

I also encourage people to check out The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation.

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For the week of:

March 23, 2008

Jonathan Davies’ Stand on the Issues: Iran

Author’s note: This is a Jonathon Davies story.



These little “Stand on the Issues” essays are my way of letting the American people understand where I “stand on the issues.” Clever, aren’t I?


What would my actions be towards Iran if elected President? First, I would start work on opening up strained, but diplomatic relations with Iran and would work on a meeting between myself and their President. Before anyone starts ranting, let me remind you that during the Cold War, the US maintained strained, but diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. If we could keep diplomatic relations with our great adversary of the past, why can’t we have diplomatic relations with our potential adversary of the future? The biggest reason we should do this is to establish a “red phone” between Washington and Tehran. Remember that incident of the Iranian speed boats and the US warships a few months ago? That could have easily exploded into full scale war.

Now some will say the reason we shouldn’t have a diplomatic relationship with Iran and why our President shouldn’t meet with their President is that will grant legitimacy to their government. But is that such a bad thing? An arrogant American could say that our government is the most legitimate on the planet, and look what that has done for us. We can act around the globe with impunity. If we say “Jump” the world asks, “How high?” In case you didn’t realize, that was sarcasm. Our actions are scrutinized and debated by everyone and no matter what we do, we’re wrong. (I just had a flashback to an ex-girlfriend.) For instance, remember that satellite we shot down last month? What if we hadn’t shot it down and it had crashed in a populated area. I bet many of those people condemning us for shooting it down would condemn us for not shooting it down. I ask, why do we don’t want Iran to have the kind of relationship with the rest of the world we have?

Now, the bomb. If Iran wants to build a nuclear power reactor, I have no problem with that. If fact, I support them. But, if they want to build a bomb, that’s where it gets complicated. I’m not going to sit here and say that since we have the bomb we have a say in who also gets the bomb. My guess is the Iranians want the bomb because they see it as a way to deter attacks from the US and Israel. I can understand that. But they need to understand that we (the US and Israel) also need a deterrence from being attacked by Iran or parties supplied by Iran. To do that, at the meeting between myself and the Iranian President I would make sure that he knew and understood the Cold War concept of SAD – Self-Assured Destruction, which is the country that chooses to launch a nuclear strike is committing national suicide. To insure this, and show that any war would be one-sided, I would develop the strategy of a ten-fold reply. Any nation that uses – or allows others to use – nuclear weapons against the US or its allies, will receive ten times back. If they want the bomb to deter us, we’ll use our bombs to deter them.


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For the week of:

March 30, 2008

Jonathan Davies’ Stand on the Issues: Economy

Author’s note: This is a Jonathon Davies story.



These little “Stand on the Issues” essays are my way of letting the American people understand where I “stand on the issues.” Clever, aren’t I?


Like all Americans, I await with breathless anticipations my $600 bribe from the US government. On one hand I feel that Uncle Sam takes too much of my pay in taxes as it is so it will be nice to get something back, but on the other hand I feel insulted. These lawmakers – who spend millions to get elected – think that giving us $600 will let us build an addition to our homes, buy a new car, send our kids to college. Seriously, $600 is what, ten tanks of gas? What the hell do they expect us to do with such a pitiful sum?

I’m going to put my bribe into my savings, because I know in the future I will need every cent I can get my hands on. Probably forty years from now, I’ll need a new hip or something and my hospital bills will easily be a million dollars. Social Security will only be a memory and my insurance (assuming I still have it after paying the premiums for several decades) will probably only pony up two or maybe three thousand dollars. I’ll be stuck paying the rest. And I’m sure I’ll look back and thank our politicians for giving me those $600, because despite being only a drop in the bucket, every little bit helps.

This bribe is supposed to an “economic stimulus,” but the real way to stimulate the economy is to ease the fears of consumers. To really get our economy going, you need to fix the big problems: health care, Social Security, immigration, the War on Terror, failing schools, government waste, etc., etc., but that requires leadership. All we have are a bunch of schmucks who go, “Why are you complaining? We gave you $600. Vote for us.”


See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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My Patriotic Duty



My “Weekly Stories” are usually inspired by the events of the week, but they’ve also served as my way to vent on certain issues. On occasion, I’ve missed a week due to illness, special events, or I just couldn’t think of a story. But this month I started thinking that I needed a vacation – say a month – from writing my weekly stories. Now, the time I would have spent writing these stories will be spent on my novel … at least, that’s the plan. Considering how bad I feel when I miss one week, how would I feel if I missed an entire month?

That’s when I had an idea. In the past couple years I’ve written numerous stories about politics in general or certain political issues. Instead of just leaving a month blank, I would reprint my best political stories as a lead up to all the political stories I’ll be writing this fall during the “real” campaign. So I started through my files to find my four best stories and I quickly came up with twelve before I stopped looking. These I narrowed down to ten and after twisting my own arm I accepted a two-and-a-half month vacation, instead of just a mere one month vacation.

So for the next ten weeks I’ll be putting up revised (see, it won’t all be fun and games) versions of what I consider my ten stories that speak the most on the Election ‘08. I feel it is My Patriotic Duty to bring these ideas to the attention of the voting public, hence my calling this scheme My Patriotic Duty. Plus, it sounds better then, “I’m taking a ten week vacation.”


April 6, 13, 20, 27 May 4, 11, 18, 25 June 1, 8





For the week of:

April 6, 2008

And So It Begins

Click here to read the original version of this story.



It was watching his four-year old son sleeping that made up Jerome Reed’s mind. Quietly slipping from the darkened bedroom, he made his way to his den where he logged into his blog. With only a few sidetracks to check facts, he wrote:

My high school guidance counselor never mentioned anything about being a revolutionary, but I’ve realized that is what I’m becoming. Why? Because our “leaders” have failed us. I know, I know, you’re saying, “Thanks, Captain Obvious,” but hear me out.

It’s only a few months to the seven year anniversary of 9-11, and while we went to war in Afghanistan to topple the Taliban and capture or kill Osama bin Laden, both are still hanging around. Neither has the power they once had, but neither are completely gone. They’re just waiting for us to leave so they can reclaim what we took from them. The same might be said of Iraq. It seems to be getting better, but can anyone say civil war will not break out once we leave? Now some of you will immediately go off on the tangent of how it is all Bush’s fault and yada-yada-yada. That’s not my point. We were attacked and many of the people responsible are still at large. Why? Wait, let me ask that again. Why? I think most people know that 9-11 was terrible and the people responsible need to be held accountable. That’s a simple, straight-forward, plain-speaking truth. But, given our political system which puts the survival of THE PARTY above that of the nation, it means nothing will be done about it. That’s my real beef.

Putting aside the War on Terror, look at the track record of our government. There is an immigration problem. Has it been fixed? No! There is a health care problem. Has it been fixed? No! There is a Social Security problem. Has it been fixed? No! There is the government wasting our tax dollars problem. Has it been fixed? Hell no! There is a campaign financing problem. Has it been fixed? Hell no! There is a climate change problem. Has it been fixed? No! There is an education problem. Has it been fixed? No! I mean, it’s not like these problems crept out of the woods last Thursday, some have been building for DECADES. Yet why have our “leaders” not fixed them? There’s no money in fixing problems.

I believe our Constitution is a great thing, I just wish our government and leaders were more indicative of its spirit. An example, do you remember Tom Vilsack? He was running for President but dropped out about a year before the primaries. Why did he drop out? Was it because he had bad ideas, or couldn’t connect with the voters, or what? No. It was because he couldn’t raise the money. Yes, the Almighty Dollar, the real mover and shaker of American politics. The next time the news talks about the remaining candidates, notice that one of the factoids they list is the money in the candidate’s War Chest. Did I miss that day in civics class where they explained that the greatest indicator of a person’s ability to govern is how much money they have? Why not have President Hilton?

Our government is a corrupt failure and it needs to be drastically fixed or even replaced by a government “For the people.” Will minor, ineffective improvements fix it? Do we need to start a third party in the hope that in fifty years our candidate will be ALLOWED in the Presidential debates? Or do we always vote against the incumbents to drive the status quo from power? What options do we really have? Now, if you are from Homeland Security or the FBI, I am NOT advocating violence against the United States government. At least not yet.


Glancing back over this, I feel I need to apologize. I usually rant AGAINST rambling, ranting bloggers, but I feel like I’m about to explode. There is just so much going wrong in this country, that it would take me days to type it all out. If this is too confusing, I’ll probably clean it up over the next few days and explain things better. Anyway, what brought all of this on was I was just watching my four-year old son sleeping, and I was thinking of how I will break my back working so he has the money to go to a good college so he can get a good education and end up being over qualified to ask, “Do you want fries with that?” since all the good jobs will be in India. And I was just getting pissed off.

I feel there is a revolution stirring in this country; things have been going wrong for so long that people are finally starting to wake up. The revolution could be stillborn, or it could be aborted. It could succeed, or it could fail. But it’s here. Only time will tell what becomes of it. I want to leave the world a better place for my son, and I think the best way to do that is to start the revolution now while we still have a few options, instead of leaving it for him to deal with. Because when there are no more options, there is only violence. I want to spare him that, if I can.

Viva la Revolution!


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For the week of:

April 13, 2008

Candidate C

Click here to read the original version of this story.



The young man stepped up to the microphone and gave a nervous smile towards the television cameras. Leaning forward slightly he said, “My name is Joe, and I’m from Toledo. My question for the candidates is this.”

He paused for a second and licked his lips before saying, “I am a political cynic. I know that even if you have the perfect plan for balancing the budget, or fixing health care, or whatever, you can’t turn it into law by Presidential edict. It will have to go through Congress where so many compromises will have to be made that the end product will bear little resemblance to what you started with – if it even passes at all. So given that your campaign promises are just so much hot air, why should I vote for you?”

Candidate A smiled and gave their condolences as if political cynicism was akin to an inoperable brain tumor – and you would probably be dead before the election. They then gave a little spiel calculated to energize their base. If you weren’t already going to vote for them, it did nothing. If you were already going to vote for them, all it did was make you doubly sure.

Candidate B smiled and gave their condolences as if political cynicism was akin to a headache – and all you needed to get over it was Candidate B. They then gave a little spiel about how their candidacy was all things for all people. Everyone was welcomed and all opinions would be given equal weight. They did not mention that they would never accomplish anything given the human proclivity towards disagreement.

Candidate C frowned and nodded towards their opponents. “Why should you vote for me?” they asked. “Unfortunately, the best answer I can give you is, ‘I’m not them.’”


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For the week of:

April 20, 2008

Vote With Your Fists

Click here to read the original version of this story.



After a final pat down, the state trooper pulled back the tent flap for Charles Roman to enter. Three men were inside. A Secret Service agent stood at the entrance and gave Charles a quick look over. Another man in a short-sleeved shirt with a black medical bag sat in a chair on the other side of the tent, reading a travel magazine. The third man sat on a stool in the middle holding an ice pack to his face; his white T-shirt splattered with blood.

Charles started towards the figure on the stool, but the Secret Service agent stepped in front of him, holding up a hand. “You only get one punch.”

Charles nodded. “I know.”

The agent nodded and returned to his place by the tent flap.

Charles walked up to the man on the stool. “Senator Cantor, Happy Punch-Your-Politician Day.”

The Senator removed the ice pack. “Just get this over with.”

“Not so fast. There are a few things I want to tell you. First off, you weren’t my first choice. I had wanted to punch the President, but I couldn’t afford to stand in line all day, so I had to settle for you.”

“I’m honored.”

Charles scoffed at that. “Secondly, I don’t know why, but I actually voted for you last year.”

“Thank you.”

“Thank you? I wish that was something I could say to you. What have you done for me this year?” Charles closed his eyes muttered, “Ah … Let’s see … um … oh yes.” He opened his eyes and glared at the Senator. “Nothing. During your campaign you made dozens of speeches about working to make health care and education more affordable. But have you done anything?”

“The measures I support haven’t yet made their way out of their respective committees.”

“Oh, but the measures to give tax cuts to the rich go through committees, Congress, and on to the President in record time.” Charles clapped his hands, and in a somber voice said, “Hooray for American democracy.”

The Senator set the ice pack on a little table next to him, and took a sip of water. “Democracy means if you don’t like what your politician is doing, you vote them out of office.”

“I don’t like what you’ve done, but I have to wait five more years to vote you out of office? Doesn’t seem fair. I mean, if I get a bad hamburger I can take it right back and get another one.”

“Would you rather politicians always did what the polls told them to do?”

“That’s what you do now. At least, you want us to think that our opinions actually matter.”

The Senator looked Charles in the eye and asked, “Do you actually know that all politicians are only out for their own good, or is that just what the media has fed you?”

Charles let out a breath through his nose. “Just about a month before last year’s election, my wife’s mother had a stroke.”

“Is she alright?”

“Why do you care, she lives in different state?”

“Because I’m human.”

“You have a funny way of showing it.” Charles let another breath out through his nose. “Anyway, about three months ago my father had a heart attack.” Charles paused for a second. “He lives in our state, but he never voted for you. So needless to say, our medical bills have been rather painful this past year, and what with our oldest starting her third year at college and our youngest starting to look at colleges, my wife and I have no idea how we’re going to pay for it all. So there you have it. Two modest, hard working Americans who can’t pay their bills and who have been waiting – for years – for our elected officials to help.”

The Senator looked at the ground. “We can’t solve every problem overnight.”

“Have you tried?” Before the Senator could reply Charles continued, “And don’t just blame the other party for all the ills of the country, because they say the same about you. Actually, you’re probably both right. You’re each too busy trying to beat the other guy to a bloody pulp that you don’t have time to do your jobs.”

“I might point out,” the Senator said, “that distractions like this don’t help either.”

“Ah, but if you did your jobs in the first place, this holiday wouldn’t be needed to show you how sick and tired we are of politics as usual.” Charles had managed to keep his voice under control to this point, but now he began shouting, “You’re not supposed to just be paying back whoever bought your election. You’re supposed to be working for ‘We the People,’ and until you get that through your thick skulls we’ll continue to do this every year.” Charles’ fist slammed into the Senator’s jaw with all the hatred for what American politics has become behind it. The Senator fell to the ground with fresh blood flowing from his mouth. “Although, we should do this every day.” Charles drew his foot back to kick the Senator in the ribs.

This caused the Senator to curl into a fetal position and the Secret Service agent to grab Charles and push him towards the exit saying, “You got your punch.”

“I know, I know. I wasn’t going to kick him. I just had to make him cringe.”


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For the week of:

April 27, 2008

Third Rail

Click here to read the original version of this story.



While their three-month old blissfully slept, Joe and Christina West caught up on their reading. He sat in his recliner reading the newspaper, while she lay on the couch with the latest murder-mystery by her favorite author. Just as the heroine was discovering the body, Christina heard Joe fold up his newspaper. Glancing over, she saw the paper dangling from his right hand over the side of the recliner with him staring at the wall to his left. “What is it?” she asked.

“Hmm?” He turned to look at her. “Oh, it just says here that the Social Security trust fund will run out in 2041.”

After a quick calculation Christina said, “That’s the year you turn 65.”

“Yeah. But I was wondering,” Joe went on, “when our inglorious leaders might get around to fixing the problem. The ‘08 election will be all about Iraq, so it won’t be then. The 2010 election will be the chance for the party that lost to nitpick the party that won, so there might be a small chance then. But the best chance will be in 2012 when Obama pulls a W.”

After a few seconds Christina asked, “What?”

“You know, Bush acted as if during the first few years of his presidency Social Security was just chugging along fine. It didn’t become a problem – and hence an issue to be used – until he was running for reelection. So maybe, maybe, Congress will look at Social Security reform in 2013, when they’ll disagree on what needs to be done, so nothing will be done. Just like in 2005 it will be put off – like everything else – for future generations to fix.”

“Well, what did you expect? They say Social Security is the ‘Third Rail’ and touching it means killing any chance at election.”

“Well,” Joe unfolded the paper, “I think their elections should be killed if they don’t touch it.”


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For the week of:

May 4, 2008

If It’s Okay Now…

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The man waved to the crowd before him. “Thank you,” he said, flashing the best teeth money could buy. He was clean-shaven, and his hair was receding in a manner that reminded people of an aging father. His tunic was expensive, but not extravagant. Despite his wealth and family history, he looked like a man of the people.

“Thank you,” his deep voice boomed over the crowd. Gesturing off to his side he said, “Now, I would like to introduce a very dear friend of mine, who has come out to speak on my behave. I give you, Jesus Christ.”

A young man with a dark, flowing beard, wearing a simple white robe, stepped up to the stage. He waved to the crowd, and then embraced his friend. With his arm still around his friend’s shoulder, he told the crowd, “Let’s have another round of applause for Quintus Cornelius Bassus, your next Senator.”

Quintus broke away from Jesus to take in the raucous roar of the crowd.

Once the noise settled, Jesus stated, “I’ve known Quintus for many years now. I’ve also known his opponent, Publius Domitius Longinus for many years.” Jesus had to hold his hands up to quiet the boos. “Now, now, don’t get me wrong, Publius is a good man.” He paused a few heartbeats for effect, then pointed to Quintus standing just off the stage, “But Quintus is a great man.”

Jesus had to wait for the cheers to diminish enough for him to continue. “He is a man who has always done what was best for the empire. As a young man he served with honor in Gaul, not once, but twice. There he had to make many tough choices, but his decisions were always made in the best interests of the empire.”

Pointing to the crowd, Jesus declared, “We don’t need more ‘Bread and Circus’ leaders, we need men who will do what needs to be done, and Quintus has proven he is that kind of man. He is the kind of man we need more of in Rome.”

The crowd once more broke out in voluminous cheers. Quintus returned the stage and again embraced his dear friend.


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For the week of:

May 11, 2008

Forgotten, but Forgiven?

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Beloved children’s story author dies of heart attack.

By Michael T. Crenson, FP International Writer
Monday, November 9, 2037

How will Adeaqla get home now?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past several years, you know that Adeaqla is halfway through his mystical voyage through the dark land of Asu. He and his companions Nabilat, Irhawaz, and Irsam have crossed the burning sands of Arobarot and fought off three headed Seilearsis and fire breathing Snaitsirhcs. At the end of the last book, The Asu Nightmare, the friends have finally escaped from the dungeon of the evil sorcerer Egroeg Hsub.

The first four volumes of the proposed seven volume Adeaqla Chronicles have sold more than four hundred million copies worldwide. “Adeaqla is this generation’s Harry Potter,” says Anthony Babb, noted professor of literature at the University of South Carolina. Harry Potter – as some of our older readers will know – was the boy wizard who swept the literary and movie world some forty years ago and whose seven novels, movie adaptations, and merchandise, has grossed well over $30 billion.

But Adeaqla won’t be finishing his journey anytime soon. His creator, the reclusive Osama bin Laden, died this morning in his modest apartment in Jalálábád, Afghanistan, of an apparent heart attack. He was 80 years old.

In his last interview, given just over a year ago to AwesomeNews’ Dawn Martin, he explained that he first got the idea many years ago when he, “had to lay low for some radical actions taken in middle age; which I’ve since outgrown.” He and his fellow “radical refugees” would pass the time by telling stories. “It was just something I started. I didn’t plan it out, but the other guys kept asking me for more. Ahmed [al-Hakayma] was the first one to say to me, ‘You really ought to write these down.’ That’s how this all started.” Al-Hakayma would go on to illustrate the first two novels, before succumbing to cancer three years ago.

Jihadist Press, the publisher of Adeaqla Chronicles, was unavailable for comments as to the future of their most successful series.


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For the week of:

May 18, 2008

Walls

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“It was announced today – from the United Nations’ new home of Paris – that a wall will be constructed around the United States of America to protect the rest of the world from the threat of Americanism.

“Secretary General Kizza Nsibambi had this to say: ‘For many decades the world has tolerated – feared would be a better word – the self-appointed role of world guardian the United States has taken. But just like Rome and the British Empire, all major powers must eventually fade and pass into history to make room for newer powers. It is not a moment the people greet with joy, but it is a moment they must greet. Now is the time for the United States to fade.

‘Despite what the American administration says, I am not calling for the destruction of the United States; Britain exists without its empire. What I am saying is that America has had too much power over the world for too long and has done too little with it. The United States says they champion democracy around the world, but they have no problem propping up corrupt regimes if it means they’ll get cheap oil. A few Americans killed anywhere in the world is a major news story, possibly leading to war, while millions are slaughtered in Africa in silence and America does nothing. It is time for the world to stand on its own two feet and solve its own problems. The greatest obstacle in doing this is America as a world power; and it is time that obstacle is removed.’

“American President Jonathon Pike’s response to the Secretary General was, ‘Bring it on.’”


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For the week of:

May 25, 2008

The Yellow Staters



Over the past several elections, a great deal has been written about the difference between the Red Staters and the Blue Staters. But I want to talk about a lesser-known color of people: Purple. Purple Staters are those wishy-washy part Red, part Blue people. Instead of Purple, I think they should be called Yellow Staters, because they are too cowardly to accept the inevitability of the country being all Red or all Blue, a condition that is inevitable.

The Red Party says that only they have the correct solutions to the country’s problems and if the Blue Party wins then the country will go to hell in a hand basket. While on the other hand, the Blue Party says that only they have the correct solutions to the country’s problems and if the Red Party wins then the country will go to hell in a hand basket. They can’t both be correct, because that would be a contradiction. And they can’t both be wrong because that would mean our politicians have been lying to us to get our votes … and I don’t think any Real American could believe that. Therefore, the only possible way out of this quandary is for one of the Parties to be the correct one. From there, it is not hard to see that eventually this Correct Party will, by always being the correct choice, eventually “win” and we will be either an entirely Red Nation or an entirely Blue Nation.

The point of this essay is that this nation is heading towards a one party system and everyone better get used to the idea. All those who can’t decide whether to be Red or Blue along with those “Third Party Agitators” are delaying this great event. The sooner people accept the inevitability of the One Party America, the sooner we can put behind us all this partisan bickering that is rampant today. And won’t that be a glorious day?


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For the week of:

June 1, 2008

War Without End

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Wiping the crumbs off the tabletop with a towel, April glanced at the Earl Grey Man out of the corner of her eye. He sat with his hand resting on the table holding a newspaper. Moving to another table April wiped up a coffee stain. She stood up straight and started back to the counter, but stopped herself and stood next to the man. “Are you okay?”

His head jerked around and he blinked at her. “Huh? What?”

“Are you okay? You’ve just been sitting staring out the window for twenty minutes.”

“Oh, I, ah,” with his free hand he rubbed his nose. Looking up at April he explained, “I read something in the paper and it just got me thinking about … history, current events, everything. It just got me really depressed.”

Pointing at the paper with her chin, April asked, “What was it?”

“The guys arrested for the Fort Dix thing. I know there will always be lunatics in the world like that kid in Virginia or these guys in New Jersey. They’re an unfortunate part of life. There will always be people with mental or emotional problems who snap, and people who think violence is the only way to achieve their goals.”

The man paused and looked out the window. April thought he was finished, and started to take a step away when he turned and asked, “Have you ever heard of the Long War?”

The Hundred Years War and the Crusades floated into April’s mind from the dim mists of high school history class, but not the Long War. “Ah, no.”

“It’s,” the man began to explain, “well it was, the term the Pentagon used for this War on Terror, because they were honest and knew that this war will go on for decades – not just until to the next election. But a month or so ago I read that they stopped using it because of the fear it might send the message to the Middle East that our military is going to be there for years to come. Of course, our military will be there for years in some fashion, so why not be upfront about it? But I have to wonder if there wasn’t some political pressure to change the name. Politicians win elections by conning enough of the voters into thinking that the only reason this country has problems is that they haven’t been elected yet. Everybody wants to think that the Long War and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will all be over by the next election. The politicians want it over because then it’s one less issue to waste campaigning time on, and the people want it over because it’s a warm, fuzzy thought, and we enjoy thinking them.”

The man paused for a few seconds and took a deep breath. “I’ve heard people say the War on Terror is a direct result of the Cold War, when this shining beacon of democracy didn’t mind dictators, as long as they were our dictators. Like Saddam, he was once ours. We used him to keep the Iranians in check.” The man gave a quick shrug with a confused look on his face.

“Of course the Cold War resulted from World War II, which resulted from World War I, which resulted from…. Well, I don’t know exactly what it resulted from, but basically you could say all the European wars of the Nineteenth Century. And all those wars resulted from the wars of the Eighteenth Century, and so on and so on.”

Looking back out the window the man stated, “My daughter just turned fourteen.” Smiling up at April he said, “I don’t even want to think of her dating, but I’m sure it will happen and then there’s a chance I’ll end up being a grandfather. But I can’t help but wonder what war my grandkids will have to deal with.”

The man looked at April and then smiled broadly. “I apologize for dumping all of that on you. You’re not my bartender.”

April smiled in reply. “Speaking of bartenders, I think I’ll be going to a bar after work.”

Laughing, the man added, “I’m sorry. But don’t worry, it’s not all hopeless.” Lifting the paper he said, “I also read an article about Northern Ireland. After years of bloodshed, they now have a power-sharing government. So peace is possible. It just takes a few decades.”


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For the week of:

June 8, 2008

History Will Forget

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In November 2006, Jake (a die-hard Democrat) and Harry (a die-hard Republican) were arguing over what would result from the recent midterm election. Jake claimed that America would turn away from disaster and start down a new path of greatness leading to a better world. Harry, on the other hand, claimed America would leave the path of greatness and start down to disaster, bringing the world with it. As they walked along the sidewalk they kept shouting and listing reasons the other’s candidates did not deserve to win. They were just about to tell each other to “Fuck off” and go their own ways, when a green mist enveloped them.

Out of fear, they instinctively stepped closer to each other. “What is that?” Harry asked.

“I don’t know.”

There was a sudden lurch, like an elevator cable snapping, and then the green mist dissipated.

They were standing in a small classroom. That was the first thought that came into their heads, but upon closer inspection the room did not look like any classroom they had ever seen. Yes, there was a group of about thirty teenaged children, but instead of desks they sat in rows like at a small theater. Behind them, instead of a blackboard there was just a large black screen. But what really stood out was the view out the window. Gleaming spires of steel and glass filled the skyline; their tops concealed by clouds.

The teacher, a tall, thin woman whose ancestry was not immediately clear and who said her name was Saskia, quickly explained to them that they had been picked up at random from two centuries earlier. Instead of students learning only from boring text or vids, the education system of twenty-third century America transported people from the past to give the children a first-hand account of the period they lived in.

Both twenty-first century men managed to stay on their feet; but it did take them several minutes or so to overcome the weirdness of the situation and carry on. Once they had settled down, as much as possible, Harry asked Saskia, “What do you want to know?”

“Well,” she thought for a few seconds, “What were the two of you doing before we brought you here?”

Both men looked at each other, then Jake stepped forward and answered, “There was just an election, and we were discussing the ramifications from it.”

One of the students raised a hand and asked, “Was it a presidential election?”

“No,” Harry replied, “It was a midterm election.”

The student let out a rejected, “Oh,” then slumped back in his seat.

Another student asked, “Were there any important issues in the election?”

“Yes,” Jake almost shouted, “extremely important issues.”

“Do you children not know what was going on in the country in 2006?” Harry asked.

The student who had asked what kind of election it was asked back, “Do you know what the important issues in the midterm election of 1806 were?”

Both men wanted to answer, but could not.

Saskia smiled at them. “I’m sorry,” she explained, “but everyone is getting all excited for our own presidential elections next month, and we’ve been studying a great deal of presidential history. Not to minimize their service, but history remembers Presidents far better than members of Congress.”

Harry smiled and asked Saskia, “Well then, do you mind if I ask the children a question?”

“No, of course not.”

Turning towards the students he asked, “Who do you think the greatest President of the twenty-first century was?”

The students began squirming in their seats. After a few seconds of excited debate the class had settled into two camps; one claiming the best was President Quintana for setting so many important projects in motion, while the other said it was President Ries for seeing most of the projects through.

Saskia, seeing the blank faces on both men, explained, “President Alicia Quintana was elected in 2036. Jerome Ries was her Vice-President, and was elected himself, but unfortunately he died in office in 2051. Their terms are often referred to as ‘The Golden Age of Twenty-First Century America.’”

Both men started to ask, but Jake was a little bit quicker. “What party were they?”

“The American Party.”

“The what?”

Saskia shook her head as if she was trying to sort out all she was going to say. She settled on, “The twenty-teens are commonly referred to as the time of the ‘Civil Stress,’ which some historians claim as the closest America has been to a civil war since … The American Civil War. It was a time of divisionism, passionate hatred, and massive corruption.

“The American Party began when people finally got fed up with the two main political parties of the time, the ….” She closed her eyes for a few seconds, then looked at both men, “the Republicans and Democrats?”

“Yeah,” Jake answered.

She smiled, and continued. “For decades the Republicans and Democrats fought each other for power. Often brutally. I’m sure both of you are very familiar with this aspect of history.”

Jake and Harry glanced at each other, but did not say anything.

“Of course, the biggest victim of this never-ending power struggle was America itself. Each party fell into the delusion that only their way of looking at the world was the proper one, and if you were of the other party or voted for the other party then there was something wrong with you. What the leaders and supporters of each party forgot was that America is a diverse, complex nation. Instead of starting with an ideology and trying to cram America into it, they should have looked at America and did what needed to be done. That’s what the founders of the American Party did.”

“Who were they?” Jake asked.

Saskia started to answer, then stopped herself. After a second she said, “There wasn’t a specific group of people. It was a countless multitude who over a few decades came to the conclusion that the status quo was broken, and instead of trying to fix it, they needed to just start afresh.”

“That seems overly rash,” Harry said.

One of the students raised her hand. “I read once that, in the decades leading up to the Civil Stress, candidates would spend millions of dollars polluting every form of media they could find trying to convince people that they cared about important issues, like education. But once they were elected, they could never seem to find the time to pass legislation that would give a fraction of that money to schools to fix leaky roofs.”

Another student stated, “I also read that the politicians of your time talked about problems, but never really did anything to fix them. We,” he gestured to his classmates, “can discuss problems and not fix them. Does that mean we could be Members of Congress?”

“You seem to have only heard of the negative aspects of the political system from our time.”

Saskia quietly clapped her hands. “Well then, perhaps you can tell us some of the positive aspects of the politics of your time.”


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For the week of:

June 15, 2008

Overwhelmed

The teabag was lifted halfway out of the hot water, then slowly allowed to sink back. This repeated several times. The writer followed each rise and fall, studying how the air seeped into the bag only to be expelled. He watched in part because of his believe that fascination in the minutiae of life was a prerequisite of his trade. Of course, the main reason was writer’s block.

Eventually, he lifted the teabag completely out, pressed it against the side of his cup with a stirrer and dropping it in the trash. From an old butter tub he kept on his desk, he poured raw sugar into his cup. He stirred, and stirred, and stirred, and stirred. Removing the stirrer, he tapped it on the side several times then dropped it in the trash as well.

The writer sighed. Just my luck, he thought. I’m caught up on my workload, my boss is in a meeting all afternoon, and I have a cup of tea, but can’t figure out what to write. Again, the writer sighed and sipped his tea.

It wasn’t as if there was nothing for him to write about. There was the 2008 Election, gay marriage, gas prices, war, Global Warming. Also a friend’s pregnancy, juicy office gossip, anniversaries of important moments in the writer’s life, the universe, everything. A billion story ideas wafted around his head in a fog; all begging to be heard. But where to start?

If he took one of the nebulous ideas and forged it in the fires of imagination and on the anvil of plot, the others weren’t content to sit back and bide their time. While he worked on one the others cried, “No, pick me, pick me.” When the writer couldn’t stand the cries anymore, he would set aside what he was working on (often to be forgotten and left to rust) and start work on another. But it seemed as though for each idea he removed from the fog, two more crying ideas took its place. And the half-finished stories littering his workshop weren’t completely silent either, although they were more dignified and only asked, “Are you ever going to finish me, Sir?”

Closing his eyes the writer inhaled the aroma of his tea, then took a long sip. Often, he had wondered if the constant droning in his head would drive him mad, and if that is what happened to all the good writers. More often he wondered if he would even notice.

Mentally, the writer yelled, “Just shut the hell up for a minute,” knowing it would do no good. Taking a deep breath, he picked up one of the half-finished stories and said, “Let’s see what I can do with you.”


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For the week of:

June 22, 2008

Hand Me That Piano

Author’s note: This is a Tom and Jeremy story.


Since there was a new guy running the register, there was a line at the bookstore café. While Jeremy waited for his coffee, he saw that his writing partner Tom was five or six people behind him. They nodded to each other. Once his coffee was done, Jeremy took it to a table and waited for his friend.

When Tom sat down across from him, Jeremy raised his cup and said, “A toast, to George Carlin. He will be missed.” They touched cups and both took sips.

“I take it,” Tom asked, “you’re a fan?”

“Of course. You?”

Tom shrugged. “I enjoy the occasional rant, so I can listen to him and Lewis Black, but I prefer Gabriel Iglesias, Maria Bamford, Jim Gaffigan. I guess I’m more into humor-humor instead of thinking-humor.”

Jeremy smiled. “Afraid you’d pull a muscle?”

“Hey, if George were here right now, I’m sure he would agree with me that people are entitled to their tastes. He isn’t the type to be a dogmatic comedian.” Deeping his voice, Tom said, “‘Enjoy my humor – or else.’” In his regular voice he asked, “Am I right?”

Jeremy glared at him for several seconds. “Bastard.”

They both laughed.

“But there’s more to Carlin than his rants against the government and religion.” Jeremy thumped the table. “There was also vulgarity.”

Tom snorted.

“That’s what first got me into Carlin,” Jeremy continued. “A friend of mine stole a tape from his older brother and we sat in my basement with our ears pressed to the tape player – we had the volume very low so my mom wouldn’t hear us, not that it mattered because we were laughing so hard. Ah, the thrill of teenage rebellion.”

“Here, here.” Tom lifted his cup and touched it to Jeremy’s again.

After they sipped their drinks, Jeremy went on. “As I grew up I came to enjoy other aspects of his show. His rants on politics and religion should be broadcast in our schools; give a dose of reality to our future … McLeaders.”

“I,” Tom laughed, “I have a hard time seeing that happening.”

“Pity. But what made me truly appreciate him was his study of language. He did this bit once – I think it was in the early 80’s – where he talked about the softening of language. For example, in World War I some soldiers suffered from shell shock, which is a powerful term. But in World War II it became battle fatigue, in Korea, operational exhaustion, and in Vietnam post-traumatic stress disorder.”

“I think they just call it PTSD now.”

“Exactly, you don’t know what the hell it is. But what do you think would happen if newspapers were full of stories about shell shocked troops returning from Iraq?”

For several moments neither man said anything. “See,” Tom finally said, “that’s tragedy, not comedy. And you need some comedy to deal with your smaller, day-to-day tragedies. I mean, it’s like ignoring all the starving people in Africa, North Korea, prosperity USA; because if you didn’t you couldn’t enjoy a good steak.” After a heartbeat, he added, “Of course, saying that out loud makes me sound like a dick.”

“No, no. Well, yeah.” Jeremy gave a large grin. “It just means you’re human. Ignoring the suffering of others is one of the things our species does best.”

Tom frowned. “Should we toast that?”

“Why not.”

Again they lifted their cups and touched them, but they didn’t drink.

“Okay,” Jeremy said, “thinking humor that only gives you a headache, not depression, and should appeal to the writer in you.”

“There’s a writer in me? I thought I was the writer.” Tom grinned.

“You could have fooled me.” Jeremy returned the grin.

“It doesn’t take much to fool an old fool like you.”

Jeremy sighed. “We’ll have to continue the insults later. But getting back to Carlin – you know, the dead guy – he had a bit on words that have never been said before, like, ‘Please saw my legs off.’”

“You know,” Tom drew the words out, “I have never heard that.”

“He knew his stuff. But the one that’s stuck with me for decades is, ‘Hand me that piano.’ It’s a delightful twist on reality, something you only find in the works of great writers.”

Tom smiled. “You know, that would make a great first line.”

“Exactly. If you opened a book to find a bland description of a setting, ho-hum. But if you found someone saying, ‘Hand me that piano,’ you have to keep reading to learn what the hell is going on.”

Nodding, Tom said, “That would be a powerful hook, and in only four words.”

Thumping the table Jeremy added, “As I said, he knew his stuff.”

After a few seconds of silence, Tom raised his cup. “Hand me that piano.”

“Hand me that piano.”


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For the week of:

June 29, 2008

Declaration of Offense

Author’s note: This is a Jonathon Davies story.

Hi, Jonathon Davies here. I know it’s been awhile since I’ve spoken to all of you, but things come up. Now, I’m sure some of you are saying that I’m not taking my write in campaign for President of the United States seriously. Well, no duh. As I said at the beginning, I know my chances are nil. Anyway, instead of my dead campaign, I wanted to talk about something that has been bothering me for a long time. It was one of those things that you “know” but can’t really put into words. Well, I finally found the words.

During the whole drunken, explosive, Fourth of July weekend, I actually spent some time thinking about how it all began. And I remembered how one of the arguments against independence was, “Why replace one tyrant a thousand miles away with a thousand tyrants a mile away?” Well, we have about 550 tyrants in Washington D.C. so I guess we’re doing better. I call our “leaders” tyrants because – in a sense – that’s what they are. How many of them are actually working “for the people?” How many of them are working for themselves or their cronies and going against “the people?”

As a people we say we “value” things like common sense and plain talk, but we don’t use them. Why can’t we actually sit down and work out what is best for everybody? Some time ago I came up with the idea that a bill becomes law, not because it is what’s best for the country, but because it is the least offensive to the greatest number of legislators. Is that good governance? There are things that need to be done, but they would offend too many people. So in order to protect them from facing the possibility that they might be wrong, we all must suffer the consequences. I say enough is enough. Whatever my write in campaign was, I’m now turning it into the beginning of a new, offensive, revolution. People need to face being offended.

Now before you jump up and shout, “Right on! People who believe differently than me are wrong and should be offended,” I must ask, “What makes you so special?” For every thing you hold dear and precious there is somebody else who believes the exact opposite. Are they wrong because you – obviously – are correct? Nobody is perfect. Nobody is right about everything and should not be questioned. But too often we “go with the flow” of not objecting to people because we don’t want to “rock the boat,” with our ideas. I say you should stand up for what you believe, especially if others will find it offense. Because if we all hide behind our socially acceptable masks, then are we truly free?

Something to think about as you recover from your hangover.

Jonathon Davies


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