Monday, December 29, 2014


illustrations by pete palomine

devastation covered the earth
every news channel said so
frank wasn't so sure
he got up and went to the refrigerator

how come it was still humming along?
he reached inside for a doctor pepper
just because he was who he was
he knew they were waiting for him outside

lately he had been having gas
but he couldn't stop the munchies
he went back to his red naughahyde couch with his doctor pepper
everything was going to be o k

somebody started pounding on the door
not that he expected peace and quiet
the earth was round and getting rounder every day
the streets weren't safe any more

a tarantula crawled across the ceiling
frank looked up at it
it didn't look as vicious as before
when it first stopped being miss carson and became the tarantula

frank never expected much from life
not even in his younger days
he had gotten zero respect from day one
all on account of who he was

better to just sit in your room
contrary to what they wanted you to believe
every day was a new day
every eternity was a new eternity

Saturday, December 20, 2014

six o'clock show

illustrations by pete palomine and konrad kraus

everybody was talking at once

alice was possessed of a strange suspicion

suddenly a savage thought sent her brain hurtling through space

it was almost time for the six o'clock show

but sissy and charisse and the others just kept on yakking

alice was sorry, but she had do what she had to do

things like this have happened a million times through history

everybody is always sorry afterwards and they build temples and monuments to the dead heroes

it is just the way it is

but, thought alice, this just doesn't feel right

she had a half-pint of whiskey in the pocket of her dressing gown

suddenly johnny appeared out of nowhere and gave her a smack on the jaw that sent her reeling

he stood over her and gave her an insolent and cynical sneer

"we were just ready to break into the big money."

"i'm sorry, johnny, it won't happen again, i promise."

"get out there and get on with the show."

he gave her one of his sudden quick smiles and everything was o k

they will do it every time

alice reached into her pocket for the half pint of whiskey

what could she do? - she couldn't read everybody in the world's mind

everything would be different when they got into the big money

a dust storm was brewing on the horizon

maybe the rubes wouldn't show up and they would have to cancel the show

sometimes the way things turned out made you wonder

the whiskey went down her throat like a burning silk caterpillar

who will ever know your mind or anybody else's

the show started on time

sources: dashing diamond dick, by w b lawson
the liberty boys of '76, by harry moore
claude's confession, by emile zola
sinister street, by compton mackenzie
the hollow, by agatha christie
the case of the sulky girl, by erle stanley gardner
"the doll", by daphne du maurier
my cousin rachel, by daphne du maurier
here comes a candle, by fredric brown
"the freak show murders" by fredric brown
women, by charles bukowski
the accursed, by joyce carol oates

Thursday, December 4, 2014

ralph pushes the door open

illustrations by konrad kraus

ralph slowly pushed the door open.

although he had heard that strangers were often regarded with suspicion, no one seemed to pay any attention to him as he entered the dim exterior.

he sat down at a small table in the corner.

a menu - or maybe it was a wine list - was lying on the table.

he picked it up. it was written in a language he did not understand.

as he did not understand most of the languages in the universe, he was not at all non-plussed. not in the least.

ralph looked around. he did not see any waiters or waitresses.

his eyes grew accustomed to the dimness.

it was a place just like any other - one he had seen a million times before, in a thousand lifetimes.

he decided to just sit there for a while, rest his weary bones.

and his even wearier feet.

he had walked many a weary mile, just getting here.

he had not been able to find his landing spot in the fog and rain that blanketed the planet, and had been lucky to land at all.

finally a waitress appeared in the shadows and approached ...

a cigarette dangled from her lip.

she was sultry looking.

she was really, really sultry looking.

she was the sultriest looking woman ralph had ever seen.

personally, he preferred girl next door types, with freckles on their noses and big smiles.

but nobody cared what he preferred.

now the sultry looking waitress reached his table and looked down on him with her tray on her hip and a sneer on her lip (that the cigarette dangled from).

the script had been prepared. now ralph just had to hope that it worked.

"do you want something?" the waitress asked in a surprisingly clear and non-sultry voice.

ralph thought that this was a good omen, that it indicated she was playing a part.

if she was not playing the part that well, it might be a problem down thew road , but probably not his.

"i would like a daiquiri, please, with not too much - "

"we don't have any of that shit," she interrupted him, "just beer. rheingold draft. you want one?"

"yes, please." so far the script had not come in to play.

"you want a sandwich or something?"

"no thank you."

now came the script. ralph hesitated for a second, then said:

“what do you do for excitement in this town?”

if the waitress was the one, she would answer: “how the fuck do i know?”

ralph had been skeptical of this procedure, pointing out to commander krogar and captain gordon that the expression might well be used by anyone, whether they were the contacts or not.

they had replied that they wanted a response that, if overheard, would seem "natural".

gordon, who had become a real snotty little prick since being promoted to captain, had sneered, "what do you want the contact to say, something like ' reeses peanut butter cups in the amalgamation of the purple rhinoceros'".

in the end, despite his desparate pleadings, ralph had been forced to give in.

now he waited for the girl's answer.

but she didn't say, "how the fuck do i know?" instead she said

"i don't know, mister. for one thing we're not exactly in a town, we're out here in the middle of nowhere."

"oh." ralph could barely conceal his relief. "so i guess there's not much excitement."

"i've got some old national geographics, and some old issues of variety, in the back if you want to look at them."

"that's very kind of you, but no thank you."

"you sure you don't want anything to eat? cookie whips up a great grilled cheese sandwich."

"no thank you."

"suit yourself. you don't know what you're missing." the waitress moved away.

"mind if i sit here?"

ralph turned and saw a man standing behind him. the man had a big red face, and a right arm that was twice the size of his left arm.

he looked familiar, but everybody looked familiar .

without waiting for ralph's answer, the man sat down.

"remember me?"

"no, i am afraid i don't," ralph answered.

"what a character! you always were a character, ralphie!"

the man knew his name. or did he? ralph had been down this road before.

too many times.

the man ignored the look on ralph's face. "remember that job in moldavia?" he shook his head and laughed. "we fixed some refrigerators then, didn't we?"

ralph decided to cut to the chase. "what do you do for excitement in this town?"

"huh? i don't know, what does anybody do for excitement anywhere?"

the waitress came back with ralph's draft beer and put it on the table.

"is this guy bothering you?" she asked ralph. "if he is, we'll throw him out, no problem. "

"no, he's not bothering me." ralph hated arguments, and violence.

the waitress turned to the man who had sat down. "you sure you're not bothering this guy, ralph?"

"i don't bother nobody, ralphie, you know that."

"you'll be bothering me if you don't order nothing."

"i was just saying hello to this guy because he's m' old pal."

"your mold pal? what did he do, develop mold from listening to you - in a cellar somewhere? with the mushrooms?"

"very funny."

"order something, ralph. or i'll have sammy come over and throw you out."

sammy. at least, thought ralph, the original ralph who had pushed the door open, there is at least one person here not named ralph.

"i'll have a grilled cheese sandwich, with extra mustard."

"you going to pay for it?"

"i'll pay for it."

"you going to pay for it yourself, or are you going to try to impose on this gentleman, who i'm sure never saw you before in his life, to pay for it?"

"i said i'll pay for it."

suddenly another figure appeared. he looked like a strong man in a circus."

"hello, sammy," the second ralph greeted him.


the first ralph blurted out to sammy, "what do you do for excitement in this town?"

sammy just looked at him.

"we fix refrigerators," the second ralph said. "we fix refrigerators and then we get together and talk refrigerators."

"he didn't ask you," ralphie the waitress said. "did he?"

now sammy spoke up. he had a surprisingly high voice. "i don't want to hear about refrigerators. i want to know who this character is?"

"you mean myself?" asked the first ralph. "i'm just a guy who is looking for excitement."

"there is no excitement." sammy glared at him from beneath bushy eyebrows. "the age of excitement is over."

"like the age of miracles," added ralphie the waitress with a laugh.

"you know," said the first ralph. "i think i'll have a grilled cheese sandwich after all. it sounds like a good idea."

"with extra mustard?" asked ralphie.

"no, hold the mustard. but chutney sauce, if you have it."

"don't worry," ralphie told him. "we have everything you need."

to be continued?

sources: something happened, by joseph heller
man on a leash, by charles williams
when everybody ate at schrafft's. by joan kanel slomanson