Vignette No. 162

At the mirror, looking into his own eyes, he sees the glossiness that precedes an overflow of tears. “What have I done to be punished so harshly?”, he wonders softly to himself. “I’ve been convicted of no crime, provided no sentence, but apparently I’ve received the maximum penalty of the law!” – he speaks aloud in a frustrated tone. “What law even is this!? What justice is served?!” – he speaks even louder, angrier.

“For justice to be justice, a man must consent to the laws that bind him. I’ve made no agreement with this world nor its arbiter. Therefore, I reject any and all imposed fines! To hell with this world!” – he proclaims furiously.

Now quieter, almost a whisper, he says: “It may have my body, but it shan’t have my spirit. Nay, such a cruel world does not deserve an unrelenting opportunity to mock me. I am in this world, but I will not be party to its malevolence.”

As a declaration to existence itself, he continues at full volume: “In every scene and circumstance you present me, I shall laugh. No tear will ever drip from mine eyes, for I shall never invest myself in your nefarious narratives. You may have this body, doing with it what you will – but I, its consciousness will simply serve as witness to your wicked ways. For if justice truly exists in this universe, judgement awaits you.”

A knock on the bathroom door, followed by the words: “Rich! It’s breakfast, what are you doing in there? Who are you talking to? The sausages are getting cold!” He replies: “Sausages!? The good ones? I’m on my way!”

Can of War

There I was, just a kid, but I was in the middle of a war. Coke? Pepsi? I took part in the taste-tests. Look, you weren’t there! We had to pick a side! There I was, unmarked cups in front of me. I didn’t want to look greedy so I took just a small sip of each, I could barely taste the warm sweet liquid as the proctor stared impatiently. My pick was essentially random. I think I picked Coke? In some ways it didn’t matter. In some ways I suppose I lost some of myself that day. It was the Cola Wars.

Coke, the classic conservative, choice of the old generation versus Pepsi the progressive, the choice of a new generation. The new kid on the block challenging the champ. Being the age I was, I wanted Pepsi. I was that new generation. But we were lied to, man! Over some sugar water!? The things I did. The things I saw. There were even times when I had cola for breakfast, right alongside my Cap’n Crunch cereal. It was a different time back then, life was cheap, soda was cheaper.

I’ve got the battle scars to prove it. Brittle bones, yellowed teeth, war is hell. And the indoctrination, oh the mind-control we were under. Our eyes were glued to the tele-screens as they beamed in ad after ad telling us what to drink in every insidious way they could. You think he was called the King of Pop solely because of his domination over pop-music? Pop is also another name for cola. I saw the footage of that tragic Pepsi commercial, and the King of Pop was changed after that. The war affected us all.

No, I don’t touch the stuff anymore. Well maybe a sip for old-times sake every few years, but I don’t enjoy it. The taste no longer suits me. I guess without the stream of ads flowing into my brain, the flavor can’t stand on its own. Or maybe I’m just bitter. We were so young, man. Caught in the middle of a fight we didn’t want. We had no choice. What were we gonna drink? Ginger Ale? Dr Pepper? Tab? Water? That sh*t wouldn’t fly.

We did what we had to, and when it came down to it, we drank whatever cola the restaurant had on tap. None of it mattered. The war wasn’t one cola versus another, it was cola versus us — and we lost.

Ho No

“So Matt, what would you like for Christmas this year?”
“Matt, you’re a ten-year-old boy, you have to want something!”
“It’s a Christian holiday and I’m an atheist.”
“What?! Well then what are you going to open on Christmas morning?”
“I’ll be live-streaming all day.”

That’s an excerpt from an actual conversation my mother had with one of her grandsons. When I was but a boy, I didn’t relate to the Christian aspects of X-Mas either — but Santa and presents sure made a whole lotta sense.

Frankly, I blame the lack of television for this kind of staunch anti-X-Mas stance. When I was young, we were forced to choose from a total of THREE television channels every night. Come holiday time, at least one of those channels was showing a Christmas-themed special in which it wasn’t too late to find out the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas Miracles were around every corner. Nowadays kids don’t even watch TV. Instead of the picture-tube, they’re glued to the YouTube.

And have you even tried shopping for kids today? When I was young, there were large toy-stores in every mall — EVERY aisle was filled with goodies. They’re gone. You have a few aisles in Target or Walmart now. What can a child reasonably put on his Christmas List this year? What? A bike? Scooter? Legos? Classic board games? Action-figures? Remote-control-vehicle? Xbox? TV? iPad/iPhone? Toy robot? Gift-cards? Movie-streaming/gaming-subscription service? Hmm never-mind.

But it’s like they don’t even care. They’re not inundated with commercial after commercial for hours everyday after school like I was when I was a kid. Frankly, most of the shows I watched were 22-minute long ads anyway (Transformers, G.I. Joe, He-Man). I knew all the latest toys and NEEDED every single one of them because all those ads convinced me. The same with cereal. I wanted every sugar-laden box they sold in the cereal-aisle and I made sure my mom knew it! But kids today? Psh, not even a peep, they don’t even want to go down and check out all the cool characters on the boxes — I always went cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

I don’t know what to say, I guess it’s a rudderless generation — simply lost without the guiding hand of television. Every day and night I knelt before its glow and received without question the words it spoke. And I turned out fine. Well, I mean there was the anxiety, depression, sugar-addiction… whatever! It wasn’t TV’s fault, heck they had those World Wars before TV ever became popular. In conclusion, it’s never too late to learn the true meaning of Christmas: rampant unapologetic commercialism ushered in by a jolly old elf. Kids today need to get their act together and get their butts in front of the TV.

Ready for Action

Michael woke up suddenly. He didn’t know why. But not long after, he heard a noise. It seemed to be coming from inside his house. Michael had a Benelli tactical pump-action shotgun for home-defense, a concealed-carry permit to accompany his Glock 26 subcompact pistol, plus a small arsenal of various rifles and handguns for impressing his buddies at the gun range. He’d been waiting for this day, a good-guy with a gun was about to go to war.

Michael grabbed the Benelli obviously, and readied it for action, racking the slide underneath his pillow to keep it quiet. He paused a second and grabbed his Glock subcompact for backup. Because of the emergency nature of the situation, Michael dispensed with any other gear. It was go-time. To keep the element of surprise, he kept things dark and moved low and slow through his house towards the living room. “This f*cker’s dead,” he kept repeating to himself.

As he got closer, he was relieved to see light coming from the living room, that meant he’d have the advantage as he was coming from a dark hallway. He inched his way closer. Before he could even think about what he saw, it was over. Michael dropped to his knees as the shotgun fell out of his limp hands. Red was everywhere. None more so than on the man in the living room. But that man wasn’t done quite yet — from his bag he pulled out one more thing.

“An XBox One X!!!”, yelled Michael as he saw it coming out of Santa’s sack. “Ho ho ho!! Indeed it is!”, replied Saint Nick. “How did you know!!!”, Michael was ecstatic. He offered Santa some cookies and apologized for trying to blow his brains out. But that jolly old elf, with but a wink and a nod, simply shot up the chimney and got back in his sleigh. Michael could hear the reindeer as they ran off his roof and he heard Santa saying, “A merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

What’s on the List

With a smile on her face and a spring in her step, she walked through the familiar doors. A sweet smell greeted her as she sauntered through the bakery section of her local supermarket. The sights were the same, breads to the right, salads to the left, and fresh fruit down at the end of the first aisle.

“Well time to get to work,” she thought to herself as she reached into her pocket for the shopping-list. Panic flooded her brain and flowed down through the rest of her body. It wasn’t there. “WHAT’S ON THE LIST!!??” screamed through her mind as she reeled in the agony of forgetfulness.

How could she go on, she wondered to herself. To go back home and retrieve the list? To make-do with what she could remember? Why was life so cruel, she pondered. As the anger and resentment swelled within, she decided to brave it and continue shopping, buying whatever the hell she pleased.

She would not be beholden to a mere list! It was not her master, for she was its author. Her internal roar deafened any thoughts of defeat. She shopped as she never shopped before: free. She rolled up to the cashier, confidently placing her items on the belt as a new sense of self-determinism filled the hole of self-doubt.

Driving home, it was like a new day was dawning. The sun broke through clouds and shined upon her visage, a warm glow highlighting her features — a new ruler had been named. She placed her grocery bags down on the counter. While triumphantly glaring over at the list, she could think of only one thing: “Fuck I forgot the eggs!”

Donning Red

An excerpt from the fictional series Wokest Tales of Truth.

We all know Little Red Riding Hood as an old-timey European folk tale, but what if it took place in modern-day America? Now, sit back and enjoy our presentation of Little Red Riding Hood as told from a hyper-Americanized perspective. For the comfort of others, please no smoking.

Red hon, I just got off the phone with your grandma. She’s stuck in bed with gout because she refuses to go to the doctor. Can you deliver some food to her house?

Why doesn’t she just go to the doctor?

Well, honey, she refuses to participate in socialized medicine. She believes the last president was a secret Muslim hell-bent on destroying America. She rejects anything his administration implemented. She thinks the previous president hated her freedoms — and she’ll do anything to stand up for the America she so dearly loves.

Is that why she’s on Facebook complaining everyday?

Now, Red, can you please just deliver this basket of canned goods to your grandma?

Okay mom.

As she left the house, Red put on her red-white-and-blue hoodie. It was her favorite. Her dad gave it to her right before his deployment. He was a Navy Seal that served his country proudly.

Being a Millennial, Red always sought the easy path through life, so today she decided to take the shortcut through the woods despite what her mom told her about going the longer more secure route.

As Red walked through the woods, a wolf spotted her coming.

Hello dear, don’t you look every bit of delectable today?

Red just kept walking, she couldn’t hear him anyway because she had her wireless Apple AirPods in her ears while listening to a Spotify playlist.

Being of the wiser baby-boomer generation, the wolf knew he could easily take advantage of this clueless child that walked right by him. He guessed her destination because there was only one house at the end of the road and he jogged as fast as he could.

Upon arriving at the house, out of shape and out of breath, the wolf heard the sounds of FOX NEWS blaring through the windows. He banged on the door yelling “Open up! The liberals are coming to take your guns!”

Granny yelled back, “I never lock my front door! Come in and hide my guns!”

The wolf entered and gathered up all of Granny’s guns and threw them out the window, leaving the poor woman defenseless. Granny was too busy mailing out checks to Republican politicians and coal-mining CEOs to notice. She knew they’d use the money to create jobs and would manage her Social Security funds better than anyone.

The wolf sat by the front door waiting for Red while Granny remained distracted in the kitchen, yelling about liberals.

When Red finally arrived, she popped out her AirPods and knocked on the door. The wolf quickly answered and told her to come in. He had a college loan application ready and waiting, all Red had to do was sign it and she’d be on the hook for $50,000. When she wouldn’t sign, the wolf got angry and approached Red menacingly.

All she could think about was what her dad told her before he left, “the only thing that can stop rampaging evil is a good-guy with a gun.” After the initial pop, Red’s ringing ears heard nothing as she emptied a magazine of Black Talon hollow-points into the savage beast. When the body hit the floor she re-holstered her concealed-carry firearm.

Granny! It’s me, Red! Are you okay!?

As Granny emerged from the kitchen carrying an apple pie, she and Red turned to the American flag that flew majestically in the front-yard. With right hands over hearts, they recited the Pledge of Allegiance. America had become great again.

Comedy Writing 01

A brief attempt at being funny.

It was Rich’s birthday and everyone was there, sounds of party games filled the air, and wrapped presents were everywhere. It was finally time for cake, and Rich loved nothing more than cake. Mmm tasty cake. But what kind of cake would it be this year he wondered to himself. He liked it to be a surprise. “Happy birthday to you!” came the song and presentation of the cake. Rich’s smile dropped. It was cheesecake. He could tell with one look. The rage began building, all internal safety systems failed. “RUN!” yelled Rich’s friend Michelle as she finally noticed the cake that was in front of him, “IT’S CREAM-CHEESE PIE, IT’S NOT REALLY A CAKE!” But it was too late, Rich’s fists double-smashed the cheesecake sending a snow-storm of goop in all directions. Poor Jim, who was closest to the blast looked more snowman than man.

The table of ladies were talking about post-pregnancy woes.
“I’ve heard the application of a potato poultice is a good remedy for hemorrhoids,” said one.
“Waxy or russet?” asked Rich.
The table erupted with laughter. Rich sat there still wondering which type of potato to use.
Rich never told a joke in his life, yet often found himself in the epicenter of raucous laughter.
Based on a true story.

Rich: Man I tell ya, I’d like more of them biscuits. Y’all want some? Else imma fittin to finish ’em.
Michelle: I thought you were from Massachusetts.
Rich: Yes ma’am, southern Mass.

Man on stage: We’ve got to support the president and his policies!
Crowd: Boooo!
Man on stage: I mean the president you just voted for!
Crowd: Yaaaay!
Man on stage: We have to reject the president’s irresponsible and dangerous policies!
Lady in the crowd: Wait, which president, incoming or outgoing?
Man on stage: The one you didn’t vote for!
Crowd: Yaaaay!

Standing at the corner of an intersection, a right-wing fundamentalist preacher was giving a sermon on the dangers of liberals and their ungodly ways. He told the crowd they should shout out their disgust and proudly proclaim that gays and gun-grabbers were ruining America. Just then a scruffy bearded CEO of a tech-startup in sandals that earned three doctorates from Harvard and two from MIT stepped to the front. The bearded man said calmly, if your backwards ideas were true, man would never have landed on the moon. The preacher said, man never landed on the moon it was a hoax, as he smiled conservatively. Then explain that, said the bearded man as he pointed to the sky. The crowd gasped as a Falcon 9 rocket self-landed where the preacher had been standing. The preacher jumped out of the way just in time to declare himself the real victim. He cursed Obama while running back to his trailer to watch Fox News. Just then, Elon Musk parachuted down safely inside a command module – he opened the door and the onlookers were instantly convinced that they existed within a simulation and immediately volunteered for a one-way journey to Mars.
Adaptation of an Atheist Professor meme

Snow Life

An excerpt from the non-fictional tales of Snow Saga.

I was out in the thick of it. I could see falling snow resting on my shoulders. But tirelessly I pressed on, Snow Saber my lightest shovel was within my grasp. White powder flew from ground to air as my shovel’s blade cleaved it from the driveway. What’s this, the devil’s chariot approaches! I watch as the mighty plow pushes compacted white brick in the way of every opening. Curses! I press on.

But as the metal machine leaves to plow a neighboring road, this sinewy man revs up to full power. Areas that were once snow now become empty space. White mist from constantly flying snow fills the air. What’s this? Headlights ahead. Could this be? Why doth the metallic beast return!? I step back from the road as its power is a thing to be respected. But what am I witnessing? He veers over to the pile of compacted white brick he so kindly left just minutes ago.

The vehicle stops. I look over, yet discern no face, I assume it’s due to the thickness of the falling snow or my own nearsightedness. Then he moves, his plow catching a good portion of the snow blocking my driveway. He pushes it to the end of the dead-end street, then reverses and stops again. There were no words exchanged. I thought I saw the form of a man inside, but in that instant he was gone, this time for good.

Was it kindness? Did he see the flying snow from a distance and come to lessen my load? I do not know. Was it jealousy? That a man might have the power to remove so readily what he had put in place? Was he showing me the ease with which he could remove what took me great effort? I cannot say. Perhaps it was camaraderie between two beings tasked with snow removal. Or maybe so close to Christmas, the beast’s heart had softened. I don’t think I’ll ever truly know.

Prose of Personality

An excerpt from the fictional tales of Richard Lawrence Worcestershire.

Richard Lawrence Worcestershire (pronounced like the sauce) is quite the peculiar character. Richard Lawrence Worcestershire speaks in a most erudite manner within his own mind. Of course, he has enough self-awareness to refrain from an upper-crust English accent out-loud, but mentally he’s always conversing in a highfalutin fashion, with words such as “whilst” liberally sprinkled in.

If you ever the occasion to meet Richard Lawrence Worcestershire, and you suspect he believes himself your better, you are most assuredly correct. When describing this fellow, words such as abrasive, argumentative, and pretentious come to mind. Yet despite his loftiness, Richard Lawrence Worcestershire grew up amidst mediocre means.

His vision-board contains turn of the century mansions built by barons of the so-called Gilded Age. The toils of daily life are far beneath the dignity of Richard Lawrence Worcestershire. Labor is for the little people that enjoy such trivial responsibility. No, for our dear Richard Lawrence Worcestershire, the weight of the world rests upon his shoulders.

Yet funnily, with all his superiority, Richard Lawrence Worcestershire does’t seem to accomplish much at all. Yet in his mind, what little he does do resonates exponentially, influencing the world in ways that go unnoticed by those lacking faculties to understand. This poor fellow, I can’t help but to pity him, a personality with an incongruous context.

Funny Thing

I went to get my license renewed the other day. Not long ago they moved the office to a location closer to where I live — which was a pleasant surprise. I walked into a large waiting room that was completely empty. I pulled a number and was immediately called. The number happened to correspond to my current age. I probably spent less than ten minutes there. Afterwards I got some pizza and ate in a nice park on a pleasant day.

When I received the notice about my renewal, I was displeased about going through the license renewal process. What a bother I thought. I put it off for a bit and finally, begrudgingly, went. Later that day I got a massive headache though, so I suppose I was able to work some negativity into the day.

Even though I neutralized the unpleasant images surrounding the license renewal, I couldn’t perceive any positivity and was still bothered about the process. Neutral is not inspiring. Yet in actuality, it turned out to be a decent time. I suppose what this means is that I should practice the art of positivity more often.

Though to be honest, Pollyanna style positivity doesn’t particularly excite me, maybe that’s why my mind defaults to negativity, as that rarely fails to incite emotion. I like humor though. Instead of positivity, maybe I should find a way to fashion my thoughts into something funny. Perhaps comedy is a valid substitute for optimism.

In Harry Potter lore, they use the Riddikulus spell against boggarts, it changes the creature’s frightening appearance to something laughable. Overall I think humor works best at diffusing tense situations. Instead of framing outcomes as pure positivity, perhaps I should frame them as funny. Hm, now I just have to figure out how to be humorous….