Monday, December 24, 2007

Last minute gift ideas from your friends at PODM

Motor Oil: Everyone has a car and the lines are short at auto supply stores this time of year. A colorfully wrapped case of 10 w 40 has a pleasing heft and you can’t beat the look on their faces when they unwrap it.

Live Bait: Again the short lines are appealing and it’s convenient for friends that live near a pier. Make sure it’s thoroughly iced and water proof wrapping is recommended for this sure fire holiday pleaser, everyone loves to fish on Christmas Day just ask Scott Peterson.

Fire Arms: Hand guns preferred but long arms will do. Don’t bother wrapping, just put it in a brown paper bag and pass it to your friend outside a convenience store and see what happens. It’s a gift! It’s a gift card that never runs out of cash and works all year long!

Linesman Spikes: Ever want to see the view from the top of a telephone pole? No problem, just don’t touch the high voltage.

Fire Extinguishers: These abundant, free and handy devices are available in public buildings, hospitals and schools; anywhere liability insurance and local regulation require them. Slip one under the coat after midnight mass and you’ve got something for that forgotten somebody on your list. They are especially appreciated under trees where the low priced, Chinese manufactured, string lights arc and the tree goes up in a festive holiday conflagration.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Recently, from our overseas corrispondent:

A fresh look at an old topic.

Child Custody Landmark Case
Philadelphia (AP) -
A seven-year-old boy was at the center
of a Philadelphia PA courtroom drama today when he
challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of
him. The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents and the
judge initially awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with
child custody law and regulations requiring that family
unity be maintained to the degree possible. The boy
surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat
him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live
with her.

When the judge then suggested that he live with his
grandparents, the boy cried out that they also beat him.
After considering the remainder of the immediate family and
learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life
among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of
allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.

After two recesses to check legal references and confer with
child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody
to the Philadelphia Eagles, whom the boy firmly believes are
not capable of beating anyone.

Look Out For Zombies!

A special report on The Armstrong County Zombie Out Break, by the style editor of the Kittaning Herald:

It was just your standard Zombie outbreak in Armstrong County until the government got involved. That spring brought rebirth, the fresh young buds, the new grass in the fields and the reanimated hands of the long dead, poking their way up through the earth, clawing their way to the air, relieving themselves of the restraints of the tomb and going for a hellish gambol amongst the living. The eternal care plots were particularly hard hit this year leading some folks to doubt the wisdom of the extra chemicals applied to those burials.

By ones and twos the Zombies started reviving and pretty soon a goodly percentage of the residents of The Happy Valley Cemetery were out of their crypts, back on their feet and looking for live human brains to eat. Now brain eating ghouls might seem a bit disconcerting anywhere else but they are an old story around Armstrong County. The folks from Brick Church to Kittanning know the drill: If confronted by anyone known to be departed, take your deer rifle or other large caliber weapon and bust a cap in its head and drag the recently resurrected carcass of the dearly departed to the nearest bonfire.

Zombie snuffing a popular Western Pennsylvania tradition:

Until the fuss started, Zombie snuffing was something a father and a son might enjoy, stalking and bringing down the undead as they shambled about in the crisp morning air. Zombies walk real slow and are kind of guileless so even a youngster could pick off a goodly number provided the ammo you selected had the proper heft and penetrating power. The kids might be tuckered after a day in the tree stand plinking the undead but come deer season they'll be ready, willing and raring to go after real game.

The one thing about Zombies you have to remember is Zombies swarm and are attracted to loud noises like shooting, you can knock‘em off all day long provided you don’t take too long reloading or run out of ammo. You capture the attention of enough of them though and they’ll surround you, swarm you and eat your brains. While having your brains eaten might seem unpleasant enough, the aftermath is plain diabolical, the Zombie turns others into their undead type by their bite.

After lying as dead as God intended a person to lie after having their gray matter devoured, the poor soul re-animates and becomes just like them, an undead fiend stalking the innocent until someone hunts him down and sees that the soulless cannibalistic Zombie is devoured in the cleansing flame of a county sponsored bonfire or alternatively put through a wood chipper and reduced to a harmless pulp. Death is the sobering fate that awaits the wretched victims of a Zombie bite no matter how superficial. Despite the efforts of science and the claims of tonics and specifics in the back every gun magazine no medicine has ever been shown to avert the progression of this terrible ailment. Although, one man down in Overmeyer Valley claimed he was bit and recovered thanks to a bread poultice soaked in equal parts kerosene, Raleigh’s Ointment and Epsom salts. His family claims he is doing fine now, excepting he drinks paint.

Zombies, smarter than expected and slow of foot but still brain hungry, shooting seems best:

Folks down state always think Zombies are stupid but it isn’t so, they can talk and do mechanical things depending on what parts had moldered away. A ghoul whose hand has fallen off isn’t likely to sit down and play the piano but he might be able to swing an ax with his good one, to some purpose I might add. Some could still remember little bits of when they were alive and could be proper cunning, even deceitful. A percentage were definitely brighter than Vo-tech graduates, the tragedy being they couldn’t control themselves. Folks said it was a shame because they could have had useful productive deaths if they weren’t just so single minded and easily distracted, especially by fresh brains.

A hot meal of living brains was pretty much all they were interested in and much time and effort has been wasted on the question of what it was about human brain tissue that made it so damned irresistible to Zombies. Cow and sheep brains were just as repulsive to Zombies as they were to any living person out side of France. The brains of other deceased people were of even less interest, which only makes sense considering they wouldn’t be able to congregate and prey upon the living if they were simultaneously devouring each other.

The ones we were able to question said the taste of brains made the pain of rotting go away. It was a pathetic situation really but as much as we could sympathize we weren’t about to join their hellish carnival by giving up our brains to satisfy their cravings. Likewise the Zombies continued their fiendish slathering, chanting “brains, brains, brains” endlessly, ignoring our questions and refusing to understand our reluctance to part with our gray matter. Try as we might, there was no reasoning with them when they had a taste for brains, which was frequent, so instead of wasting the time we just shoot them.

Zombie disposal, an unexpected dilemma:

Originally we tried putting them back into their old graves but they had no attachment to their previous resting place and soon resumed their brain hunger driven ramblings. Eventually they were rounded up and soon every lock-up, livestock pen and silo in the county was filled with homicidal re-animated corpses. They tried tossing the writhing mass into a deep trench and re-burying them but most of them were out and about in no time. Drowning them didn’t work because the folks down river complained it made the drinking water taste funny and Zombies don’t breathe so if they remembered to keep walking up hill eventually they’d emerge from their watery abyss soaked, angry and more brain hungry than ever. Herding them into worked out coal mines and dynamiting the opening was popular until the price of coal went up and they started working adjacent pits. Zombies are persistent tunnelers and more than a few miners got an unpleasant surprise digging away in an abandoned pit. Finally anti-Zombie efforts returned to its roots as a more or less, one on one, man versus ghoul affair followed by a festive bonfire of unholy corpses.

Folks in Kittanning got pretty good about rounding up the annual crop of the rogue ghouls. Abandoned houses with interracial couples holed up inside were the likely places to find them congregated. They’d corner their victims and shortly begin their unholy banging on the walls outside. It's amazing how they can recall that people lived and sheltered in houses but forget what a doorknob is for. Even so the outlook for the living folks trapped inside is pretty grim unless somebody notified the proper authorities. Then the Zombie alert siren would sound down at the firehouse, the men would fetch their weapons and the women would fix sandwiches. Everybody’d muster at the Armstrong County Courthouse and pretty soon the deer stands would go up and everybody would be in their favorite trees popping off trophy-sized zombies all day long.

Now trophy is just a figure of speech, it wasn’t like a deer you were killing and putting the head up in your den. The Zombie you're killing had previously been somebody's beloved old granddaddy before becoming a horrible ghoul so you had to be respectful. Besides most were too far-gone and rotten to go up in a rec-room after they come back from the dead. Also they let out a stink that would knock a buzzard off the shit house and once it was on you the stench was nearly impossible to get out your clothes. It's hard enough to get that smell out of your memory without being reminded of it by a grinning souvenir hanging over the fire place that’s giving you a refresher whiff every time you sit down to watch a game.

Society blamed for undead problem getting out of hand:

I blame society for the hunt getting out of hand. And the liquor. Hunting is hunting and nobody blames the sportsman for taking a nip to steady his hand after sighting a twelve point buck. It didn’t occur to anyone that discretionary imbibing would be a problem but that just goes to show how wrong you can be. Admittedly, some of the men liked to drink too much, and usually got into trouble even during doe season, but where the authorities faltered was, they’d forgot this wasn’t a regulated hunt. Nobody alerted the fish and game department, and as there wasn’t a Zombie Season per se, no Zombie wardens would be coming around to confiscate liquor and making sure folks weren't too lit up to hunt.

It started when the VFW had a contest, all the hunters paid an entry fee and who ever bagged the most undead got a prize. They wanted to put wheel chair ramps in down at the hall so the disabled could to enjoy a Sunday cordial or aperitif, Armstrong County still having the Blue Laws and such, so it was for a good cause. Still some folks didn’t understand that it was in the nature of a charity they were shooting for and got competitive and rowdy. Some ugly accusations were made about some bodies in the count not being technically Zombies when they were taken and there were arguments as to whether a complete Zombie body counted more than a partially dis-assembled one. Some of the boys had just loped off the heads as they drove by and thrown them in the back of their pick up trucks. Of course that just pissed people off as the headless corpses were now wandering around the county, knocking over corn ricks and scaring the dogs and children.

Things got nasty and soon the veterans and the hunters were down rolling in the dust and making a racket, which of course attracted the Zombies and they got pulled into the melee too. Pretty soon Zombies were biting veterans and veterans were biting them back. Since many of the veterans were in states of decay resembling that of the Zombies the hunters didn’t know who to bite. It was an unholy mess but the sheriff kept his wits about him and got the National Guard to turn a flamethrower on the Zombies then run over the smoking remains with their big water truck. Things quieted down after the Zombies got cooked but the Sheriff still had to put down a couple of people on account of they might have been bitten by Zombies.

A clarion call across the republic or fire bell in the night: The Zombie outbreak; a quiet before the storm awakens the sleeping giant of Democracy:

Any way some visiting city people video taped the fracas and the station in Erie ran it although folks in Baltimore told me they saw it too. It caused uproar. Somebody famous out in Hollywood raised a stink because he came from Orchard Run and he might have seen a relative get incinerated on the tape. He was more irate than you’d expect considering the respect the citizens of Armstrong County had shown dealing with his long deceased relative, who had after all returned from his final resting place and became an acknowledged threat to the public health and safety. We treat all the Zombies just like they were our own kin, we might have some innocent fun with the friskier ones but that’s only to be expected, they all get a bullet in the cranium and a decent burning just as soon as we track them down. It turned out the Hollywood fellow was promoting a similarly themed movie.

At any rate he, Mr. Hollywood, has prevailed upon Mr. Tom Hayden, the well known communist from Pittsburgh but lately Democratic Politician of Hollywood, to do something about it. Tom figures there’s publicity in it and seeing how everybody’s forgotten about him being Mr. Jane Fonda, he figures to profit from the turmoil. He pulls some strings and soon got an investigation going which of course woke up everybody in the state capital.

Harrisburg took one look at this and realized that it’s a bunch of Communists trouble makers from New York or Philadelphia, undoubtedly with ties to the Democratic Political machine, making all the noise. The investigators’ cars were all impounded for non-payment of the Out of State Investigator Tax and towed to New Jersey. The investigators were then given twenty four hours to get out of state, a neat trick from Kittanning on foot. They were last seen on a Butler Coach Company bus junket headed towards Las Vegas; it was the first thing out of town.

The Lieutenant Governor sent a carload of Statees from the Butler State Police Barracks to investigate the investigators and by the end of the week things were quiet and the entire ruckus was a faint memory except for some broken bones and a sucking chest wound or two. Folks were pleased when the Statees carted away some bikers, beat up some Negroes, and even got the local kids to stop loitering around the Videomall but meanwhile we got the Zombies everywhere with more coming out of the ground everyday and nobody was culling the herd. The Statees killed a fair number of Zombies and normal people during their day to day function of keeping the peace, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep them from over running Apollo and Connellsville.

The Statees weren’t much interested per se in the Zombies, unless they exhibited Communistic or terroristic tendencies. They rounded up a handful of Zombies they mistook for French Tourists because they were wearing hats but after interrogating them, they released them. However, even that little bit of attention seemed to have a salutary effect on those Zombies which were last seen clawing their way back into their graves apparently to avoid any more questioning by the State Police.

Praiseworthy as the effort was, there were just too many Zombies and too few Statees and more of the former popping up each day. People were divided as to whether the Statees on balance were a net positive or negative regarding the Zombies. Granted they had got rid of a fair number but likewise created a similar amount on account of what they called “normal wastage”, by which they meant the soon-to-be-Zombies, the bonus deceased people they killed in the course of maintaining order.

Most folks were just getting plain impatient and were anxious to get back to the job of snuffing Zombies. There was little hope in that regard while the Statees were eyeing everybody with a gun with suspicion. It got so that totting a shooting iron and giving a little bit back talk would earn you a five-dollar beating and a month in the county lock up. The abundance of Zombies clambering out of the ground caused a lot of grumbling but we came to rue our discontent considering the the whirlwind that followed after we pressed our petty grievances, as it says in the good book, nothing harvests the media like the wind of discord.

The media reaction to Zombiegate: Circus or Firestorm?

Brick Church and Armstrong County were taking a beating from the national liberal press on account of the cable news outlets had picked up the video tape of the First Annual Creek Side Park Zombie Shoot and Potluck Dinner disaster. FOX News called us boobs because we’re all a bunch of dumb ass crackers and need a guy like that Giuliani fellow, to deal with Zombies or as they were calling them, internment challenged Americans.

News crews started following the Zombies to see how they were being treated and decided right off that they were being abused, which spawned outrage in an uninformed nation. The stories continued to pour out until a reporter drew too near, got bit, and turned into a Zombie. Poor Geraldo thought that the Beretta he got in Afghanistan would protect him from Zombie attacks. As Geraldo learned, while he was blazing away at the swarm of lifeless evil dead that buried him and consumed his struggling, writhing body, volume of fire is a fools paradise, you could empty a nine-millimeter clip into a Zombie’s head with out ever coming near his poor old desiccated brain. With Zombies you need stopping power, something big enough to make the head fly apart.

I give Geraldo credit though; he continued to report on the state of what he called the Zombie Nation, live during the Bill O’Reilly Show. He would frequently do his stand up while eating the brains of the interns dispatched by FOX to deliver tapes, per diem checks, plates of Deli food or what ever the folks in New York felt they needed out in the sticks. Geraldo came to believe he was the Zombie king as what was left of his parietal lobes decayed and he departed more and more from this reality. Oddly enough even as he grew madder, he was still able to control his subjects by the sheer force of his terrible will. It didn’t hurt his ratings either; his reports made a big impression and galvanized a nation to action. The response was immediate.

Pretty soon everybody on TV was yelling at one another like they did when Clinton was president. They’re arguing about how the dead are people too and they have rights even though the Declaration of Independence said Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness which being dead kind of nullified. The constitution didn’t say anything about being alive to have rights so all the lawyers and pundits were having a high old time in that legal playground.

Some other TV reporters persisted in trying to talk to the Zombies despite Geraldo’s fate and devised clever blinds and ploys to deceive and protect themselves from the Zombies. Geraldo had taught his Zombie subjects well, they would listen politely for a while but when they surrounded the reporter, they’d eat their meager brains. The producer, cameraman and crew were converted into compliant slaves for Geraldo’s hideous necrophiliac desires, afterwards they were forced worship Geraldo in ghastly cannibalistic rituals until they were ceremonially sacrificed and eaten. It made for great television.

Some people in the Media believed that Geraldo may have exceeded the boundaries of journalistic integrity and he was questioned about it on The Factor. He got so upset at Bill O‘Reilly’s line of questioning that he ate Ann Coulter, who was only there because of her well known resemblance to the undead. The suddenness of it shocked the nation. One minute she’s gabbing away, a pretty little waif like thing, not a care in her pathetic little brain, all worn down as it was by years of ill use. The next minute she’s an unclean ghoul watching helplessly as her gray matter is scooped out of her brain pan by the Geraldo’s withered skeletal hand and popped into his rotting mouth, a morsel barely a big enough to keep a Zombie alive.

I still recall her lifeless, now even more cadaverous looking, body still talking, staring into the camera and offering strange and unnerving opinions as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. When security tried to drag her corpse out of the studio and replace it with another blond talking head with an eating disorder, the ghastly Coulter summoned up strength from whatever demonic pit she had come from and fell upon them.

She dispatched her bubble headed competition and minimum wage security guards with a savage fury, ripping flesh and sinew from living bone, and devouring the remains while her victims’ pitiful pleas and screams rang in the background. The now re-animated Republican Activist then returned to her place on camera with a decidedly non Zombie like glint of vengeance in her eyes, flicked a bit of offal from her teeth and continued to deliver reasoned concise commentary on the events of the day. It was a ratings bonanza.

A healthy lifestyle = More vibrant re-animation? Some say yes.

There was a lot more press coverage but it didn’t come to anything. We had a late frost that year, which made the roads slick and with Zombies wondering around you know there's going to be some bizarre traffic accidents. Harrisburg issued travel advisories that warned holiday drivers to avoid them and gave tips on how to deal with the re-animated dead if you should encounter them. But there were still Zombies wandering around the countryside, nabbing the stray tourist or two, causing all sorts of accidents and generally being nuisances. Eventually they caused a bus load of Adventists to go off a road near Mederer's Falls, killing a bunch that really confounded things as the dead ones were in and out of the grave before the injured ones were out of the hospital.

That’s how it was with Evangelicals, the whole congregation would appear as dead as a post and next thing you know they’d be up and out of their sepulchers wandering around the highways praising Jesus and looking for brains to eat. Some people think it’s because they believe in bodily resurrection but in the Adventist Case, I think it was their vegetarian pre-mortem lifestyle and restraint from spirituous liquors. They were certainly perkier than your average Zombie and in general required a bigger slug to bring down. They were in the county to investigate whether the Zombie outbreak was a sign of the Second Coming. Early on, as we explained to inquiring Pentecostals, the Zombies had been coming round as long as anyone could remember and it didn’t require a special occasion to get the restless dead up and about and milling around.

Human tragedy always attracts the lunatic element and the Adventist Misfortune as it became known, was no exception. Some Australian nitwit tried to tag them with radio collars as they crawled out of their coffins, he thought they might be migratory or something. He didn’t last ten minutes before they ate his brain so now he’s wandering all over the county with radio direction equipment that is fouling up everybody’s satellite reception while he’s molesting reptiles. The sheriff is trying to get permission from their president or premier or head Kanga Roo in charge or what ever, to shoot him, without causing an international incident.

The debate about what to do with the Zombies had by now stretched into bass season and folks started getting upset as more and more opinions kept weighing in on both sides of the controversy. The country was evenly divided over whether to reimburse us for the ammo we expended to keep things manageable and the market roads open or whether to bomb us back to the Stone Age for oppressing the rights of the living dead.

We were hopeful maybe a judge would tell us how far we could go in suppressing the unholy curse. Some folks, taking a tip from the Ausi, had put blinds up just outside of cemeteries and caught the Zombies just as they was hatching out. The game warden thought differently and said it was unsporting and had issued citations in lieu of a hearing and judgment.

Federal response surprises few, worries many.

Little did we know the government was hard at work behind the scenes while all this was going on and in record time they were able to get down to the business of blaming the most expedient party. It turns out the undead come under the Interstate Commerce Commission’s jurisdiction as they move and conduct their business via public thoroughfares. Since they’re dead they ain’t: endangered, protected from any work place hazards, required to be paid minimum wage or eligible for any insurance or pension. They can vote but the guy the league of women voters sent around to register them got ett, so none have ever shown at polling places or on jury roles. They do count towards congressional apportionment so we picked up three seats in the legislature, as did Clark County around Chicago. They could sue in Federal Court if they’d stop eating the clerks and learned to file a proper brief. Congress offered them an amnesty and restoration of their living rights if they agree to pick some vegetables, not bring over any dead relatives from foreign lands or join any unions. No word on how any of this went over as, predictably, anyone whose gotten close enough to ask has been eaten.

It finally dawned on people that as much had been done as could be done without actually doing something. We couldn’t just shoot them anymore as they were back to being citizens, sort of, that just wanted to eat brains but we couldn’t just do nothing either since if you let down your guard for a second they’d nip away with your brain. Finally the FEMA people sent some real Army guys from Indian Town Gap to round up the Zombies for reburial in federally financed re-internment projects, sort of high-rise mausoleums that HUD was building. It was a big fiasco. At first the Zombies would be all docile on the way to the enclosure but as soon as they got together in a bunch they’d surround the Army Guys and eat their brains. But the Army persisted and kept at it until the Zombies ate through a goodly percentage of the force structure and the job was handed over to the Coast Guard, who at least could keep a number of them on boats and in lighthouses. Turns out Zombies are adverse to water and are mesmerized by lectures on boating safety.

Federal response: We’re here and we are going to help you.

While the legislatures met to nominate scapegoats and apply the blame, the President appointed a Zombie Czar, or Tsar, to contain the outbreak. He created a series of anti-Zombie commercials and identified two leading causes of the outbreak: A foreign cartel of Zombie manufacturers and dead people that come back to life. He appeared on Nightline and promised to end the Zombie blight once and for all. A grateful nation turned its weary eyes to the man who promised a final solution to the Zombie problem.

He set up shop in Brick Church and pretty soon there were more federal workers around than you could shake the shovel they were leaning on at. It was like when Roosevelt tried to put a canal from McCann’s Run to Jarvis Creek, we never knew why they did it but folks were grateful for the work. To show our appreciation, we held a parade and barbecue in the Czar's or Tsar's honor which of course attracted Zombies which we of course shot by way of making a demonstration of how we dealt with the Zombie before he got here, sort of a lesson in Zombie history. Imagine our chagrin when our new Czar or Tsar got mighty exorcised, even bent out of shape, by the demonstration. He immediately called a halt to the unauthorized shooting of Zombies and started profiling the residents to see who was the most likely to exhibit Zombie characteristics and who was most likely to exhibit the characteristics of someone who'd shoot a Zombie.

We tried pointing out that the surest indicator of future Zombie behavior was a current state of deadness and the likeliest candidate to shoot a Zombie was any male in the county healthy enough to carry a gun. He ignored us. Later we found out he had a theory about a worldwide Zombie conspiracy that controlled world events by placing indoctrinated Zombies in decision-making positions. He wanted to uncover the evidence here, in Brick Church, and then breed a race of super Zombie Clones he could turn on their Satanic masters and over throw the epitome of all evil. Who says Republicans lack vision?

After he rounded up everybody that was shooting his evidence, he deployed his Special Forces, the specially trained operatives and covert specialists that would get to the bottom of the Zombie menace and crack the case wide open. They silently slipped out of town disappearing into the countryside to track the Zombies to their lairs and uncover their secret plans. Unfortunately later that night his entire cadre of highly trained undercover Zombie infiltrators was eaten and turned into actual overt brain stalking fiends. The Czar, or Tsar, had a change of heart regarding the menace and went back to his Washington DC drawing board to concentrate on stamping the Zombie scourge out at its source, somewhere over seas. He declared the Armstrong County out break contained and left a deputy Czar, or Tsar, in charge.

But the Zombies kept coming. It got so a person with a living brain couldn’t go anywhere in the county without trailing a hungry string of the ghoulish beings behind you like the tail of a hideous kite. You couldn’t get a decent night sleep in certain neighborhoods without them banging endlessly on the doors and windows all night long demanding your brains, it was like Zombie Halloween every night. It was ruining people’s rest. People were forced to ask for assistance as Zombies were everywhere and the citizenry that remained was pretty helpless given they couldn't shoot them. As acute as their distress was, no aid was forth coming since the security forces designated to protect them were deployed around fortresses and gated communities where the Government people lived and worked.

Early on the Government fellows decided that if Zombies ever developed the capacity for strategic thinking they would concentrate their forces and attack Government compounds and installations. We always liked to point out that the Zombie aggregations were kind of ad hoc, at least since Geraldo’s skull had rotted off his brain stem, and the only strategy Zombies were interested in was one that got them more fresh brains. The Government disagreed and to impress upon us with the progress they had made, the Czar or Tsar took a walk down to the new park by the Allegheny and was promptly eaten. They appointed a new tougher deputy Czar or Tsar the next day.

Nothing attracts the vehement and complete authority of an ineffectual government agency as an accessible powerless citizen and since the Government was unable to do anything about the undead, the new deputy Czar, or Tsar set about devising effective regulations for the law abiding living citizens of Armstrong County. They were able to enforce the hell out of those regulations.

Neighborhoods were declared Zombie Free Zones; zones from which Zombies were to be strictly excluded which impressed everyone but the Zombies who wondered about them as they pleased. The Government concluded from this that some citizens were, for their own unclear reasons bringing Zombies into Zombie free zones. Soon conspiracy to commit Zombieness was outlawed, as was aiding and abetting Zombies, the new laws were backed by the full power and authority of the State.

The new harsher penalties reflected the seriousness the Government regarded the offenses and indicated that the powers that be thought the situation was deadly serious. Suspicious citizens were rounded up and placed in compounds. Citizen meetings to discuss the Zombie problem were organized by the government then carefully monitored by the police, as they were a common source of rumors and misinformation that had lead to any number of bad out comes. The community's guns were collected to prevent unauthorized hunting of the Zombies until the Government deemed it appropriate and any resistance was dealt with rapidly and severely, as this was a national emergency.

It was felt that the citizen’s time was better used if it was focused on the job at hand so pornography and abortion were outlawed within the Zombie Zone. A bounty was paid to those who uncovered secret opposition to the government's program and miscreants were re-educated by specially trained government counselors and brought around to a proper point of view by a program they called 101, named after the room they held it in. All incoming literature was carefully screened, broadcasts censored and the local newspaper were seized. When bleeding hearts for the first amendment objected it was pointed out that only commercial speech was being regulated and all other forms of speech remained free as long as no one was willing to pay for it.

Eventually all the Zombies in the ground were up and around but meals of fresh brains were harder and harder to come by, as all the living citizens had eventually come under suspicion and were concentrated in government run camps. The Zombies drifted off into adjacent counties and stopped being much of a factor in county life. Unfortunately the Zombie Czar had become a cabinet level position and was funded annually so even though we weren't exactly Zombie epicenter anymore the restrictions and supervision of Armstrong County remained in place.

Lacking Zombies to pursue in their jurisdiction they concentrated on the citizens they were holding. Questioned, under a special exemption of the Geneva Convention approved by the President’s counsel until they revealed the location of their secret Zombie Cells, some local folks confessed again and again but were kept locked up anyway just to keep things orderly. Of course the expense of keeping us in the camps and passably nourished threatened the solvency of the county so eventually they gave us simple jobs in manufacturing to offset the cost of incarceration.

If you worked hard enough you could even be set free, at least that’s what the sign over the camp gate said although we never heard of anybody that did. A lot of folks didn't even work hard enough to stay in the county lockup, they got sent away to other camps for special handling. I worked hard making inexpensive electronic gadgets we could export to the Chinese but also signed a paper agreeing I wouldn't sue the government or talk to the press if they let me stay. Eventually they let me out under my own recognizance and if I keep my nose clean they'll let me vote again in ten years.

An Epilogue: the final word.

The last of the Media left the county when Scott Baio was accused of shooting his wife and never came back. The government left when their appropriation was cut for domestic Zombie abatement. They issued a statement that thanks to the efforts of these government employees, which they then listed; the curse of Zombieism in Armstrong County was ended. A Zombie special interest law firm sued immediately saying that calling Zombieism a curse was discriminatory. There was some ambivalence about the statement as some folks in Armstrong County were grateful for the government's help but all in all most preferred the Zombies.

People in the adjacent counties hunted down the rest of our runaway Zombies and things got back to normal but things, such as they are, were never the same. You have to get a permit to go after Zombies and there’s a strict limit per hunter. It keeps the situation a manageable size and the Zombies don’t attract as much Government attention. Everybody is happier about that, including the locals, the hunters, the Zombies and even the government. Sometimes we get a few more than our normal crop, when we do we quietly put them in the trunk and drop them off in New York, so far no one has noticed.

We had a bumper crop this year, so even after issuing special permits we had more than we thought Manhattan could handle. With Cats closed, we thought New Yorkers might notice an influx of Zombies downtown if they didn’t have that crowd to blend into. So this year we rounded up the extras and put them on buses. The first lot we sent to Washington D.C. via the Butler Coach Line, the Adventist can take turns spelling the driver. They should be arriving pretty soon.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mud Flap Girl

When ever you feel small and insignificant it helps to remember that most of the people ignoring you don't even know you. At least your friends have good solid reasons for avoiding any association. My latest collaboration in a life of noisy desperation:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Another Internet Myth?

I found this on the internet; my friends with access to a computer tell me it’s an urban legend. I can’t have a pencil or a pen or anything sharper than a Dane Cook script. It’s a drag when you have a point to make.

Two women were at a convention in Atlanta, they’re away from their husbands and had been out late socializing. As they returned the few blocks to their hotel they noticed a large black man walking a big unruly dog that seemed to be following them. Worried and suspicious, they wonder if they should call the police until they see he is distracted by the dog and ignoring them, not exactly a 911 call.

They dismiss their fears as paranoid and embarrassingly racist and walk into the spacious atrium and lobby of their hotel.

The women relax in the relative safety and security of the hotel bar and are enjoying a night cap when they notice the black man and his dog again. He is inside the hotel as well and they become a little nervous but the atrium is well lit and they are surrounded by people, people that don’t seem to share their concern, again they dismiss their paranoia. Still they are women alone in a strange town so they decide to wait in the bar until their possible stalker had turned in.

A little while later, a little more tired and a little tipsier the women finally make their way to the elevators and their rooms. They got on the elevator and just as the door started to close the black man and his dog jump into the car. The dog growled at the now thoroughly terrified women who stared at the black man wondering what would happen next.

The black man said, “That’s it,” very emphatically and with even more force yelled: “SIT!”

The women sat, obediently and quickly, not sure exactly was going to happen next. The black man took one look at the women on the floor and started laughing.

“I was talking to the dog,” he said. “But since you all are so obedient why don’t you come up to my suite and suck my dick?”

They did, it was Michael Vick. He threw the disobedient dog off a balcony and they all shared a good laugh.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Risky Ventures, Music Man

Risky was a man who sang for his supper and he liked it that way. He was born with the knack to make music and he wandered through the southeast playing it for anyone that cared to listen. He’d stay awhile in some jerkwater little town, play at some juke joint and move on before his welcome was worn out. Truth be told, he was always gone sooner than he ever had to be.

Everyone liked Risky and his music. He made enough on tips to live, he never had to stand drinks and the girls always came around. He wrote his own songs and always seemed to be able to come up with the right piece of music for the occasion at hand. He was the kind of guy men liked and women adored, flinty eyed barkeeps and cynical waitresses would come around after a few minutes of visiting with Risky and be old pals after an evening. Everyone in that part of the country knew him, liked him and had a Risky story to tell.

It was a pretty free and easy life for a young man. He didn’t call anyplace home and didn’t want to. After a month or two in one town he’d catch a bus or a slow freight and head someplace else and if the yard bull caught him he’d just spin him a tune. He’d settle in some flophouse or cheap motel and live out of his beat up old knapsack. A lot of women that fancied him would fix him meals or set him up with some clothes and sometimes share their bed but they knew it was only going to be a little time before Risky heard the siren’s call of the road.

Risky wasn’t his real name, it was Herb Kenwith, but he had called himself Risky ever since he’d left home. The name was kind of a personal joke to Risky but he thought the name was appropriate even though he’d never had anything but good luck on his travels.

He’d had his chances to settle down. Any number of doe eyed girls with rich Daddies had offered Risky a life of ease and contentment but the soul of a wanderer still roiled in him and he always moved on. He left a trail of broken hearts behind him and a song to help them mend and he knew by spring or the next time Van Halen played their county’s fair they’d have forgotten Risky Ventures.

One gal he dallied with, name of Shemar, hadn’t forgotten Risky. Her Daddy was a wealthy record executive in Hollywood but she was working as a waitress in a roadhouse in Mississippi because they had issues. The issues didn’t keep her from telling her Pop about promising young musical talents provided there was a finder’s honorarium and a royalty attached.

Her Daddy’s executive assistant caught up with Risky outside of Tupelo and got old Risky drunk enough to record a demo tape at their facilities in Memphis. When Risky sobered up they were propping him up to an old ribbon microphone and studio musicians were rehearsing their tracks.

Risky sang his heart out and while he did men in suits stood behind the glass and listened. They nodded and made suggestions to the mixer that he ignored and Risky sang on. He sang about years of traveling, about the loneliness he knew and about the brand new hope he felt everyday he saw the sunrise or came to a bend in the road. More and more men in suits gathered behind the mixers console and stared at him through the glass. When Risky finished the men applauded and a pretty little assistant brought him an ice cold beer.

Risky wasn’t on top of the world but he was pretty darn close. He hung around Memphis and was making a pretty fair rep for himself as a song smith while the men in suits finished the demo album. He spent their money and his freely and every day asked to hear the recording. The men in suits always pushed him off, tomorrow they said always tomorrow.

Risky finally had enough of that and demanded to hear what they had done with his songs. With much ceremony they ushered him into a studio and played it for him then they started discussing the video.

Risky was horrified. His songs about the road and regret, loneliness and longing were now sanitized, perfectly harmonized and totally dehumanized. It would be a hit they said, Risky believed them, they wouldn't have those jobs if they didn't know what they were doing. Risky drank a glass of Champagne with the suited men and wished them luck with their venture. He left the studio and walked into the night, their venture would not be Risky's venture.

He would go back on the road; that was where he was happiest. He left the things he’d acquired in his hotel room and stuck his thumb out. He would go north this time, try a new venue, see a different part of the world. His luck held out, he got a ride in no time.

The man who picked him up was headed back to his home in Chicago. He had the same first and middle name as the famous cowboy actor, John Wayne and a last name that Risky didn’t quite get, but sounded something like Gracy. He used the stage name Pogo when he played a clown at kids’ parties and liked to paint portraits of other clowns as a hobby. The authorities later found young men he picked up hitch hiking buried in the crawl space under his house. Risky’s luck had just changed.

His album debuted at number 9 on the Billboard Country chart, but Risky wasn't around to see it...

Roscoe, The sensible sniper

Any other military trained marksman might have just taken out everyone and anyone they encountered when they went over the edge but not Roscoe. From his vantage point high above the city he saw an embarrassment of riches so he could afford to be selective. He could see far and wide through his high-powered rifle’s scope and in the target rich environment he lived in he had the will to use it.

At first he just took out people talking loudly on their cell phones in restaurants and sidewalk cafes and the initial reaction was positive.

After the shock and terror of death coming from out of the blue wore off, even the aggrieved relatives of the deceased agreed that the city was a better place minus these folks Roscoe snuffed. People began enjoying their meals in peace and quiet again and as civility returned to dinning Roscoe turned his attention to graffiti by picking off a few of the youthful scamps with spray cans. After word got around that urban blight was under control the media types began complaining about the loss of diversity caused by the snuffing out of these budding young artistic talents. A plump, fresh 30-06 round, finding its way into their press conferences, had a calming effect on the debate and offered a counter point to their mewling.

Youths in baggy clothes carrying huge noisy radios when they should have been in school were next to get the Roscoe treatment, then government workers away from their desk during business hours. People who tried to save a few bucks by parking in residential areas instead of valet parking sometimes found a few grains of lead in a lung. The under-worked, overpaid yet incompetent employees of the escrow industry kept their heads down or risked seeing their brains on the pavement. Rude telephone operators at the utilities left their desks at their peril. The guy who invented the telephone answering menu where you have to listen for numbers related to your inquiry died slowly and painfully as did the man who invented those impossible to open and equally impossible to pour without spilling, containers of half and half.

Once a month Roscoe held something he called Freeway Decimation Day. On that day, he would shoot every tenth person that drove by. He didn’t try to kill everyone, he was just making a point: some got wounds, others just shattered windshields, although a single person in a SUV on a cell phone usually rated a headshot. Traffic moved a whole lot faster as people sought out alternate routes and re-considered the necessity of individual trips. The trip planning made driving more efficient so gas was saved; people were happier, it was a big hit.

The city became more convivial and people started to enjoy their newly considerate world. This attitude affected even the police, who despite having a superb ballistics department which enabled them to triangulate Roscoe’s location from bullet trajectories, several eyewitnesses and the license plate number of Roscoe’s car, didn’t really follow up the investigation beyond asking a few people if they’d seen anything suspicious. They universally answered in the negative.

Officially he became known as the town’s “Mad Sniper”; unofficially he was the “Preemptive Samaritan”, or “The Etiquette Enforcer” intercepting and eliminating people that might otherwise make your life a miserable, living hell.

The town folks conspired to help him with his good work and keep his identity secret from the authorities but of course it leaked out and Roscoe became something of a celebrity. Soon everybody knew about him and what he was doing but the fiction that his identity was secret was maintained, not just to thwart the authorities, but also to keep Roscoe from killing those around him for being in the know.

Some people, of course, had to walk close to the edge and run the chance of spoiling a good thing. They’d slap him on the back and wish him good hunting for no apparent reason or thank him for the good work he was doing then make some comment about aiming to please. Fortunately Roscoe was deaf to sarcasm and never became the wiser, he just gave them a thousand-mile stare with his cold dead psychotic eyes, which anyone with an ounce of survival instinct dreaded. Sometimes during his darkest moments, late at night when the lambs stopped screaming, Roscoe would wonder what they knew and thrash around in his bed until dawn. It took a lot of effort to be Roscoe and it took it’s a toll. It was beginning to catch up with him.

It started when he missed a fellow using a leaf blower at eight am on a Sunday morning. Next one person driving the speed limit in the number one lane got away with it and they told somebody and then they told somebody and the floodgates opened. People sensed he had lost his touch and began filling out their deposit slips at the ATM, sneaking into express lines with more than the specified number of items or playing rap music loudly when there were humans present. Pretty soon the cell phones were back and people were talking foreign languages you didn’t understand in front of you while changing their baby’s diapers on a counter where people consumed fast food. In short it was as bad as it ever was.

Roscoe tried to keep up but the sheer volume of work just overwhelmed him. He began missing with such frequency that the rude and inconsiderate came to regard him as no more of a threat than finding a black widow in your shoe or a rattlesnake in your mailbox.

The good people of the town were as worried about Roscoe as much as they missed the happy times. They did what they could to brighten his day like having fresh buckets of chicken delivered to his snipers lair by particularly dim delivery boys. The police dropped off a case of fresh ammo and a new can of Brasso. The other sociopaths in town suggested interesting and creative things he might do or make with his victims, reasoning he needed a hobby, but Roscoe was a sniper and rarely got to take his work home with him. The Scouts and Campfire Girls surreptitiously hung targets on the backs of people deserving his attention but nothing seemed to work, Roscoe had lost it. Civility continued to erode.

One day after he’d emptied a magazine trying to take out someone who didn’t know you can take a right on a red light a frustrated but enlightened citizen took matters into his own hands. The driver may have been wondering what all the honking behind him was about but the last thing to pass through his mind was a 7.62 NATO round in a full metal jacket delivered courtesy of one of Roscoe’s neighbors. First by ones and twos then by dozens and scores they took up arms and began to sort things out in their little town.

At first Roscoe didn’t know what to make of it and even considered taking out a couple of the competing gun men but he saw they were doing good work and relaxed. There were plenty of targets out there and Roscoe was a sensible sniper.

Friday, June 22, 2007

On the passing of Don Herbert

Lately the baby boomers lost an iconic figure from their past, Don Herbert, television’s Mr. Wizard died on June 12, 2007. His passing reminds me of the other children’s TV personalities that educated and entertained a generation before Sesame Street and Poke Man. Personalities like Mr. Rodgers, Captain Kangaroo and Bozo are gone now and so are many others that filled the airways. You probably don’t recall them but they were a part of your grandparents and parents childhood.

Admiral Doughnuts

Admiral Doughnuts appeared on The Mr. Waffle Show after producers took his name to mean that Admiral of the Kreigsmarine Karl Donitz was an advocate of a healthy starch and sugar breakfast. Despite being the originator of a number of deadly effective U-boat tactics in World War II and the last head of state for the Nazi regime, he was an immediate hit.

He was always surrounded by the kids of the Waffle Strawberry Shortcake Brigade or the Waffle SS as it became known. Although popular he and Waffle had an acrimonious falling out over how much of the shows content should be devoted to commerce raiding and the employment of Jews. Waffle fired the popular war criminal during an emotion filled broadcast in the winter of 1951, remembered as the show of long knives.

The Admiral got his own show on the National Socialist Television System shortly there after which was equally popular. The program began with the singing of catchy Germanic ditties like “The March of The Kriegsmarine”, “Bombs over England”, or “The Horst Wessel Song” performed by the Jugen Kammeraden Chorus a group of boys selected from the audience for their Aryan appearance and dressed in a snappy black uniform complete with boots, kepi and field pack.

The Admiral instructed the kids on the importance of radio discipline, wolf pack tactics and common sense tips on how to frustrate a sonar search. The kids took away a thorough grounding in discipline, Kriegsmarine traditions and practical knowledge of the type 7 U-boat. The show had a brief history however after the Admiral’s arrest, trial and conviction for war crimes. His attempts to revive the show and broadcast from Spandau prison were unsuccessful.

Comrade Kangarooski

Sponsored by the Daily Worker and the Tuboretski Tractor Works, Comrade Kangarooski was famous for his lengthy monologues on the ultimate triumph of socialism, reading accounts of soviet party congresses and defending the Rosenbergs. He encouraged kids to facilitate the work of their collective, report their parents for revisionist thinking and shoot Kulaks.

He generated viewer participation by holding contests. One, in which he invited children to take a picture of themselves in front of experimental American aircraft, drew over thirty thousand responses. Others included: The best drawn map of a defense installation, Denounce your favorite FBI Stool Pigeon and a scavenger hunt for CIA one time cipher pads. His success was also short lived however, at the height of his popularity Stalin recalled him to Moscow and had him shot.

The Bono the Clown

A rather mundane copy of the immensely successful Bozo franchise this performer only hit his stride when he hooked up with Cher and recorded a number of children’s records. His act never really changed over the years despite changing tastes and venues, his last real success was in California politics which ended after he demonstrated his famous comedy/stunt skiing routine to friends and supporters with disastrous results.

Water Buffalo Bob

Although not technically a children’s TV host this Afrikaans speaking bovine had an international following and a huge fan base. He offered homey advice from his wallow on the veldt but his unpredictable behavior cost him fans and sponsorship when he gored and trampled a number of “The Lil’ Buffalos" the producers surrounded him with. Currently he continues entertaining kids and adults although his appearances are infrequent and limited to a single venue as he was shot in 1974 by a big game hunter, stuffed and had his head mounted on a wall.

Mr. Gein Jeans Farm,

Psychotic, cannibal Ed Gein’s show broadcast from Wisconsin. It was most notable for the overalls of human skin Ed habitually wore.

Rumpus Room with Mistress Yvette

The stern, forbidding and frequently abusive Mistress Yvette held court over a collection of terrified, restrained children she acquired from the foster care system. With her hair up in a severe bun and dressed in a lace up leather jumpsuit accented by astoundingly high stiletto heeled boots Miss Yvette was a daunting figure who wielded an impressive whip. Basically she emphasized good grooming, the importance of discipline and a tolerance for pain. Although never highly rated or popular with children she was adored by television executives that she referred to as her “worms”.

Tea Time with Druggy

The format of Druggy’s show never varied, it was always him and sometimes a guest cooking up, shooting up and getting off. Occasionally Druggy would rant about the difficulty of scoring or the quality of the product scored and then nod off. Originality was never his strong point but very often well known musicians, blues singers and beatnik comedians joined him on the show and provided welcome variety.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Wisdom of the Big Top

One day the circus train stopped here and only the clowns got off. They got drunk and trashed the only circus bar in town. I got to know one and during his brief lucid moments he left me these insights about life on the road. I never saw him or my wallet again.

The circus goes on, only the clowns change.

There are many clowns but only one ring master.

The guy with the broom goes it the end of the elephant parade.

No matter how great a clown you are, you don't get to drive the circus train.

I doesn’t matter how many clowns you can get into a car, its how many get out alive.

It takes more than a top hat to run a circus.

If you are riding a unicycle, wearing a tutu and every one is throwing marsh mellows at you, you are probably a bear.

Circus is what you do not who you are, but everyone thinks you’re a clown anyway.

You never out grow your need for peanuts.

Never date a knife throwers daughter.

A good catcher is worth his weight in aerialist.

Circus people do it with jugglers.

Always remove the sword you swallowed before you bow.

You need two hands to juggle, or not.

A smart lion tamer doesn’t drink around the cats.

If you want to be the lead elephant don’t grab another elephant’s tail.

The greatest show on earth leaves town at the end of the week.

If you want to grow a moustache don’t be a fire eater.

A dog act doesn’t belong in the center ring.

It takes more to be a clown than, a fright wig, rubber nose, baggy pants, seltzer bottle, bucket of confetti and a broom to sweep up the spot lights but you need them too.

If you wake up on something soft behind the elephant cage, it probably isn’t a pile of feathers.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Helena, The simpering whore from Montana

Helena never cared for her profession even though it was the oldest one. Oh sure, she always got hot meals and she worked in the clear fresh Montana air but the bending and lifting tired her and she never ever felt she was very good at it. Every night, after servicing battalions of priapic miners she would simper and wonder if she’d ever be good enough for the life she’d chosen. Even for a prostitute she had remarkably low self-esteem.

Her parents had lost her in a card game to an enterprising fellow that ran some cribs in the Canal Zone. Never the nostalgic type, she threw her self into her new life with enthusiasm and soon the sailors and visitors to that marine cross road were a blur to her. Of course, the first time a girl takes on the crew of a super carrier is always a fond romantic memory but she was touched to discover they remembered as well when they re-named the USS Carl Vinson, “Thanks Helena”. She recalled the time fondly and no matter how many times she was pounded into a mattress by subsequent crews or fleets, she always carried around a photo she and 4000 sailors had taken together outside the shabby hovel where she’d serviced the men and women of the mighty war ship.

The good times don’t last forever though and she was run out of that seafarer's paradise by the Colon City Council who decided that she was detrimental to the morals of the other prostitutes. She moved on to the greener if sooty pastures of Montana where a coal rush was full swing.

Miners had flocked to the Big Sky State where by dint of hard, backbreaking, labor they could earn enough to barely survive. She stood by the coal breaks outside mining camps and asked the miners if she could service them and then pay her what ever they thought it was worth. Frequently they would pay her in coal that they coughed out of their lungs or worthless bits of twine and sticks they fashioned into objects that they told her was money in their Slavic homelands.

All the miners loved her and gave her a pet name. "Little sperm bucket!" They'd yell out whenever they saw her servicing three or four of their co-workers by the mine head gate and then they’d line up to be serviced as well, while devising cruel, humiliating and degrading ways of abusing their favorite little prostitute. The miners were a penurious but inventive group and she often felt as worthless afterwards as the payment they rendered to her.

As she washed their sooty fingerprints from her supple young body she would mewl softly and count her pathetic earnings, barely enough to buy her food and lodgings for the day and never enough to pay for the course of antibiotics she usually required.

"Would no one ever rescue me from this terrible plight?" She wondered in her despair.

Other prostitutes led glamorous, drug addled lives, constantly being beaten and abused by Johns and pimps and if not dead by violence, they were often prematurely old and hobbled by disease. She had been around the world more often than a successful chain letter, she’d seen more strange penises than the Village People’s urologist, she’d swallowed more semen than the Bermuda Triangle, you do the metaphor, she was tired of waiting she wanted hers now.

LeRoi, her pimp, did the best he could by her, setting her up on the lucrative fraternity party circuit, introducing her to Carney folk that passed through town and giving her a sound beating whenever she needed it. But it was never enough. The money she gave him didn't pay for the gas his Lincoln used while he ran his stable of girls, let alone keep him in colorful feathered derbies or the garish fur coats he required. Despite his sentimental attachment to Helena, he didn't think she would ever make a go of it as hooker.

One day while she was taking a break from her day job as fluff girl for a traveling donkey show, she watched, stared really, at a young stranger riding into town. Helena liked what she saw. He was different from the other fellows in the town; he had dark curly hair and clear blue eyes, two, both of them on the same side of his head. When he dismounted and walked into the hotel his knuckles didn't drag on the ground. She could tell he wasn't drunk as there was no colorful pattern of vomit on his shirt, which had the added benefit of making him a good deal cleaner than everyone else she knew. Helena liked the cut of his jib, an expression she had picked up from the fleet and set out to meet the fascinating man.

He was the son of a well to do Boston family sent out west to make a separate fortune. He had a vision of a chain of shoe stores that specialized in selling dance pumps through out the mining country of the Northwest. It turned out they had much in common despite their different backgrounds. He collected scrimshaw; she had done most of the merchant marine in the free world. He ran shoe stores; she had feet. He'd traveled around the world locating master cobblers that could supply the kind quality foot wear he demanded; she'd given an around the world to a cobbler in trade for a pair of vinyl boots that a certain quality of client demanded she wear.

It was magic from the first time they met and soon they were in love. They held hands as they walked through the town, laughed at each other's jokes and gave each other goofy smiles. It never went any further than that perhaps because he respected her, perhaps because he didn’t quite understand what she did for a living. He proposed one night after she explained what could be done with a knotted handkerchief and a bowl of ice. She said yes, they started making plans and soon there were wedding bells in Helena's future.

The whole territory was glad for their simpering whore. Sentimental miners lined up around the block for days on end for one last go at her and just for old time’s sake, they didn't pay her. Le Roi even agreed to give her away; actually he slowed down the Lincoln and pushed her out in front of the church after she had pulled a train in a gang bang by a soccer team made up of degenerate Italian playboys. The experience might have spoiled another woman but Helena brushed off her wedding dress and headed straight to the altar. A few minutes later she left under a shower of rice while the strains of Handle's wedding march rang in her ears. She was a bride.

Their wedding night was so romantic; she only charged him fifty bucks and let him stay the night.

Elegy to the Princes of the Forest in Western Pennsylvania

I have big antlers on my head,

They go from ear to ear,

And every time I go to bed,

I know that I'm a deer.

You may have seen me in the woods,

In summer, spring or fall,

But probably you've seen me the best,

When my head's stuck on a wall.

A lot of hunters think its fun,

To chase us too and fro,

Don't they know we're just some bucks,

In it for the doe.

So if you hear a gun's report,

In a primal forest's splendor,

One of us is Pittsburgh bound,

Tied to some one's fender.

The Little Lame Bunny

The Little Lame Bunny was born during a very bad time for bunnies not that there had ever been any very good times for this relentlessly preyed upon species. The race of bunnies he belonged to were even more than normally hard luck having descended from experimental animals that escaped from a lab run by the good people at Monsanto to try out chemicals, cosmetics and germ warfare agents deemed too risky or horrible to test on other species. The hardy survivors of an open air test of a gelatin/nitric acid based hair colorant had followed a charismatic old gray hare to freedom when the product being tested melted their cages and restraints. The ones that had retained partial vision and some liver function were able to eke out a precarious existence in a nearby valley where the company dumped its toxins.

Things had gone as well as could be expected for the feral colony considering the valley was an EPA super fund site and the contaminated soil made the bunnies’ fur fall out in great handfuls. Mountain people occasionally snuck in and culled the herd finding furless albeit toxic rabbit too convenient to ignore. Recently genetically engineered dingoes had been introduced to control the coyotes that had been introduced to control the honey badgers that had been introduced to control the poachers but this had just increased the bunnies’ troubles since they all ignored their intended prey and just ate the rabbits.

The doe, his mother, had warned him to stay close to the warren while he grazed. As a lame bunny he was even easier pickings for Owls, snakes, hawks, alligators, wolves, weasels, stoats, hyenas, jackals, civet cats, raccoons, storks, leopards, bears and any other species that looked to be carnivorously inclined. It had gotten so bad that even the usually inoffensive and placid cow had, after generations of being force fed the remains of other cows, developed a taste for meat especially, you guessed it, bunny meat.

The doe loved the Little Lame Bunny best of all because he couldn’t forage very well and he was, after all, lame and lame is pretty darn cute. Perhaps she understood that his lameness wasn’t even that profound, that a simple surgical procedure would have corrected it. Then and again she might have realized that to perform such simple surgery would involve evolving an opposable digit like a thumb that could grasp a scalpel, then developing a tradition of intellectual curiosity and scientific research that would lead to a spectrum of disciplines including medicine with its supporting technologies: anesthetics and supported ventilation, antibiotics and bio/chemical research, recovery support and post operative care, all of which made the simple surgery possible, a rather tall order for a rodent everybody is eating.

Despite his lameness the Little Lame Bunny needed to eat the same amount of food as any bunny his size and were it not for his gamy leg he would have taken his chances with the other rabbits and foraged far and wide for more succulent grasses and juicy roots. His mother helped him as much as she could but insisted he stay near home and passed on to him all that she could of Bunny wisdom, which wasn’t much since the best syllogism any bunny had ever managed was: “I think I’m a bunny therefore I am eaten.” But she did her best and that may have been on her mind when she saved him from a pack of vicious predators by diving between them and sacrificing her body for his. Or perhaps she was suicidal; just being a bunny would be enough to cause that.

The Little Lame Bunny contemplated her advice as a herd of ravenous Guernsey’s pulled the limbs from her trampled although still living, screaming body. He would have called out her name but even in this anthropomorphic universe a bunny’s life was so brutally brief as to make naming one an exercise in futility. Her experience and subsequent, rather sanguinary, example reinforced his already healthy sense of self-preservation and he kept as close to the opening of the burrow and safety as rabbitly possible.

It finally dawned on the other bunnies that staying close to the burrows was at least a way of putting off the inevitable shredding in fanged jaws that ended the lives of bunnies not fortunate enough to be crushed beneath the wheels of a truck. The forage nearby, though never very good, was even more barren after the other bunnies finished and soon the grass was cropped to the roots around the entrance to the hutch. They eventually wandered off in fatalistic search of other, riskier pastures, some greener, some magenta depending on which aniline dyes were dumped there but the Little Lame Bunny was stuck with grubbing what sustenance he could find in the onerous and foul smelling PCB laden earth near the warren. After his gorge churning meal he’d curl up in his snug rabbit hole for whatever sleep he could manage over the sound of his growling stomach.

While he slept, he dreamed. He dreamed of a plush valley where the grass was naturally green, where all the leaves were edible and didn’t blister your lips when you chewed them. There were no dingoes, wolves or foxes, rabid or otherwise in his land of dreams. The old hare still watched over the rabbits and they grazed peacefully and filled up their bellies with nourishment from the earth. Best of all he walked normally in this perfect world, he could dance and frolic with the other bunnies in the sun light the way it was supposed to be.

But the old hare was long gone and the plush valley was just a dream. Or was it? As the pangs of hunger began to occupy the Little Lame Bunny’s every waking moment, he began to think. No one knew if the old gray hare had ever really existed whether he was still alive or had died, such is the nature of the historical discipline where the oral tradition has collapsed without the compensating development of literature. His mother was dead and there was no one left to ask so he decided to find out for himself.

Under the cover of a night so dark even the owls were bumping into things, he made his way to the top of the hill to the purported burrow of the old gray hare. It was a long and dangerous journey to investigate what was best described as more myth than rumor so he further enhanced his chances by telling the current generation of fledgling bunnies that predators were just bullies and it was best to stand up to them. The younger bunnies respected the little lame bunny and did what he said because he’d out lived most of his peers and assumed in the naiveté of youth that such an old soul must be wise and could only be a fountain of truth. When he subsequently ventured out, the predators that normally lurked in the gloom had so stuffed themselves on a succulent meal of young deluded bunnies that they were in their holes contentedly gnawing on the bony remains of the Little Lame Bunny’s former Acolytes.

The Little Lame Bunny followed a circuitous path to the top of the hill, past where the local children buried their pets to the very tippy toe top of the bunnies’ rather circumscribed world. He found a run down looking hovel hidden in the brush; The Little Lame Bunny held his breath and wondered if he’d found the Old Gray Hare. It looked like a hutch but he couldn’t be sure, the sign on the mailbox that read O.G. Hare, Esq. meant nothing to The Little Lame Bunny since he’d never learned to read. The Little Lame Bunny knocked on the hutch door. A surprisingly youthful old gray hare ushered the Little Lame Bunny into a rather plushly appointed warren and promptly sapped him from behind.

“How’d you find me? What the FUCK do you want?” He explained.

After the immediate effects of his concussion wore off, The Little Lame Bunny told the old gray hare his dream and wondered if such a land really existed. After the old gray hare made sure The Little Lame Bunny hadn’t told any one where he was going, wasn’t packing heat and had no family to miss him, he told him that indeed there was such place but that only special courageous bunnies went there. The Little Lame Bunny was overjoyed for a bit until the old Gray Hare began asking him other questions that the Little Lame Bunny couldn’t answer despite the electrodes taped to his testicles. After several gratuitous jolts or, as the old hare described it: “One for pleasure, one to treasure and one just to show them you mean business!” the Little Lame Bunny had his confidence.

Indeed there was such a land and it was all he had dreamt of and more and the Old Gray Hare would take him there. It was full of all the good things bunnies’ loved; it was so good that no one ever returned from there. As ominous as that would sound to anyone of normal intelligence, let us recall that we are dealing with bunnies here. The Little Lame Bunny was overjoyed and whistled happily as he followed the Old Gray Hare out on to the dismal, terrifying moor.

The path they took was even harder than the one The Little Lame Bunny took to the Old Gray Hare’s hutch and his little lame legs just about gave out. He persevered because he knew a better life had to be just around the corner, if there was any justice in the universe it had to be so, life couldn’t be so cruel. They clambered over fallen logs and scramble up rocks, the Little Lame Bunny never thought he could scale. The Old Gray Hare urged him on, that only work could set him free. He was so exhausted only the vision of a promised land kept him moving. That and the Old Gray Hare’s liberal and enthusiastic application of the lash.

The Little Lame Bunny sensed that the eyes of a thousand predators were watching them as they ascended the trail but he trusted the Old Gray Hare and followed anyway. The Old Gray Hare told him how there was always fresh clean grass to eat where they were going and things they could bring back to make the warren snug and cozy. The Little Lame Bunny would have squealed for joy if a rabbit were capable of making such a sound and the Old Gray Hare’s whip hadn’t just at that moment cut a divot out of his back. The old gray hare led him into a box canyon with sheer walls and no way out before the Little Lame Bunny thought to ask why the Old Gray Hare hadn’t stayed in such a happy place instead of repeatedly making this hazardous trip.

“They won’t let me.” The old hare said as a Coyote howled at the stars. “But as long as I cooperate they let me live and travel back and forth.”

The Little Lame Bunny saw the red eyes of the dingoes closing in on them. “Old Gray Hare, we’re surrounded but you are old and wise, how do we get them to let us pass on to our promised land?” The trusting bunny asked.

The Old Gray Hares eyes crinkled as he smiled. “I don’t know what you’ll do,” he said. “But I usually bring them something to eat.” And in a few moments the Little Lame Bunny understood what he meant.