Nazi’s Again

Someone call Brad Pitt, the fucking Nazi’s are back again.

Once the most horrific political movement in the twentieth century, turned bands of fringe bigots, has resurfaced, bolstered by the alt-right and the Klan (really all one in the same) as a mainstream force of terror in the very country that fought against it decades earlier.

Now, the words “terror” and “terrorism” are thrown around a lot when referring to acts of violence committed by Muslims. It’s never used to label white mass shooters– which is unfortunate, because that’s what they are: domestic terrorists White extremists inspire terror. Nazi’s inspire terror. Those who would use violence to advance an agenda inspire terror.

What happened on Friday, when James Alex Fields drove his car into a crowd of protesters– that was terrorism. Plain and simple.

And what’s worse, these white supremacists used to don hoods to protect their identities. In the photo’s of the white supremacist rally, in the red orange glow of their endless goddamn tiki torches, emboldened bigots marched without their hoods for the world to see.

Emboldened by what?

A narcissist in office with his finger on the button, surrounded by those who have histories with white supremacy and antisemitism, with a media arm in Fox news that does its best to convince white people that their way of life is being actively dismantled by liberals and people of color.

What kind of assholes wouldn’t feel emboldened? Shit, these Nazi’s probably think they’re the last line of defense for all that is white, christian, and good in America. Scratch that. They definitely think that.

Time for a tangent: Y’know I find it funny (not in the laughing sense. More in the wow, how did things end up this Fubar) that these nationalists could very well be the sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters of those who decided to uproot themselves and fight the spreading of fascism in Europe and Japan. Of course I’m sure the cognitive dissonance is probably lost on Nazi’s.

And the bad news. It’s only going to get worse. After Charlottesville, and the toothless response from Trump (who still hasn’t left NJ), Nazi’s who truly believe in their cause will only become more audacious. So buckle up and prepare for some more trailer-trash terrorists.

But, if you just read all of this, then you already knew what I was going to say. So here come my concerns.

Most of the responses to this event that I’ve come across on social media have been great– from the funny, like the photo shop of the tiki torches into dildos, to the socially aware.

But.

There are some who have called out our first amendment right of freedom of speech as one of the roots of the Virginia violence and the Nazi movement in general. Hell, a few websites have even put out pieces saying that maybe taking away these fascist’s freedom of speech wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Yeah, maybe not. It certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing to see and hear less supremacy bullshit.

BUT.

The idea that you can take away a group’s freedom of speech, no matter the hate, no matter the lunacy, no matter the disgusting nature, is inherently fascist. The right to free speech and consequences for that speech are two wholly different matters.

Free speech is the reason I can say: Fuck Nazi’s and their entire political philosophy, fuck their white-trash inbred “master race” members, and fuck the weak-willed racist President Donald Trump.

If I worked for Donald Trump and I uttered that latter sentiment within earshot, it’s safe to say that I’d be fired: a consequence. But it’d be legal and I wouldn’t face jail time because it’s my right to call my hypothetical boss out on his bullshit.  

Free speech will also drive voters to the polls. When politically-idle people turn on the television and see real-life Nazi’s, they’re going to be scared, and pissed, and motivated to change whatever the fuck is going on at the highest echelons of our government.

So no. Free speech is not to blame for this. We needn’t take it from anyone. Shouldn’t take it from anyone. Instead maybe we should just suspend the sale of tiki torches for the moment and use our speech to denounce white terrorism and its orange enabler.

White Trash

Dinner was served late again. Brenda forgot about the chicken during her shows and it sat in the oven, untouched until Dale returned from his meeting.

Now that everyone was at the table, washed, and ready, Brenda spooned reheated piles of Shepard’s pie onto Tupperware plates.

Dave squinted during prayers. His fingers twitched at the ready as he made sure neither Sammy or Eustice fussed. Dave was drunk again– drunk and looking to pick a fight. His meeting had run long; he and Rick had been discussing the Black lives Matter problem again– one of Rick’s favorite subjects.

“Dave…” Brenda said, prodding. Dave blinked up and wiped at his red, sagging eyes with the back of his knuckles. Both Sammy and Eustice snapped forward into their plates when Dave passed a look over them.

Dave sighed. “Yes, dear.” His tone was cynical. “My bride, my loving wife. What is it?”

Brenda flushed and looked down. Dave looked expectantly at his wife before he looked about the room to the smoke stained walls and cobwebbed corners of his double wide. He reached for his unopened bud light and cracked it. Amber bubbles toppled over the lip and into his palm. Dave’s lazy tongue shot out to meet them.

“How do you like the pie, hon?” Brenda asked as Dave licked the beer from his hand.

He took a long gulp and smacked his lips. “Fucking delicious dear. So good, I could keep eaten ‘em for days. Oh wait,” Dave’s brow shot up for the punchline. “I have.” He cackled and waited for the kids to join in. Then, impatiently, he slapped the table, jerking his silverware and beer forward. Sammy winced before offering a weak chuckle.

Dave turned to Eustice, and took another pull from his can. “So bud, how was school today? Learn anythin’ new?”

Eustice mumbled.

“Speak up! And look you dad in the eye when you talk to ‘im.”

“Not really.”

“Not really.” He turned to Brenda and shrugged. “Not really. You’re telling me after sitting your ass in that school that I pay fer’ you learned nothing?”

“Let him finish eating, hon. He’ll tell you once he’s done,” Brenda turned to their youngest. “Right?” Eustice nodded. She turned back to her husband, still anxious about the lurking storm that was his temper. “How was the meeting?” She knew it was the one thing he could talk about until he turned blue in the face.

He smiled. “Great,” he said, mashed potatoes dribbling from his bottom lip. “We finalized plans for the rally next month. Dick’s gonna take care of printing flags.” A storm suddenly formed in the creases of his aged face. “We’re gonna show these liberal fucks a thing or two; thinking they can take our history away from us.” Dave’s torso jerked forward. “We got this great design for our shields…” Dave trailed off laughing, finished his beer, and crushed the can, tossing it to the rubbish bucket next to the trailer door.

Brenda nodded, neither smiling nor frowning– just acknowledging. “Hon, this isn’t gonna run us too much money, is it?” Dave looked up from his plate with a look of contempt. “Remember Sammy’s surgery coming up. Those wisdom teeth have been giving her loads of trouble.”

Dave belched and looked at Sammy, and watched as she spooned sensible bites into her mouth. “We’ll be fine hon. We got that American care act insurance; so the co pays shouldn’t be that much. Besides the chapter is depending on us.”

“Affordable.”

“H’wat?”

“You said American.” She paused a regret washed over her like a cruel tide. “I think… it’s Affo–”

A paw smacked against the table. “It is what I say it is.”

Brenda nodded wordlessly and elected to play with her dinner until the kids finished.

“Mommy, can I be excused?” Sammy chimed in, almost as if she could read her mother’s mind. “My mouth hurts.” Brenda watched a twitch of fury pass over her husband’s face.

“Of course, baby. Just leave your plate and I’ll get it.” She pulled her daughter in close and kissed her on the forehead.

“Can I be excused too?” Eustice said, clearing his plate of the last bite. Brenda nodded. “Mhmm.”

“You better remember what you learned at school today when I finish dinner.” Dave said, reaching for a beer that wasn’t there. Eustice nodded, wordlessly. “Ya hear?”

“Yes.” Eustice said, half running from the room.

Above them, the rickety ceiling fan creaked its existence every half second. Brenda turned to take the plates to the sink and stopped in her tracks, a finger of fear scratching its way up her spine as her husband cleared his throat.

“Where’re you going?”

Brenda turned to face her drunken husband, almost robotically. He was slouched over a clean plate and rubbing the scum from his eyes. “I’m gonna do the dishes.” She said.

“Don’t forget this one.” He made no move.

Brenda reached for the plastic plate and into his grasp. Calloused hands wrapped around her wrist and pulled her into his aura of sour beer. The rest of the plates fell to the floor in a clatter.

“Don’t you ever correct me in front of the kids again. Got that?” Dave’s free fist closed into a fist and relaxed again. Brenda’s words caught in her throat and she nodded. “Good. Now clean this shit up.” Dave let her go with a final pull and without thinking smacked the side of her face with a lazy backhand.

Brenda didn’t let him hear her cry. She knelt down on all fours picking up silverware and shuddered at each of his footsteps. Only at the slam of the storm door did she submit to the sobs.   

Where am I going?

We were the only two in the terminal that night. The florescent lights blazed against the newly polished tile floors, and you kept checking your reflection at your feet. You kept slicking your hair to the side and fixing your bow tie.

I guessed we weren’t going the same place that night. My luggage was piled neatly around my feet, and all you had was a bouquet of roses. You kept wrapping your hand around the stems; the plastic wrap’s crinkle never ceased.

The janitor walked by and nodded to you from behind his trolley. You returned with a smile.

At ten minutes to go, you got up and paced a bit before heading to the bathroom. I looked up to the sound of your hard souls clacking against the floor and smirked. Your hair was wet again– wanted to get it just right, eh? Must be a special lady, I thought.

Then the intercom blared the arrival announcement, echoing through the empty platform. We both stood. You breathed into the cup of your hand before looking up pleased. I rounded up my bags and inched them closer to the door.

We stood side by side before the glass separating us and the star-speckled skyline, waiting for the bus to come in. I had headphones in, but I swear I could hear your heartbeat.

Then, a flash. A beam of light slowly divided in two as the bus pulled up to the station and pumped its air brakes. I stole a look at your ghost-like reflection in the glass, and nearly returned a smile not meant for me.

She walked through the door, dropped her bags and took the flowers. Laughter played across your wrinkled faces as wrapped your arms around each other. I gathered my things and pushed past into the prickly cold.

I stole one last look at your embrace as I stowed my luggage in the bottom of the bus.

You two only started to leave when the bus began pulling out. I nodded, slouched in the backseat, more to myself and the idea of you than actually to you. Then I asked myself, Where am I going?

The Meek

(I’ve been yelled at before because of this soooo)

Trigger warning: this story contains violence.

 

Timmy stopped scrolling through headlines long enough to wave off the beggar. He didn’t move though, instead holding his sign at eye level for Timmy.

Timmy pulled out his earbuds and waved again. “Sorry man, I don’t carry any cash on me.” He looked at the cardboard sign. Homeless vet, anything helps. God bless. The adorning grease spots made it more endearing to Timmy, almost worth digging his wallet out for.

The beggar hocked a glob of phlegm to the right of his cardboard mat. His dog lifted an interested head and quickly set it back down. “God bless you, bastard.”

Timmy stopped, and removed the other ear bud. “Excuse me? What the fuck did you just say to me?” He instinctively inhaled and puffed out his chest.

The beggar seemed uninterested and showed Timmy a grimey incomplete smile. Timmy suddenly got a whiff of hot rot. “The end is nigh, bastard. Those who have, will not have the scales tipped in their favor on judgement day. You must repent.” He chuckled. “The meek will inherit the earth.”

Timmy backed up, and the skinny mutt began to growl, low and throaty.

“The meek.” The beggar said again. His eyes had somehow grown it seemed. The beggar collapsed to the ground and hugged his knees into his chest, rocking back and forth. “The meek. The meek. Bastard. The meek.”

Timmy turned and hustled away maintaining eye contact with the long winding cracks in the sidewalk. The rot seemed to follow him for the next block or so. He pulled his phone back out for more headlines, and to push the encounter to the back of his mind. Probably strung out on something, Timmy thought dismissively.  

North Korea promises to carry out attack on Guam by Mid-August.

Scientists say that world’s oceans will swallow most of Florida by 2080.

Trump lashes out against NK on Twitter.

World temperature on track to increase 2C by the end of the century.

There’ll be no world for the meek to inherit, Timmy thought. The sun had dipped below the tree line and the sky blazed brilliant shades of pink. Timmy turned to look at the park he passed everyday. It was still alive and buzzing with people, children playing on the old structure, joggers keeping pace with their partners, and the sound of crickets floated across the pond.

Timmy felt hollow. For them. For the meek. He knew what he had to do now. He turned back the way he’d came and headed for the 7/11.

7/11’s lights sent a trickle down Timmy’s spine; they were cold and unnatural and he could feel the fluorescent hum in the back of his throat. In the back he found the cans of tuna fish and piled as many as he could into the pouch he’d made with his shirt. He walked back to the register and unloaded his haul, careful not to let any roll away.

The cashier counted the cans and blinked. “17 cans of tuna fish,” He paused to punch it in the register. “That’ll be…. $15.44.” Timmy reached for a utility knife and dropped it next to the cans.

“And this.”

The cashier arched an eyebrow, sighed, and turned back to his screen. “Okay, that’ll be $19.73.” Timmy produced a card from his wallet. “It’s gonna ask you if you want cash or credit.” Timmy nodded and paid.

The cashier unfolded a plastic bag from under the counter and waved it open. “Uh, do you have any paper bags?” Timmy said, eyeing the flailing plastic. The cashier shook his head apologetically.

Timmy grabbed the bag and stepped out into the dusk. The sky was bleeding now. Pinks had given way to scarlet and purple-ish colors of healing bruises. Timmy walked faster now, feeling the urgency of the night.

The gray of the sidewalk under his feet had traded in it’s gray for new city neon’s. Red and blue at the liquor store, and an unhealthy green under the next 7/11 sign. Cars roared by, ever-alert, never blinking their headlights.

The dog was the first to notice Timmy’s return. It sounded another warning. The beggar turned his head, and chuckled. “So you’re back bastard. Have you come to repent?”

Tim shook his head. “No. Not yet at least. I’ve come back for your dog.”

The beggar wrapped a hand under the mutt’s ear and scratched. “Charlie? He’s not for sale.” Timmy sighed, making his annoyance obvious. “Charlie’s been with me four years now. I wouldn’t be alive with this dog. No.”

Tim dug into his back pocket for his wallet, unfolded it, produced three crisp twenties. “How about now?”

“I thought you didn’t carry any cash, bastard.”

Timmy smirked. “I went and got some.”

“Oh yeah.” The beggar turned his nose up. “And what else did you get, huh?”

Timmy looked down to the bag in his left hand. “This? Tuna fish to feed this obviously under-cared-for dog.” In his right hand, Timmy continued to fan and wave the money. The beggar looked at the money and then back to Charlie.

“I really…” The beggar choked on his words. “I can’t mister.”

Timmy pulled two more twenties from his pocket and added it to his fan. “Now?” He wondered how fast he could pocket the money and unfold the knife.

The beggar watched, sparks of hope glittering in his eyes. A few tears ran down the wrinkles of his old face. He cupped the Charlie’s muzzle in his hands and brought its snout to his own nose. “Hey bud,” he whispered. “Hey Charlie, listen bud. This man’s gonna take you to a new home. Better than here bud. Way better.” Charlie’s head knocked to the side, his tail slowly waving in the neon green night light. “You’ve been such a good boy Charlie.” He stretched a hand in Timmy’s direction and closed his fingers around the five $20 notes.

Timmy reached for the dog’s leash and it whimpered as Timmy dragged him away. Timmy looked back to the beggar, his face engulfed in tears and the beginning burnings of regret. “Seems even the meek have their price, huh?” The beggar either didn’t hear or didn’t care as he buried his face into his dirty hands.

Around the corner in the darkness of an alley, Timmy pulled Charlie close and opened two cans of tuna. “Eat. Go on.” Timmy said, pushing the cans closer.

The mutt sniffed and looked up again and whined. Timmy grabbed the cans and upturned them onto the ground. Charlie sniffed again and began to eat. Timmy winced at every slopping bite.

One after one he opened the cans and spilled them onto the ground, and Charlie feasted. Soon a pile of empty tin cans sat discarded on the ground and Charlie laid on his side, breathing heavily. Timmy ran his fingers through the mutt’s tangled hair. He pulled back and wiped a greasy hand on his jeans. Timmy looked down the alley and then back to the street, watching the occasional headlights pass by and briefly illuminate he and Charlie. Above, the sky stayed suspended in a state of purple. The city was too bright to allow anything else.

Timmy leaned back against the brick wall wondering whether it was actually red brick or just brick veneer. He shook his head and wiped his eyes.

“You’re too good for this world Charlie.” He said scratching the dog’s muzzle. “Humans are killing this planet, will kill this planet and all its goodness. All this…” Timmy looked to the sky again and sighed. “All this is gonna burn, Charlie. Either tomorrow with nukes or in 50 years when the earth is too hot to live on.”

Timmy dug into the plastic bag again. The flimsy crinkly made Charlie pick up his head. He cocked his head and panted as Timmy unfolded the utility knife.

“I’m sorry, Charlie.” He grabbed the Charlie’s collar and dragged him closer. Charlie let out a choked gurgle and whined. Timmy’s twisted the collar to turn Charlie’s cries into high-pitched wheezes. He began to paw Timmy’s legs. “But the meek are going to burn with the rest of us.”

Timmy brought the utility knife down and sunk it into Charlie’s jaw. A whine, and Charlie writhed wildly. Timmy panicked, pulled, and slashed down and again, and again.

Timmy came to a little while later, his hands crusted over with dark brown blood stains. His jeans were nearly brown. Beside him lay the empty cans of tuna and the Charlies limp body, his eyes forever fixed in a confused snarl. Timmy stood and threw up; the splattering sound carried down the alley. Above the sky’s suspended purple began to crack and give way to lighter indigos. Timmy wiped his chin and walked into the muggy morning, ready for his judgement day.

Dinner Party

The attack lasted seconds. Silverware lay askew across the table and Chandra’s water had spilled in her lap. Mother was still standing, hunched forward and baring her teeth.

 

“Mom. Sit. Down.” I pleaded. My voice cut through the silence that’d befallen the restaurant..

 

Spittle flew from her mouth as she exhaled. “No. This, this bitch is not good enough for you Tommy.” She reached for my hand. I pulled back and laid the other over Chandra’s whose face had gone red; well the part I could see anyway. She’d let her hair tumble over her face– a shield against tears. “I’ve always wanted the best for my baby. And this hooer isn’t it.” A bony finger sprang up and hovered extended a foot away from Chandra’s face.

 

I stood and pulled on Chandra’s arm. “C’mon, Chan. You don’t deserve this.” I glared at my mother and her outstretched accusatory finger. A look of disgust still burned hot across her wrinkled face. “Don’t call me again mother. If this is how you’re going to act, well then, I just don’t want you around.”

 

Mother’s features softened as she turned to me. She wheezed a smoker’s wheeze and cursed me for a bastard. “Do you know how much I gave up for you? You don’t want me in your life? Fine. Leave.”

 

I turned and wrapped Chandra’s small shoulders. They recoiled with each sob.

 

“I’m so, so sorry Chan. I didn’t think she was going to be like this tonight.” I turned and looked back one last time. Mother was digging through her purse, pulling out her pack of 99’s. “I think she might be off her meds. She’s usually more… stable.”

 

Her puffy eyes peered through her tumbling hair. “Tommy, it’s fine. I just want to go home and change out of this.”

 

I nodded and we marched away into the parking lot.

Gluten Free Orange Mango Muffins

These delightfully fruity muffins are the special this week at my cafe. I’ve recently been in the mood to bake with oranges. Last week I attempted to make a Vegan Orange Flaxseed loaf– but it needs tweaking. These Orange Mango Muffins are perfect though. And, for those of you afraid that gluten will kill you from the inside out– don’t worry– they’re made from Rice flour (and not that grainy, as is seems to be the case with a lot of other GF products)

Orange Mango

Dry Bowl:

  • 1 ¾ cups of Gluten Free Rice Flour
  • 1 TBSP of Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp of Salt

 

Wet Bowl:

  • ⅔ cups of Sugar
  • ½ cup of Soft Butter
  • 1 cup of Sour Cream
  • 1 Egg
  • ¼ cup of Fresh-squeezed Orange Juice
  • Zest from 1 Orange.
  • 1 cup of Diced Frozen or Fresh Mango
  • ¼ tsp of Orange Extract (optional)

 

Glaze:

  • ¼ cup of Fresh O.J.
  • 1 cup of Powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp of Orange Zest

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. First combine all the ingredients in the dry bowl. Easy.
  3. Then in the Wet bowl combine the Egg, Sugar, and Butter until smooth.
  4. Zest the Orange and juice it. Then Add the OJ and its Zest to the wet bowl.
  5. Finally add the Sour Cream and the extract if you wish.
  6. Add HALF of the dry bowl to the wet and combine.
  7. Add the Mango chunks with the second half of the dry bowl.
  8. Scoop batter into sprayed muffin pan and put in the oven for 20ish minutes or until the top takes on a orange-brown look and test with a toothpick.
  9. Top with the glaze once cooled for 10 minutes.  

A Necessary Evil.

“This should have been done years ago, Sir.”

General Arthur’s round face bunched behind the fist he looked near to swallow. His emotion or lack thereof hid beneath the bushy gray eyebrows.

“Hmm.” He said. “I wonder if you’d say the same thing if you had to deal with the aftermath. Countless body bags. The corp is going to be on grave detail for years.”

I nodded and pushed my glasses up the bridge of my nose. “Sir, with all due respect. this isn’t a matter of life and death. It’s a matter of extinction. Ever since the anti-aging bill of 2089, the exponential increase in population has led to famine, war, poisoned water, not to mention the mass extinctions in the animal kingdom– all worse ways to die than age.”

The general stood, bracing himself with both fists against the table, nearly knocking over his glass of water. “You think I don’t know that?” He said saddened. “I read the intelligence reports every day. Whole regions destabilized, war lords everywhere. A mess.”

I walked around the table and found the file in my bag. TOP SECRET was stamped across the front in bold red letters. It and it’s sister file were the only two in existence, and of the utmost secrecy. They needed to be; news of a government-sponsored plague wouldn’t fare well with the public, although there were contingencies for such an event.

“Sir,” I said pulling out the mission overview. “You’ll want to read this over. It needs your signature before it goes to Director Paulson.”

He took the paper and recoiled as his eyes darted across the page. “This is…” He sighed and sat back down. “This is downright evil, Bryant.” He paused and closed his eyes. It looked as if he’d mouthed a few words– a prayer perhaps. “I almost feel this should be signed off by the President. To decimate a population like this… it just.” He reached for a pen in his jacket. “But,” He trailed off, signed at the bottom, and reached for his water pulling long from the glass.

I took the sheet and shuffled it back into the folder. “I almost agree with you General. The President should sign off on this. Death on this scale necessitates it, but we both know he won’t do it. Can’t do it.”

General Arthur grumbled. “And a weak-minded idiot. But that’s besides the point.”

I exhaled audibly. “What makes you say that, sir?”

“Never you mind, Bryant. Allow me a bit of frankness in these most trying times.” The general leaned back and disappeared the pen into his jacket. “You’ll bring this to Director Paulson and phase one will start immediately. But, I’m curious. How does it even work?”

I laid the folder back on the desk and allowed myself a smirk; one ping of pride after three years of work. “It’s quite ingenious really.” I looked up to the general; he did not share my excitement. “The virus works in two phases. After it’s introduced to a population through potable water it has a powerfully hallucinogenic effect on subjects. One assistant who’d volunteered to be tested on described it as ‘Ayahuasca on steroids.’”

The general nodded, and followed along the best a career military man could. He cleared his throat and downed the rest of his water.

“During this intense experience, one sees and hears things that aren’t really there. The subject believes that they are real though, triggering a physical response.”

The general nodded once again, this time blinking his eyes. He coughed and his pupils widened. His steely features melted into those of childlike wonder. Everything around suddenly became brand new.

“The second stage of the virus,” I continued, watching the general in wonder. “Is fatal. If the brain activity advances across a certain threshold the subject’s synapses burn out and actually fry.” I stopped to watch the general, who was now looking at his fingers as terror filled his eyes. “I’ve watched it on scans before. It was…” The general reared and let loose a full-throated scream. “Beautiful.”

I stood and watched the lights leave General Arthur’s eyes as the last remnants of fear rippled across his face. I had my signature. It was time to start phase one.

Jack the Cat

We walked into the kitchen, my arms draped with plastic grocery bags, to find the cat outstretched on the floor.

“Jack,” Carl said kicking his shoes off in the general direction of the mat. “Wake up.”

Gingerly, I set bags on the table, looking for eggs and bread and silently cursing the idiot bagger.

“Dad?” Carl said, hunched over the cat. “Dad. Jack won’t wake up.”

Thoughts of eggs and bread fell away as I shrugged the rest of the bags off and knelt down next to him. I touched Jack’s stomach. A bit cool. Shit, I thought. “Hey bud, Jack’s not feeling well right now. Can you go get the phone so I can call his doctor?” I watched size four feet run out of the room and around the corner. “For fucks sake Jack. Today?” I reached for the crumpled towel on the laundry room floor and laid it out next to the cat. I ran a hand down his glossy black back before taking pairs of feed and lifting his body, like an orderly might a patient.

In a couple seconds Jack was wrapped up tight and swaddled. He was in my arms, mouth ajar, when the small feet came pattering back.

“Here,” Carl said, holding up the phone to my face.

“One second, bud. Daddy just needs to put Jack in his carrier so that we can be ready to leave after.”

I found the small carrying container above the dryer, covered in dust. Alive Jack hated the damn thing; never going willingly, opting to take out his frustrations on my arms and wrists every time I shoved him in. Dead Jack had much less to say on the matter though. I zipped up the door and turned to Carl standing in the doorway. There was no escaping his curious stare.

“Dad? Is Jack dead?”

“Er no, bud,” I said. I hoisted the traveler in my arms making a terrible thud as Jack rolled into the side and guilt thudded on me. “Actually, yes. Yes he is.” I put the carrier down on the dryer and crouched to eye-level with Carl.

He held out the phone again. “You should call the hearse people then. Jack gets to ride in the hearse right?”

I sighed and leaned into a seat against the dryer. A foot above my head lay a dead cat, and before me stood a child more perceptive than I. “Uh, no. No, hearses are for people Carl.” I put an arm on his shoulder and pulled him closer. “But tell you what. We’ll have his funeral right here in the yard. Just you and me– I think Jack would like that. Don’t you?”

He nodded and lowered the phone. A sadness ran across his lower lip as he stole another look at the pet carrier.

“Alright. Daddy’s gonna put away the groceries and then we’ll go. And hey,” I pulled him in close and nearly whispered. “While I’m doing that, maybe you could write some last words?”

Carl pulled away. “Last words?”

“Last words. Like the last thing Jack will hear before he goes to heaven. So make ‘em good, huh?”

He nodded, accepting the gravity of last words. Carl peeped the carrier again and walked through the kitchen, stepping lightly to leave no sound.

I braced myself against the dryer and pushed myself up, grunting against the burden of my gut. The back of my head grazed the front of the carrier. “Pardon me, Jack. Not as young as I used to be.” I chuckled and quickly checked the dark humor.

Several bags later, soft steps entered the kitchen and Carl stood next to the table. A small note half-crumpled was in his hand.

“Ready?”

He nodded again. “Can I carry him out?”

“Of course.” I handed the pet carrier over, bracing Carl for the dead weight. “Don’t drop him. He won’t like it.”

“He can’t feel it Dad. He’s dead.”

I recoiled a bit. Carl’s frankness was refreshing. But, at his age, unexpected.

“You’re right, buddy. Let’s go.”

Outside, I grabbed a shovel from my shed and followed Carl to the lawn. “This it?” I asked, staring at the plot under the crabapple tree. “This where Jack should go?”

“Yeah, I think it looks nice.”

“Me too.”

I dug a rough hole three or four feet deep while Carl watched. He seemed to be going over his last words as I pulled dirt from the earth. His eyebrows twitching with every shlick of the shovel biting the earth. At last the hole was finished and I placed the still-swaddled Jack at the bottom. Carl waited until I looked his way to begin.

“Ahem.” He said, straightening his feet. “We’re here today for Jack the cat. He was a good cat. He never ran away from home, and he always used the litter box. Jack didn’t know very many people, but Daddy and I loved him. We’ll miss you Jack.”

I leaned on the butt of the shovel and nodded my head. “That was good Carl. Did you write that yourself?”

“Yeah. That’s all I could come up with.”

“It was just fine.” I stuck the head of the shovel into the pile and raised a mound of dirt. “I think Jack knows that you loved him. Here, you throw the first dirt on him. I think he’d like that.”

I stood behind and supported the weight while Carl flipped the head and spilled soil into the hole. He turned, his bottom lip deceiving his nonchalance. “I want to go inside.”

I nodded and watched my son, tense to his shoulders, march inside. My chest pinged with pain– for the simple reason that he was hurting. The rest of the dirt felt much heavier than it did the first time ‘round.

Hypodermic Panic

As she searched, her movements were frantic. It was well past six. Medication time.

Kylo lay on the floor of the kitchen, his paws shaking. He raised white-rimmed eyes at her coming and tried to stand, his long nails refusing to catch on the linoleum. He whimpered and flopped stomach-first to the floor.

“Oh, Kylo. Hold on, momma’s here,” She said running past the old hound nearly losing her own traction. She threw up a hand to brace herself against the fridge.

“Where is it? Where?” She said, ripping open the fridge. Her shaking hands jerked tupperware containers as she looked over to Kylo. He had rolled onto a side and started to breath sharply, his jowls vibrating rhythmically. “Hold on, puppy. Almost got it.”

She too, started to breath sharply– fighting the urge to ball up her hand and bring down the upper shelf of her fridge. She stopped and caught her hands and brought them to her face. “Fffuck.” She screamed.

Kylo’s collar jingled as he tried to jerk up, acutely aware of her anxiety. Instead, his head rolled back and Kylo seized. Paws shot out and stiffened against the floor and the dog’s jowls made a flapping sound as the old hounds head shook.

She saw and threw the fridge door closed. Ceramic plates jumped at the impact and glass started to roll behind her. She heard and snapped up to grab the insulin before it fell from the counter.

“Needles. Needles. Needles.” She chanted to herself as she bobbed looking. At last she’d found the box of clean needles and took a deep breath to steady her jumping hand. Kylo started to breath audibly again.

She drew the insulin into the needle and grabbed a fold of the old hound’s scruff and stabbed. The tension in the seizing dog melted away and after a moment of petting and praying the dog lifted his head and whimpered, letting his head fall into her lap again. She did the same and fell back against the kitchen counter.

Vacuum Sealed.

Because we talked about the subject in detail at the Blarney last night– here you go. 

 

You admire her as she pulls the sheet of plastic up to cover the top of your head.

It was advertised as clear, but the thickness you needed necessitated a certain opaqueness. She becomes a blur – defined solely by her actions now. Each touch on your leg excites. The confidence in her hands gives you goose flesh.

She presses the plastic together with an iron and seals you in. Your one saving lifeline to the outside world is a stiff breathing tube that sits between your lips. You fight to control your breath– battling your growing eagerness.

She puts her face close to yours, lovingly taps your nose and asks. “Do you remember the safe word?”

“Huh-nanah’s” you gasp through the breathing tube.

The blur nods. A curl of hair tumbles over your face. It feels different through the plastic. Like a broad brush stroke instead of a fine detail.

“Go.” you say, pushing the tube off your teeth.

A whirring noise drowns out all of your senses. Air rushes out of the bottom of the plastic as the clear-ish sheet bares down on you. Your nose is flattened and you close your eyes attempting to feel the full sensation of being vacuumed. You’re stricken completely immobile. Not even the tiniest twitch of a finger is allowed.

She touches your leg. The sensation vibrates up the thigh into your stomach and up to the back of your neck. She moves farther down your leg and you come, sucking at the breathing tube.

“Huh-nanah’s”