No Exit

noexit2

The students are standing in a dank, dimly lit room with one florescent light bulb hanging from the ceiling. A rat is nibbling on what could be a human toe in one corner. The Improv teacher, Ursula Kowalski, looks at her students in disgust. The rat also looks at them in disgust.

Ursula: {cigarette dangles from her lips, with 2 inches of ash hanging on the end} Welcome to my improv class. None of your dreams of becoming a Broadway actor will come true and you will die alone. But still, we try anyway, yes.

{coughs into a handkerchief for 10 minutes}

Ursula: Lets start with an easy exercise. Imagine you have a pinpoint of light inside your chest. It starts off small and then it fills your chest, arms, legs, hands and feet. Then after that, imagine it filling your entire body. Finally, imagine the light filling the room. Say yes to the light; let it flow through you.

{walks around the room}

Ursula: {points to a young girl} You are not being the light.

Girl: I’m trying to be the light.

Ursula: No, watch me be the light. I have tuberculosis, typhoid, polio and a bunion and I still have a better light than you.

{continues to walk around the room}

Ursula: {points to a middle-aged man} You are not the light! You are the opposite of whatever light is.

Middle-aged man: Um … dark?

Ursula: Shut up! I am in an existential crisis.

{coughs for 10 more minutes until finally coughs up a cat}

Ursula: No one is the light. You would kill Elia Kazan if he were still alive. If he were alive here now, he would not be alive; you would kill him. That is how bad you are.

{waves her hand for everyone to stop}

Ursula: We will try an easy exercise. You {points} no-light girl. You will sit in a chair and pretend you are driving a bus. The rest of you form a single-file line and she will stop the bus and pick the first person up. That person will display a tick or emotion, that no-light girl, will then have to mimic. When she stops to pick the next person, that person will have a new emotion that the driver and the passenger will have to mimic. This will go on until the bus is full.

Girl: I don’t see a chair to sit in.

Ursula: I don’t have a chair. What, do you think this is a fancy place that has chairs? I don’t even have a liver. I am still rationing from the war! Sit on the floor.

Girl: {pretends to drive and then stops the bus, where a young man is weeping}

Ursula: {watches the two of them weeping} No, no, no. That is not how you weep. Weep like Samuel Beckett has just left you for a younger woman.

{they resume their weeping}

Ursula: Oh my god, this is garbage. Watch how I weep. {face remains stoic} Don’t you think I wept, when the Nazis marched through my village in Poland? Well, I didn’t, because we didn’t weep back then, but still I weep better than you. Pick up the next passenger.

{girl is gesticulating with her hands, pretending to be hysterical}

Ursula: This is not bad. I like you hysterical girl.

{The rat from the corner comes out to watch the students; it is also smoking a cigarette.}

Ursula: Ok, so far hysterical girl is my favorite. Next passenger.

{an older woman pretends to be angry}

Ursula: This is not anger; I need raw emotion. Be angry like Lee Strasberg, has just told you that you are the worst actress he has ever seen. {clinches her fist and breaks the fluorescent bulb, the room is now completely dark}

{A few of the students are able to feel their way out the door to freedom}

Ursula: Now, continue. Don’t think that because it is completely dark, that I can’t see your poor acting, because I can.

{next guy pretends that something is funny, everyone else remains still, because they can’t see what he is doing}

Ursula: So, you think you are a funny man?

Guy: How can you even see what I am doing?

Ursula: My eyes are like an owl. We lived in the dark when I was a girl. There was no light; the sun didn’t shine then. We were all tragic figures.

{last person/passenger pretends to be surprised}

Ursula: Ha! You are not surprised. Surprise is when your entire village gets struck with a cholera epidemic. This is surprise! {hurls smoking rat at the students}

{Everyone screams and bumps into each other trying to exit the room}

Ursula: Our time is up together. You will need to pay by next week, if you haven’t already. I need to buy some cabbage and my cat needs a new shawl.

The Law of Diminishing Integrity

Lawyer Hello Name Tag Attorney Lawsuit Justice

Attorney-client privilege is so 2017. Michael Cohen recorded a conversation with his “client,” Donald Trump, regarding the payoff of an affair with a playboy playmate model. It has the sound quality of a 1978 sex ed film, played on a broken film projector, but it does expose the lies told during the Trump campaign. There are many more of these types of recordings and below is a complete (not yet heard by the public) transcript.

Trump: Are you recording me?

Cohen: What kind of scumbag lawyer would do that?

Trump: The kind I hire.

Cohen: Why would I need to record a conversation about a payoff? It’s not like I might have to turn it over to a special prosecutor one day, in order to save my ass from jail.

Trump: Uh huh.

Cohen: Listen, I’ve had a brilliant idea. I’m going to set up a shell corporation in order to make a hush money payment.

Trump: Who are we hushing up this time?

Cohen: Let me just check my files. I’ve filed them all alphabetically and we have worked our way down to the letter ‘K.’ It looks like her name is Kandy Kane.

Trump: I don’t know anyone called Kandy Kane.

Cohen: That’s just her stage name.

Trump: Whatever. Make sure you pay in cash though.

Cohen: No, no. You don’t want to pay in cash.

Trump: Jesus Mike! Where did you get your law degree, the University of Online?

Cohen: Yes.

Trump: Well, you can’t write a check.

Cohen: That’s why we are creating the shell corporation. I’m calling it Kandy Kane Kover-Up LLC.

Trump: Noice!

Cohen: I’ll just need you to get $50,000 for me.

Trump: Say what?

Cohen: You need to provide money to the LLC, so that I can make the hush payment.

Trump: I don’t have any money! I’ve been bankrupt five times! Why don’t you pay it; you’re a (says the word barely above a whisper) Jew.

Cohen: Did you just use a horribly insensitive antisemitic stereotype, perpetuated by years of being restricted by Christians, to the profession of moneylending?

Trump: I have no idea what you just said, but I am not a racist. Oh, remind me to prepare my speech later on building a wall to keep out Mexican rapists and criminals.

Cohen: You’re definitely going to win this presidential race.

Trump: You think so?

Cohen: Yes, just keep denying all the facts and you’ll be fine. People love a tough idiot.

Trump: Do they really?

Cohen: Yes, remember George W. Bush.

Trump: Er??

Cohen: He was the 43rd president.

Trump: Um?

Cohen: He was the son of George H. Bush.

Trump: {audibly drools}

Cohen: He was the cowboy hat President before Obama.

Trump: Oh yeah. Now get out there Mike. I’m not paying you to just sit around. I’m paying you to blur all moral and ethical lines.

{The last few minutes are crunching noises. Mike is eating a can of cheddar cheese Pringles}

 

 

 

 

The Customer is Always Right

Customer

Customer: I’d like to get a refund on this DVD.

Store Clerk: {looks over DVD case} You bought the Purge? What’s wrong with it, other than unnecessary violence, acting, cinematography and basic plot structure?

Customer: It’s scratched.

Store Clerk: {Opens up DVD case} This a Baywatch DVD.

Customer: What’s the difference?

Store Clerk: I see your point. Do you have a receipt?

Customer: I have it right here. {hands clerk the receipt}

Store Clerk: This is a Borders receipt from 2008. I can’t even read what you bought, because the receipt is so worn.

Customer: It’s still a receipt.

Store Clerk: I can tell nothing from this, other than you probably paid twice as much 10 years ago, for whatever this was, than what you would now.

Customer: I’d like to speak to the manager.

Store Clerk: He’s in the breakroom, crying into a bologna sandwich.

Customer: Haven’t you ever heard that the customer is always right?

Store Clerk: Haven’t you ever heard of Redbox, Netflix, Amazon, the internet … cable theft?

Customer: I’ll wait for the manager, because the customer is always right.

Store Clerk: {points to John Mayer t-shirt} Clearly not always.

{Manager comes out from the breakroom. His eyes are bloodshot and he is hungover}

Customer: Are you the manager?

Manager: {pauses to consider this} Yes, I was promoted. Our other manager died; he choked to death on a hot pocket.

Customer: How long have you worked here?

Manager: Long enough. I’ve seen things, things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire, off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.

Customer: Isn’t that from Blade Runner?

Manager: How can I help you?

{Store clerk is staring at the clock and wishing for death}

Customer: I’d like a refund on this DVD. Here is my receipt.

Manager: {barely glances at receipt} Jeff, give this customer a refund.

Store Clerk: I’m Jeremy. I don’t even know how much to give him.

{Manager vomits into a trashcan}

Store Clerk: {gives customer $10}

Customer: This is the last time I shop at this place.

Manager: {lifts head up from trashcan} Thank you for shopping at Obsolete Electronics, where all of our merchandise is obsolete and pointless.

Store Clerk: Can I take my break now?

Manager: Sure. Just don’t use the microwave. I heated up the last of that managers hot pockets and it exploded all over the microwave.

 

 

 

Review of Jesus Wine

vine

There are some really good wines out there, but often I’m disappointed, because the body is flat and the aroma is weak. There’s one brand of wine, that I’ve never been disappointed with and that’s Jesus Wine. I’m tired of buying wine from mere mortals and leaving the bottle half-finished. Okay, I still finish the bottle anyway, but begrudgingly. If you want the best, you have to go directly to the guy, who changed water into wine and that’s why I buy exclusively from Jesus. I’ve compiled a list below of some of my favorites.

Jesus Pinot Noir This holy wine has a hint of cherry, cranberry and mint. It has a light body, just like our Lord and Savior. It’s a bold red wine, that taste like heaven itself. This wine has high acid content and soft tannins. It pairs well with chicken, pork, soft cheese, cured meats and is great by itself, for when you’re fasting. You don’t want to be the only one in your archdiocese not drinking this wine. It’s a little pricey at $44.99, but well worth it.

Jesus Chardonnay – A dry, full-bodied wine, that will leave you saying, ‘Hosanna in the highest.’ This white wine has a citrus taste, with a hint of cinnamon, butterscotch and tropical fruits. It has a smooth, velvety texture and is more perfumed, than Jesus on a night out in Nazareth. Paul wrote about this wine, in his letters to the apostles. It pairs well with lobster, shrimp, chicken and it’s great for when you’re abstaining from sex. Reasonably priced at $25.99.

Jesus Merlot – Peace be with you and with this spirit. A cheaper wine, the kind Jesus drank when it was the day before payday. It has a smooth mix of ripe plum and cassis flavors. It has medium tannins and acidity, soft finish and pairs well with steak, risotto and roasted meats. The perfect wine for when you’re finished saying the Nicene Creed and your throat is parched. Priced at only $12.99

Jesus Sauvignon Blanc – The most expensive brand of Jesus wine. He drank this wine at the last supper. The Pope keeps a few bottles in his Popemobile and one underneath his hat. This wine has a light, refreshing taste of apple and a hint of pear and black currant. It is light-bodied, has a strong aroma and pairs well with seafood, poultry and salads. You will need to say three, ‘Hail Mary’s’ and five, ‘Our Father’s’ after drinking this wine, because it is definitely a mortal sin. Priced at $85.99.

Jesus Cabernet Sauvignon – Yahweh’s full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, will make you have a schism in your pants. It has a spicy taste, with black cherry and a hint of black currant and baking spices. It is one of His most popular wines, with bold tannins and a long after taste. It’s just the thing you need after an Inquisition. It pairs well with lamb, beef, smoked meats and aged cheese. Priced at $35.99.

Original, revised version published in, Below the Fold Magazine. 7/1/16. 

 

Apocalypse Lame

dumpster

The year is 2018 and the Intergalactic Department of Giant Calamities, Annihilation and Fatalities, or most commonly referred by their acronym, I.D.G.A.F., lands its spacecraft, a refurbished 1988 Ford Fiesta, on what’s left of the planet Earth.

“So, their leader caused this devastation?” Alien 1 asked.

“One of their leaders, at any rate. A human named, Trump,” Alien 2 said.

They both break out into raucous laughter, because the word, “Trump” where they are from, means, “dick hat.”

“He was either their leader or someone called, ‘Starbucks Caramel Macchiato,'” Alien 2 said, picking up what was now the tenth discarded cup.

“How did it happen?”

“Apparently, he accidentally hit their nuclear button, whilst wearing a foam finger.”

“So sad. Did anyone survive the horrible destruction?”

“Just some cockroaches and a human called, ‘Gary Busey.'”

Alien 1, who literally had no words for such absurdity repeated, “So sad.” He kicked a, Time Magazine, with their man of the year on the cover, Gary Busey, holding a cockroach. “What was their world like?”

“It was like most planets; there were peaceful parts of the world and parts constantly at war. Then invariably, you get a leader like Dick Hat and the next thing you know, your planet is destroyed,” Alien 2 said.

Alien 1 remained silent, as the Earth belched out a cloud of black smog, filled with poisonous gases.

“You know, he never would have allowed us into his part of the world. He said, we are illegal and wanted to build a wall to keep us out,” Alien 2 said.

“He didn’t know, we could easily land our Ford Fiesta inside of his puny wall?”

“This leader obviously didn’t know things.”

“Should we document this as an official Article 5?” Alien 1 asked.

Article 5 is, “senseless destruction.”

“I think we should be more specific and document it as an Article 9,” Alien 2 said.

Article 9 is, “destruction by slow-witted farm animal.”

“Sounds good to me. Hey, do you want to go to the IHOP (Intergalactic House of Pancakes) in the Andromeda Galaxy? ”

“No, that place makes me bloated.”

 

 

 

 

Twenty Things to Say After Sex to Make it Awkward

animalsbed

1. Would you mind going online and filling out a brief survey?

2. I have to go to the bathroom and cry for awhile; please show yourself out.

3. {pull cellphone out} Oh, I forgot, my mom is still on hold.

4. Would you like to buy a magazine subscription?

5. I could really go for some better sex right about now.

6. What do you think I should name the baby?

7.  Do you have a minute to talk about Jesus?

8. I have to run; I’m late for my mime workshop.

9.  Do you want to see my collection of shrunken heads?

10. Is it okay to open my eyes now?

11. Feel free to touch my mole.

12. Well, there goes five minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

13. LOL!

14. {point to genitals} That is so sad.

15. Where am I?

16. Thank you for participating in my focus group.

17. I feel a burning sensation.

18. Flawless Victory!

19. You know, my stool is silky smooth.

20. Meh.

 

The President Who Knew Too Little

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Trump: {spinning around in his chair in the Oval Office}

Pence: {whispers to Sessions} I would have thought, he’d be tired of doing that by now.

Sessions: Sir, there is an urgent matter that needs your attention.

Trump: {stops spinning} I can’t give you my attention right now. I used up my attention span for the day, for my early morning tweet on the toilet. It was brilliant. I typed out in all caps, NO COLLUSION!

Pence: {takes off human face to reveal a giant lizard head} Whew, that gets uncomfortable after a while.

Sessions: But sir–

Trump: Don’t bother me right now Keebler.

Sessions: {whispers to Pence} He just called me Keebler.

Pence: He always calls you that, only he forgot that he is supposed to say it behind your back.

Trump: Get out of my office. I’m still mad at you for refusing yourself from the Russia investigation.

Sessions: You mean recuse.

Trump: {stares blankly} Sure.

{Sessions leaves, carrying his newly made batch of Keebler Chips Deluxe Rainbow cookies}

Trump: The press is all over me about this, that and the other. I need that blonde woman, the one whose face ages right in front of you.

Pence: You mean Kellyanne Conway.

Trump: Who? For Christ sake Mike, put your human face back on. I don’t want the press to find out, that my Vice President is a lizard.

Pence: {puts on human face} You should really get Sarah Huckabee Sanders, if you want someone to speak to the press. That’s her job.

Trump: {drools}

Pence: She’s your Press Secretary.

Trump: My Press Secretary is Sean Bean.

Pence: His last name is Spicer and he resigned months ago.

Trump: Nonsense! He’s probably hiding in a bush somewhere. Run along and find that pasty loser.

{Pence leaves}

Trump: {picks up his phone and calls Sean Hannity} Hey Sean. I can’t decide on which tie to wear to dinner tonight, my blue tie that makes me irresistible to the ladies, or my red tie that makes me irresistible to the ladies.

Hannity: Always red Mr. President. Red is the color of the Republican party. Remember the two r’s we talked about?

Trump: Oh yes, what would I do without you. You are indispensable to me. {makes kissing noises}

Hannity: Now, excuse me Mr. President; I have to work on a flow chart, that shows how Robert Mueller killed Jack Kennedy and Henry Kissinger.

Trump: I thought Henry was still alive; he was at the White House last week.

Hannity: Exactly, it’s a deep state conspiracy. Good by sir. I’ll see you Friday, for our weekly moose hunt.

Conway: {enters the Oval Office} You wanted to see me Mr. President.

Trump: Not really, but I need you to hold a press conference and tell the press, I didn’t do, whatever it is I already screwed up today.

Conway: Can you be more specific?

Trump: No, I can’t be more specific. That’s why I pay you to be specific for me.

Conway: You don’t pay me sir; I work for water and discarded pizza crusts.

Trump: Damnit Julieanne, if you want to get paid, you’ll do as I ask.

{Conway leaves and bumps into Jared Kushner, who squeaks like a mouse}

Kushner: Hi dad.

Trump: I told you to stop calling me that. I’m already over my quota for dipshit sons.

{loud crack, as door gets kicked in and Bob Muller enters}

Kushner: {faints}

Trump: The door was open already.

Muller: {stares malevolently at Trump}

Trump: {tries to stare malevolently back, but winks instead}

Muller: It’s time to end this once and for all Trump.

Trump: It is on!

Muller: It is so on! {takes out lightsaber from inside his suit jacket}

Trump: Hold on; I’m not ready. I have to get my lightsaber; it’s in a very safe place. {moves picture of George Washington, that’s covering a combination safe}

Muller: {sighs, while Trump tries to remember the combination}

Trump: {opens the safe and grabs lightsaber}

Muller: Time to die Trump, or should I call you by your Sith name, Darth Imbecilus.

Kushner: {wakes up}

Muller: {thrusts lighsaber into Kushners heart}

Jared: {screams with a pitch so high, only nearby dogs can hear it}

Mueller: I just killed your young apprentice.

Trump: He wasn’t my apprentice.

{epic battle of mediocrity occurs, ending with Muller pointing his lightsaber at Trump’s head}

Muller: Did you collude with Russia?

Trump: {starts crying} I don’t know! I don’t know what the word means.

{Muller, disgusted, strikes a death blow at Trump, but his lightsaber is blocked by a shirtless Putin}

Putin: {In Russian} I’ll wear your skin like a coat. {translation could also be, I’d like to buy your goat}

Muller: Well, if it isn’t Count Gulag. I see you’ve come to save your puppet.

Putin: {puts a force choke on Muller}

Mueller: {sends bobbleheads flying from Trump’s desk of all the presidents, toward Putin}

{A Nixon bobblehead hits Putin in the face}

Mueller: You will never triumph over the force.

Putin: {In Russian} I eat the force for breakfast.

{They exchange blows, until the Oval Office is in shambles}

Putin: {looking at Trump} Get up you ridiculous man and strike him down.

Trump: I have no idea what you are saying. This is why all immigrants, who come to this country, need to learn to speak American.

{Secret Service Agent finally enters}

Agent: What is going on here? I heard loud noises and all the neighborhood dogs are barking. I would have come sooner, but I wanted to get a burrito from the food truck, before they left the White House.

{Putin, taking advantage of the distraction, grabs Trump and exits out a window}

Mueller: {shuts off lightsaber} We’ll meet again Trump! {to agent} Do you think the food truck is still here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Memorable Feast

dinnerparty 2

Edgar Allan Poe: {Grim Reaper is hovering around his chair, with his scythe casually dangling at his side} “Are you enjoying those peas?”

Howard Hughes: {counting his peas} “You made me lose count.”

Edgar Allan Poe: “Don’t you know you’re not supposed to play with your food?”

Howard Hughes: {looks up for the first time and remembers he is at a dinner party} “Don’t you know you’re not supposed to bring animals to the dinner table?” {points towards the raven perched on his chair}

JD Salinger: {underneath the table, wrapped in the tablecloth, with only his eyes peeking out} “I hope no one can see me.”

Raven: “Nevermore.”

Edgar Allan Poe: {drinking absinthe} “That’s the only thing he ever says.”

Ernest Hemingway: {wearing a live bear like a fur coat} “I hope we aren’t going to talk about peas and birds all night. There are far more interesting things to talk about, like I once drove an ambulance filled with bourbon, wounded soldiers and a live crocodile, through an Italian war zone.”

Henry David Thoreau: “I once spent two years in a tiny cabin in the woods, eating nothing, but bark and dandelions.”

Ernest Hemingway: {belches}

Emma Goldman: {addressing the kitchen server} “These conditions are insufferable; you’re working for slave wages. You should demand your rights and go on strike.”

Server: “Actually, I receive a fair wage and get weekends and holidays off.”

Emma Goldman: “Intolerable!”

Hunter Thompson: {pushes his plate aside and snorts a line of cocaine} “Right on sister. It’s the American dream.”

JD Salinger: {from underneath the table} “If no one can see me, maybe I’m not here.”

Ernest Hemingway: “You need to come out from underneath that table and face your fears like a man.” {the terrified bear he is wearing, nods in agreement}

{Raven flies over & lands on Howard’s plate, knocking over his peas}

Howard Hughes: {horrified, watching his peas roll across the floor} “Now look at what your daft bird has done.”

Raven: “Nevermore.”

Howard Hughes: “I would like a fresh plate of peas, sorted by circumference and weight. Don’t touch them with your hands!”

Server: {?}

Edgar Allan Poe: “Do you have anything stronger than absinthe?”

Server: “We have some kerosene out in the garage.”

Edgar Allan Poe: “Very good.”

Hunter Thompson: {taking mescaline} “My god, it’s a bat!” {fires his revolver at the raven, misses and shatters the window}

Ernest Hemingway: {slurring} “Some people can’t handle their alcohol.”

{The server leaves to arrange peas, get the kerosene from the garage and curse his life choices}

Emma Goldman: “This establishment is corrupt. No one should have to endure this kind of treatment. {yells} Anarchy!” {strikes a match and sets the tablecloth on fire}

{The Grim Reaper drops his scythe and runs out of the room}

Edgar Allan Poe: “My dear woman, please try to control your enthusiastic outbursts.” {pours his glass of absinthe on the fire and the flames shoot out}

Ernest Hemingway: {puts his steak on a fork and starts roasting it in the flame} “I like my steak well-done.”

Henry David Thoreau: {puts a croissant down his trousers & steak inside of his dinner jacket} “You never know when you might need food.”

Ernest Hemingway: “What’s for dessert?”

JD Salinger: {hands quickly raise up from underneath the tablecloth, to grab his bowl of soup}

Howard Hughes: {weeping} “My peas!”

Hunter Thompson: {opens up a briefcase filled with pills} “It’s a giant lizard. Fuck!” {fires revolver at Hemingway and hits him in the arm}

Raven: “Fuck! Nevermore. Fuck! Nevermore.”

Hunter Thompson: “I’m sorry man; I have some morphine in my briefcase. My lawyer gave it to me. I have a 300-pound Samoan attorney.”

Ernest Hemingway: “Well, it’s not like I haven’t been shot before.”

JD Salinger: “Slurp, slurp, slurp…”

Henry David Thoreau: {to Emma Goldman} Are you going to eat that madam?”

Emma Goldman: I’m not eating any of that food; it’s been poisoned by the bourgeois businessmen.”

Henry David Thoreau: {dumps entire plate inside of his dinner jacket}

{Server comes in carrying a plate of peas and a container of kerosene, sees the table on fire}

Edgar Allan Poe: {grabs kerosene, takes a swig and throws the rest of it on the fire}

{The entire room is ablaze}

Server: {sets plate of peas down} Quickly, every one evacuate!”

Howard Hughes: {grabs the plate of peas on the way out}

JD Salinger {underneath the table} “Go away! I’m not signing autographs today. Slurp.”

 

 

 

 

 

Stranger in a Strange Land

stranger

“You’re here,” I say, a bit frazzled, because I had not finished dusting my collection of  Gothic ashtrays.

“Yes, I realize I’m a bit early,” the stranger says uneasily. “I’m a little nervous; I haven’t done this in a long time.

“Well, I’ve never done this before. Do you want to do it right here on the table,” I ask, pointing to my kitchen table with a rotting fruit bowl as its center piece.

“Anywhere is fine,” he says, looking down at his feet embarrassed.

I nod and make my way to the hall closet. Immediately when I open the door, a broom falls out and the handle hits me square in the forehead with an audible, whack.  I shove the broom into the very back of the closet, so it won’t assault me the next time I open it. A lone Members Only Jacket is hanging up, just hoping and waiting for the day, that epaulets are in vogue again. My eyes scan the contents on the shelf. I see the box that I want underneath an old blanket. As I make my way back to the table, with the box in hand, I hear my tea kettle singing.

“I hope you don’t mind, but I was going to make myself a cup of tea.”

“I’ll have one as well.” I sit the box on the table and empty the contents of the fruit bowel, where I notice several fruit flies had died.

The stranger adds a little milk to his tea. The milk was already expired by at least three days; I had forgotten to dump it out. I debate on whether I should tell him or not. I finally decide that I will not.

Mom always said to check the date on the milk. She probably meant before you buy it though, not if you’re at a random stranger’s house.  

I pour my tea and politely refuse the three-day old milk, when the stranger offers it. Instead, I open my cookie jar and take out a flask containing whiskey and pour a little into my cup.  I don’t like how the stranger is judging me with his eyes.

“I have a cold,” I say sheepishly and judging from the size of the flask, it looks like I was planning on having a cold for the remainder of the year.

He sips his tea and either doesn’t notice the taste of sour milk, or is too polite to say anything.

We sit down, both of us staring at the box on the table.

“Are you sure you want to do this,” the stranger asks.

I take a sip of tea; I put too much whiskey in and it was burning my chest. “Yep,” I squeak out.

The Stranger opens up the Candy Land box and begins to set up the board. I pick up the cards to shuffle them, because they had not been shuffled, since the last time I played.

“What color gingerbread do you want?” I ask.

“Red. I always play with the red one.”

I hand him the red gingerbread person (sex of gingerbread undetermined) and he places it on the board at the starting point.

I like to play with the green gingerbread. Its stand is broken, so I just lay my gingerbread along side his. “You can go first.”

He draws a card and immediately advances forward with a double blue.

I pick up his discarded card and look at it.

“Hey,” he yells and points an indignant finger at me. “I don’t cheat.”

“I’m sorry,” I say. It was obvious I had really hurt his feelings. “There’s just so much riding on this game and I just assumed…”

“So, you thought I would cheat? That takes all the fun out of it.”

“I really am sorry; I just thought it was kind of…you know…your modus operandi.”

He snorts at that. “Your turn.”

I pick up a card and move one red square, which is the square right next to the start. I had advanced one square and the stranger was already halfway to glory.

He picks up a card and advances with a double yellow. When he lands, he is on the gum drop pass, which is a short cut. The stranger slowly slides his gingerbread along the pass, all without breaking eye contact with me.

I hope I get something good. I’d like to wipe that smug look off his face.

The next card is a double orange and just when I think I’m gaining on him, I land right on an orange square with a picture of  licorice on it, which means I lose a turn. “Goddamn licorice,” I yell, realizing I may just be the only person to have ever spoken those words.

The stranger selects his card. He gets only one blue this time and then draws another one, since I lost my turn. He searches the board looking for something. When he sets his gingerbread down, I can see, that he is very near the finish line already. He shows me the card, so that I don’t accuse him of cheating a second time. It is a picture of Queen Frostine.

“Bitch!

The stranger is unsure if I meant him, or the fictitious queen of a 3 years and up children’s game.

I draw a card and pick up my gingerbread, who is lying face down in the licorice and move it a double yellow. I’m still way behind the stranger though.

“Hell yes,” he says, as he draws his card. His final card. He has a double orange, which puts him exactly on the finish line.

I panic. “It isn’t fair; I wasn’t ready.”

The stranger rises from his chair and puts on a beanie, that has a pom on the end of it.

“I still got it,” he says, walking out the door and out of my life, but not out for good. He’d be back one day to collect his winnings.

I sit in my chair stunned at what had just occurred. I take a sip of my whiskey tea; I didn’t mind the burning this time. I guess I’d better get used to the burning, because after all, I had just lost my soul to the devil.

 

 

 

 

 

Buckley vs Vidal: The 11th Debate

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In 1968, ABC, the generic cereal of news organizations, (the set literally collapsed during the RNC) decided to host ten debates during the Democratic and Republican conventions. They chose two people from opposite sides of the political spectrum, to debate one another. William F. Buckley, a conservative, had his own show called, Firing Line, which was like Carlson Tucker’s show, only smugger. Gore Vidal, a liberal, and Carry Grant look alike, was a writer and playwright. The moderator of the debate, was Howard K Smith, an ABC political commentator. The debaters detested one another and the debates got really heated. The two men were polar opposites and the only thing they had in common, was that they were both elitists. Most people don’t know, there was actually an eleventh debate, which they decided not to air. Below is a complete transcript.

Smith: Good evening, we are here tonight for our eleventh and final debate, between Mr. William Buckley and Mr. Gore Vidal. Now gentlemen, it got a little too heated on our last debate and resulted in some hate speech, with the words, ‘crypto-Nazi’ and ‘queer,’ being used. Let’s try and keep it civil and stick to the issues. I mean, no one is watching, but still, it’s a family network.

Buckley: {holds pinky up} Of course Howard, and I’d like to explicate on what I was saying in the last debate about Vietnam. I wasn’t finished using my extensive vocabulary.

Smith: Our time is limited, because we have to show commercials advertising household products, in a misogynist  manner that condescends women. So, let’s get to the issues. Mr. Vidal, I will start with you. People wonder if you are a communist, because of your ideological beliefs. Can you answer that charge once and for all?

Vidal: {holds pinky up higher than Buckley} Yes, but first I’d like to insult Mr. Buckley in a defunct patrician accent.

Smith: Again, our time is limited and we have a lot of ground to cover.

Vidal: To answer your question, I am not a communist. I agree with many of its tenants, especially with Karl Marx, who defined communism as, ‘the doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat.’

Smith: So, you are a champion of the working class?

Vidal: Yes, the working class are the pillar that hold up society and please stop making direct eye contact with me.

Buckley: Pay no attention to him Mr. Smith, he’s an elitist, who scoffs at a hard days work. He has never done a hard days work in his life. You do need to advert your eyes though.

Smith: {looks down}

Buckley: You need to bow your head a little lower. Maybe just turn your chair and face the wall.

Smith: {turns chair around} Mr. Buckley, do you think religion should have any place in politics?

Buckley: As you know, I’m a member of the Knight’s of Columbus. We go around taking any remaining lands, still owned by Native Americans. Also, we have the occasional fish fry.

Vidal: [snickers] What balderdash!

Buckley: Mr. Vidal interrupted me and I wasn’t finished enunciating. Dear God man, look at me when I am speaking to you.

Smith: {Turning his chair back around} Gentleman please, we don’t have a lot of time and the people want to hear the issues. Also, this set may collapse again at any moment. We are on a shoestring budget and we will have to pay you both with a roll of quarters and a vat of Bactine Medicated Skin Cream. Mr Vidal, do you think if Nixon becomes President, that he will get us out of the war in Vietnam?

Vidal: Mr. Nixon’s stance on Vietnam is vague and unclear. He, however, is a hawk, so one would doubt it. What is clear though, is that Mr. Buckley is a conservative philistine with no humane qualities.

Buckley: You are a depraved liberal degenerate!

Vidal: You sir are a conservative villian!

Smith: Gentlemen please!

Buckley: Why don’t you go expatriate yourself.

Vidal: I am not an expatriate; I just choose to live in Italy, to be far away from you and your banal views. {mumbles} crypto-Nazi.

Buckley: {rises angrily} I heard that. {picks up his chair and swings it at Vidal. It misses and hits Howard on the head knocking him unconscious}

Buckley: I am leaving; I can not debate a man with no morals and whose prose is obscene.

Vidal: {nudges the unconscious Smith} Do I still get my facial cream?

{Cameraman cuts to a cigarette commercial, where a whole family is smoking a pack of Pall Mall’s at the dinner table}

Training video: How to insult your opponent in a debate with class.