Fat Louie barged into the room to find Joey “The Mouse” Scarpuzzi feeding a bedridden man some chicken noodle soup. “Joey, what’re you doing?!”
Joey looked up, “The Don told me to take care of Frankie.”
“I really appreciate it,” Frankie said from underneath his covers, “especially after I messed up last week’s hit job.”
Fat Louie sighed, “No, Joey. You were supposed to take care of Frankie, not take care of him!”
Joey stared in wide-eyed puzzlement. “I’m doing exactly what you said. Do you need me to fluff your pillow, Frankie?”
“Oh, that’d be nice.”
Fat Louie sighed again.
“Honey, I was cleaning out the attic and you’ll never guess what I found,” Frank bubbled with enthusiasm and could not wait for Anne’s reply. “My Soviet flag!”
“Oh, I haven’t seen that old thing in years,” Anne sighed with nostalgia. “It’s too bad we never got to use it. Collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War and all.”
“How naive we were to think the Soviets were going to take over, and we’d need this to show our undying loyalty to the new regime.”
“We were young,” Anne reminded Frank.
“I suppose so,” Frank said, “Oh, that reminds me, I need to practice my Mandarin!”
「中国是个美好的国家。」 said Anne.
Two chickens meet on opposite sides of a busy road.
“Hey,” said one, “you might want to wait until traffic slows down before you cross.”
“Woah!” the other said. “Woah! Woah! Woah! Who do you think you are?!”
“I-I just don’t want you to get run over as you cross.”
“You BIGOT! What makes you think you can just dictate to me when and in what manner I ought or ought not cross the road? You close-minded bigot!”
“I’m not sure that this is a case of close-mindedness. It’s a matter of simple safety—”
“You just don’t want me to cross the road! You’re one of those fundamentalist chickens that believes you have to have a REASON to cross the road! Well, let me tell you something— I was hatched with the innate desire to cross to the other side of the road, and I won’t let any hateful chicken tell me otherwise!”
“I’m just saying you just might want to wait—”
The car was no respecter of chickens, no matter which side of the road they came from.
“We interrupt our regular programming for a breaking Channel 7 Severe Weather Update!”
“Good evening. We’re expecting thunderstorms to move into the area some time tomorrow, but as you can see, there really isn’t anything on the radar. Not really expecting anything for at least another twelve hours … Look, I miss you. It’s lonely here in the Weather Center. Remember when we had that hailstorm three months ago and there was a tornado watch? You had the television on all night, and we stayed up together until the early morning hours? Why don’t we have nights like that anymore?”
“This has been a Channel 7 Severe Mental Breakdown!”
I scramble up onto Mom’s lap, and look into her big blue eyes. “What can I be when I grow up?” I ask.
“You can be anything you want to be,” Mom says with a smile as big and beautiful as the horizon.
Suddenly my mind is full of the possibilities. Anything means anything. Where would I even begin to start considering?
“But,” she says, “you cannot be a giraffe.”
What? I can’t be a giraffe? Now that’s all I can think about! I did not know what I wanted to be until this very moment, and before I can even dream, it’s been taken away from me. I try to abandon contemplations of a long neck stretching, and a black tongue darting out for juicy leaves on the Sub-Saharan wilderness. Every perfect spot, those weird little nub things on the top of their heads, their graceful gallop, everything about giraffes fastens itself permanently to my very soul. I know I must be a giraffe when I grow up, or I will never be truly happy.
I look up at Mom, and she is still smiling up at me. She would be heartbroken if she knew the truth. So I just smile and say, “Wow!”
But I stretch my neck whenever Mom’s not looking.
“What can we do to see you drive home in a brand new Falcon XGC today?” Allen said.
Craig sighed. “Unless you can bring the price down another two thousand dollars, I don’t see how we can possibly make a deal.” Craig got up from his chair.
“Wait! Wait! Sit down. You drive a hard bargain, Mr. Owens.” Allen pulled out a sheet of paper, scribbled a figure on it, and slid it across the desk. “I think you will find this to your liking.”
“Are you serious?”
“A coupon for one free hug,” Allen said, “redeemable at any authorized dealership.”
Michael had died two weeks ago, but you would hardly know it from the state of his side of the apartment. Robert, his roommate, still currently alive, wanted to clean it out and move on with his life, but Michael’s spirit would not allow it.
“Sorry, unfinished business and all that,” Michael’s ghost said with transparent feet propped up on the coffee table. He was watching Toddlers & Tiaras on TLC.
“This is also part of my unfinished business. I need to finish this marathon.”
“It sounds less like unfinished business, and more like you’re just too lazy to move on,” Robert growled. “Just at least let me vacuum your room. The neighbors are starting to talk about the smell.”
“Dude, do you want me to stay haunting this apartment for the rest of your mortal life, or do you want to help give my spirit peace?”
Robert sighed, “I want to give you peace.”
“Good,” Michael said, “Start by bringing me a piece of pie.” Michael’s spirit scratched his ethereal rear end and hawked an ecto-plasmic loogie.
It’s 12:37 AM and I should be asleep;
Instead I’m at my computer working.
It’s 12:54 AM and I should be working;
Instead my mind keeps drifting off to
Other things I could be doing with my time
It’s 1:03 AM and I should be doing something;
Instead I’m watching clips on YouTube
Of skits featuring the Interrupter
From Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
It’s 5:42 AM and I should really stop watching Conan clips;
Instead I have become psychologically dependent
On blurry snippets transferred digitally from VHS tapes.
It’s 9:16 AM and I should be at work;
Instead I’m asleep.
“I’m sorry,” the lumberjack whispered sweetly to his axe, “but you just aren’t all that useful. Sure, you can cut down trees, but you can only cut down so many, and then you need sharpening. It really is a hassle. So I’m throwing you away and waiting for one that’s always sharp.”
The axe said nothing.
“You won’t defend yourself?” said the lumberjack. “How can you? My logic is unassailable.”
The axe said nothing.
“You cannot cut my meat like a knife, and you cannot warm my house in the winter, either,” said the lumberjack. “Can you do anything at all?”
“This is disgusting!” Gerald said pretending to be musing to himself but straining to be heard by everyone. “Look at the trash can. It doesn’t look like it’s been emptied all day. You people live like disgusting pigs!”
Jim and Ted swiveled around in their chairs in unison with puzzled faces.
“This is an office, Gerald,” Jim said. “There’s only paper in the trash.”
“It’s not exactly unsanitary,” Ted added.
“Is it in the trash? Is trash filthy?” They were more statements than questions. “Is this a farm or an office?”
Ted sighed, “It’s an office.”
“Could’ve fooled me,” Gerald snarled.