May 23, 2011

Chairman of the Abhorred V

"While the water's heating, let's talk mutual friends. Small world, isn't it?" The stranger sat on the edge of the motel room's other bed. He took a sip of Mick's scotch and looked at the pint. "Wish you'd gotten a bigger bottle. This is good stuff. Where was I? Ah, yes. The Abrams. An employee of yours, wasn't he? Neighbor of mine. Cute little house over on Trim Street."

Mick's eyes bulged. If duct tape hadn't covered his mouth his jaw might have dropped.

"Nice couple, the Abrams. Sorry to hear about Joe's cancer, right after retiring, and all. And then that burst pipe! On top of everything. Marge said she lost all her family photos."

Mick shook his head, which was an accomplishment as it was tethered to his ankles from behind.

"And then, his pension. You can't foresee these things, though, can you? Not in an unstable economy. Fees just eat things right up." The stranger stood and walked to the hot plate. He stuck a finger in, testing the temperature, and wiped it on his pants. "Not quite hot enough," he said, and went on, "Good thing they had you in their time of need. Yessiree. The flowers were lovely."

A knock sounded at the door. The stranger went to it and squinted through the hole. He turned to Mick. "Oops, we forgot you were meeting someone, didn't we? Not a peep, now," he warned. He cracked the door, and said something Mick couldn't understand. Someone giggled, and the stranger closed the door, smiling.

"She thinks you've switched teams. Offered to join us but I explained you don't like to share." He gave Mick a ribald wink. "Bet the Epi-lady's charged. Let's talk about Joe Abram's chemotherapy and hair loss while we fire that baby up." The Epi-lady hummed to life. He gave Mick a once-over, and chose a particularly thick patch of chest hair.

"This is the Legend IV. The latest technology in epilators. Two speeds and forty individual tweezing discs. Only the best for you, Mick. You can't find these babies just anywhere - they're flying off the shelves!" When Epi-lady bit in, it whined in high gear, muffling Mick's duct-tape sobs.

Chairman of the AbhorredChairman of the Abhorred II
Chairman of the Abhorred III
Chairman of the Abhorred IV

The Saprophyte

"I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without expectations of rewards or punishments after I am dead."


     That's what the saprophyte she told herself (and others). It sounded intelligent. In a cheap, affected way.

     And it was absolutely true. She didn't expect any rewards after she was dead. She was going to enjoy them all while she was alive, thank you very much.

     So she kept her eyes open for the next sucker, and this one fell at her feet like a plump, dumb pigeon. Sick, lonely, and rich. An old whiny wife, and no children. He'd wandered into her bar, dyed hair and cheap gold chains jingling like the proverbial dinner bell. It hadn't been hard convincing him he needed an administrative assistant - one who could meet all of his needs. She was familiar with excel and could tie a cherry stem in a knot with her tongue.

      She scrunched her face in the mirror, this way and that, assessing the need for botox. Probably not. She could more easily remove his glasses, first, with an oh-so-seductive trailing of her press-on nails down his cheek. He'd be eating out of the palm of her hand. She patted her hair extensions, confident of her skills. It would be over so quick it wasn't worth removing his socks.

     He'd be in a generous mood and take her out for lunch, after. It was a good arrangement for them both. He'd celebrate being able to get it up and she'd get the taste out of her mouth. Sometimes he'd invite one of his business associates to join them. That was fine. Gave her a chance to plan ahead. Who knew how long he'd last? Shame he was sick, but a girl had to eat.

May 16, 2011

Tweet This, Baby!

Hoard's Dairyman (@HoardsDairyman) is now following your tweets (@pwpendleton) on Twitter.

There almost aren't words to convey how cool I think that is. I've been reading Hoard's Dairyman since ... since before I could read. I found hours of entertainment in those pages. Chicago cheese markets intrigued as only a child can imagine a bazaar of gaily-tented stalls and people haggling over exotic foods. Yeah, I know, but it was wonderful imagery.

But unlike the reality of cheese markets, the glossy cover has stayed true. Those beautiful letters are still framed with bold red trim, and I smell my Grandfather's wintergreen lifesavers when I see an issue. I hear chains rattling in the barn, and I remember running down the path to find him.

When I was just a little bit older and had my own heifers I had my very own subscription. It was the first periodical to come, just for me, and I wore the hinges out on the mailbox checking for it.

Thirty years later Hoard's is following me on Twitter, and it's cracking me up. In all the right ways.

May 3, 2011

Barn Magic

      All sorts of things have a power which is awe-inspiring in its strength and magical in the mystery of its fount. The surge of the sea, new spring growth on brittle gray branches, the winds of a storm, or a crackling fire - all evince life's energy. The complexity and mystique of its endurance comforts, reassures, and humbles.

     I find it in a barn. Every corner thrums with vitality. Comforting sounds of feet shuffling, chains rattling, water dripping from muzzles, the munching of grain, even the scurry of little gray feet dodging large hooves for a dropped oat morsel. The scents of pine shavings, fresh hay, and the animals themselves, both invigorate but soothe the psyche. Little else brings the contentment one finds closing the barn doors on a cold winter night, knowing all are fed and content, sheltered and safe.
     Even the old, empty barn has a life force. Faded, it clings gently to the ghosts of past occupants. Spiders hang in corners, bits of dust dance in shafts of sunlight, smells linger in spite of being stale. Wood creaks, and rusted hardware eager to be worked thirsts for a bit of oil and a strong hand. Defying the silence, swallows swoop and chatter.
     I slowly close the old heavy doors, remembering and a bit wistful, but also at peace. All is still content here.