Indefinite suspension.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Already reeling from the pain and humiliation from my first suspension, I screwed my life and computer career big time in a series of mishaps that tore apart my relationship with Candace and my co-workers.

After my return after being suspended for a week, I got written up for my unauthorized use of the Internet. That makes it the second time I got written up. Candace was very stern the whole time she talked to me. In a tone of voice that devastated me, she said, “Mike, that makes it twice I’ve written you up. If I write you up for anything at all again, you will be fired. So, you know, don’t screw with me.”

How about that. There’s nothing like coming back from a suspension to find out that my career’s on thin ice. Candace even said so herself. “Mike, you had better be very, very careful from now on. You are now on extremely thin ice.” That made me devastated.

Never mind that I still had a job – I was scared that I was edging ever closer to being fired. I didn’t feel committed to trying harder. What’s the use? No matter what I do, Candace will write me up. I think she’s trying to get rid of me.

I walked somberly back to my desk. I turned on my computer to log in and read my e-mail. Then Candace came up to me and took a look at what I was doing. It was clear she didn’t trust me anymore. “Reading your e-mail,” she said. “Okay, well, I’m going out to lunch. I’ll be back in an hour. Remember what I told you – you’re now on thin ice…”

Candace left. I waited a few minutes to make sure she really was gone. After checking the office that Candace left, I returned to my desk and fired up Netscape to look at some gruesome pics. Just when I started to browse through the disgusting images of messy suicides, I heard Candace say, “Whatcha doing now?” I gasped and immediately kicked the reset button on my computer to activate the reboot. I slowly turned around and faced Candace, not sure if she was going to fire me.

“I saw what you were doing,” she said. “It was really, really disgusting.” I was sweating nervous and breathing hard. Candace said, “If I were you, I would really stay out of the office today and concentrate on cleaning up the closet and the chapel office. Now turn that computer off and get to work.”

With that, she left. On the way out, she stopped and turned to watch me grab the keys to the closet and chapel office. “Come on,” she said. I headed out of the office, with Candace on my heels. It was so embarrassing. She followed me to the closet and when she became confident that I was finally going to do something besides surf the Net, she left me.

Okay, it was time to get something done. I opened the closet door and stepped inside. I started to work, picking up trash off the floor and re-arranged some boxes. I remembered that there were some stuff back at the office that I thought would be better off in the closet. I walked back to the office to fetch some old power cords and some monitor cables. While I was there, I decided to log in my computer.

Ah, what the hell. Candace is gone. Time for a quick surf. I fired up Netscape and went back to the gruesome pics site and continued browsing. Sick pictures, but I loved them. I checked for Candace returning every 30 seconds, and soon, I decided I was pushing my luck too far. Before I closed my session, I heard Candace say, “How does the closet look?” She sneaked in and was watching me the whole time. “Mike, that’s twice I caught you. Come on, let’s see what you did in the closet. You had an hour.”

Candace and I walked to the closet and when I told her that I picked up some trash and re-arranged some boxes, Candace shook her head. “And that took you and hour?” I nodded, feeling extremely scared. “Never mind the closet. I’ll clean up in here. Go clean out the chapel office. And please do NOT get on the Internet again!”

I headed for the lobby to get in the chapel office. Once inside, I threw empty boxes out of the room and cleared some room to walk. Just when I thought I was making good progress towards a job well done, Candace came storming into the chapel, screaming, “Mike! You do NOT throw empty boxes in the chapel!” She yelled, “What if someone wants to come in?”

I just stood there.

“Are you just going to stand there looking stupid or are you going to explain yourself?”

Candace’s yelling had everyone in the lobby staring at me.

“Mike!!” Candace screamed. “Never mind! I’ll clean up the chapel office! You go back to the office and key charges, and remember, if I catch you on the Internet ONE MORE TIME, you will be OUT OF HERE!”

To be continued…

Ian’s endangered legacy.

Steve is desperate. His friend Ian passed away two years ago, leaving behind a legacy that is, as Steve puts it, rapidly vanishing.

“Ian gave it his all,” he says. “He really pressed himself hard to try leaving behind something to remember him by. He wrote songs, novels, screenplays, stage plays, and sitcom teleplays. He also composed musicals, operas, symphonies and music for motion pictures. He left behind so much, yet his parents are intent on destroying it all. That really burns me up.”

I have to admit I was feeling a bit incensed myself when I arrived at Ian’s parents’ house. I was more than ready to confront them over what they had been doing but decided to hear them out first.

“Come in,” Ian’s father Ron greeted me at the door. His demeanor was calm and reassuring, yet did nothing to quench my curiosity for what he had been doing to Ian’s unpublished works. He led me to their bedroom where a startling sight awaited me.

The ceiling over their bed was literally sagging, nearly to the point of breaking.

“There are boxes and boxes of Ian’s so-called works up there,” Ron says. “My wife’s up there trying to bring some of them down now. After she comes down then it’s my turn to go up. Hopefully we’ll ease the load on the ceiling before it breaks. Heck, we don’t even sleep in here anymore, not with the ceiling sagging like that.”

Ron’s wife Karen calls for help as she climbs down from the attic with five boxes in hand. Ron retrieves the boxes, carries them over to his desk and stacks them for me to see. Scribbled on the side of the boxes are the words “Screenplays”.

“What will you do with those boxes?” I asked.

“What else? Throw them away, of course.” Ron answers.

Sensing my rage, Karen removes the lid from one of the boxes, revealing a stack of papers inside. “Take a look at these and tell us what else to do with them besides throw them out.”

I removed the first few pages from the box and glanced at them before it finally started making sense. I put the pages back in the box and offered to carry the boxes out to the edge of the driveway for collection.

“Does it make sense to you now?” Ron asked.

“It does,” I agreed.

For on every single paper that filled each one of the many boxes were just scribbled lines that were impossible to read, almost as if Ian merely touched his pen to the paper and drew one scribbled line right after the next.

Perhaps this was Ian’s real legacy – to bug his parents once last time.

Regrets of a red light runner.

The psychic sat in her car at the busy traffic intersection, patiently waiting for the light to turn green. She practiced some simple breathing exercises and kept herself in tune with the spirit realm during the wait.

Then the light turned green.

As the psychic resumed her commute home, a black Corvette suddenly barrelled across the intersection, narrowly missing her car as it continued ahead without stopping. Clearly the Corvette had run a red light but the psychic wasn’t upset. She knew what to do. She took one last glimpse of the speeding car as she uttered a brief incantation in its direction. Then she smiled. That was all she needed to do.

That night, at the other side of town, the driver of the Corvette lay in bed, trying to sleep. His mind replayed the events of the day, from his bad day at work to his escalating financial problems.

Then came the thought of running that red light on the way home. His eyes opened as a very startling thought entered his mind.

Did I hit someone?

No, he tried to reassure himself. I almost hit that car, but most definitely didn’t hit anyone.

The thought became stronger as he began to visualize a pedestrian standing in the crosswalk at the intersection, staring in horror at his Corvette as it sped towards him. Seconds later, the pedestrian exploded into a bloody mess all over the car, his intestines splattering on the windshield…

THAT NEVER HAPPENED!

The driver suddenly sat upright in his bed, breathing hard and sweating profusely, trying hard to tune out the gruesome scene now playing in his head. That scene did go away, but was replaced by one of him stopping at the local self-service car wash to hose off the pedestrian’s remains.

WHAT??

His bewildered mind now began to play a conversation he supposedly had with the owner of the car wash who stopped by to make sure the equipment was working properly.

“Whoa, what happened there?” the owner noticed the mess on the Corvette, much to the driver’s annoyance.

“Tomatoes,” the driver blurted out.

“Tomatoes have intestines?”

THAT NEVER HAPPENED EITHER!

At this point the driver wasn’t sure what to believe. The harder he tried to convince himself that he never ran over anyone, the harder his conscience acted to induce his guilt and the realization that he did.

Finally, the driver could take no more. he jumped out of bed, got himself dressed and went to turn himself in at the nearby police station. Of course, the police were confused. More convinced than ever over his own guilt, the driver lost control of his sanity and launched into a screaming fit that eventually landed him in a mental hospital across town. Either way, his driving days were now over.

A smile formed on the psychic’s face as she slept. That was all she needed to do.

Operation Bomb Drop.

Your Tequesta Guardians have devised the ultimate plan to get rid of Mike – to drop a bomb on him. This has raised many questions regarding your safety and what to do in case the bomb is dropped. This booklet was designed to answer those questions.

Why A Bomb Drop?

Over the years, our efforts to arrest Mike have failed. In addition to severe lack of police and FBI support, even you – the people we protect – have ridiculed our efforts. Everything we have tried failed to stop Mike. Our only option now is the bomb drop.

How Will It Work?

On the day of the bomb drop, Tequesta will be abandoned except for Mike. We will position our plane to drop the bomb on his hideout and he will be killed.

Our Bomb

The bomb we will use is a hydrogen UA21 bomb. Its explosive force is big enough to blow up the Moon. You can be sure that a bomb with that force can defeat Mike.

Evacuation Procedures

On the day of the bomb drop, you will hear our sirens blaring. Don’t panic. There will be plenty of time for you to evacuate your property. For your convenience, you can find the sirens at the following locations in Tequesta:

  • All Publix, Winn Dixie stores
  • On top of the Jupiter Lighthouse
  • Tequesta Park
  • All traffic signals

You can also listen for the alarm signal on 98.1 FM, WTGN.

When you hear the siren, abandon your property immediately. Disconnect the main fuse in your circuit breaker and make sure your house is directly locked. Then report directly to any one of the following bomb shelters.

  • West Palm Beach Auditorium
  • Palm Beach Mall
  • T’s Lounge
  • Abbey Road
  • Gardens Mall
  • Jupiter Lighthouse

At the shelter, food and clothing will be given out for a nominal fee. Please bring some money with you. Tequesta Guardians will be there to keep you protected and informed of the bombing.

When The Bomb Strikes

When you hear the Tequesta Guardians announce that the bomb is now being dropped, don’t panic! Simply follow this simple procedure to brace yourself.

1. Sit down on the floor.
2. Bend your knees and put your head between the knees.
3. Put your hands around your neck. This will prevent your head from flying off during impact. After impact, you may go home, free from Mike!

And that’s all there is to it! Bye for now!

Things that make noise in the night.

I can’t believe I’m doing this.

Yet I must.

I can’t sleep.

There I was, sitting at my computer at what, 3 o’clock in the morning, going on YouTube for some video with some advice addressing my predicament.

Ah, there it is.

I clicked the screen to start the video.

Welcome. If you’re watching this video, chances are you can’t sleep due to strange noises coming from around your house.

Go on.

It happens to all of us. But don’t worry, I’ll help you pinpoint the source of the noises.

Yes.

Chances are you have some household appliances running, such as the dishwasher in your kitchen or the icemaker in your freezer. And let’s not forget that washing machine and dryer.

None of the above.

Maybe it’s the ceiling fan in the bedroom or your computer nearby, maybe it’s the radio you forgot to shut off, or maybe it’s your next door neighbor’s appliances going haywire.

This is going nowhere fast.

But if the noise sounds like it’s nearby, then nine times out of ten it’s definitely the coffin in your closet.

That’s it.

I know it’s hard losing your loved ones but c’mon, you don’t need to stow away their remains in the closet.

Really?

That’s the source of the noises, the steady shifting of dehydrated internal organs accompanied by postmortem flatulence.

I should have known.

Now that we’ve found the source of the noises, let me give you some advice. First off, you have got to get rid of the coffin. As hard as it may sound, you need to let your loved ones go. Because if you don’t, your bedroom will start stinking real bad and trust me, your neighbors will take notice and suspect foul play. Then what? Your reputation as a kindly neighbor will be damaged beyond repair and your neighbors will never see you the same way again.

You are so right.

Now let’s get that coffin out of there. In a few seconds my boys will be at your door to give you a hand.

A few seconds later, the sound of knocking at my front door sent me jumping from my seat.

How did they know?

Oh wait, real time logging and IP address tracking to my exact geographical location.

Some privacy policy.

I answered the door and three hulking men greeted me, ready to help. Within minutes we loaded the coffin on their trailer and were on our way back to the cemetery. It wasn’t that much longer before the coffin was reburied. I thanked the men and they gave me sympathetic pats on the back as if to understand my situation.

I drove home, relieved that this was over.

At last I could get some sleep.

I crawled into bed and was just about to fall asleep when I heard it again.

From the closet.

A postmortem fart.

The nightmare.

“Daaaaah!”

I sat up in bed with a start, my slumber rudely interrupted by a most frightening dream.

“What’s wrong?” my wife asked, now awake.

“I just dreamt you were buried alive,” I sighed, still regaining my senses while trying to calm myself down.

My wife laughed softly before she replied, “Thank God it was only a dream.”

“Yeah,” I sighed again, “I gotta try not to have that dream again.”

Then I closed my eyes and took some deep breaths before finally feeling my body slowly return to its relaxed state.

Suddenly my calm was shattered by a frightening thought.

My wife’s funeral was this morning.

Scuba diving in the Arctic Circle.

“Okay, guys, we’re nearing the dive site. Time to get ready.”

The captain’s announcement unleashed a flurry of activity onboard the dive boat. Weight belts snapped on as the divers slid into their buoyancy jackets bearing the scuba tanks to fuel the dive ahead, myself being one of them. Even though I was already wearing a dry suit, I was nervous as this was my first time diving in the Arctic Circle. I silently joined the other divers as they secured their final preparations, knowing full well they were just minutes away from diving in some very frigid waters. Some of the divers aboard were seasoned veterans clearly looking forward to the dive while others like myself were nervous and reluctant.

The dive boat slowed down to a crawl, signaling that the dive was about to start. All the divers stood up and lined up towards the stern as one of the crew members dropped the dive platform as the boat inched ever closer to the site. My heart began racing with anticipation of leaping into that ice-cold water without giving my body time to adjust to the sudden temperature change. I kept assuring myself that I was wearing the dry suit that would continue keeping me warm but that did nothing to calm me down.

“Dive, dive, dive!” yelled the captain as the divers began jumping off the boat one by one. Some of the divers were seated along the port and starboard and simply leaned backwards to allow themselves to fall overboard.

That’s when I noticed something strange.

I didn’t hear any splashing of the water, only thuds followed by an eerie silence. And it wasn’t until it was my turn to jump did I realize what was happening.

I too made my jump into the water but only landed on solid ice instead. I looked around and saw everyone else in my dive group just lying on the ice and looking up at the sky.

“Have a nice dive!” the captain shouted.

“What dive?” I asked out loud. “What’s going on?”

“They forgot to clear the ice again,” muttered one of the nearby divers.

Statement regarding the incident of May 4, 2020.

On May 4, 2020, just before leaving for the day, I walked into the restroom with the intent of disposing of the rubber gloves I was wearing during my shift at Home Improvement Megastore. However, I have a tendency to inflate the gloves to the size of beach balls before popping them with my box cutter. The resulting bang does wonders for relieving my stress and giving me a much-needed laugh. I admit I could have done without the enhanced theatrics including screaming “BOMB IN THE MEN’S ROOM!” before running out of the restroom while screaming at the top of my lungs. I sincerely apologize for the chaos that ensued and am willing to pay for the damage it caused to our store.

Losing one’s whoopee cushion.

I don’t know how it started but it didn’t matter. My wife and I were arguing with a couple whom we’d never seen before. Come to think of it, I didn’t even know what we were arguing about, yet the words came out more and more heated as tempers grew shorter and shorter. Suddenly the man reached out and grabbed my wife’s whoopee cushion. That was the low blow. That was the last straw.

As you may know, possessing a whoopee cushion is a rare privilege in today’s society. It gives one the upper hand, the much-needed confidence booster. It permits one to demonstrate superiority and sufficient bragging rights regarding how much better off he is compared to someone else of similar stature.

However, should one lose possession of their whoopee cushion, they lose all the superiority attached to it, including their job. Hence the expression, “losing one’s whoopee cushion”. It is an allusion similar to one’s fall from grace, to be forever disgraced by the absence of the said whoopee cushion.

And here we were, my wife having had her whoopee cushion unwillfully siezed and her life instantly thrown into turmoil. She looked at me with pleading eyes, but what was I to do? I was just as helpless as she was, trying to formulate a strategy to recover her whoopee cushion that would clear as few legal hurdles as possible. Then the woman’s voice interrupted my thoughts.

“We’re going to sue you,” she hissed in anger.

“Can’t wait,” I shot back. Just before we went our separate ways for now, I looked back at the woman, trying to hurl her one last insult to remind her this fight was far from over. Then I caught a glimpse of what helped me come up with the appropriate words.

“NICE UNDERBOOBS, LADY!”

Hidden Lake Key.

My journey through the New Keys led me to Hidden Lake Key, a quaint little island that had every appearance of paradise with its usual arrangement of palm trees, palmettos and hibiscus plants throughout. However, in the middle of it all was a small lake on which the town here was built. Here I stopped at a nearby gas station to fill up, and it was here I got a good glimpse of the local scenery. Then I noticed something unusual.

I could see people walking, others riding their bikes, others peddling their wares from their booths along the road overlooking the lake, yet everyone seemed to avoid looking at the lake altogether. In fact, those walking were wearing special glasses with side shields to keep them from glancing sideways. I asked the gas station attendant about this and he explained, “This is Hidden Lake Key, right? The lake here is what gives it its name, but everyone here thinks it’s hidden only if you don’t see it. Have a nice day and please, don’t look at the lake.”

Heading for home began looking like a viable option at this point, but soon my curiosity about the rest of the New Keys got the best of me and I was back on the road on this strange journey that was set to get even stranger…

To be continued…