Notes from the road, part 35.

This evening I pulled into the town of Bajo Roca after a very rough day of driving brought on by my worsening crises back at home. Oh yeah, my boss, oops, I meant former boss called me and told me not to come back to work. No shit, I wasn’t planning on coming back anyway.

I pulled into the gas station to fill up and grab some munchies but when I walked into the convenience store there was quite a scene going on. Some lady was arguing with the clerk and hostilities had escalated to the point where she was screaming obscenities and insults. When the clerk told her to leave, she screamed, “KISS MY BLACK ASS!” before storming out of the store. That did nothing to soothe my badly rattled nerves.

When it was my turn to pay for the items, it seemed it would become my turn to become hostile. The clerk picked up the carton of chocolate milk for scanning when he paused before telling me, “This is out of date.”

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“This chocolate milk, out of date.”

“THEN WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU SELLING IT THEN!” I screamed at the clerk before I too stormed out of the store. This was not me at all. I’m usually calm, assertive, restrained. This was not me at all. I was just stressed from losing my job and my wife filing for divorce. Why did I let a pint of expired chocolate milk push me over the edge? But I did.

I got in my car and drove past the wretched convenience store while sounding my horn with my middle finger raised outside the window and aimed at the clerk. Fuck him for ruining my day by stocking a pint of spoiled chocolate milk. I felt absolutely horrible from the way I acted in there.

I felt exhausted from my long, stressful day and started looking for a cheap motel. I found a rather run-down looking place I won’t name here, but my deciding to spend the night at this place proved to be a mistake.

The room looked terrible with garbage still on the floor and the bed filthy and unmade. The air conditioner was broken, the toilet kept overflowing and the water from the sink was disgusting. How this motel was allowed to stay in business despite all the health hazards was beyond me.

I took the sheets off the bed and tried to sleep but the mattress was very uncomfortable with its rusty springs offering no support. Just as I was about to drift off to sleep I heard gunfire outside along with screeching tires. That was all I could take.

I attempted to check out of the motel but was told I would still be charged for the night. My complaints went unheard and I ended up yelling “Fuck you!” to the desk attendant. How nice of him to return the compliment with the word “Asshole”. I angrily left and returned to the road, swearing never again to return to Bajo Roca. I later found a roadside park and stopped there for the rest of the night, angry with myself for not choosing this option in the first place. I slept better in my car, way better than that shitty motel.

Moe Howard, self-help author.

One day I was walking around the bookstore looking for a good read when a book suddenly caught my eye. It was entitled Be The Best You Can Be, by Moe Howard.

Wait a minute. Moe Howard of the Three Stooges an actual self-help author? I picked up the book to examine its back cover and sure enough there was a photo of Moe himself, well-dressed in business attire, his hair brushed back and looking every bit the gentleman he was in real life. But this man an actual self-help author? When did he have time for writing while he was busy slapping his fellow Stooges around? No matter. This was definitely the book I wanted.

I wanted to read a few paragraphs from the book but it was wrapped in plastic along with a sticker reading “To be removed after purchase”. Fine. So I went to the cash register, paid for the book and drove home, eager to start reading Moe’s advice for reaching my full potential.

Once I got home, I went to the living room, sat down in my comfy chair and unwrapped the book before starting the first chapter. As soon as I opened the book, a hand suddenly flew out and poked my eyes.

In search of the Mamtaput.

My phone was ringing and I knew who it was before I picked it up.

“Hey Ralph,” I answered.

“Hey Sam,” Ralph greeted. “How are things going down there? Find the, er, what’s that thing called again?”

“Mamptaput,” I replied, “and no, I haven’t found it yet.”

“How much more time do you need? Either document it or come home. I didn’t send you to Jamaica for a free vacation, you know.”

“I am fully aware of that,” I replied. “I think I’ll be headed home soon anyway. From what I’ve gathered so far, the Mamtaput may just be a part of Jamaican legend and may not exist at all.”

“Fine. As soon as you’re packed, see if you can catch the next flight to Fort Myers in Florida. There’s a nearby town called Palmetto Bay that’s got something promising. Have you heard about the legend of the Palm Tree Ape?”

“That’s just another folk tale,” I countered.

“Think so? Some residents there cleared some ground near the woods where they think it lives. The next day they found some size 13 footprints. I think you’ve got a better chance with this one.”

After a moment of pondering I made my decision. “Okay, I’ll go ahead and close the Mamtaput case and start heading to Florida.”

“Good,” Ralph agreed, “Give me a call when you get to Palmetto Bay and we’ll touch base then. I have a list of people who’ll work with you to get the Palm Tree Ape documented.”

“Sounds good,” I smiled. “I’ll talk to you later.”

After I hung up I turned around to see Henry, my host and my sole contact to confirm the existence of the Mamtaput. He had on a face of great concern.

“Are you leaving already?” he gasped.

“I’m afraid so,” I replied. “As far as my research goes, I believe the Mamtaput is only a Jamaican folk legend and does not exist.”

“I’m afraid you’re wrong. The Mamtaput is not an actual creature per se but a mischievous spirit that roams the island at night in search of nonbelievers like you. It will cast you under its spell and take control of your body without it ever being seen.”

“That’s what I read,” I confirmed, “but unfortunately there isn’t any evidence to prove that this is true.”

“Then why are you touching the ceiling?”

After a confused pause, I then realized that I was in fact touching the ceiling without my knowing it. Something, some unseen force, was controlling my arm.

“The Mamtaput,” I whispered.

Henry smiled and pointed at the window where a glowing mist illuminated the dark patio outside. Right away I knew that my trip to Florida would have to wait.

In defence of Space Chase.

I am appalled and disappointed by the response to my web cartoon series Space Chase. I have been accused of plagiarism and attempting to cash in on a certain well-known science fiction franchise on which Space Chase is based.

Yes, the hero is Duke Starswimmer, a young man similar to Luke Skywalker. Yes, his mentor is Elder Wan, inspired by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Yes, the wise teacher is Soga, which bears great resemblance to Yoda. Like Star Wars, Space Chase is an epic story of a battle between rebels and the empire, but under no circumstances am I even trying to rip off the entire Star Wars franchise here.

There are differences in the Space Chase story that sets it far apart from Star Wars. Instead of the Force, the characters practice the Strength that not only moves heavy objects with ease, but it also boosts one’s extrasensory abilities to make them keenly aware of any hidden dangers not normally perceived by normal senses alone.

Also different from Star Wars are the characters. Duke’s parents are both alive throughout the story as is Elder Wan. The sole fatality is Soga, who is apparently killed by an Empirical officer, although he may have executed a last-second maneuver to transport himself to safety. I left that up to the Internet community to decide what really happened to Soga. Instead I get accused of ripping off the Star Wars storyline and its characters.

Never mind that as the story progresses, Duke and his rebels destroy not one but two more battle stations before proceeding to the final battle at Triangle City, the very heart of the Empire. I think it is here that Space Chase truly takes on a life of its own, yet the hate mail I have received seems to indicate otherwise. Yes, Star Wars was an inspiration for Space Chase, but under no circumstances am I even trying to rewrite it. Why go after me as if I’m trying to deface the face of Star Wars?

Why not go after Mel Brooks for daring to make “Spaceballs”? While you’re at it, how about Clint Eastwood for making “Space Bullets”? Or Rob Zombie’s “Space Bowels”? The list goes on and on, yet I’m the worst of them all. Shame on me for cashing in on the Star Wars phenomenon when others can do the same thing and get away with it.

In any case, I have voluntarily removed all 136 episodes of Space Chase from this site and am closing my online store, but not without putting everything on clearance, so if you want a Space Chase T-shirt or some action figures, now’s your chance to get them at insane prices. They’ll be collector’s items some day and maybe then I’ll have the last laugh.

Dark days ahead.

So here we are, one year into the terrifying presidency of Al Bleetworm, 90 years old and the oldest man ever elected. Come to think of it, the only reason he even won the election was because his opponent was many, many times worse. Dan Vilan was constantly accused of fraud and corruption yet constantly played it down despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Sure enough, Vilan’s life of crime finally caught up with him as he now rots away in prison.

President Bleetworm has yet to reveal his so-called “Vision for America” that was to restore our country back to the prosperity everyone is so hungry for. Apparently it involves severing ties with our allies and ensuring our isolation. Some vision. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I ask, does Bleetworm even have eyes?

Just look at him. Constantly squinting with his oversized eyelids and barely looking awake at his press conferences. When standing at the podium in silence, it looks like he’s sleeping. Or dead.

Even more terrifying is Vice President Pal Hefford. He has absolutely no experience in politics yet was chosen as Bleetworm’s running mate when he was spotted working the garbage cans on the street during his garbage truck’s morning run. That’s right, our Vice President is a garbage man. He may not understand the Constitution but he sure knows the location of the nearest garbage dump.

So now we have to turn to the wives for signs of assurance. First Lady Madge Bleetworm may appear cheerful and hospitable but stories have emerged that she spends hours in the kitchen baking pies and cookies for herself and no one else. She even keeps a cleaver nearby to discourage anyone from stealing. That’s not exactly assuring.

Oh, and Second Lady Flowerpot Hefford looks like someone still living in the 1960’s. She is completely out of tune and out of touch. Come to think of it, she acts like we’re still living in the 1960’s while speaking nonstop of flower power and having a nice day. Sure enough, it was her idea to have the walls of the White House lined with smiley face wallpaper and proclaiming Mondays to be “Have a Nice Day Day”. How is that reassuring?

Our country desperately needs competent leadership and assurance that there are brighter days ahead. We have none of that right now. Our so-called President seems intent on making our dark days even darker. We must continue to remain vigilant and strong for the next three years so we can unseat Al Bleetworm and send him back to the nursing home where he belongs.

The legend of Locust Lane.

Recently I went for a long bike ride that took me through the nearby town of Lake Park. Along the way I passed a vacant lot with a very antiquated sign standing along the road. Locust Lane was its name and I sensed it contained quite a bit of history, if only I knew what it was.

The sign marking the entrance to Locust Lane.

After I returned home, I uploaded the above picture to a Facebook group devoted to memories of places long since gone from the Palm Beaches. It got plenty of likes along with this reply:

Why is that horrible place still there? It’s been condemned for years, yet the County won’t touch it. I don’t blame them, though. You want to know how Locust Lane got its name? Well, I’ll tell you.

During the 1940’s a team of surveyors arrived at that very spot to start the measurements. One of the surveyors, a William Macz, stepped on a mound of dirt that triggered a flood of locusts as large as rats that ate him alive. So swift was the attack that moments later, Macz’s skeleton was seen standing upright with its jaw still gaping in terror. The other two surveyors fled the scene and never returned. They later christened the lot Locust Lane but the legend had already circulated around town to the point of the lot remaining forever vacant.

As for the giant locusts, they have never been seen again, but some suspect that they are still sleeping in their underground nest, waiting for their next unsuspecting victim to devour into giant locust shit.

GrinLeaper

Donald Trump just nailed it

For five minutes the meeting was unable to proceed due to the room filled with uproarious laughter.

“Oh man, that’s a good one!” gasped online publisher Pill Balmer.

But staff writer Hobert Rarrington remained adamant. “Think of the traffic that headline will bring to Balmer Report. I think it’s going to be the most clicked link on the entire site. Our revenue from the ads will fly through the roof!”

“But here’s the problem, though,” Balmer leaned forward. “I want our site to focus on factual reporting. It’s the one thing that separates us from the other political news sites. I don’t mind using that headline but we need facts to back it up.”

“That’s going to be tough,” Journalist Khirley Sennedy spoke up. “Trump’s been pretty much out of the public eye since he left office. He hasn’t made any public appearances anywhere, much less gave any interviews. And with him banned from the major social media sites, he can’t reach out to anyone anymore. Bummer, there’s really nothing to back up that headline.”

“Unless,” fellow journalist Sames Jullivan spoke up, “we look at ‘nailed it’ in a literal sense, as in actually using a hammer and nail to say, hang some pictures.”

“Hanging pictures? That’s news?” Balmer balked.

“At least we’ll get to use that headline.”

Donald Trump just nailed it

Nowadays former President Donald Trump stays busy by hanging pictures in the hallway of his South Florida home using none other than a hammer and some nails…

Adventure Poll #37.

Results of yesterday’s poll:

Open parachute – 0%
Recite magic spell – 0%
Do nothing and hope this is a dream – 0%

You land on the ground with such force that your life functions cease immediately. As a result your adventure has reached a tragic conclusion with the treasure forever lost. Good luck next time.

Tomorrow: A new adventure begins with a trek through a haunted house!

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.