NVDT Random – Mo Mo Mo SepSceneWrimo

Jackson had sweated his way through his dollar-fifty black and gray thrift shop bowling shirt, thought he might be living out his last day. He swore if he got home in one piece he would never be so stupid again.

He’d walked out of his apartment three days ago to see a couple of white guys, some cholos, a skinny black guy, and a girl who looked too young, all jacking parts off his primer gray ’64 Impala. They were loading his battery, trunk mounted spare tire cover, big Holley carburetor, and the two wheels facing the street into a shit brown Dodge van. And laughing. He’d yelled “Hey! What the fuck?” and started towards them. One of the white guys pulled a knife that looked like a machete.

Once they’d gone, like a real pussy, he’d whined to his neighbors in the funky little house next door who’d come out to watch. He could hear everybody from the pajama tux summer. Don’t be a whiner. Don’t be that guy.

Well, he’d been that guy and now he was sitting in a Karpet King van in the parking lot of a new condo complex almost on the ocean in Carlsbad, San Diego County. Everything was new. The monstrous nickel-plated forty-four magnum resting on the window sill of the van fit right in with all the fresh paint, shiny doorknobs and mail drops. Jackson mentally added never tell a neighbor you don’t know very well you need to make some quick cash to his list of rules to live by.

The sharp-dressed man with the gun had folded the van’s mirrors in, told Jackson to turn the rearview mirror to the dash, keep his hands on the wheel and look straight ahead. And don’t be stupid.

“Like bein’ here in the first place?”

“Comedian, yeah? I like it.” Magnum man, casual. Like everyone made small talk with a forty-four magnum in their hand. “You owe the dudes give you this van money or something?”

“No, man,” Jackson said from the back of his throat. “I’m getting paid.”

“Good for you. Clean is the only way, man. You kinda look like a dude could be from Karpet King, you know? So you get stopped, you’re not high, you been layin’ carpet all day, don’t know who put that shit in your truck.” He glanced at the rear of the van for a split second. “Me, I don’t mess with coke no more, ‘cept as business. The only time I ever wanted some was right after I did some, you know? So if I don’t do it, I don’t want it.”

“I knew a girl once who said that about sex. I tried to study on it a couple of times. Didn’t help much. Couldn’t pay attention.”

“Sex or blow?” They both laughed a small, tight, quiet laugh. Magnum man shot the shit with him about how girls shouldn’t put so much stiff crap in their hair like they did, and how short bangs were shit on kids and grown women should forget it. How Art Monk was the only keeper in the first round of the draft. How the nine-and-seven Rams even made it to the Super Bowl just to get their asses kicked was all politics. They both heard the back doors of the van close. The big gun came off the sill of the van, back but still straight on him. Magnum man reached in his sport coat pocket, handed Jackson a postcard from a Santa Barbara motel and a Mapsco page.

“Drive back to El Lay, smart and easy, like the working man you are. Drop the van at the address in the ‘to’ box. The map’s marked up for you, same as how you got here. Park the van, forget where you left it, take a walk. Like a mile or so. Call a friend or a cab.”

Jackson followed the directions to the letter. He didn’t have cab money but his neighbor Star had a POS Pinto that ran okay since he’d worked on it for her, and a soft spot for him since he’d been keeping an eye on her daughter after school and helping her with homework. He called Star, waited for her in an industrial cleaning company parking lot just off the Gardena Freeway in Rancho Dominguez. A perfect place to disappear. Every set of headlights that went by he wondered if that hadn’t been the plan all along.


When he climbed out of Star’s Pinto at their apartment building a young kid in a beanie appeared, handed him an envelope, disappeared back into the night. Inside the envelope was the rubber-banded six hundred dollars in twenties he’d been promised. He’d heard it was worth more, but he hadn’t crossed a border. And he was alive. He peeled three twenties off the top and handed them to Star.

“Enough? More?”

“If you have a couple of pizzas in that envelope that can be here before Sky’s bedtime we’re three times better than good for a short run up Long Beach Boulevard.” Star rarely smiled, but she one arm hugged him before going around to her door. “I have a couple of cold beers. Medium pepperoni with extra cheese for Sky and she’ll really think you’re a god. Get you and me something with more than one vegetable, along with this?” She held up the sixty bucks. “I might agree with her.”


The third time the neighbors informed him that he was driving again they told him, as usual, “Tomorrow at seven. Pick up the van out front, deliver the postcard”.

The next morning there was no sign of his neighbors. No cars, no lights, the house quiet. He kept his fingers crossed all day, but at six-fifty-five a white Chevy van from Valorian Commercial Janitorial Services rolled up. A female, her face obscured with a scarf and hooded sweatshirt left the keys and postcard in the seat, walked away.

The address was an apartment complex in Yukaipa, San Bernardino County. A long drive. When he arrived the gun was back.

“This time you’re the dude drops those stinky blue biscuits in the pissers? Fuckin’ truck stinks, my man.”

Jackson stared at some early Halloween decorations children had taped to an apartment window. “It does. And this was a drive.”

“Not much different than the last two, this is just more out of the way. Ex-urban, they call it. Like Uptown. You know, where the fuck is Uptown? Between the ‘burbs and Downtown? And like which way? North? Is south of the 10 Under town? What’s way the fuck past East town?”


“That’s why I’ll miss you, compadre. This is your last run.” He could feel Jackson tighten up from outside the van. “No, dude, you won’t be dead unless you get lost. There’s a toker’s party pack under the passenger the seat for you, no blow because it’s bad for you. Going away present. That girl in your wallet, she special?”

“Used to be. How do you —”

“Been all through your shit. You ever do this again, nothing in your wallet but your license and some cash. Girl that pretty, somebody might get ideas. You’re a good guy, Jackson. You follow directions and don’t talk.” He lit a black and gold cigarette with his non-gun hand. “I gotta let the LB cool for a time. Those badasses hassled my guys livin’ in that house next door to you? They weren’t beginners. Didn’t steal nothing, just scared my guys into shitting themselves, put their minds in diapers. So bad I have to get a new crew.” He popped a couple of smoke rings, studied his smoke.

“Didn’t see those dudes coming, Jackson. I pay, you know, so I see the locals, the government. This was some private fuckin’ army out of nowhere fucked up my crew. Bad motherfuckers, not head cases. Professional, quiet. Kind of guys make shit vanish. Like dictators or coke dealers or anybody pisses them off. So badass they scared me and all I saw was what they left behind. I thought you might be connected, so I went deeper on you. I know, you haven’t ripped me off, lightened your load or made any contact. But maybe you have some friends. Had to check. Business is business.”

“I don’t know —”

“That’s why you get a going-away present. If you did know we’d have to stop being friends. Then you’d be dead. And even if you don’t know nothing about some crew of invisible badasses I’m thinking, you know, maybe I’d be dead right behind you. Two good looking dudes like us? That would break a lot of hearts.” Magnum man held the gun down at his side, patted the door of the van. “Here’s your postcard.” He waved his hand casually as he stepped back. “Whose idea was the piss biscuit truck?”

“I thought you picked them. Like these guys owed you money, you borrowed the trucks.”

“Too much work, too many people. My man Lonnie usually steals them but he took up with a stripper, her boyfriend didn’t think much of him. So I used that red-headed guy this time. He must not like you.”

“Yesterday, when they told me to make this run? He said I looked like a guy who drove a Chevelle SS and stole his girlfriend.”

“He thinks everybody looks like that guy. Wasn’t you, was it?”

“No. Know how he feels. Mine got stolen by an old college in England.”

“You gotta feel better about that, though, than if it had been some skinny dude from Modesto with a SS and perfect hair. That shit could really turn you. Especially the hair. Hard to argue with the SS, but a bitch could let you know you need to up your style before she walks, you know?”

NVDT Random – Even Mo SepSceneWrimo ad nauseum

Yesterday was Philip Stanhope’s birthday. Three cheers to a man who knew what to do with a boring book!

“Sheeapollous, Cina. What the hell?”

Cina flung the mess from her hands, ran them under a small waterfall that appeared spontaneously. “Thanks, Teth. You’re a real Goddess. You’ve heard of crappy books?”

“Oh Big Z, yes.” Teth sidestepped the muck that puddled around her friend. “They’re everywhere. Every asshole with ‘cus’ or ‘otle’ or ‘es’ in his name thinks they need to share their wit and wisdom. What is all this, um…”

“Shit? Crappy. Books. In our day I’d have the odd scroll turn up, more as commentary on the author from a peer. Most of the time they’d biodegrade on their own and I wouldn’t have to lift a finger. But now? They’ve really kicked it up.” She toed a mass of pulp. “That’s Homer. Was Homer. And…” she turned left, right, “yes… that’s Zeno. Or Zeno reconstituted by some idolator. They can’t think for themselves these days, it’s all rewrites and posturing. The sheer amount of Rowling fan fic alone would clog Okeanos if I took a day off.”

“That explains Big Z rounding up some help for you from the lute layabouts. What are they doing down there that’s caused this strain on the systems?”

“You won’t believe me, Teth. And really, a Goddess of your demeanor, you don’t want to know.”

“Don’t bullshit a bullshitter, Cina. Goddess to Goddess, what’s the deal?”

“Well, I blame Philip. Back in what, 1747? It wasn’t his idea, really, but he did spread it around. And now with this Covid-19 thing and toilet paper being in short supply, it’s escalated to the point where…Well, look at me! Covered in shit from one end of the rainbow to the other and nowhere near caught up. It’s…I don’t know, Teth. Just too much.”

“If there was an answer in there, Cina dear, I missed it. What, no look at me, what, exactly, are they doing that’s got your sewers in such a state?”

Cina looked Teth in the eyes, fought back the tears. “They’re ripping pages out of shitty books and making them shittier.”

“How can a shitty book possibly become –”

“By wiping their asses with them!”

There was a long, pregnant silence. Teth erupted in un Goddess-like laughter.

“Oh Big Z! Cina, how horrible. It’s bad enough they were crappy in the first place, but now? Dear Big Z…” Her laughter diminished to giggles and she raised the small fountain over Cina’s head and let it run till Cina was sparkling clean. “Now there’s a presentable Goddess.  Let’s go see how Z’s doing with rather-be-luting-than-working crowd. They need to get off their asses anyway and get to musing. There’s as much shitty music going around as there are shitty books.”

“Don’t I know it. Good for me their media is incompatible with the function and won’t fit in their current disposal system or I’d really be in deep shit.”

“That’s the best part about being a Goddess. Never having to deal with, you know, poop and all that.”

Cina shot her a look.

“Sorry, C. I mean unless poop is like your job.”


Excerpt of a letter from Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, to his illegitimate son Philip. 12/17/1747

-I knew a gentleman, who was so good a manager of his time, that he would not even lose that small portion of it, which the calls of nature obliged him to pass in the necessary-house; but gradually went through all the Latin poets, in those moments. He bought, for example, a common edition of Horace, of which he tore off gradually a couple of pages, carried them with him to that necessary place, read them first, and then sent them down as a sacrifice to Cloacina: this was so much time fairly gained; and I recommend you to follow his example. It is better than only doing what you cannot help doing at those moments; and it will made any book, which you shall read in that manner, very present in your mind. Books of science, and of a grave sort, must be read with continuity; but there are very many, and even very useful ones, which may be read with advantage by snatches, and unconnectedly; such are all the good Latin poets, except Virgil in his “AEneid”: and such are most of the modern poets, in which you will find many pieces worth reading, that will not take up above seven or eight minutes. Bayle’s, Moreri’s, and other dictionaries, are proper books to take and shut up for the little intervals of (otherwise) idle time, that everybody has in the course of the day, between either their studies or their pleasures.


Cloacina – Greek Goddess of Sewers

Tethys – Greek Titan Goddess of fresh waters



NVDT Random – Happy Birthday Sam

For all you research-aholics and etymology nuts, today is Dr. Samuel Johnson’s birthday.

You teach your daughters the diameters of the planets and wonder when you are done that they do not delight in your company.


“The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”

The Godfather of the English language Dictionary.

What? You thought Oxford did that? Nope. They did print theirs in such a small font it comes with its own magnifying glass. Which is okay or it would take up a room of my house were it legible to the naked eye.

Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.

It’s not that Johnson invented the dictionary, but until his came out English was left wanting for one. To publish a dictionary was trending in 1755 and Johnson wasn’t without criticism from fellow bibliophiles, one of whom called the work an “ingenious performance”, but the style of the work “flatulent”.  Johnson got there first and took the heat and pressure like a gentleman, admitting he was frightened of the books very existence. He hoped it might “make it easier for some other adventurer to proceed further…”

The advice that is wanted is commonly not welcome and that which is not wanted, evidently an effrontery.

Thanks, Sammy! Now about higgledy-piggledy being a corruption of higgle and higglers? You should know that it is still used today by professional football coaches, T-Ball coaches, English teachers, parents, befuddled sales managers, police spokespersons and school principles when they need a synonym for “that’s all kindsa fucked up” and can’t say “that’s all kindsa fucked up” without offending the perpetrators of higgledy-piggledy.

Grandparents were excluded from that list because I know one who might say “Grant, buddy? That’s all kindsa fucked up.”

All the quotes are Johnson’s

NVDT Random – Even Mo SepSceneWrimo Redux – Talkin’ Politics

Munro scrunched up through the scrub oak, held his hands out to the fire. He lifted his club foot in the direction of the cast iron skillet resting on a piece of shopping cart frame over the fire.

“Where’d you get the skillet, Stefan?”

“Farmer woman. Up the road some.”

“You stopped for a chat?”

“Some. She was hangin’ out her woman wear on the line there in back. Said she’d be glad to hep me out.”

“An you stole her goddam skillet? Last time you stole somethin –”

“She give it to me. An we come out good on them tools we pawned outta that El Camino.”

“You kept that piece a shit El Camino, damn near got us throwed in jail.”

“How’d I know the damn thing had a geo-locater an that shiny shirt jackalope hadda stole it an them tools before we stole ‘em from him, huh?”

“You coulda asked ‘fore you stuck him.”

“Coulda. But there weren’t the time. Fella’d been a sport I wouldna had a kill him.”

“Coulda made time. Lucky the cameras were out at that Walmart an the po-leece didn’t see who parked it.” Munro sat on an upended cinder block close to the fire. “Not thinkin’ an reactin’ is how you fuck up, Stefan. Now you done killed that woman for what? A skillet?”

“I told you she give it to me. ‘Sides. Thought it might come in handy.”

“Maybe so. What’s that you’re cookin’.”

“Fryin’ biscuits. She give some Bisquick, too.”

“Fryin’ in what?”

“Bacon grease.”

“An where’d you get that?”

“Bacon, where else?”

“She give you some of that, too?”

“Bacon, Bisquick, eggs,” he pulled a block of Tillamook sharp cheddar from his jacket pocket, “this here cheese. Told her I didn’t have no way to keep yogurt or none of the green stuff. Did get half a cooked roast beef in the bag there, and some sweet corn.

“And she gave you all that. This’s got nothin’ to do with them cop cars running red an hot up 61 a while ago?”

“Coulda. Didn’t hit her all that hard. She’d a stopped carryin’ on after offrin’ to hep a man out I’d a left peaceful like.”

“At least you didn’t steal her car.”

“Mebbe that’s true and mebbe it ain’t. See, I been thinkin’. You an that foot slow us down, so mebbe the trains an hoofin’ it all over ain’t my idea a no hobo picnic.”

“You’re the one fucked up my foot, so don’t start complainin’. An look here, I’m getting’ up a letter to my congressman ‘bout how the whole world needs to get right with any kinda disability, don’t matter if it’s somethin’ wrong with one person in two hunnert million, by God we need to bend over backwards if need be to accommodate ‘em. An America needs to lead the way.”

“You sayin’ we need a block an tackle in front a every Seben Elebin to drag some handicapped lard-ass outta their subsidized, customized dump truck and inside the store there we need talkin’ Diet Coke cans an Cheeto bags so some dyslixical retard can buy shit they don’t need?”

“What I’m sayin’.”

“An who’s gonna pay for that, Munro?”

“Everbody out there that ain’t got a lick wrong with ‘em, and Seven-Eleven. An Coke and Cheetos. They all got money.” He reached for the skillet. “Them biscuits look done to me.”

Stefan wrapped his coat sleeve around his hand, grabbed the skillet’s handle, threw the biscuits and grease in Munro’s face. Munro screamed, Stefan slammed the skillet into the back of Munro’s head, sent him face-first into the fire where he stayed. Stefan kicked the dead man’s club foot, tossed the skillet on top of him.

“Told ya it’d come in handy.”

Ever wonder about unsolved homicides? Talk politics.


NVDT Random – Mo SepSceneWrimo Redux – With a Writerly Concern

-Vermillion’s dead, he said, taking a worn wooden stool at the sidebar, pushed aside a fake fishing net and starfish that had come un-thumbtacked from the wall.

-Vermillion? He’s the one could fart a hurricane?

-That’s him. You drinkin’?

– Sure.  He held up two fingers to the bartender. -I remember he ate burnt toast.

-He ever give a reason?

-Digestion. What he claimed, anyway. He took a long pull from the fresh mug that landed in front of him, wiped his white and black beard.

-There’s digestive crackers for that. Baking soda. And Charcoal, Beeno. Simethicone. That’s what they gave me after that woman rebuilt my asshole, simethicone. Said it was to keep me from blowing out their handiwork. Gave me a damn prescription for it. I took it in, handed it off and the Indian woman behind the counter, she got all pissy, took me out to where the Rolaids and Tums were at, folded her arms all ‘got it, dumbass?’

-Did it help?

-Some. You have to take that stuff in anticipation that you’re gonna fart to knock it back. You got a jalapeno sausage bloat workin’ you’re already gonna fart, it’s just gonna help you keep it moving and not cramp up.

-Vermillion would say, bein’ tighter’n a squirrel on a nut, everyone who spent money on antacids and all that ought to burn some toast. Fresh charcoal, best as there was for a fartin’ man.

-He would know.

-Yep. Burnt toast. He liked his eggs runny, too. Hell to eat breakfast with.

– To burnt toast and runny eggs. He lifted his mug. -Vermillion!


-That is like so totally mega gross. She’d silently appeared at the bar, taller than both of them, even if they’d been standing. White leotard, black velvet vest, white tights, a stiff tulle spinner skirt. -Runny eggs? Massive Ewwww factor. Did your mom ever make you eat poached eggs? The ones on a stand like an overgrown golf tee and you have to hit the baby chicken on the head with a spoon to open it and it’s all runny and completely I’m-calling-technicolor-yawn gross? Mine tried. No way, Jose.

-Well, Vermillion…

-I heard. Burnt toast and runny eggs. Did he eat them off the golf tee? Mom said maybe dad should try them for golf, the little runny egg stands? Cause he sure cussed like a sailor, oh, sorr-eee, but he did. I know ‘cause I went with him sometimes until, well, they wouldn’t rent him one of those little cars if I was there. Talk about borrrrrr-ing. Ohmahgawd. I wanted to go with mom, but he said she and her friends played liquid golf and I’d be in the way. So…after too many beers, I like forget how many, no way dad could have hit that ball even like off the big yukky egg tee. I mean, he was like totally digging holes with that club thing and cussing me and the ball and God and… Would either of you, um, gentlemen, be pirates?

-Um…no. Miss, we’re –


-No. No, I don’t think –

Dammit. She drummed her fingers on the bar. -Ohmawgawd, sorr-eeee. Next door, we’re like rehearsing in that warehouse? And, well, like the director and the choreographer are like going at it you know like divorce court on crack only they’re not married or anything, and, well because we were like standing around for-ever while they argued I said to everybody like screw this. We’re by the ocean, so somebody should know, right? So, they said like fine, Logan. Go next door to that ratty assed sailor bar, um, sorreee, but like it is, kinda, and find a goddam pirate and like ask him. But then they said all I’d find was alcoholics, but maybe that would be okay, too, just like come back with an answer. But…well, foo… She looked around the mostly empty bar. -I can’t like find a pirate or an alcoholic. I mean there’s the mega cheesy pirates at Disneyland. I know. I worked there for like, um…

-P’rhaps me auld matey mis spoke, lass. Aw doanae wan it oot among ‘em as wud ‘av me in gool, but if it’s a pirate yer seekin’ Awl be ‘im as yer lookin’ fer.

-Really? Ohmahgawd. You even like sound like a pirate!

-At yer service, lass. An whut wud ya ‘ave us give answer tae oon awl?

-Okay. Like, the dance, well the music… well, um, all of it, it’s like totally not what I’m used to. It’s like a pirate song. I think. With sound effects and a ship on the stage that rocks, you know, back and forth like when your gramma has taken her night-night pills and is still in the rocking chair? They’re like whipping each other, the ship dancer people, and I’m dancing a solo and there’s this like totally ginormous whoooooosh and that… And like I, well I’m a classical dancer and these people are like modern, which is okay, you know, I’m not like, um, prejudiced or anything, but in ballet we, well, my teachers always said like Logan, dear, you have to know what the fuck you’re doing next or someone will get hurt. So, um, like I have always been, you know, curious about next. And these people… Well, my friend that’s like doing the effects? He says it gets to that part and they don’t know whether to shit or wind their watch and, like, he’s totally right! So…

-Thur wasnae question in awl that oonless Aw missed ‘er.

Well, that’s the argument, see? The whips and the whoosh…What does blow the man down mean? I mean not in like a naughty way, like guys would think, but like for real.

-Aye. Thur’s tha one as thinks it’s sails oon ships oon another ‘as a mind tae whips?

-Wow… that is like so totally psychic! Yes! Like the big whoosh and the song is saying blow the man down and then there’s like all these dancer people on the ship only like in silhouette? With whips? And other dancer people are falling down…and, well like the whoosh… She bent her left knee, right leg out, toe down. -I’m in Battemont Fondu, right? She held it before bending at the waist, arms sweeping wide. -Then there’s like the whoosh. She bent backward, head almost touching the floor, her arms waved fluidly from wrist to wrist. She popped back up, elbow on the bar. -Someone is supposed to catch me there, being all like blown over and everything? But he was like too busy being whipped, you know, and the choreographer is like picking me up yelling at the director fuck the whips, Daphne, where’s fucking Bruce? And like my butt’s bruised and —

-Bloo the man doon?


-As daft wee pups we ‘erd oot as a whippin’ men took as thee wen tae sea. Didnae noo till later it was hoo a ship rigged oop wit awl ‘er sails oopen took a fookin’ goost a wind whut blowed ‘er o’er. Man-o-war blowed o’er, lass, as ‘at’s yer whoosh.


-Aye. Warship, lass. Cannons she’d ‘ave ‘ad a plenny. O’er on ‘er side oon she wouldnae float noo moor. Bloo tha man doon they’d say uv it.

Like Captain Blood!?

-A wiser lass, I couldnae dream uh. Captain Blood. Aye. Didnae noo no bitter pirate as eever sailed. An oon again tae yer oon troubles, lass. It’s as both’em, yur answer. A wind blown foul –

And the whips? Both? Oh. Mah. Gawwwwwwd! That is like so mega fantastically awesome. Everyone is happy! Like, um the beard, no way, and well… She blew the pirate a kiss… -Thank you!!!

They watched the tutu retreat.

-A pirate, huh?

-Aye, the other’s face wrinkled with silent laughter.

-And that happened when?

-I read an Irvine Welsh book once. All the pirate I’ll ever need.

-Are you sure Scotts is acceptable for pirate?

-Yoda want you, it is? Inside backwards out and? Think you not willing am I such to stoop.

-So, your pirates are always Scotts?

-Unless they’re not. Errol Flynn didn’t have an accent in Captain Blood.

-Proving what?

-Accents are one of those quacks-like-a-duck things. Her imagination didn’t have to work in the movie. Without visuals, it needed a little help. And that’s all we need to give them. A gentle shove in the right direction.


NVDT #57 – Hangin’


Prompt – What do you love most about your current project?

I have four WIPs languishing. Five if you count a collab stuck off in the Twilight Zone.

I nearly finished the latest, The Great Kerrigan Bank Robbery (or maybe just Kerrigan). It is a romantic thriller in the vein of North by Northwest if Elmore Leonard and Tarrantino got involved. Male protagonist has a hard time trusting the female protagonist. However, Covid sent them off into the weeds and it lost its sense of humor. It also has WAY too many characters. All of that is fixable.

What I love least is that it’s first-person. But a recovered sense of humor will ease that.

What do I love about any or all of them? The characters and what they get up to, and that I get to tag along. From musicians to feminists, a pair of rich, gay fairy godmothers, swamp rats and lawyers, dodgy pilots and conspirators, drug runners, an all-female heavy metal shred band full of classically trained cellists,  murderous bikers, a Valley Girl ballerina, a potty mouth 12-year-old and an Irish Wolfhound and a studio pool of extras – what’s not to like?

My new mantra, though, is finish, buff, and get them out of the hard drive. At least four of them. The collab may rot in good-idea-gone-missing hell forever.

Here – Kerrigan 1

The lanky, cat-like mid-thirties black guy, overdressed in a trendy, peg-legged weird shade of blue straight-out-of-the-Sixties suit brushed his hands together like he’d somehow gotten dirty climbing the dusty 2×12 plank stairs. He beamed a thousand-watt smile in my direction. “You don’t look surprised to see me, Casper.”

“Security cam out front pops up on my phone.” I tapped the Otter Boxed device on the table in front of me. “This is my ‘go fuck yourself’ face.” I watched him process his good ol’ buddy-buddy fail, showed him some of my own dental work. “You should take the Company’s Reading People 101 refresher, Tave.”

“Ease up on a brother, Comparo. That was what, a year ago? We’re good. Now…” he looked around at what amounted to my office. A dusty loft, no walls or rails, furnished with a long plywood and sawhorse map table, three folding chairs and a couple of used to be coffee creamer beige, now rusting around the edges 4 drawer filing cabinets. All overlooking the concrete floor of an abandoned galvanized small private plane hanger in deep south nowhere Texas.
“You’re doing okay.” So far he was batting 100% meaningless in the convo department, something I remembered he was good at.

“I haven’t flown in a year, thanks to you people.”

“By ‘you people’ I hope you mean the agency. The world is rife with enough tensions. You and me?” He shrugged, hit the smile again. “We used to be good together. From here it looks like you got yourself a private pontoon plane you use for overpriced fishing trips to nowhere and off the radar asset movement. You have a King Air at your disposal that belongs to some Indian tribe and you fly the oily’s private MD80 all over the damn planet.”

“I’m along for the ride. Those flight plans are all filed under a valid license.”

“A valid license…” He cut the smile, stopped pacing. “A license that’s doing a quick run through a shredder when the FAA finds out it belongs to a man so far gone and fucked up he can’t piss on his own shoes when he’s standin’ up.”

“Show some respect, asshole, he’s a vet like you and me. Only Viet Nam.”

“A dirty war before our time. And not a vet so the VA would know. The oily’s paying his bills to keep the government, your government, away from you. Since we’re calling asshole, you do fly, asshole, you just have to be somebody else doin’ it.” He took a step closer, tilted his head forward in a big drama black dude quizzical gangsta look. “Why is that with the oily? Huh? You got something on him, some kinda kink or –”

“My first job as a civilian after Allfuckedupistan, I pulled his daughter out of a sex with underage girls cult disguised as a religious militia.”

“Crazy perverts in the name of God. She want out, or was it daddy’s idea?”

“She was messed up. He wanted her back. I got her out. End of story.” Not. The girl came along, willingly. On the way out she’d grabbed the Browning 45 from my waistband and screamed variations of ‘Stupid horny motherfuckers’ every time the pistol barked in the direction of one her ex-cult brothers. Too bad she wasn’t much of a shot, but the horny motherfuckers were far from courageous in the face of gunfire, so she was more of a help than a hindrance in her own escape. Ten years later she looked up at the sky and laughed before she did a swan-dive off a rope bridge in Colorado. Her father was still grateful for what he called the ‘gift’ of those ten years. I wasn’t sure if his daughter would’ve called them that. To break that thought zone I pulled a small Cuban cigar from a box on the table.

“Want one? Cuban, gluten free.”

“No contraband today. Company car.”

“Then I’ll spare you.” I tossed the cigar back. I needed a non-gluten-free Modelo dark to go with it anyway.

He started running his mouth, but I’d found the problem with his suit and wasn’t listening. It was the color of the damn thing. The Turquoise Blue that came in the big box of 64 crayons. One of the colors I could never find a use for. It wasn’t blue, or blue-green or any kind of sky I’d ever seen blue. My mother had plenty of Navajo turquoise and it sure as hell wasn’t that color. That’s the problem with too many choices. The original box of 8 was all you really needed. Crayons and friends and shades of good and bad. Limit your choices, limit your exposure to useless. Like the guy in the suit in front of me.

“Are you keeping up, Paro?”

To be honest, I’d quit listening to him a year ago, could have walked around the desk and thrown him off the loft and been too busy trimming nose hair or tweezing belly button funk to go to his funeral. I couldn’t tell him that, CIA and all. The best I could do with crayons on my mind was “That suit of yours is the most useless color known to man.”

“Yeah? Well…” His sartorial rhetoric was part and parcel of who he was. He dug into his well of snappy comebacks. “Fuck you.” Like he meant it. But I could see he was wounded. Desk guys make lousy field guys, even if they went to West Point on a football scholarship. We eyed each other for about the length of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western standoff. A little longer than required, almost enough to be comedic. I folded before I laughed and ruined it.

“What the fuck you want, Tavius?”

“You.” He flipped a 6×8 manila envelope on the table. The same envelope I’d handed over to a spit-shined young Marine a year ago after verifying the contents were all me. I opened it, pulled out a stack of folded FAA paperwork. My licenses, everything. I was legitimate to fly again. Anything that flew. My military experience, all my certifications, my whole packet. “I, we need you to fly again. Legally.”

“Last time I flew for you when I didn’t know it was you I was flying for, I lost all this. And a recently overhauled Beech D18 I liked better than most people I know, including some family.”

“You were compensated.”

“I got fucked.”

“Yeah,” he yipped a chihuahua laugh, “and she’s coming back. In fact, she’s no more than,” he checked some Dick Tracy electronics on his wrist, but it was an act. He was being fed through what looked a small piece of soda straw stuck to his ear. “Twenty-five minutes behind me. And closing. So…we need to hit it and get it.”

“Who is this ‘she’ behind you? I don’t like female clients. They –”

“End up dead? You liked the last one well enough.” He was enjoying himself. Too much. “Cavanaugh Moreno. Remember her? On her way. In a yellow Fiat convertible.”

“Cav’s dead. I saw –”

“You saw theater. She had a blood bag taped to prototype body armor.” He smiled at something, probably me thinking Cav was dead, face down, all that blood…I wanted to explode, maybe choke him till his head popped.

“You two weren’t supposed to get along,” he paused, his brain stuck somewhere, trying to tell a sanitized version of an unsanitary story. “Much less end up, ah, desnudos juntos in the Columbian jungle. Her boyfriend of convenience wasn’t supposed to catch you actually doing it and reload with live rounds, and you weren’t supposed to…” He put his hands down on my plywood, leaned in like the weasel in charge he wanted to be. “Regardless of your past chaos factor, Ms. Moreno is going to walk in here, and you, my brother, are going to be surprised and amazed and so happy to see her you might shit yourself. And after all the yadda-yadda has cleared and she’s convinced that you’re thinking with your dick again and you’ll agree to do whatever she asks you to do, you will agree to do it. Whatever the hell it is. In your professional capacity as a shady will-fly-for-food-or-sex kind of guy.” He straightened, brushed the arms of that goofy suit like proximity had gotten him dirtier.

I couldn’t talk. I tried. I did something with my hands, spread out about as wide as a basketball. They shook a little.

“Yo, Paro. Chill, bro. The Cartel would have killed him if you hadn’t. They make a spectator sport out of killing people who steal from them. There’s a guy down there, uses nothing but a pair of lineman’s pliers. Takes him a week to kill a man. You did Lupe a favor, losin’ it and cappin’ him.”

“Big favor. Yo Lupe, when I finish screwin’ your girlfriend I’m gonna kill you.”

“It didn’t go down that way.”

“Close enough for guilt to come knockin’. Cav. Is she –”

He held up his hand, started to say something but his ear must have beeped. “Gotta run.” He found the stairs in three long strides. I heard him take them down, two at a time. No mean feat without a handrail and in the shoes he was wearing. Halfway to the hanger door he turned, looked up. “As of now you’re running a legitimate business, Paro. Get a handrail or I’m calling OSHA about those fuckin’ stairs.”

I flipped him off. The CIA, OSHA, and no handrails were the least of my problems.


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NVDT #57 – Vices

The other day I was looking for the word that describes the writing mechanism of stringing a sentence together with ‘and’. It can be considered a flaw when used as was being discussed. Students in freshman English constructing run-ons of independent clauses and fragments stuck together with ‘and’. It is also a rhetorical device used to mimic an enthusiastic child, or as a breathless survivor. The latter, for example, used by Hemingway in “After the Storm”.

The good thing about living in the same house with a Ph.D. in Rhetoric is there are tons of reference books. Like this Lanham. Well-loved nearly thirty years ago by a puppy who felt ignored while the thesis was being composed. I got close with this book, but when you’re not a rhetorician and have no idea what you’re looking for? I said as much and was told about this “…marvelous site put together by a man at Brigham Young. It’s so well done I sent him a note thanking him. I don’t think the search works all the time, but find something close or start with enthusiasm or vices.”

Great. Vices? Moron that in a minute. I popped into one page and found the rhetorical justification for rule-breaking. Yep. They’ve been after defining language tricks for thousands of years. Check this out. Figures, if you miss it, are rhetorical ‘plays’ one can call with language. Scary, huh?

Many figures name the ways that expression can exceed what is strictly necessary to get an idea across. (Indeed, all rhetorical figures can in some ways be considered superfluous, so long as one maintains the artificial separation of form from content). However, what is semantically unnecessary may in fact be rhetorically advantageous; that is, the form may communicate as much as the content. These figures name both purposeful excess for effect, as well as stylistic vices:

Vices? You bet I clicked it. I would urge you to do the same. The language docs have words for all of our shortcomings. You won’t find me using many of these save the more common ones (tautology) so as not to be found graecismus. Even the Professor doesn’t use them. “I can’t say to a freshman from Nigeria, working in her second language, sorry, polysyndeton is unacceptable.” I understand that. Had someone told me to find the polysyndeton in “After the Flood” I would have told them there weren’t any damn dinosaurs in the whole story and go fly a kite.

Go through the list. Find yourself. I did. More than once.

The site is Silva Rheoroticæ  http://rhetoric.byu.edu/

Throwaway Thursdays 2 / SepSceneWrimo

 Sunday, 6:30 PM, The Wyndham Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles, CA.

Jackson had completed his run to stop by an old friend from home’s room, drop off the car wax posters full of cheesecake bikini girls he’d collected at the Custom Auto Accessories convention and returned to the Wyndham lobby where he parked himself against a thick, round concrete support column. She’d said she’d meet him in the lobby to “further discuss” a comment he’d made in the elevator about those rolled-up posters when she’d asked what they were. Whoever she was she was stupid fine and seemed to be a lot on the smart, hot-girl bitchy side, so he’d hung around. Just in case she’d meant it. A hand snaked through behind his elbow.

“The word was bimbo?” She kept the elbow, slid around in front of him.

“That… Yeah. Mayyyy-be I–”

“Mayyyy-be you what? Lost your head? Lost your manners? Lost your excuse?” She was about five-two, short anyway, heels wrecked his height guesstimator, professionally turned out, thoroughly pissed off and not consciously aware of trying to crush his left forearm with her right hand.

“Bimbos I mean. That was…”

“Uncalled for? It certainly was. You know they’re bimbos how? Is there some test we should know about? You pick up some vibe you can verbalize for me? A lady looks good in a bikini, bingo, she’s a bimbo? What?!?

“No, no. Look, ‘bimbo poster’ is a type of, of…It’s a merchandising and marketing genre. That’s what I meant. How I meant it, I mean.”

“What does that make the ladies in the poster, then? Parttime bimbos? And ‘genre?’ That was a deep reach semantic smokescreen, Jackson.” She flipped his ID badge he’d forgotten to remove. “What a cop-out artist you are. It’s the poster’s fault, not yours, that they’re branded as airhead whores simply by their appearance on a twenty-four by thirty-six-inch man-drool advertisement? Are they all magically not bimbos when they step out of the poster? Is that how your little ‘genre’ pigeonhole works? If you met them at the gas station, they’re just some cute, hopefully screwable chicks from Riverside in short shorts, not bimbos? Bulllll-shit, buddy. Every one of the ladies in those bimbo posters of yours is a bimbo by extension in every other part of their lives because assholes like you use sexist language without even thinking. It’s part of an entire vocabulary of subliminal abuse. And they’re bimbos for what, exactly? Glittery paint? Magic oil?”

“Wax. And that’s pretty Aristotelian to go from one poster to all women in posters… I didn’t…” He unpinned the badge and sailed it between a pair of conventioneers into a tall, thin stainless trash can. “Okay. Fuck it. Here it is. Wax. Hot, melty wax,and those girls? Your ‘ladies’? It’s locker room business, alright? The butt-floss bikinis and hot wax. There’s twenty, thirty minutes’ worth of guy speculation and bullshit in that.”

“Oh, more insight, please.” She ramped up the squeeze. “Do share.”

Wax the beav, chicken skin, is there aftershave for pussy, making faces pulling imaginary nip hair wax strips, all that kind of shit.”

Her eyes got huge. “I cannot be-lieve,” she lifted her chin, looked at the three-story-high ceiling of the Wyndham lobby. “I simply cannot believe you actually said that. To me. You know who I am, right? And you said that? God almighty…”

“All I know about you is that your name is Cynthia Olmartin, and I got that off your badge in the elevator. And you asked.  If you really want to thrash this out, we can get it on because I had this discussion more than a couple of times when I was sixteen. Before we start, though, I know I shouldn’t have used bimbo in a conversation with a female marketing rep, or whatever you are.”

“Hold it. You don’t recognize me?”


“Never seen me before?” She pouted, stagey, for effect.

“The Penthouse pout was good, but still a no.”

“Do you read Penthouse?”

“Nobody reads those rags.”

“That wasn’t an answer.”

“When I was twelve, thirteen. Before I discovered I liked girls who were breathing better than in a magazine on the floor of the bathroom.”

“Okay.” She studied his face, relaxed hers. “You were saying?”

“I was apologizing for bimbo, but now, well, fuck that. I should have said it, and all the rest because that’s man-mind business I just gave you. I could have kissed your ass, said I was sorry but that’d been bullshit. A spade’s a spade and a bimbo poster is a bimbo poster and y’all do that shit to yourselves.”

“We do what? Ourselves? ‘Y’all’ demand that ‘shit’. ‘Y’all’ pay us to be prettier than we are, spray-tanned where the sun doesn’t shine and made up like ‘butt floss’ circus clowns.”

“Sisters selling out sisters. That’s down to y’all.”

“Sisters… Selling out?” She faltered as if he’d hit her, glared. “‘Y’all?’ God. What is that, Texas? No, you’re no redneck. It’s not gooey enough for ‘Jaw-juh.’ This is L.A. You’ve worked on it, I know you have.” She checked the ceiling again, sighed. “That was much too big and unexpected to digest all at once. Usually, by now, I’ve… Never mind. I give for a minute. Would you like a margarita? I would. Large. No, huge. And frozen.”

“Yeah, I would. But…” Jackson nodded across the thinning mob at the lobby bar, ten or twelve bodies deep and forty wide, almost all-male custom auto parts and accessory buyers and sellers. “No way.”

“I know this one.” She released the death grip on his arm and as she walked through the crowded lobby towards the way more crowded bar she morphed from well-dressed angry feminist to perfect social seductress. She got a light, sinuous rhythm from her shoulders to her hips all the way through to her feet. Her arms got into it like a hula dancer in slow motion, hands brushing shoulders, her hair swinging lightly when she turned her head and smiled as she parted the testosterone sea. At first, surprised by the light touch, men looked down to check out the female package who’d brushed their shoulders. Expensive, ubiquitous California “sun” streaked hair, yellow leather blazer, silk blouse, gray leather skirt and light yellow heels. They stepped all over the men around them to let her pass, untouched, straight to the bar. The same happened in reverse. She offered them a nod of acknowledgment, a mouthed “thank you” as she passed with two exceptionally large frozen margaritas. Jackson logged the looks that followed her and landed on him.

“You’re still here. I was afraid I’d run you off.” She tossed her hair, smiled like Mona Lisa. “That didn’t take too long, did it?”

“You hoped you’d run me off. Gotta say you work girl business smoother and sexier than a late-night session with the Fifties incarnation of Miles Davis.”

“You will explain that to me as a very sophisticated compliment when we finish our bimbo conversation. One of these is for you.” She held a margarita out for him, touched her drink with her lips, closed her eyes. “Mmm. Salvation,” her eyes fluttered open, “I’m on the concierge floor. You?”

“Second floor of the Jackson Arms in Long Beach. I’m semi-local.”

“So am I, but I have to be here every day for the show and the hotel is part of my contract. My floor has a private lobby that’s cozy and quiet with a view of the Hollywood Hills where we might possibly talk this out without raising our voices.” She glanced over her shoulder towards the bar. “Or be ogled.” She worked the little hair shake and demure, Mona Lisa smile again. “Coming? You might have to be a chivalrous chauvinist and push the ‘UP’ button for us. Can ‘y’all’ handle that?”

“I gots me all kindsa manners, ma’am.” He took her drink and napkin, pushed the button with his elbow, kept up the theatrical drawl. “I read me a book ‘bout ‘em, once-tuh ‘pon a time. Right edge-you-cayshunal.”

“Don’t start lying. More than one book, and more than once, I ‘gawr-own-tee.’” She stirred her drink he was holding, pulled the thin, plastic bar straw, cleaned frozen margarita off it with her lips. “Tell me, do you need to return to the Jackson Arms at any particular time this evening?”

“When I get there, that’s where I’ll be.”

“Wonderful. If you would be willing to stay, say, at least until after the sun is down for the Hollywood Hills light show? I’ll have the concierge order us some nibbles before I let her know she’s free to leave.”

“Your tab and your floor kinda make it your sunset.” He looked up at the elevator numbers dropping, shot her a quick smile with his eyebrows. “I’m partial to those greasy little hotel eggrolls, but it’s ‘y’all’s’ call on the ‘nibbles.’”

She moved closer, tossed her hair that smelled like an angel’s rose garden and took his arm when the elevator dinged, recreated the forearm crush. “Were ‘y’all’ born full of shit, or do ‘y’all’ practice?”

NVDT Totally Random – Blogger Award Recommendation

Hetty Eliot at Who The Hell Knows nominated me for a blogging award. The digital equivalent of a chain letter. Further, I have no idea who the award giver is (Vincent Ehindiro) and upon perusing Hetty’s list of nominees I find myself in some rather suspect company. However, one should acknowledge a kindness and/or invitation with a courteous response. To that end, I thank her for the recognition and offer these answers to her questions.

  1. Were you a dork growing up? We were all dorks growing up. That’s part of the process. To answer, in some ways, yes, in others no. I got to call my own plays (successfully) as a quarterback from junior league at 9 through highschool. I was a serious social dork in junior high. By my freshman year in high school contextually (ie being cool but also a know-it-all-high-schooler) my dork vanished. More on (moron?) that is here – https://philh52.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/catharsis-or-15-ways-to-know-you-werent-a-dork/
  2. Which literary villain most resonates with you? Purple Pie Man. “I’m sorry, we don’t have a rrrreservation for a Strawberry Shortcake.” There are thousands of anti-heroes out there. Backstabbers, manipulators. I think the enemy you can’t see is the vilest, evilest, and most resonant. From disorders (vanity, hate, greed, jealousy et al) to social institutions (The Country Club, slavery, prison, gangs and cartels, governments, funny farms, schools).
  3. What is your perspective on existence?  “We be, therefoe we is.”
  4. What is your favorite video game? I don’t. Unless you consider zapping musical clams in a MIDI data stream a sort of game. Like searching for Klingons.
  5. Who is the worst boss you’ve ever had? I got fired after half a day as a picture framer once time. Not their fault. Most of my bosses, if it didn’t work out it was me and my middle finger that got in the way. That doesn’t make them bad bosses, it makes me intolerant of the brain dead “company man” mindset, particularly when wrapped in incompetence with a side order of bible belt or dimestore motivational bullshit. My best, and most demanding bosses, were women. Going way back to the 80s. https://philh52.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/way-more-than-midi/
  6. Do you have a “tic” when you think of something embarrassing you’ve done? (eg, I shake my head really hard) I flush. Body flush. I might even sweat a little. But only over the really stupid stuff. The rest were (mostly) honest mistakes.



NVDT Random – Even Mo SepSceneWrimo

“You aren’t much of a pirate…”

“You aren’t much of a cop…”

“DEA. I’m a DEA.”

“Not much a one a those, either.”

They stood, awash in the low noises of the lakeside, stared off the end of the dock at an RC Cigarette Boat and a Coast Guard cutter fifteen yards away. Both dead in the placid water of the cove.

“I thought we plugged these in last night.”

“We did.” He lowered his controller box with a whole-body shrug. “Shit.”

“So whatta we do now?”


“Well, it can’t be too deep. Maybe we could wade it. Or swim.” She started to step off, he caught her arm.

“Dad says after all the rain it’s gotta be full of snakes. Dad’s an asshole sometimes, but still.”

“Jesus doesn’t like that word, Austin.”

“Mom?” He whirled around. “But he is, you know?”

“He can be. But when it comes to nature your father is simply scared of his own shadow. Good morning, Britny.”

“Morning Miz Carburger…” She eyed Austin’s mom dressed in a frumpy sweatshirt and baggy shorts. The laundry basket she carried loaded with melamine dishes and two cast iron skillets didn’t add to the picture. “What’s with the, um…”

“Somebody has to rinse the dishes, Britny. I thought I’d make it easy by wading out with this basket and dunk the whole darn thing at once. If I can get to your boats, I’ll bring them back.”

“Mom? Dad, and the snakes and –”

“Yeah, ‘Mom’. Dad and the snakes.” Britny’s mother, already decked out in not much of a bikini and a sheer cover-up, lit a cigarette. “You wouldn’t want to get bitten.” She stood, the elbow of her cigarette hand on the wrist of the arm across her midriff.

Austin wondered how Britny’s mom always looked so good, even in the skimpy nightgown and curlers she wore to collect the paper from her porch every morning. How his dad had said, after the morning snake admonishment, the only snake Britny’s mom needed to look out for was the one-eyed trouser kind.

“I should think, Louella,” his mom huffed, “that I’m far more aware of the natural world than the man I married. With all the rain, it’s been too cool for snakes.”

“You go, nature girl,” Britny’s mom motioned to the smooth-as-a-granite-countertop water. “Bring ‘em back clean.”

His mom didn’t say “Uhhh”, but she might as well have. Like bad words, his mom didn’t think Jesus thought much of Britny’s mom, either. Ten feet out and about mid-thigh deep, his mom dunked the basket, screamed. She screamed again, the water roiling around her. She sunk to her knees screaming and fell to the side. Her screams turned to gurgles and stopped.

“Margot? MARGOT!!” Britny’s dad flew past his wife and the kids, arced off the dock into the water like an Olympic swimmer. He almost made it to Margot before he started to spin. He gasped and gurgled on every rotation before he stopped, face down. The churning water around him subsided.

“Can’t say I didn’t warn them.” Austin’s dad appeared next to Britny’s mom. “Well… We can’t go in after them, so we’d better go call lake patrol.”

“Yes…” she flicked her cigarette into the lake, turned, and followed him back toward the camper. She hooked her arm in his, slipped her hand in the pocket of his baggy cargos, pulled out a wall-wart charger with the cable cut.

“Sneaky bastard. We’re still stuck with the kids.”

“That’s what I get for teaching him to listen.”