Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Social Creature

“I always thought self-determination was the most important thing until I fell down this hole. The walls are slippery and it’s gotten dark again. This is my second night down here and I’m pretty hungry. I’m beginning to suspect I’m less of an individual and more of a social creature. Those wolves sound like social creatures and I’d really appreciate anyone showing up before they do. If anyone can hear me. Hello? Hello?”

Comment Moderation Off

Though doubled over from kidney pain this morning, I managed to turn off Comment Moderation and subscribe to Comments. I'll still be notified whenever somebody leaves feedback, but now you won't have to put up with the annoying wait before you can see your comment below my story. Fascinating the stuff you can figure out when you're too sick to sleep. I never intended moderation to seem condescending or overprotective - it was just the only way to be notified people were leaving comments, and on a blog with hundreds of posts like this I like to get messages when one receives a new comment. So comment freely.

Excuse me while I run to the bathroom again.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Materialism is the ideal that there are no ideals

[XINHUA sits on one side of the booth in a pink tuxedo. He looks identical to GARY, even in skin tone and the fold of his eyes, yet he has that vague Asianness about him that white people cannot articulate but makes them think he is secretly a ninja. SAMID sits to his left in a pink tuxedo. The planetoid PLUTO, shrunken to the size of a basketball, levitates near the window part of the booth, wearing a “WHERE IS GARY?” t-shirt. CHESTER A. ARTHUR sits alone on the other side of the booth, wearing his usual finery.]

Former President Arthur: The new president is a pragmatist. Look at that stimulus bill. The man gets things done.

Xinhua: My colon gets things done. Just because you do things doesn’t mean you suddenly stop thinking and having ideals. You do things because you’re working towards some idea.

Pluto: Idealism is bound for failure. It deals with what you want rather than what is; it deals with a world that doesn’t exist. Unrealistic nonsense.

Samid: This again. Materialists insult idealism for referring to a world that doesn’t exist, and they have to because their philosophy insults itself by referring to a world that does. Materialism itself is the pettiest idealism: the ideal that there are no ideals. It negates itself even as it insists that we ignore right and wrong, ought and should, let babies starve, the sicker grow weak and wars be fought.

Former President Arthur: Most wars are fought for ideas.

Xinhua: I’m pretty sure wars have been waged for materials. Let me call Africa and get back to you.

Former President Arthur: Only because they had ideas of what to do with those materials.

Samid: Stockpiling disproves that. People build up wealth they have no plans to use.

Xinhua: Because of conscious or unconscious ideas of comfort and security in having those materials. Again, idealism.

Pluto: You realize in arguing for idealism you’ve just said all bank robbers and strip miners are idealists?

Samid: There shouldn’t be a conflict between the two forces. We have ideas about materials. Pragmatism can be put to work for better things, but a world run on it will see high suicide rates. You’ll go insane if all you are is practical.

Pluto: You’ll also eat with greater reliability.

Former President Arthur: Ideals will not feed babies or cure the sick, but they will tell you that you should.

Samid: Without the imaginative compulsion, there is no use for pragmatism, just as there is no use to be effective at anything unless you first admit the appeal of doing it. To pretend that anyone is not made up of some parts pragmatic and some parts idealistic is unpragmatic.

Former President Arthur: If you sincerely believed in the merits of pragmatism, you would not have made your case on such abstract and therefore idealistic grounds. Evidence wins the hearts of a hundred men before one can read the caption.

Samid: You, sir, are a formidable opponent.

Former President Arthur: Thank you, my boy. Now can someone tell me why Gary’s been replaced by a Chinaman?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Possible Origins For Him. 1.

There is an audio edition of this story. To listen either click the triangle on the left to begin streaming audio, or click this text to download the MP3.

I wasn’t bombarded by cosmic rays. My parents weren’t shot and a clown didn’t fly through my window as I was calculating revenge. I like clowns, though. They aren’t scary or menacing. You make them that way, when all they want to do is make you smile. They don’t care if you’re a Muslim or emo or President of these United States. You could have the codes to all the nuclear weapons in the world, and all a clown wants to do is make you chuckle. That’s why he scares you – he’s unhinged from your forced habits. I like that.

I wasn’t a clown. I was a pharmacist. Used sugar and food coloring to put smiley faces on lollipops for kids who didn’t want to take their medicine. That’s my story. Day after day. Lollipop after lollipop. The child comes in crying and leaves happy, sucking on grape or lime. Mom comes in frowning, fakes a smile for the pharmacist, puts up with his antics, then, when she’s paid and thinks she’s out of eyeshot, goes back to frowning. Mom’s smile isn’t real, kids, no matter how much sugar and food coloring you put on it. You’ve got to follow her into the parking lot, climb into the back seat, catch her by the scalp and dig in there with a straight razor if you want to give her a smile that won’t go away. That’s my story.

But that’s also small scale. Eventually a clown’s got to play to bigger audiences. You’ve got to put money away. 401K – not for retirement, but terrorism. A pharmacist can make a lot, especially when he does his shifts alone and tampers with the billing. And he has access to so many handy chemicals – wholesale!

Adults will pay anything for their drugs. It helps them fake things. I handed them their Rx lies, and rang up the bill. That’s what I’m serving everybody now. Grape, lime, and the bill. This isn’t a trench coat – it’s a lab coat dyed purple! I want to see you laugh, Gotham. I want to see your smile. Not the one you put on when you walk by security guards and bar tenders. You just insist on turning back into pumpkins at midnight when your fairytale fix of alcohol wears off. And if you’re going to insist turning back into pumpkins, then I’m going to carve you like a Jack O’Lantern. I’ll find that smile in there somewhere. That’s my story.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Holy Grounds and Coffee

Chandler sat down on the front pew with the rookies, taking Kerick’s knife and beginning another stake. In the light of all the candles and church glass, his Santa white beard looked stained orange.

“It’s not that vampires can’t walk on holy ground,” he said, purposefully stroking the knife in Kerick’s direction. The shaving fell into the rookie’s lap. “It’s that they know I’m waiting there for them. It all began here, in this parish, on that there altar. One of those disrespectful neck-biters tried to drink my minister. He was a fine orator, and damaging those pipes was unforgivable. I nailed them to the ground and made them see sun-up through these windows.”

He gestured with the knife to the stained glass scenes. Christ carrying his cross, Mary mourning, and the Devil laughing.

“Good way to start a legend. You kill enough of them around holy ground and eventually they think they physically can’t enter. Really, it’s that they’re sissies.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A query in response to the “anathema” plots list on

It's strongly recommended that you read the banned plots list on before reading the following query.

I recently pulled a story from my trunk that I think would be perfect for your publication. Cain is a vampire tracked by Satan thanks to the psychic HIV he contracted from a tainted communion. He flees upon the advice of a talking cat and talking sword, which naturally keep calling him "thou." He and Abel found the sword in a field when they were playing as children before a time-traveling sexy vampire popped out and killed his brother and raped Cain (I know it sounds perfect for *that* anthology, but I intended this for your magazine). Though he knows Satan and the time-traveling sexy vampire are going to invade the Exodus-era of earth with their Faster-Than-Light zombie army, that era’s milquetoast governments provide no help in stopping them and are really the biggest obstacle. The talking cat (Chatty Cathy) advises Cain assemble a heroic party of Libertarians at the local inn, and though he finds a motley band of bohemians that could turn the war around, they despise him based on what history says he did. The end is a great gory battle scene where Cain spills Satan's intestines using a three-month-old copy of Scientific American (the one with the article about evolutionary psychology). “Cain is Able” is complete at 5,002 words. I’ve submitted it to a bunch of magazines simultaneously, but I’m sure they won’t mind me turning them down when you accept it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Welcome to the Lady in the Lake Weapons Shop.

Welcome to the Lady in the Lake Weapons Shop. You’d like to see our wares?

The repeating rifle is 19,000 pounds.

The laser sabre is 43,000 pounds.

The laser cannon, 200 yards penetration model, is 65,000 pounds.

The laser cannon, 300 yards penetration model, is 85,000 pounds.

The combination magnetic meteorite summoner and launcher is on sale at 100,000 pounds, down from 150,000.

And we have an array of hydrogen bombs starting as low as 110,000 pounds, for a set of five.

What's that? The sword in back with the funny scabbard? Oh, saints. It's been so long since we sold one that I don't remember the price. How much have you got on you, little Arthur?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: No Children Under 22 Admitted

"He can't be Asian. That's just racist. A guy named Blackjack can be white for the irony, and because most people who play blackjack at all are white. And he can be named black for obvious reasons. But Asian? That's not ironic! That's just weird!"
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