Pizza?

He stared into the mirror, and noticed his haggard, stubble faced self staring back out of it.

I wonder if I should get pizza for lunch today? he thought. Pizza is tasty, full of pepperoni, cheesy saucy goodness. It is also not good for me. Maybe I should have that leftover salad in the fridge instead, he continued to think.

Suddenly, in two little puffs of smoke, one thin, oily, dark and acrid smelling and the other like a little white fluffy cloud smelling faintly of honey, there stood two spirits on his shoulders.

The one, coalescing from the dark cloud, was red and reminded him of the popular images of Satan: hooves, tail, trident, horns, the whole bit. The other was a stunningly gorgeous female angel.

“Pizza? Do it. Do it!!” cackled the demonesque figure. He danced a wicked little jig on the shoulder of the man in the mirror. Corresponding little hoof impacts convinced the man the demon was dancing on his real shoulder as well. He shifted his eyes to the angel, wondering what she would say. After taking a long drag on her cigarette, she stubbed it out and sighed. “What the hell?” she said. “Go for it.”

He shrugged and the spirits fell off his shoulders, disappearing in puffs of smoke before hitting the floor.

He unlocked his iPhone and selected the top entry on his favorites page in the phone app. In seconds there was a voice on the line.

“Oh hey, Jerry. The usual?”

Jerry belched. “Yep.”

Seconds later he ended the call and scratched his head. He sat down on his worn out sofa to wait for the knock on his door.

 

Inspired by tweets between myself and @clarktacular.

@clarktacular maybe I’ll order pizza for lunch

@philredbeard @clarktacular *demon on shoulder* “do it!!” *angel on shoulder stubs out cigarette* “what the hell, do it.”

Sure’s Shootin’

A sneer was permanently etched into his face, or so it seemed in the semi darkness. He slammed back a slug, then slammed down the shot glass. It rattled the seven next to it. He didn’t blink.

“Your turn, baby doll.”

She shook her head, trying to shake some focus back into her drink dulled eyes. Her dirty blond pony tail swished in the warm, evening air. It was dirty because she’d been working in the yard all day, planting flowers and who knew what else in the garden out back. Sweat was drying on her tits, the man-killers straining at her stained tank top.

She poured a shot from her bottle, then sipped it slow, draining the cool alcohol from the tiny glass. She licked the last drop off her top lip with just the tip of her tongue. She sighed, an achingly sweet sound.

She winked at him, he who was fidgeting in his seat. Both the booze and boobs were starting to affect him.

“How much more can you take, darlin’?” she asked wickedly.

He grunted before pouring two shots, as if in answer.

“They say it’s 50/50. Damn but I wish I had better odds.”

“Aww, babe. And here I thought you were a tough guy.”

He gave her a sour eye before double fisting the shot glasses. He opened a cavernous mouth and dumped them both in, swallowing and then letting out a loud belch.

She sat back, waving at the dusty air between them. “Nice.” Matching him, she poured two shots, then sat the bottle down.

“You know, I was drunk enough, but now I need a few more to forget who I’m dealing with.” Faster than his drunk eyes could follow, she upended one shot, then the other, setting both down simultaneously.

“Ready to do this?”

He winked at her.

“Genetic gambling be damned! Let’s make a baby girl, baby girl!”

Chairs slammed back against walls as both stood up fast, groping for each other. He grabbed her, pulling her onto the table before spinning her around. He spread her legs…and neither of them really remembered what happened after that.

Nine months later though, little Jackie Danielle was born. Most people believed that she was named after her Grandpa Jack, but mom and dad knew the truth, which they often smirked to each other in the murky darkness of their bedroom.

“Whattya say, you hard drinking bastard. Should we try for a little Danny boy?”

“I’m not nearly drunk enough to have a son.”

“Sounds like shots to me…”

Lumberfield Lager

Lloyd was a dwarf. Like most dwarves, aside from gold and jewels and mining, Lloyd loved a good lager after work. Nothing smoothed the dust coated throat like a rich, golden lager.

Usually dwarves all ascended from the mines and drank in groups, but Lloyd was a bit of a loner. He didn’t have many friends and his mine didn’t produce much beyond the odd bit of pyrite which he sold to the odd dumb human as real gold.

So Lloyd found himself alone at the Ugly Elvish Maiden, drinking his after work lager and fidgeting on his stool.

That was when she breezed in. She was tall, but not graceful and billowy like an elf. Neither was she bearded, like a dwarf, but there was a hint of something more than slightly hairy about her. Lloyd couldn’t put his finger on it exactly.

She sat down a few stools over from him and ordered a wine. She caught Lloyd’s eye, and he gave her a slight smile and stroked his beard, a signal of greeting from a dwarf which was mostly reflex and mostly missed by non-dwarves. This particular woman didn’t miss the gesture as she repeated the motion, albeit beardless.

“You’d do bett’r with a lager.” Lloyd’s own voice startled him. He didn’t know why he spoke up just then. Usually Lloyd tried to avoid conversation or communication. He usually just drank a pint or two then went home to polish gems or work on commissioned jewelry until bedtime.

“Nothing like a heady wine for me.” The woman rejoinded.

Lloyd shrugged. “Wine makes me dizzy.” It came out gruffer than he intended, but she laughed, “A light-pated dwarf, now there’s something.” She patted the stool next to her.

A surprised Lloyd didn’t respond right away, but he grabbed his mug and hopped down off his stool and shuffled over to her.

“Thank ye kindly,” he said. “Mostly I have to drink alone after work. Just me and ma lager.”

She didn’t ask what he did for work. Everyone knows what dwarves do for work.

“So what’s a nice gel like you doin’ in an Ugly Elf Maiden like this?” It was an old, tired line, but Lloyd didn’t have much practice. She gave him a pass for his awkward opening.

“Just passing through. You know, I’ve never had a lager. Maybe you could recommend one? I’d love to try something new.”

Lloyd gestured to his half full/half empty mug. “Not too much to recommend here,” he said. “They’ve only got a Noggenfogger which is a mite too weak for ma tastes, as it isn’t a proper lager.”

“So what do you recommend?”

“Well, I’ve got my own lager I brew at home. It’s proper heavy and rich.”

“I’d love a taste.”

Lloyd was too surprised for words, but he was an opportunistic dwarf. He found himself hopping off his stool for a second time and walking the woman out of the Ugly Elvish Maiden. Here he found himself at a loss.

“I usually walk home, but its a fair way.”

“No problem, we can take my bike,” she said, motioning to a beautiful, large motorcycle parked outside the bar.

Lloyd looked at it with mistrust, but she just laughed.

“It’ll do us both just fine.”

So that was how Lloyd rode a chopper into the forest with a mysterious and lager curious woman. After a short way, he pointed out a side trail, which she took, and which led them both to a little clearing.

The scent of pine and poplar was in the air as Lloyd had been logging nearby. Aromatic sawdust littered the ground in mounds around stumps where Lloyd had felled trees and sawn them up for firewood and for making things. Nearby stood a little shack, what amounted to his home.

Lloyd led the woman inside, and there he introduced her to her first lager, and unlike what the pub served, it was a proper lager. They both consumed a rather prodigious amount and got more than roaring drunk. Well, he was quiet mostly while she roared.

That night was a full moon, and Lucille the Werewolf enjoyed herself a fine dinner of fresh dwarf and properly brewed beer. She toasted to the roasted Lloyd.

“Went down smooth!” she said, and drained her glass.*

*This short story was inspired by @NikaHarper and her tweet: “MMOs: where a dwarf drinking Noggenfogger befriends a werewolf, they go for a ride on a rocket and get drunk in the forest.”

Infiltrated!

Here I am, staring at my mortal enemy while calming eating a bowl of corn flakes.

I sit mere inches from him, staring into his deadly eyes. I shovel another spoonful of food into my mouth, a bit of milk dribbles down my lip and into the maze that is my beard. It’ll emerge a bit later once it finds its way through the hirsute labyrinth. Meanwhile, my enemy works his mouth, clear rage evident. Despite my proximity and his hostility, I am unafraid. For now: I’ve got him imprisoned, captured, incarcerated. His compatriot, comrade in arms was not so lucky. He drowned in pool of toxic foam. I’m sure it was horrible and painful. Probably a bit light, and fluffy as well.

I accidentally surprised my captive’s co-counterinsurgent early this morning. I walked by the bathroom door, which was shut, and noticed the light was on inside. Ordinarily this wouldn’t arouse my suspicions but a quick check over my shoulder confirmed my information: my wife was dressing in the bedroom. Well, she was preparing to dress; that is to say, she was standing in her underwear contemplating which of several dresses to wear, which was much more exciting to watch than it sounds like.

At any rate, she wasn’t in the bathroom. So, before entering, I thought I should check. “Um, who’s in the bathroom?” I asked, with a fair amount of uncertainty. Perhaps we had picked up a hobo during the night. After all, it was an unexpectedly warm evening and I had opened the windows to let in the heat. My wife looked up, startled out of her deep dress contemplation. “Oh. I think there’s a bee in there.” Oh. Just a bee. How kind of her to lock my mortal enemy in a small room with bright lights and not tell me. Isn’t that an interrogation method, to be used before the water boarding and such? “Section 3, Paragraph 12: Lock insurgent in small room. Engage bright lights. Bake for 30 minutes or until crispy. Follow with gentle irrigation.” Why was my wife intentionally torturing a bee, a mortal enemy, and neglecting to tell me?

Was this a hint about the future of the marriage? I couldn’t wait to unravel the mystery. Besides, my wife was shrugging on the dress she had evidently chosen for the day, and the show was over. I hurried over to my arms chest, which is also where we store the spare kitchen supplies, and retrieved my ammunition, which is innocuously labeled as Wasp and Hornet Spray. Sneaky, I know. Sneakily, I crept up on the bathroom, terrorist still locked inside. I made sure to make as little noise as possible as I bumped into a stool, knocked some books to the floor and crashed into the wall, dislodging a picture of my wife and I being happy.

Tremulously, I reached for the doorknob. Frightfully, I turned it, the sweat on my palm making it a bit of a challenge. Taking every precaution, I eased the door open a millimeter at a time. Stepping into the bathroom, I quickly scanned for my foe. There! He was furtively trying to hide behind a compact, energy efficient fluorescent light bulb. The bastard. He was probably trying to set some
charges in a dastardly attempt to blow my Western, decadent energy saving ways back to the Dark Ages. Well, he wouldn’t get the chance. I uncapped the Wasp and Hornet Spray and unleashed foaming hell. With a Rambo yell that startled my wife I sprayed. Lancing white foamy death caught my enemy at full force and point blank range. He simply could not react fast enough to achieve powered flight and instead of launching an air raid he simply crashed and foamed to the bathroom sink. Not pausing to determine the state of his mortality, I unleashed another barrage. By now the foam was aerosolizing and I was choking on my own chemical attack. I engaged the bathroom fan, and when the fumes subsided, I saw that my enemy was dead. Victory.

“I got ’em!” I called to my wife, who through the whole battle was calmly checking to make sure her purse was loaded with lip gloss and that her phone’s battery was charged. “Oh, good” she murmured. “Thanks.”

A few minutes later, she reaped her reward for her lackluster praise of my inestimable courage in the face of battle. My combatant’s backup unit was attached to the kitchen window. While I plotted an attack strategy and readied my weapon for a second onslaught, my wife secured a plastic container from a nearby supply cabinet and trapped our uninvited guest against the glass. I rummaged up a piece of cardboard and slid it beneath his clear, domed prison. Thus secured, I carried the by now quite angry and agitated former threat and set him on the kitchen table. I then stacked a few books and a brick on top of the tupperwear to ensure that he remain trapped.

I kissed my wife goodbye as she left for work, then realized the morning’s battle had left me famished, so I hunted for breakfast.

Which is how I came to be eating cornflakes while staring at my mortal enemy, who is walking upside-down on the top of his prison in a very threatening manner.

But he will get his. Unlike his compadre, who died rapidly in much foam, this soldier will die agonizingly, gasping for breath as he uses up his supply of oxygen. If there is a more humane way to help my enemy to expire, I don’t want to know about it. I hate him, and his kind, and everything they stand for, which, apparently, is terrorizing me on my balcony.

This battle is mine. And so will the war be.

I love the smell of wasp killer in the morning. Smells like victory. And Lambda-cythalothrin. And Other Ingredients.

Do Remember (Part II)

“As I said, after reviewing all available data on the planet upon which I had landed, both the flight code and common sense told me to cloak my vessel and ensure its undetection by the local population. I did so. With a list of the materials needed to enact a repair of my vessel, I headed out into the city. That was the last I saw of my ship for a very long time. Fortunately a common biology allowed me to – ” This time the interruption was hardly surprising.

“Blasphemy! The defendant is aware that to equate equality with lower forms of life is an affront to Our Lady On High, praised be Her Name, and that such statements are themselves a punishable offense! I hold you guilty of Blasphemy and in Contempt of this Court! How do you plead?”

The defendant smiled briefly, which only served to infuriate the court even more.

“I plead not guilty, Your Honors. I – ”

“Not guilty?!” The court was outraged. Again, the judge to his left put a hand on his arm and whispered. The court sat fuming. There was a moment of silence before the defendant continued speaking.

“Yes. Not guilty. I was speaking commonly, not religiously. I meant only that, in the roughest form, we and the beings of this planet are roughly analogous. That is all. I would never presume to profane the Name of Our Lady On High, praised be Her Name. The court is mistaken.”

The court couldn’t bring himself to speak, so he motioned for the defendant to continue.

“A similar form allowed me to pass among the local population undetected, and after securing temporary lodging, I was quickly able to locate the parts I needed to repair my ship. Doing so only took a few days, and I assembled the replacement components in my place of lodging. I then undertook to return to my ship, effect a repair, and leave the planet, but that was when I discovered that my ship locator beacon had not been activated and that I no longer had any memory of the location of my ship. The – ”

The court had recovered from his apocalyptic anger, and was now deliciously sardonic.

“How could such a highly commended, and decorated, officer of the High Order not remember such a simple thing as where he parked his ship? Are you pleading lowered intelligence? Given your current state and crime, the court would understand and perhaps be lenient in its sentencing.”

“Does the court remember what it had for breakfast yesterday?”

“How is that relevant? You are treading close to being held in contempt again. This court will only be so lenient with your manner.”

“Well, one would certainly hope that this court would be able to remember such a simple thing was what it consumed for breakfast one day prior, otherwise, one would be forgiven for surmising that this court is unfit for prosecution, and any current case would be in danger of being thrown out as a miscarriage of justice and any defendants would be released immediately with the courts deepest apologies, or so it states in the Code of Judiciary Matters, unless this officer of the High Order is mistaken.”

“The defendant is mistaken. This court is not on trial for its dietary habits, and your grandstanding does not distract this court from your charge, or your increasing evidence of guilt. The defendant will explain his memory loss.”

“The city in which I had landed was laid out in a grid, all streets, buildings, and neighborhoods being identical and symmetrical. I wandered for days, searching every dark alley and side street for my vehicle, hoping if nothing else to spot a visual anomaly that would indicate a cloaked ship, but I saw none. With the exception of one dark alley in a more decrepit part of town, I explored everything. I found nothing. I can give this court no satisfactory answer as I have none to give myself. The ship appeared to have literally, as well as visually, vanished.”

“And if that were all that happened then this court would have no dispute with you. However, your testimony upon arrest reveals that upon your discovery that you could not discover the whereabouts of your ship, you proceeded to integrate into the local population, even to enter into a physical union with a female, to procreate, and to renounce your solemn vows to the High Order of the Most Righteous Sect of Her Lady On High, praised be Her Name, in favor of pursuing your new adopted life. Do you deny this testimony?”

“I cannot deny that testimony which I have given.”

“Then how do you justify your existence? You have not answered the court’s inquiry! How do you account for your self? You stand before us an abomination and accused of the highest crimes against Our Lady On High, praised be Her Name, and yet you have accused yourself and offered no defense!”

“I am my own justification, your honor.”

“You are? What do you mean? Explain yourself, Officer!”

“Do remember, your honor, that according to the sacred texts we ourselves emerged from that planet millennia ago. Our Lady On High led us into the stars, into the galaxy, and into our current destiny by her grace and mercy and made us to flourish. However, according to the sacred texts, there was a remnant that rebelled against Our Lady On High, praised be Her Name, and that chose to remain on our birth world. The sacred texts say no more of them, and we have chosen to forget them. But in these past fifty years I have grown from a young, brash officer of the High Order into a seasoned, experienced old man of Philadelphia. In the old tongue, that word means ‘city of brotherly love’ and those creatures that I encountered there I found to be not only my distant cousins, but also my brothers, and I grew to love them.” The court was pounding his gavel and yelling about blasphemy, but the defendant ignored him and spoke louder. “I discovered that my brothers loved Our Lady On High, praised be Her Name, though they called her by different names and worshipped her in different ways. They are not unlike us, and we are not unlike them. Therefore, as I am like them, so to we are like them, but not merely analogous, but directly related, both biologically and religiously. The saddest day in my life was when I chased my second child down a dark alley, fearing for her safety, and tripped on the invisible landing strut of my parked ship. I caught her shortly, and returned to the spot, and felt for the first time in fifty years the contours and curves of my vessel. Responding to my touch, the vessel powered on, I was transported inside, and on autopilot it returned here to the New Homeworld, drawn, no doubt, by the warrants for my arrest. I’ve stood here and offered testimony for my crimes – my only real crime being a lapse of memory, but all I can remember is the look on my daughter’s face as I vanished before her, and I am undone. I would ask this court: remember your own sons, your own daughters, your own faith, as you decide my fate. For your offspring are no different than my own beautiful daughter.”

The court continued to pound his gavel and shout and it took him a few moments to realize that the room had fallen silent, except for his tantrum. He regained his composure and asked,

“Does the defendant rest his case?”

Silas just stood, silent, with tears dampening his face.

“The court will now deliberate your sentence.”

The court and his fellow judges conferred among themselves in silence for a few moments. It became clear that the court was at odds with the rest of the jury, but he had no choice but to comply to the consensus. He stood for the official proclamation.

“The court finds that the accused, Second Lieutenant Silas Harrious of the High Order of the Most Righteous Sect of Her Lady On High, praised be Her Name, did, on the fourth of the Most Holy Month Belarious willfully and knowingly violate his Holy Vows and profane the Name of Our Lady On High, praised be Her Name, and by willfully choosing to remain in outright rebellion for fifty years, did make a mockery of his office and the entire Glorious Celestial Realm thereby. It is the determination of this court that the defendant is guilty as charged and is sentenced to death according to the Holy Law. This death will be carried out by the neglect and destitution of exile to the Outer Explored Territories, effective immediately. May Our Lady On High, praised be Her Name, have mercy on your soul.”

The gavel sounded, loud in the dark quiet.

It took Silas a moment to realize that She did, in fact, have mercy. The court was exiling him to his home, and his family, which he had thought was lost to him forever. He smiled through his drying tears as he was taken into custody by two officers of the court. They marched him past the judicial bench, where as he passed the court, he heard a faint whisper,

“I do remember.”

Do Remember (Part I)

“How do you justify your existence? Nay, do not answer straight away. I will clarify for those lower beings in the room:…” This was said with just a hint of sniggardly derision. “How do you, an officer of the law in the High Order of the Most Righteous Sect of Her Lady On High, praised be Her Name, justify your disgusting existence?”

The defendant swallowed hard. The light was too harsh for his eyes, unused as they had become to such pure and undefiled photonic assault. The darkness was too dark; he could not penetrate it. In the cone of brilliant white light, faced with the mere silhouette of the judges’ panel and that loud, booming voice, he felt utterly alone and naked. This was, of course, the purpose of the overly dramatic and mostly theatrical lighting.

The defendant cleared his throat, an awkward and uncouth noise in the quiet of the patiently waiting court room.

“I forgot where I parked, Your Honors.”

There was silence. The assembled judges, twelve of them from around the Glorious Celestial Realm, were shocked that this simple statement could be the defendant’s sole defense. Most of them thought him definitely insane, both for not hiring an attorney, and second, for daring such an absurd defense.

“The court will indulge your obvious and momentary insanity. The defendant will be allowed a single re-statement of his defense, but I warn, do not tread lightly on the leniency or the patience of this court. Your charges are neither few nor inconsequential.”

“I understand, Your Honors. I will restate my defense.”

“Continue.”

The defendant stood up even straighter than before, and with a clear and ringing voice that filled the court room, stated,

“I, Second Lieutenant Silas Harrious of the High Order of the Most Righteous Sect of Her Lady On High, praised be Her Name, did, on the fourth of the Most Holy Month Belarious, utterly and completely forget where I parked my official vehicle: the planet upon which it was parked, and the population therewith being deemed hostile and unfamiliar, it was summarily rendered invisible in all known light spectrums and was, as a result, utterly devoid of the possibility of being thereafter located except through precise memory, upon which time said memory utterly failed me.”

The silence was even more shocked than before. In couching his defense in the language of the court, the defendant was stating as emphatically as possible his utter lack of insanity, despite his clearly absurd defense. The court was in no mood for games, but such a statement would not be enough to satisfy those that would inevitably review this court case. An explanation would be expected, indeed, by all the law and precedent of the land it was demanded, and that, the court supposed, was why the defendant decided to pursue such a maddening defense. The court endeavored to keep the rising anger and frustration out of his voice, and almost completely failed.

“The defendant will provide this court with a full explanation of your defense in as timely a manner as possible. Do not waste our time or good graces, else it will go even much more harshly in your sentencing. Does the court make itself clear?”

“Perfectly clear, Your Honors.”

“Then proceed.” And Silas Harrious did so.

“In the course of my duties, on this particular occasion I was pursuing the most nefarious heretic Paulus Klautus through the Outer Explored Territories, we both emerged from hyperspace in a backwater system, barely charted and explored, which possessed only one planet known to be inhabited. Our vessels had emerged on the outer edges of this system, yet my pursuit gradually wound through the outer planets, through an intermediary field of asteroids, and we closely approached the inhabited planet. It was at this time that an undetected solar flare caught us both unaware was we emerged from behind that planet’s sole moon. Klautus’ ship was completely destroyed -”

“Can you provide proof of that to this court?”

“In addition to my own personal testimony as an officer of the High Order, my ship’s log, which remains intact, includes a visual and sensory record of the event.”

“Very well. Proceed.”

“I, myself, had just enough time and wherewithal to raise my ship’s solar shields in the wake of Klautus’ destruction and avoided a similar fate. As it was, the turbulence from the flare served to knock me in to a deteriorating orbit around the inhabited world. I had only the barest control over my vessel and it seemed necessary to set down for repairs before attempting to break the gravity hold. My onboard diagnostic system, as well as my own intuition, told me that breaking orbit may have been possible, but there existed a significant chance of catastrophic failure should I attempt to do so.” Here the defendant was interrupted again.

“Most officers of the High Order would find death a more worthy fate than defilement. Your thinking represents an aberration. Do you wish to enter a plea of insanity? The court will be lenient.”

“Is it insanity, Your Honors, to cling to life and the hope of continued service to Our Lady On High, praised be Her Name?”

Caught in his own game, the court deigned not to reply directly, choosing instead to merely state,

“Please, continue.”

“I found a sparsely populated and small city in which to land, figuring that I might need to manufacture replacement parts from local material, and proceeded to do so under the cover of night. As I have stated, I forget exactly where that was, but as protocol and my own caution dictated, it was no doubt somewhere discreet.” Again, an interruption.

“But your presence in this courtroom, and your therefore obvious escape precludes your remembrance of your parking location. Will you not reveal it straightway?”

“I will not, Your Honors – ”

“I remind you that you are under oath, both as a defendant and witness in this court and as an officer of the High Order. You will tell this court the truth!” His righteous and personal outrage was evident.

“I am aware of my oath, Your Honors. I will most certainly tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me, Our Lady On High, praised be Her Name. It remains, however, my prerogative to tell the truth in such manner as I deem appropriate. My defense rests upon the fact of my forgetting and my subsequent remembrance, and should I reveal the latter before the former, it would color my defense in a manner which would erroneously indicate my guilt, and in so doing I would possibly incriminate myself further in the eyes of the court. I have rights, Your Honors.”

The court was about to answer, but the judge seated beside him covered their shared microphone and whispered briefly to him. Following the exchange, the court was not pleased, but was cowed.

“The point is conceded. The witness has rights. But the truth will be known.”

“Of course, Your Honors. In due time.”

“Proceed.”

“After completing a safe landing of my spacecraft, I secured the vehicle as per the flight code, and after reviewing the collected and available data on the planet on which I was now a refugee – ” The court, it seemed, could not help but interrupt whenever possible.

“Is the defendant wishing to claim Refugee Status and enter a plea of guilty under the Uniform Code of Refugees?”

“No, Your Honors. I used the word descriptively, not lawfully.”

“The court will remind you to exercise caution throughout your testimony to avoid further confusion.” The court cut off the defendant’s polite reply with a curt,

“Proceed.”

Part II

Monster

My dad don’t believe me, but it’s true. I swear.

Even Billy believes me, and my brother Billy is dumber than a post. But Billy saw it. Dad didn’t. I think that is why Dad doesn’t believe me.

There is a monster in our closet. He is big, and blue, and has scales and two fiery eyes. He has sharp teeth and likes to eat kids. And then he likes to eat babies for dessert.

Fortunately for the monster, there is me, and my brother Billy, and our baby brother Bobby in his crib, all in my room, waiting to be eaten.

But that old monster don’t know what’s waiting for him. See, I don’t intend to be eaten tonight, despite what dad says about there being no monster and me not being eaten because it is just shadows and my imagination. I’ve put together a plan, and I’ve even got Billy to help. Bobby won’t help much as he will probably just be sleeping, but at least he will thank me one day when I tell him that his big brother saved him from being monster dessert.

Bucky, the monster slayer. That’s me!

Anyway, the monster. Tonight, when the lights go out and mom and dad go down the hall to their room, the monster will wait. He will wait long hours for me and Billy (on the top bunk) and Bobby (in the crib) to go to sleep. Then, he will quietly ease the closet door open. He will rustle our good Sunday clothes, and he might shuffle my old sneakers out of the way (so he don’t trip) and he will gingerly sneak past my LEGO tower and my G.I. Joe base. He will try not to knock over my erector sets and my house of cards, cause that might make noise and wake us up. I know that this is what he will try to do because last night he knocked over my Lincoln log house. (Dad swears that there is no monster, and that he knocked over my Lincoln log house last night when he came in the room to check on Bobby, but I know better. I know it was the monster.)

Once the monster passes the Lincoln log house, he then has to walk across the open part of the room, all the way to our bunk bed, on the far wall. He will pass right by Bobby’s crib, ’cause he won’t eat him till dessert. He will want to eat dinner first, and get the big boys out of the way. Me and Billy discussed it this afternoon, and we still aren’t sure if the monster will go for Billy on the top bunk first, and work his way down to me, or if he will go for me on the bottom bunk first, and then work his way up to Billy, but either way, I think we’ve got him!

That old monster won’t know what hit him, because we will only be pretending to sleep. We will stay tucked under our covers like Mom tucks us in, all neat and tidy after our prayers, and we will pretend to snore, and maybe mumble a little bit, just to fool that monster into thinking that we really are asleep. Because, see, monsters are a little wary, sometimes, and they won’t attack if they think us kids are awake, because they have to attack while we are asleep. Monsters are funny that way. Anyway, we will pretend to be asleep, because otherwise the monster won’t come, and then we won’t be able to kill him so he won’t eat Billy, Bobby, and me.

So, anyway, I hear that monsters like to eat kids for dinner, and babies for dessert, so I hope he brings his appetite tonight, because I want to see how well he likes the taste of my baseball bat.

Billy has his tennis racket, but what good a tennis racket is going to be against a monster, I don’t know.

Billy is kinda stupid that way.