1. Here I am at the big-shot local lawyers’ conference, Attorney John Luxton thought. All around him were fortysomething and fiftysomething men with thinning hairlines, sagging jowls, and incipient triple-chins. Their soft bulk had been shoehorned into inexpensive off-the-rack blue suits, giving them the puffed-up appearance of down pillows or cotton candy.
Scanning the floor, Luxton thought he recognized a few old law school classmates. Alcoholism and physical desuetude had devastated the field, though, so it was impossible to know for sure.
“John Luxton, you old horse!” one of the pillow/cotton candy-like lawyers bellowed at him.
“Well hey there”—Luxton glanced quickly at the man’s nametag—“Alabama Phil. How’s tricks?”
“Just call me Phil,” the man said, extending a pink, flabby hand that had been embellished at the wrist with a thoroughly unremarkable Timex watch. “Been keeping on, best as I can.”
Luxton looked first at Alabama Phil’s ridiculous salt-and-pepper goatee and then down at his own unpolished, ill-fitting saddle shoes. “That’s the most you can do, I think.”
“Hell, it’s all you can do,” Phil said. “Things been slow out your way?”
“Can’t complain, Phil. Though you’d think with this economy in the crapper, there’d be more interest in bankruptcy law.”
Phil nodded sagely, as if he was giving their tête-à-tête the sort of high-end concentration reserved for more important functions like setting a fantasy football lineup or placing special orders at the Burger King take-out window (e.g., the always-difficult “one Double Whopper with no mayo”). “Yeah, I don’t know what you can do in an economy that’s this recession-y.”
“It’s been going down the tubes for as long as I can remember,” Luxton added.
“Man, whenever I think back to how it might have been better every once and again, I realize it wasn’t.”
As near as Luxton could figure, Alabama Phil seemed like the kind of guy who seemed like the kind of guy who seemed like the kind of guy. So did most of the people in this anonymous and unrefreshingly character-free hotel reception area, for that matter.
“Hey, listen up,” Phil said, drawing a bit too close for comfort. “Going to tell you something.”
Phil’s garlic butter fries-and-beer smelling breath mounted a furious assault on Luxton’s personal space. “I’m all ears.”
“Got someone special up in room 209.” He gave Luxton the first of what would prove to be many knowing winks. “Know what I’m talking about?”
Luxton hadn’t the faintest idea. Was he suggesting something along the lines of a “MFM 3way?” “I’m not sure, Phil.”
“I’m talking about a good time, buddy.” Phil winked again, leaned over, placed a hand on Luxton’s shoulder, and then winked for a third time.
“In what sense?” Luxton asked. He was beginning to get worried, and the fact that Phil kept winking—did he have a sty on the edge of his eyelid, maybe?—wasn’t helping. “And hey, what’s with the blinking?”
Phil elbowed Luxton in the side. “Come on, horse. We’re way out here in Linwood County. Getting the picture?”
“I suppose so, but I’m not interested,” Luxton said.
“You sure about that? I’ve got a real mama bear waiting for me. She’ll yank your crank, no questions asked.” Unbothered by the fact that he was in the middle of a crowd, Phil proceeded to pantomime a series of sex acts.
“A mama bear? What the hell? You mean like an actual bear?”
Phil grinned lasciviously, revealing a mouth of ovoid, artificially whitened teeth. “You better believe it. She’s as big as a house, too. I’m going to pound her pie-hole until that thing caves in.”
Luxton stood there, unable to say anything else. This was, he eventually realized, the end of the world. The rest of the pillow/cotton candy-like lawyers, who were tossing back aperitifs and hors d’oeuvres with an insouciance born of long practice at such activities, didn’t mind one bit.
2. The papa bear was hiding out in the office of his family cave, like always, where he worked his paws to the bone “beating his meat,” also like always.
I can’t even begin to tell you about the smell of this room. Well, I guess I can begin to tell you, because all I really need to say to kick things off is that it smelled like bear ejaculate.
Now I don’t know if the mama bear ever found out what the heck was going in there. It’s reasonable to assume that she did, because there were “jizz rags” and “jizz towels” all over the place. They weren’t concealed in a drawer or piled up in a trash can, although doing either of those things wouldn’t have cut into the papa bear’s valuable time in the slightest.
Maybe the mama bear remained none the wiser in spite of that. Maybe she never went into the room—“my duder-space,” the papa bear called it—because doing so would have constituted a breach of trust, etiquette, the social contract, etc..
Anyway, the papa bear found himself on disability for a bad back and was thus totally justified in losing touch with the outside world. He sat in front of a triptych of 22” HD computer screens. In addition to displaying a kickass picture, this setup kept him from blowing his brains out.
Other things that keep people from blowing their brains out: fantasy football, Double Whoppers, first-person shooters, Mountain Dew, the lottery.
The papa bear lived in fear of forgetting his wedding anniversary and his cubs’ birthdays. Because he had no other responsibilities, these three (four? five?) annual events took on inflated importance. Every few hours or days or however long he was in the office—“I’m hibernating!” he’d holler when one of his good-for-nothing sons was demanding the keys to the car or twenty bucks for a movie—he’d check the calendar to make sure that he still had some “breathing room.” If and when one of those “special days” was approaching, he’d surf over to ebay.com and purchase some piece of junk almost at random.
He thought of himself as a pretty caring guy. While he was thinking about how caring he was, the action on the “SSBBW livecam” he was paying $9.99/minute to stream had started to heat up.
The shrill voice of the mama bear interrupted his reverie. “Honey, I’m going to my scrapbooking club,” she called from the hallway outside the office.
“Yeah, you do that,” he replied, turning his attention once again to the screen in hopes of “getting his groove back.” Money was tight and he had four minutes, tops, to “bust a nut.”
“Wanna watch me eat a triple-decker fudge cake?” one of the figures on the screen asked him.
The papa bear mumbled something indistinct and the “SSBBW” took it as a cue that she needed to start chowing down. He didn’t like it very much when they talked to him, which was why he steered clear of camshows except for maybe five or seven times a month. The interactivity creeped him out more than a little bit, because, good lord, what kind of awful person would want to do something like this? And the fact that they were watching him—it was too much to bear sometimes. Not all the time, though, because there were plenty of instances (like this one, come to think) where the papa bear could, uh, “grin and bear it.”
The whole network of e-smut was fraught with complications that the papa bear grasped only dimly. For instance, he never could figure out why there was so much of it. How could every perversion be represented? Who on earth was interested in “snuff cartoons” of Boogie Crackerjack being tortured and then eaten alive by Micah the Cat? He saw banner adverts for that one from time—and what would it say about him if he “busted a nut” to it? Yet people had to be “busting a nut” to it, because if there’s a supply there must be a demand. Viz., the supply is creating the demand, and the demand is leading to an increase of supply. You get the picture. Basic economics, much like how you have to budget your $1,118 monthly disability check in order to afford both honey—which keeps those ungrateful fucks whose birthdays you’re contractually obligated to remember off death’s doorstep—as well as the “primo” pornography you can get only on a paysite.
It was the kind of life that the papa bear envisioned living for a while; i.e., until he died.
3. Two days before that horrifying accident in room 209 of the Linwood County Regal Suites, the mama bear wrote the following blog entry:
“HI INTERNET WORLD MAMA BEAR AGAIN [Ed’s note: This particular phrase had become the mama bear’s “tagline” or “catchphrase,” underscoring to her five or six readers [[Ed’s note: Mostly people she met on RobertsRoll.org]] how unique she thought her presence in cyberspace was.]!!! Just here playing on the computer lololol until I’ve got the “GROUP” tonight (u kno what I mean @AlPhil!!! :D). Everything is good with the family today because those little cubs are just out BEING THEMSELVES! Such crazy kids!!!!!!! remember when I was 6 and ice cream was alot cheaper! Nowadays the economy is terrible so THANK G_D for daddy bear’s disability check (NOT A HANDOUT THANKUVERYMUCH……..HE GOT HURT FIGHTHING FOR HIS COUNTRY what did U do today???). ANYWAYS the “GROUP” is going to be exciting as always right @AlPhil? LOLOLOLOL! Just an old mama bear here typing on the computer – five years for my silly blog and I can’t believe it! Seems like just yesterday there was much cheaper ice cream and NOW!!! I’m here on a computer that is almost as fancy as papa DADDY bear’s and just whamming on those keys. LUVSIT! Outside its almost spring which is funny because summer was just here and winter was around the corner WERE DOES THE TIME GO? Everybody is growing up so fast even if this week went by so slow well TGIF times one hundred because tonight is the “GROUP” lololololol right @AlPhil? Ok, I’ve g2g pack I’m MAMA BEAR SIGNING OUT!!!!!! <3 U”
4. “Ever seen anything like this, Chief?” Jack Chaser asked his partner as the pair wiped down the gruesome crime scene.
The Chief bent down on one arthritic knee and examined a curious “splatter pattern” on the wall. “Call me ‘Pops,’ would you?”
“Why in the hell would I call you ‘Pops?’ You’re not even five years older than I am.”
“Everybody calls me that,” the Chief insisted.
“I’ve never heard anybody call you that, Chief.”
“Well, some people do.”
A uniformed patrolman poked his head in. “What do you guys think? Foul play?”
“Shit, who cares,” the Chief replied. “Tell this idiot that people call me ‘Pops.’”