1. After losing his legs in the war, Leopard Forrest didn’t have much to live for. His paternal grandmother tended to most of his needs, but her doing so was really more for her own spiritual needs than it was for him. She was his only living relative and vice versa, so she saw to his every need and waited on him hand and foot. He appreciated her help and support and also her love, but he needed more out of life than she was able to offer him. He spent most of his time sitting in his wheelchair on the porch watching cars drive by and chatting with Mrs. Henderson from next door. She was a nice old lady, a lot like his grandmother in that way.
“They call me Hercules as a joke at my expense. I’m weak, you see. ‘Hercules,'” he would tell passersby. “It’s sarcasm.”
2. What Oscar didn’t understand was why it was okay for his girlfriend Emily to have “guy friends” but forbidden for him to have friends who were girls. She was known to talk on the phone at great length to male co-workers and even a couple of ex-boyfriends but if he dared even answer the phone when a female called the old homestead he was read the riot act. After a couple days of worry and a couple sleepless nights he apologized to his girlfriend in the form of flowers and a card. “I’m sorry,” he wrote. “I’ve been a jerk.”
3. The problem with being perceived as “funny” is that you start to get a reputation for being a “funny guy.” In turn, you’re expected to be “funny” all or at least a majority of the time. You’re also given attention you may or may not want. I don’t want it.
4. “I’ll never forget the time my friend’s dad slapped the shit out of me,” troubled youth “Toe” Beans recalled as he ashed his cigarette.
“Go on,” said the guidance counselor, who was really only concerned with painting her nails, the red polish on which had started to chip. Oh well, she thought, at least chipped nail polish adds character.
“I was practicing my golf game and, uhh,” “Toe” paused to take a drag of his cigarette, “I hit the ball through their window.”
“And then what happened?” the guidance counselor asked, barely refraining from belting out a yawn befitting a great big grizzly bear.
“Uh, well…my friend’s dad slapped me.”
5. “Hey, pizza dude!” one of the college students shouted at pizza deliveryman Brian Powell before succumbing to a fit of intoxicated laughter.
“Got any extra pizzas, pizza dude?” another of the college students demanded to know, this while molesting his groin with one hand and tugging at the white string of his fraying sweatpants with the other. “Dahahaha,” he began and continued to laugh.
6. Emily thought it was funny what she had just heard on her favorite talk show about sunsets. “Whenever the sun sets somewhere it rises somewhere else.” She chuckled, wiped a tear of hilarity from her eye and then finished her hot fudge sundae and went home to her cats.
7. “Tell everybody about your new record,” talk show host Maggie McCleary said with her nose more or less in the anus of pop icon Boogie Crackerjack.
“Well, I wanted this record to really reach out and touch people, you know?” Boogie said with all the sincerity one would expect from a twenty-year-old multi-millionaire who appears in cola and fast food chain commercials when she’s not baring her taut midriff in music videos for songs with titles like “I Want to Kiss U on Ur Mouth (Hot, Hot).”
“Yeah,” Maggie answered, though she was really admiring herself in the monitor. A lot of people liked to say the television cameras added weight, but she looked great, as far as she could tell. No wonder she got laid a lot. It certainly had nothing to do with her being wealthy and on TV five nights a week and everything to do with her girlish good looks. “I really like this record.”
“Yeah,” Boogie articulated brilliantly with a hand gesture. “It’s one that I like a lot, too.”
8. “Lotta drinks. Lotta drinks. Lotta drinks. Lotta drinks!” the Chief began to shout as he pounded his leathery well-worn catcher’s mitt hands on the corners of his side of the table.
“Not a drinker. Not a drinker. Not a drinker. Not a drinker!” his partner Jack Chaser barked back, his cold blue killer’s eyes burning with intensity as he flipped over the table and plunged a butcher’s knife into the heart of the suspect.
The suspect let out a loud cry like Bambi’s dying mother and his heart gushed blood all over Chaser’s face. His bushy moustache dripped fresh warm blood onto his blue button-up shirt — the sleeves of which were rolled up to reveal the beefy hairy forearms of a workman or construction worker or just “all-around tough guy” — and even on his badge. “Die!” he shouted tersely, stabbing the knife downward and into the suspect’s throat this time, tearing it wide open and leaving his trachea dangling over the arm of the chair.
9. [The audience laughs a lot because a joke was made.]
10. “How many to drink?”
“How many did you eat?”
Thirteen seemed to be a very popular number, especially with hipsters. Experts agreed that it was the most erotic number.
11. Boogie Crackerjack’s publicist wrote of the famous singer-actress: “She’s really just a regular, down-to-earth, girl-next-door and she really wants all her fans and all the people in the press to know that. The only reason she lives in Hollywood is because she’s in the movie business, and the only reason she rides around in a limousine is because she needs a mode of transportation that will accommodate her entourage. But she’s really just like everybody else. She puts her pants on one leg at a time.”
12. What do you do if the thing that inspires and ignites your creativity is the thing that prevents you from succeeding in every other aspect of your life?
13. Few things strike as much fear in the heart of an insomniac loner with a proclivity for late night walks as a sign bearing the inscription “This Street Patrolled By Neighborhood Crime Watch.”
14. “Ready to serve,” the stamp machine’s electronic screen read.
“Ready to serve?” I barked at the stamp machine that had given me just seventy cents change in lieu of the expected one-dollar-and-seventy cents. “You ate my fucking dollar!”
As I turned my back to leave the machine beeped. I turned around to see its screen read “Dollars are given as coins” in friendly green text. I examined the change in my hand: two dimes, two quarters and one gold “Sacajawea dollar.” I nodded.
15. Who knew what was going through local attorney John Luxton’s mind when he plunged a butcher’s knife through the hearts of his wife and two children? He’d been described by friends and co-workers as “a nice guy” and “someone to talk to,” in addition to being a member of the PTA and the exclusive golf club on the far west end of town. Consequently, these same friends and co-workers had an even harder time comprehending how and why this could’ve happened. Few of them refrained from or even hesitated to speculate about it when approached by both print and broadcast journalists, though. “Is this going to be on the television?” inquired Mr. Hicks, the elderly man who tended the attorney’s lawn, after the cameraman had filmed him trimming some anonymous hedge for the sake of a few seconds’ worth of video to include in a montage that would introduce this story of “terrible tragedy” in a “community torn apart by crisis.”
16. “We can still be friends,” Emily said.
What was she talking about? Oscar couldn’t figure it out. She’d broken up with him and broken his heart and now he didn’t know if he hated her or just wanted her to die. And here she was trying to tell him they could still be friends! He couldn’t believe it! “Okay,” he said weakly.
“Good. I’m glad we talked.” Click.
17. Camden Camden got breast implants because no one ever complimented her on the size or shape or texture of her breasts. It wasn’t that she didn’t receive compliments, though; in fact, people were always observing that she was “fetching” and so on, and she was, but whenever they complimented a specific part of her body they tended to mention her lovely and quite proportionate face and/or her nicely-shaped and firm posterior. “I want guys to notice my boobs. I want guys to like my boobs,” she announced to her indifferent friend Emily Twiggs as if she were giving a press conference a week or two before having her breasts enlarged.
18. “This is the most long-winded suicide note I’ve ever trudged through,” Pillowface Jones’ father remarked in annoyance, thumping the paper to further express his displeasure. His pillow-faced daughter dangled from the ceiling fan all the while. “Christ,” the father exclaimed, “There’s at least five more pages! Front and back!” he groaned.
19. The public defender’s only function seemed to be performing her job with as much incompetence as possible, but what seemed to be was not actually so; you see, she also attempted to schedule all her court appearances for 9:30 in the AM and frowned whenever anyone in the court room so much as coughed or cleared his throat.
20. 51. Some criminals are so clever that I want them to get away with their crimes. T [ ] F [ ]
204. Most people tell the truth because they are afraid of getting into trouble. T [ ] F [ ]
230. I am afraid of fire. T [ ] F [ ]
72. I do not have a great fear of snakes. T [ ] F [ ]
165. I have never been in love. T [ ] F [ ]
103. I feel uncomfortable when people say nice things about me. T [ ] F [ ]
28. Someone has it in for me. T [ ] F [ ]
305. I feel optimistic about the future. T [ ] F [ ]
21. “Ahoy, Pumpkinhead,” Georgiy said as he entered Moustache Headquarters, dressed to the nines in his circa 1980s Prince-brand warm-up suit.
Berkman looked up from his desk and glared at Georgiy just briefly before offering an icy response: “Georgiy.”
Georgiy responded with but a simper. Berkman hoped he’d get the hell out of his sight. He didn’t. Instead, Georgiy walked behind him and looked over his shoulder. He began to chuckle softly.
“What’s so funny, Georgiy?” Berkman asked, by now barely able to mask his murderous rage.
“Oh, nothing,” Georgiy said, and of course he pronounced the second word of his reply “no-thing” rather than the usual “nuh-thing.” He resumed chuckling. Berkman was by now ready to strangle the scrawny Russian (or “pinko,” as Berkman called him behind his back). “No-thing art always, Orvs Redenbutter,” Georgiy giggled as he sauntered off to his cubicle. “I am are generating now, ho-key?”
“Yeah,” Berkman replied through clenched teeth.
The Chief came stomping out of his office not long after, his sleeves rolled up and what was left of a cigar clenched between his teeth. “Goddamn it!” he shouted, slamming a thick manila folder against the wall.
“What’s the trouble, Chief?” Berkman asked, his curiosity piqued. “What’s got your feathers all ruffled?”
The Chief sighed loudly, laid the folder on Berkman’s desk and then took a seat on its edge. Berkman lit a clove cigarette and relaxed. The Chief looked at him and then turned away. “Sometimes I think I’m gettin’ too old for this, Bakersmin.”
“Berkman,” Berkman corrected him.
“Sorry,” The Chief said. “I’ve got a lot on my mind, you know. Now they’ve even got these goddamn computers that can generate content all by their lonesome.”
“Hey,” Berkman said loudly, “You win some, you lose some,” he shrugged. He always was good at cozying up to the Chief. That’s why he’d long been the Chief’s favorite.
The Chief nodded slowly. “Guess you got a point, kid,” he conceded. After taking a couple of puffs of his stubby cigar, the Chief said, “Corporate’s all over my ass, though.”
“What about?” Berkman wondered, taking an effeminate drag from his clove cigarette afterward. Before the Chief could answer, Berkman added, “The Project?”
“Who knows?” The Chief chuckled. “Since when does Corporate need a reason to ride my ass? Huh?”
Berkman laughed, though he wasn’t amused.
22. [The members of the jury let out a collective gasp.]