1. Jack Chaser rolled out of bed and took a couple shots of whiskey. Then he put on his jeans, workboots and black T-shirt and struck a match against his stubble-flecked cheek. He used the match to light a Black Death cigarette and smoked it down to the filter with a single drag. “Today’s a good day to die,” he said in his coarse man’s man tone of voice. He shoved his .44 magnum into its holster and hit the streets, ready to make grease stains of any bearded bastard who so much as looked at him funny.
2. Oscar found that the pressures put on him were too great to bear. Which is not to say that he was under any greater duress than anybody else; in fact, all he did was work part-time. Nonetheless, he was more or less wracked with anxiety and stress; he hated having to talk to the people he worked with. He hated having to answer their questions: “Why did you do” this and “Why are you doing” that and “What’s wrong?” and “How are you today?” and “What’s up?” He had a question that he never had the requisite spine to pose them or anyone else: “Why won’t you leave me alone?”
3. “Any movie made before 1990 or so sucks,” the otherwise reasonably intelligent guy said matter-of-factly.
“Yeah,” said the other guy.
“I mean,” the first guy said before an interminable pause that still hasn’t ended, hence its being described as “interminable.”
4. Here’s an artist’s depiction of an argument between Emily Twiggs and one of her boyfriends: “Why do you want to hate me?” she asked, sounding hurt in so doing. “Huh?” she was clearly fighting back the tears.
“I don’t want to, Emily” came hipster author “Reek” Bonut’s reply. “I just do.”
“Why?” she whined.
“I don’t know,” he whined. They both whined and whined because they were spoiled crybaby brats who refused to accept any responsibility for their own actions, or so the person responsible for typing out this paragraph would have you believe. In truth, he or she — the writer is as androgynous as as a formless mannequin — is the one who “passes the buck,” wherever anything and everything is concerned.
5. My oldest friend died last week. I never got the chance to say goodbye. I’ll always remember the last time I spoke to her, though. “What’s up?” she’d asked. “Hang on. I have another call,” was my response. When I’d dispensed with the other caller I pressed the “Flash” button on my cordless telephone. “Sorry about that. Are you still there?” Turns out she’d crashed into a utility pole in the time it took me to get rid of the other caller.
6. “Dude, I don’t know, dude. Dude?” the suicide girl manqué said. It seemed her entire vocabulary consisted of the word “dude” and she tended toward long digressions having nothing to do with anything of any relevance whatsoever. While “Reek” recognized the fact that she was essentially worthless and no more than mediocre in terms of physical appearance, he also recognized that she was his only option and would be his only option for quite some time. “Yeah, you’re probably right,” he said finally.
7. Young Danny Cater hoped he’d score well on his test. After all, if he didn’t score well, there wasn’t much chance of getting into College University. And if he didn’t get into College University, his father’s alma mater, well, he could kiss his brand new yellow Honda Element and its dashboard flowerpot goodbye. “Please, God,” Danny whispered as he molested the #2 pencil he’d soon be using to “bubble in” his answers, “Let me do good on this test.”
“I hope it’s not a grammar test,” God chuckled. “Because if it is, you’re fucked!”
8. “Gotta go. My lady’s cooking me dinner tonight,” Eddy Jacks, Jr.–who’d just a week ago been an especially vocal hater of all things female–said with the ebullience of a child whose parents have just bought him a new bicycle. “Macaroni & cheese,” he said with a grin a mile wide. “My baby doll knows what I like.”
9. Home shopping hostess Maggie McCleary’s favorite part of her job was showing off jewelry. Though she received a substantial discount on anything she purchased from the network, she rarely made any purchases, what with very expensive cocaine and speed habits to support. “I need to stay thin,” she said to her reflection, swallowing loudly and then adding, “For the cameras.”
10. Here’s what Emily Twiggs wrote in her findacutiepie.com dating profile: “Basically what I want is a guy who’s a little shy — someone I can bring out of his shell. I’d like him to have a sense of humor and to know how to treat a lady. Inexperience is actually a plus. I’m through with the ‘playas.’ I want someone who will open up to me so I can set him on fire and step on him and crush him into paste.”
11. Why are you in such a bad mood today?” the pushy redhead asked Pillowface Jones, the pillow-faced and very reluctant birthday girl.
“Today? I’ve been in a bad mood for thirteen years,” Pillowface answered with the world-weariness of someone two or even three times her age.
12. Here’s what Emily’s relationship was like: She and her boy were inseparable, which is not to say that they enjoyed each other’s company. She had admitted on numerous occasions to hating the boy and wishing for his death, and the boy said similar things whenever angered. However, they spent nearly every waking hour together out of some necessity. Both needed something to occupy their time. They settled for one another. “I love you,” she said. “So much?” he asked. “So much.”
13. Boogie Crackerjack had been trained by her father Geppetto “Geppy” Crackerjack to be a ventriloquist since she was old enough to pick her nose. Imagine her father’s heartbreak when she chose music over ventriloquism, then. So heartbroken was he, in fact, that he smashed the wooden dummy he’d given her on her sixteenth birthday — the same wooden dummy his father had given him on his sixteenth birthday — and told her never to contact him again for any reason. He turned to alcoholism shortly thereafter and suicide not long after that.
14. “I don’t have to answer your questions,” the bearded man said with no small amount of self-righteous indignation. “I have a fucking beard!”
“You bearded types are all the same, you know that? You all think you’re above the law, don’t you? Well you’re going down, pal. You’re going down!” shouted Jack Chaser.
“Take your finger out of my beard,” the bearded man said through clenched teeth. “Now.”
15. Whenever he killed someone, the serial murderer cut off a lock of his own hair and tied it around the victim’s right index finger. Police were confused as to why he did this, since they were able to determine the killer’s identity (“DNA evidence”) as soon as they found the first victim’s corpse. “Dumb shit,” the Chief, who had led the investigation, was heard to say while in the midst of a celebratory arm gesture.
16. “My name is Dr. Love,” the doctor introduced himself.
“Hello, Doctor. Can you help me?”
“Oh, I think so,” Dr. Love replied. “Modern medicine can cure just about anything what ails ye.”
“Why are you talking like that, sir?”
17. “You’re the one who doesn’t like anyone. Everybody wants to like you, but you don’t want to like them and you don’t want to like yourself; THAT’S your problem.”
“Mmm, you’re probably right.”
“I am. Believe me.”
“Okay, I will. After all, you have a degree in Being Correct from the University of Knowledge.”
“That’s right, I do. And, lemme just tell ya, they don’t give those away.”
“Oh, I know that.”
“Nope, nope, nope… you gotta pay an arm and a leg to get one. Something like thirty grand a semester, I think.”
He whistled to show her he was impressed.
18. Here’s what Emily was thinking when she married him: Oh god, I’m depressed. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because I’m in a relationship with someone who I’ve been “over” for a long time, but probably not. I think I’ll blame it on something else because I like to blame other people for problems that are largely the result of my own doing. Whatever the case, I’ll never do anything to make them go away; I’ll stay in this relationship no matter how shitty it gets — not that it could possibly get much shittier — and keep on refusing to believe that my doing so is in any way responsible for my “wanting to die,” as I’m fond of melodramatically putting it. I hate drama, though. Really.
19. Brian Powell’s peculiar tendency was to pay more attention to posters announcing “Lost Dog” and “Missing Cat” than the photographs of vanished children he received in the mail and saw on the backs of milk cartons.
20. Camden Camden looked down from the balcony of the slightly dilapidated duplex that was nonetheless situated in one of the trendier neighborhoods on one of the trendier downtown avenues and was therefore “nice” and worth paying $1500 per month to rent. Camden, whose hair was blonde and rife with split ends, was smoking a cigarette and looked as though she’d just sucked a lemon. Her eyes were beady and the plume of smoke emanating from her badly chapped lips only strengthened the stink of evil that hung heavily in the air every time she entered a room. “I’m better than you,” she seemed to be saying, but all she was saying in actuality was, “You down there… keep walking and don’t take your eyes off your feet or I’ll call the police.”
21. Young “Toe” Beans, aged about twelve or thirteen, entertained himself late at night by sitting outside his family’s apartment building and mimicking the walks and mannerisms of passersby, always imitating these usually perplexed persons with the utmost precision. He never exaggerated his subject’s gait or gestures or unconscious tics for effect.
22. The hot college comedian made a respectable living and carved out a sizeable niche for himself by observing and “humorizing” — that is “injecting” with “comedy” — the obvious.
23. Whenever Oscar Berkman saw a child he couldn’t help but cry or at the very least want to cry. It was inconsequential what setting or environment he saw the child in or with whom the child was interacting when he saw him. The only thing that was at all important was that he almost always saw in these children the innocence, enthusiasm, and zest for life he’d forgotten existed some time ago. It wasn’t that he was old or even bitter, necessarily; he’d simply lost touch with reality. Emotions and feelings and memorable experiences were things with which he was no longer acquainted even tangentially.
24. Pillowface Jones was fond of watching birds. Hummingbirds were her favorite, but she was also fascinated by crows. Though she was just 13 she’d filled several large photo albums with pictures of all manner of birds but, again, most of the pictures were of hummingbirds and crows. Additionally, she was constantly checking out books on the subject (still birds) from the local lending library. Some of her schoolmates teased her — “bird girl” was a derogatory nickname given her by one — because, of course, it’s not cool to have your pillowface buried in books about nature, reading, mathematics, etc., but Pillowface didn’t let it get to her. She was happier sitting up in a tree with her binoculars watching a hummingbird eat nectar or a murder of crows carry on than her classmates were when playing football or baseball or smoking cigarettes or grass or whatever it was that they did in their spare time, so why should it concern her what they said or thought? It wasn’t that she hated them or thought she was any better than they were; she simply chose not to worry over what people thought of the things she enjoyed — she enjoyed them and that was that; life was too short to do or feel any differently. Very short, indeed: Pillowface was high up in a sycamore tree one evening attempting to photograph a blue jay’s nest — filled with six or seven eggs just about ready to hatch — when she lost her footing, slipped and fell. As fate would have it, the strap on her binoculars — which she wore around her neck — caught on a branch as she was falling. Unable to free herself, Pillowface hung there by the neck for some time before asphyxiating.
25. When I was younger my brother and I owned a VHS copy of The Chinese Connection, starring the late Bruce Lee. The film, as is the case with most Bruce Lee vehicles, was filled to bursting with intense and often quite bloody Kung-Fu-oriented violence. Lee, who plays the character of “Chen Chen,” kills an incredible number of enemies with nunchuks, swords, kicks to the throat, martial arts chops to the throat, etc. My mother, who adhered to the “big bucks gospel” preached by the legendary televangelist Pastor “Prosperity” Jones, never objected to my taking in this sort of violence even at as young an age as 4 or 5. However, she did feel it was appropriate to record over the lone “racy” scene in the picture, in which a few Japanese women are dancing in a way that might be construed as “vaguely erotic” if the person doing the construing is a 16th century Puritan. At any rate, I see this as a microcosm of sorts: Violence is relatively okay; sex is not. That’s the way a good number of people seem to think. For instance, there are PG-rated films out there waiting to be rented which contain close-ups of executions by guillotine (Papillon); on the other hand, you can’t show a bare breast being touched on film and receive any less than an R-rating.
26. Yeah, so get to the point.