Sunday, September 30, 2007

Beginnings of a story

So I typed this up last night, but forgot to actually post it up. Here's a story I wrote at the UGLi a few days ago and workshopped on Thursday. I haven't actually edited it since then, but I'm pretty much looking for direction. And a title, but that will have to come after a climax/conflict/something.

Click on Post Page below for the story!

He woke looking at a web of leaves. The sun shone through around him, painting splotches of white everywhere. His walking stick lay beside him as he lay under his trusty towel. The soft, brown earth below him was comforting. The grass had just the perfect amount of spring. But although the world around him was so calm and beautiful, something felt off. He rolled over to find a furry caterpillar crawling around next to him, and he reached over to stroke it, pondering his current situation.

Slowly, he sat up and stretched. It really was a great morning. Even the air was cool and crisp—perfect weather for a t-shirt and long pants. He stood up, still mulling over last night, folded his towel, and tucked it into his knapsack. Then he picked up his walking stick, which just came up to his chest, and walked down to the river, stopping at a bush on the way for a breakfast of berries.

The water was cool, clear, and refreshing. Normally, it would have felt invigorating, but today, those strange events from the night before just kept nagging at him. This camping trip couldn't continue until that was resolved.

Ryan got up and walked east along the riverbank. Her footsteps were still visible in the damp mud on the riverbank, so she was easy to track. Half an hour later, he came upon the clearing he had walked through yesterday. Today, though, he felt something different as he approached it. He crept up slowly behind a tree and stopped, listening. This was one thing he had come to learn very well over time: ALWAYS trust your instincts. And right now, his instincts were screaming, “TROUBLE!”

He strained his senses to try to discern what was so creepy about that place, and then softly, a voice drifted towards him from his left. Slowly he tiptoed in it's direction, being very careful not to step on a twig, lest he attract unwanted attention. When he got close enough to decipher the mumbling, he realized they were speaking in a language he couldn't understand. He slipped his knife out of his knapsack and flipped it open before crawling closer. He silently thanked his father for the birthday present that had come in handy so many times before.

There were three people around the fire pit ahead. One was lying on the other side of the fire pit turned away from him while the other two were sitting across from each other talking. The two that were sitting up were stocky and well-built with short, blond hair.

The person lying down here is supposed to be the "her" he's pursuing, but of course, it's up for interpretation/change.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Repost! I actually edited a poem. This is actually for the spoken word CD. Turned out my reading was abhorrent and it needs to be re-recorded. That, and I decided I didn't like one of the lines still. At any rate, here it is, updated:

Get up, pack up, take off
Find a seat, stay awake
"Pay attention, this is important"
Copy now, learn later
Rush across the Diag now
Ignore the biting wind
Leave class, board the bus
Stand somewhere, no place to sit
Bounce with the bus, rocking back and forth
Don't fall on robots sitting all around
Meet in the library with more college drones
Hear the tower toll ten times
Hunger strikes, find food
Start assignments due soon
Check the clock, midnight
Skip the gym, try again tomorrow

So the line I dislike is "'Pay attention, this is important'". It seemed out of place. I've been trying to fix it by adding things after it. I'm currently Happy Enough (tm) with what's after it, but it'd be sweet if someone could come up with a better fix.

Friday, September 28, 2007

[Rolling out of bed]

This is terrifying really, posting on here. Ha. Ha.

But do be honest, I like criticism. Just don't threaten to stake me head because of such....hmm....what's the word? Oh, of course....such vomit-inducing writing. Ha. Ha. I'm not good with that sort of criticsm. But do criticize please.

[Rolling out of bed]

Rolling out of bed,
rain's falling,
the window pane is
covered in drops
that look like tears.
Go out for lunch,
soup and crackers,
jazz at the
Corner Street Cafe.
There's nothing to do,
I've forgotten it all.
How nice to pretend
it's the end of the world.
There's not a sound,
a walk in the rain
shows the quiet inside.
It's cold,
but the baptized streets
are nice to feel.

Small Wonders

(I workshopped a bit of this today. I'd be interested to know if people think the ending works in the context of the whole story.)

“Why do you want to work at Small Wonders Bookstore?” asks the job application.


I stare at the badly-photocopied Times New Roman, wondering if this is some kind of trick question. The truth is, I don’t want to work at all, but my Mom is insistent.

“Delia,” she lectured me over breakfast, “you’re sixteen. Time to enter into the World of Adults.”

Something tells me that “parental pressure” isn’t going to work as an answer, but honestly, I’m applying for an entry-level retail job—what do they want me to say? Little girls don’t exactly dream about becoming low-paid cashiers. Even more confusing, the application gives me six lines to respond on. Are they expecting some kind of mini-essay?

In the end, I conjure some B.S. about how I love books and helping people, which is half-true, at least. Then I stare at the remaining four lines. I’ve explained why I want to work at a bookstore, but not Small Wonders specifically, so I add, “I’d also prefer to work for an independent business instead of some huge, evil corporation intent on wedging its tentacles into every small town in America.”

“This part was a bad idea,” my mom tells me when she checks over my application. “It makes you sound kind of bitter. And crazy.” I raise my pen to scribble it out, but she stops me. “You can’t cross anything out on an application—it’ll look sloppy. Just leave it.”

Apparently, it’s better to come off as deranged rather than messy.

This was exactly why I hesitate to enter the World of Adults.

(continued at

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Awake and Exhaling

(I wrote this as a flash-fiction piece for my creative writing class last semester after reading some Dave Eggers and drinking lots of coffee, hence the presence of only about 6 sentences in this entire piece.)

I see art all around me, man, you know you flip through a magazine fast till the pages blur and the pictures just SCREAM at you, some of them, you know, they have that look, that real good look you get from a photographer who’s really got it, you know, and all together these pictures and these words, all together they’re just like WHAM in your face and you GET it! And then you start looking around you in the street, you know, ‘cause you wanna be like this dude who took that one picture of the girl sitting at the bar with the white death face and blood lips and the show bones and her blue top hanging on her like the skin of a mermaid, you want to find these people, and they are everywhere, man, you just gotta have the right eye to see them, they look you in the face on the street and you realize maybe right then or maybe a few minutes later when you brain goes shit, man, that dude was like, a whole book just standing there!

They’re everywhere, these people, you just have to open your eyes and use that side of your brain that sees like that, you know, and then they’ll just pop out at you, even the people you see every day, you know, like the guy who sits on the bench in the park day after day and feeds the pigeons, the guy who feeds ‘em bread, and he’s always old, he’s got this face like a candle that’s been burning all night, the wax all dripping and collecting in folds and lumps and hanging and the flame sputtering, and he’s always wearing this gray suit jacket that looks like it’s been washed so many times that the fabric is starting to wash out of it, you know, like the next time it gets washed there’ll be a skeleton, a jacket skeleton showing through in the holes where the fabric’s washed away, and then the guy looks at you because he hears you coming, and his eyes are like God’s.

And sometimes you don’t want to see it, you don’t want to see the pictures and words and the art out there because it hurts you, you know, it’s painful to watch these people because they are so real, they hurt you with real because you know it wouldn’t have taken a whole lot for you to turn out like that. You see them, you know, the coke-head kids, the speed freaks, the kangaroos, they hang out in clubs and behind clubs and in alleys with their dinner plate eyes and dirty shirts and unwashed hair that hangs like vines in their faces, ‘cause you know who has time for being clean when you’re awake, man, when you’re seeing what the world is like all at once, that’s what they think, and they’re laughing and screaming, guys and girls frantic to live their lives already, you know, like they want it to be done faster, faster, faster, and you look in through their pupils and their brains are screaming to be dead.

Sometimes you can’t look, sometimes you have to look away, but then when you think you’ve lost hope, it’s great to go out at night and just stand in the middle of the sidewalk and close your eyes halfway, and you see the people go by in your periphery and in front and sometimes you even can feel them in back of you, and you just stand there and you feel the people and listen to the lights that shine loud like a brass band and all the beautiful and sad and happy and lonely people are walking by you and you can feel them, like the white leather spike-heeled woman-man, and the club-hopping pill-popping floor freak and the doctor who’s going to see his late-night woman and the late-night woman going to see her doctor and the eighteen-year-old big-eyed big-titted cheerleader who’s about to find out she’s got a baby inside her and the street-corner foot-tapping man who screams for a stage and the quiet nerd who’s just trying to buy some orange juice for his sick mother and the tight-collared empty-eyed business man who wishes it would all just STOP, and they’re in you, man, and you want to just become transparent so you could be a part of them all, to have their pain and share their happiness and to drink their tears and take them to swim in a 3 and to show them that this is life, man, this is the art all around us and when you wake up each day after the worst night of your life this is what makes you take your first breath in.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Domestic Disturbance

The people who lived across the street from us were a curiosity from the day we moved in. They greeted us with apparent cordiality and openness but we could tell that there was something behind their façade of normalcy that was much more dreadful than any of the little secrets our family hid from the neighbors. Their handshakes were somehow threateningly firm and warm, and their eyes gave the impression that they were sucking your soul’s secrets out through your pupils. Though their smiles seemed genuine, the stark whiteness of their teeth always disturbed us just a little, and the longer they smiled, the more it seemed that they were not happy to see us so much as happy to have the opportunity to strike an inexplicable fear into the hearts of yet another innocent American family.

Click on "Post Page" to see the rest!

The longer we lived in our new house, the more of this new and intriguing neighborhood’s lore we learned. There were four children in the family across the street, three boys and a girl, and none of them exceptionally bright. However, they seemed to make up for their lack of intelligence with athletic ability and their father’s money. There always seemed to be a beautiful car of some sort pulling in or out of the driveway, and though we knew that the money came from the mother’s ex-husband, it was a strange fact that no one really had any idea what he did for a living, though no doubt it was one of the most lucrative businesses available to uneducated middle class men.

My brother and I were never really friends with the children across the street; the youngest was a year older than I was, and as my brother was two years younger again than me, it was unlikely that as we grew we should have much in common with them, especially since our parents decided very early on that the moral capacities of the people across the street were considerably below the standards they held us to. We were not allowed to go to the parties they held, (eventually they stopped inviting us) and after a while of careful observation of the kinds of people that would come to visit, my brother and I were quite sure that it was probably a good idea our parents had forbade us to closely associate with the neighbors upon whose house we looked every morning.

We grew, and so did the people across the street, and they became a permanent fixture in our lives, not socially, but as an example of how we did not want to turn out. The oldest brother was arrested for assault, the next oldest for grand theft auto, (though why he would be doing that was beyond us, since he could call up daddy and ask for practically any car that he wanted), and the daughter dropped out of school and had many boyfriends with whom she spent long and expensive weekends. The youngest son actually went to college, (albeit it not a very good one,) for which he received vast amounts of laudation and praise and monetary contributions from his family members. And, as he left the house across the street for college, I began my senior year of high school.

It was a beautiful year. I started it off well by being accepted early into the best college in the state, and receiving the role of Maria in the school’s production of West Side Story. With my departure from the house I had called home for so many years fast approaching, my brother decided that this was as good a time as ever to move away from being an annoying little prick and begin to act like a normal human being that I actually enjoyed spending time with. Since he was not the insufferable intellectual that I was, he reached out to me in the only way a popular boy of his age knows how: with sports; in this case, hockey. He, of course, gave the excuse that I was “a fatty” and in need of exercise, but my parents and I both knew what he was up to, and so I began to play hockey with my brother outside nearly every day after school.

We ran and dodged and passed and crashed into each other for nearly two hours every day, glancing down the driveway every once and a while at the house across the street that was now so conspicuously empty of hoodlums, except for the drop-out daughter (and her absurdly small dog), who returned home on occasion when she and her latest boyfriend had a falling out. The youngest son, away at his lower-tier college with an excellent football program, was undoubtedly getting plastered every night instead of studying for his exams; the oldest son, now out of jail and on probation for his assault charges, was shacked up somewhere in the city with his latest girlfriend, and the middle son was still sitting in a cell contemplating why he had decided to steal a car he could have gotten from his father for free. It was very peaceful. The two of us hacked away at each other without reservations, knowing that what wouldn’t kill us would make us stronger, literally, and that in ten months I was going to be living in a cramped dorm room with an unknown roommate and bad food, three hours away from the brother I was just beginning to be able to stand. His suggestions for the betterment of my hockey game were, I decided, veiled expressions of care and instruction for how to live my life away from home.

“You should hold your stick lower in your right hand when you take face-offs,” he said on occasion. Translation: “hold fast to your dreams, for they will fly away before you know it if you hold them only loosely.” Another frequently employed phrase was, “Stand with your legs further apart and your knees more bent so I can’t knock you over so easily.” This obviously meant: “be prepared to fight for what you believe in against those crazy professors who like to corrupt the minds of innocent freshmen.” And then of course, the most meaningful of them all: “Protect the puck with your life!” which clearly was a poorly disguised way of saying “Don’t give up your virginity to the first schmuck who buys you dinner and shows you his collection of vintage Pink Floyd records.”

Whatever he was trying to say, it was very evident that the hockey playing that my brother and I were doing was bringing us closer together than anything we had ever attempted to do to reconcile our differences in the past. In fact, we now were actually beginning to talk to each other about things other than how he wasn’t doing his homework or about how I was leaving stuff everywhere around the house. One Friday afternoon, out of the blue, he asked me a strange question.

“Do you know anyone who smokes pot?”

“Why do you ask?”

“Well, Alex was looking through Mitch’s backpack today and found a bag of weed.”

“He carries it around with him? That’s pretty stupid.” This was obviously not the response my brother had been expecting. So I gave him what he wanted.

“You don’t have any inkling of smoking it, do you? Because that would be stupid, too.” He made a noise acknowledging my wisdom and I continued to think out loud about the situation.

“Actually, that doesn’t surprise me too much. I mean, he’s incredibly hyper every time he’s over here, so he’s probably… almost a normal person when he’s stoned.” My brother laughed.

“Yeah, that’s probably true.” Suddenly, something behind me caught his attention. I gathered it must have been pretty severe because he indicated that I should stop playing hockey for a second, a request which, under normal circumstances, would most likely indicate the apocalypse. He pointed over my shoulder to the house across the street.

“Dude, look.” I turned around and saw that the youngest had returned home for the weekend during his study break, and, shockingly, the oldest brother was home as well. What appeared even more peculiar was what they were doing. After a few seconds of looking, I dismissed my brother’s surprise.

“Dude, it’s just laundry. They’re just unloading his first load of college laundry from the trunk.” But even I was not convinced. The way they were holding this massive pile of clothing was completely bizarre. It took both of them to lift it. I continued to watch. And then, our eyes opened very wide.

“Holy shit,” my brother exclaimed under his breath. He swore a lot when he was around me, but this definitely merited an expletive. Out of the strangely heavy mass of laundry had just popped what appeared to be a human arm. The two brothers, noticing the appendage sticking out, hurriedly shoved it back into the pile. By this time, my brother and I were already playing hockey again, not out of a desire to get back to the game, but in fear that, if they suspected we had seen what was in that heap of fabric, they would come into our house in the dead of night and smother us in our beds.

As a result, neither of us had any desire to sleep that night. Shortly after hearing the door to my parents’ bedroom close definitively at around 10:30, I heard a tentative knock on my door.

“Come in,” I whispered, and my brother crept into my room with as much sneakiness as he could muster in his rapidly growing gangly form. We both sat in the middle of my floor and just stared at the carpet for a few minutes. After what seemed to be an eternity full to bursting with frantic internal questions and fear of impending doom, I couldn’t hold it in anymore.

“Do you really think that was a body?” This seemed to my brother’s conspiratorial young mind an infernally stupid question.

“Dude, what else would it be?! There was a fucking ARM sticking out of it! And I was watching them.” He responded to the look of alarm on my face. “Don’t worry, I was careful. They didn’t seem me looking.” I gave him an older sibling-type look. “No, really, I’m sure they didn’t. Anyway, I was watching them and they stuffed it back in there like their lives depended on no one seeing it. If it had been, like, rubber, or some shit like that, they probably wouldn’t’ve cared, or they would have, like, laughed or something. But their faces were like, ‘oh shit, man’ and they stuffed it back in with the pants and shirts like there were cameras watching them.”

“Jesus, man.” That was all I could think to say. “JE-sus. Our neighbors are murderers. JE-sus!” I just sat for a few seconds after that. “What are we going to do?”

“Do? DO?! Claire, these people killed a dude. If they find out we know they killed one dude, do you really think they’ll have a problem killing two more to cover their asses?”

“I think you’re thinking about this too simplistically. Maybe they didn’t kill him after all. Maybe it was an accident and they think they’ll be framed for killing the guy so they’re trying to hide the body and make it look like the accident it was.”

My brother looked at me like a teacher over the tops of his non-existent glasses.

“Okay, okay,” I acknowledged. “That’s very unlikely, especially considering the fact that the older one was in jail for beating the shit out of a guy. But maybe…”

“No. Not ‘but maybe.’ One of them, or maybe both of them together, killed that guy whose arm was hanging out of that laundry. There is no way of getting around that. And if they find out we saw them, they’ll have to kill us as witnesses and chop us up into tiny pieces and feed us to that ridiculous tiny dog of the daughter’s.” I look at him over the very real tops of my glasses. “Okay, okay, so they’ll probably just bury us in their backyard.” Right on cue, we heard a noise that sounded suspiciously like digging coming from the house across the street. My brother grabbed my arm.

“SEE?!?!?! They’re burying a BODY in their BACKYARD!!! How are we ever going to survive?”

“Shhh! You’ll wake up mom and dad.”

“Oh yeah… Sorry. And if they find out, they’ll immediately call the police. And then we’ll ALL be dead.”

“Louie. I don’t think you realize just how difficult it is to cover up ONE murder, much less five.”

“And you do?”

I wasn’t about to be an idiot and attribute my knowledge of the problems with crime concealment to my frequent watching of Law and Order and CSI, so I just started to pontificate about how people would notice the guy was missing and would report it, and then someone would find out that the people across the street were seen with him immediately before his death, and then one thing would lead to another and they would eventually be arrested.

“So, what you’re saying is that we don’t really have to do anything at all to get the law on them; it will come by itself.”

“Did you seriously just say ‘get the law on them’?”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Nothing. I just thought it was funny.”

“You know what I think is funny about this situation?” I waited for him to tell me. “NOTHING! WE’RE GOING TO BE KILLED!” I put my face into my hands exasperatedly.

“You know what I think we should do right now?”


“Go to sleep.” He responded by grabbing his head with such fury it was comical.

“How can you think of sleeping at a time like this?”

“How can you think of using that phrase at all when you hate clichés so much?” He let out a sigh of air like a condemned man accepting his impending execution.

“Fine. FINE. I guess we can’t really do anything about it tonight anyway.” I nodded in affirmation and sent him off to his room for the night.

I was lucky I was the first one up the next morning, because when my alarm went off, I found my brother sleeping not only in my room, but curled up at the foot of my bed like a domestic animal. I shook him violently awake, as nothing less ever woke him from his practically comatose sleeping, and spoke quietly but forcefully into his face the moment he gained consciousness.

“Dude, are you serious?” He looked sheepish. “Mom and dad are definitely going to know that some weird shit is going on if they find you sleeping on my bed like a dog.”

“I must have sleepwalked…”

“A likely story. Please try and control your fear of sleeping alone in your room in the future, or go find the cat and make her protect you from invaders. She’s certainly evil enough to scare murderers.”

“True. Maybe I’ll look into that for tonight.”

“Like you would be able to get her to stay in your room without her eating you alive.”

“True again.”

“I know. I’m just a fountain of knowledge.”

“Shut up.”

“No, how about you shut up, go back to your room and pretend to sleep for the next fifteen minutes while I take a shower, and then you take one too and then we can get up and attempt to act like normal kids whose neighbors don’t kill people.” This appeared to be a reasonable plan, as he followed my orders and returned to his room.

While in the shower, I thought about the problem at hand, and suddenly, even more powerful than the fear for my own life came a very bizarre feeling: curiosity. Of course, my logical consciousness repeated to me the well-known proverb about curiosity and if it could kill an animal purported to have nine lives, then it sure as hell could screw over something with only one. But for some unknown reason, that didn’t matter to me. I actually wanted to find out what was going on across the street, to know who the dead man was, to know why he had been killed. I tried to tell myself that this was not television, that we were not detectives and that we could not simply sneak up on the house expecting no one to notice us looking into the window and putting microphones on the glass.

Binoculars were much less obtrusive. My grandfather, before his descent into alcoholic oblivion, had been an avid birdwatcher, and had spent a good amount of money on an expensive pair of binoculars, which he had left to my mother. Though she rarely used them anymore, they held a prominent place on the family bookshelf and my brother and I had no problem locating and extracting them. From his bedroom window we had a very good view of their living room-kitchen combination that went all the way through the middle section of the house, as well as a decent look into the bedrooms and garage. In fact, if we were crafty, we could even see a little ways into the TV room in the corner. Though we had lamented not having a Victorian-style house when we were younger, the ranch format of this neighborhood made it very nice and simple to spy on your neighbors from across the street.

Even with the hours we spent that day, there was not much that we found out. Overall, we discovered that their house was even messier than ours, that the primary decorating force in the house was very fond of wicker and puce-colored fabric, and that the tiny dog had the habit of jumping repeatedly against the bay window at birds. But we didn’t see any bloody knives, smoking guns, letters in large print visible through the binoculars that indicated a time and place with a footnote that said “bring deadly weapon”, or anything else obviously suspicious. What we did notice at around 1:30 that afternoon was that everyone had left the house, even the dog, carried out in the skinny tan arms of the daughter. Practically itching with a child-like yearning to explore, I attempted to pass the desire like a pathogen on to my brother, who, after a decent amount of persuading and assurance that not everyone looked at their windows at the neighbors like we did, agreed that we should actually walk over to the house across the street and unobtrusively see what we could find without leaving any sign that we were ever there.

Departing the safety of our property, we took with us a Frisbee as an excuse should someone find us creeping around on land that did not belong to us, and with the adrenaline rush that comes with both fearing your death and wanting an adventure, we crept nonchalantly across the street and into their backyard. We immediately saw where the ground had been disturbed with the digging last night, and were not surprised to see drag marks in the grass leading up to the upturned earth. Still, even with our expectations met, it gave us a horrible shiver to know that an actual person was buried underneath all that moist and grainy dirt. Still shivering, we approached the house with caution, hardly believing that we were even doing what it seemed that we were doing. Looking into the window of the kitchen didn’t provide us with much insight; there were no recipes lying out that called for human flesh, nor any notes that stated a time and place with an annotation of “Bring deadly weapon” or anything of that sort. In general, we found that we were a little disappointed.

And then we heard the sound of a car engine approaching.

It was too late to go back into our house, so we did something that we had seen on the screen and never expected to emulate in any seriousness: hiding behind the very large bushes at the back of the property. Naturally, after making sure we were hidden properly, we found a way to peek out from between the foliage in a way we hoped did not leave our shining eyes exposed. This time, the car that pulled into the driveway was the red Corvette of the older brother, shiny and almost new. As he backed into the driveway and opened the trunk, what we saw inside was neither shiny nor pleasant.

It was another body, obvious this time; no casual arm or leg flung out from within piles of dirty clothing. This was a full-fledged corpse, complete with bloodstained temple and flopping appendages. The youngest came out of the passenger-side door and looked, white-faced, into the back of his brother’s car. Then, with an almost surreality about his voice, we heard him speak.

“Man, this is crazy. This is fuckin’ crazy.” The older brother responded with disdain.

“What, you think you’re too good for this? Or just too much of a pussy?”

“No, man, it’s not even that, it’s just… you know, I’m in college, man! I’m trying to get my life together and then dad calls me up and I have to deal with this. This is fuckin’ crazy.”

“Fuckin’ crazy is what we do, lil’ bro!” He tousled his brother’s hair as if he were discussing his latest football victory. “If there weren’t fuckin’ crazy people in the world, what would all the normal people have to judge themselves against?” My brother and I looked at each other. This dude was fuckin’ crazy. Suddenly, a cell-phone rang with a loud jangle and my brother and I nearly jumped behind the bush, and then hastily squatted stark still again, praying to the God we barely believed in to help us not be seen. It was the oldest brother’s phone, and he answered it with a chest so inflated I knew without a doubt it had to be his father even before he spoke.

“Hey, dad!” There was a long silence, during which the speaker on the other end of the line spoke so forcefully that my brother and I could hear it from behind the thick bush, albeit as only a wordless mumble. He sounded angry, and the son could barely get a word in edgewise. In fact, the only complete sentence he uttered in the entire course of the roughly three minute “conversation” was right at the end.

“You’re coming up tonight?” (Some sound of affirmation coupled with anger.) “Okay.” And then, after another long tirade, silence.

My brother and I, paralyzed with fear behind the bush, stayed there for nearly another hour while the second body was buried, and the instant it was finished and the brother reentered their house, my brother and I scampered out of there through the back as fast as our legs could carry us.

This was craziness, we decided. Two bodies in under 24 hours? This was just craziness, and something had to be done. But we were too afraid, and instead spent the rest of the day looking out of the window with binoculars. That night, after our parents went to sleep, we both sat in the cushy comfort of the seat in the bay window, and promised to keep watch.

At around one in the morning, my brother and I, shamefully asleep, were awakened by the slamming of a car door echoing in through the open window. Rubbing our eyes and (in my case) putting on glasses, we were visually greeted by a beautiful vintage green Jag in the driveway. Standing next to it and arguing intensely with the oldest son was a man who, though we had never met him, we knew instantly to be the ex-husband, the father, the man who somehow was the ringmaster of this insane set of events that was shaking up suburbia (at least for those who were aware of them). His mustache, thin and well-trimmed, quivered with fury and, dare I say it, almost fear, as he spoke in no uncertain terms to the son about (presumably) how he had so royally fucked up everything. At this moment, the quivering mustache struck a nerve in my mind and I realized that this would be the perfect time to bring in the authorities. Not only were the amateurs who had botched the operation all there, but the hit-master himself was standing in the driveway, coming out of hiding from who-knows-where to belabor his incompetent sons about how they were not the ideal choice to carry on the family business.

“Are you sure that’s such a good idea?” My brother, always the cynic.

“Now is the best possible time! Look at that mustache! He is obviously someone important in the grand scheme of all things that are murder and crime-related around here.”

The facial hair finally persuading him, my brother relented, picked up the phone with shaking hands and dialed 911.

“911 operator; please state your emergency.”

“Hi, uh, we just saw our neighbors bury a body in their backyard.”

“Excuse me? Kid, this is not something to joke about.”

“No, I swear to God, and they did it yesterday too! They took it out of the trunk and started digging in the backyard and they buried it!”
“Honey, it’s late. You’ve probably been watching too many horror movies. Go to sleep, and don’t call us with any more jokes.”

“This is not a—” Click.


“They didn’t believe you?”

“How’d you guess?” He rolled his eyes.

“Let me try.” I called 911 again and prepared my best Russian accent.

“911 operator… hey, wait. Kid, we have caller ID. We know it’s you. Stop calling. Good night.” And that was the end of that. I sighed with a bit of defeat.

“You know, maybe we should just go to bed and call them in the morning from a payphone.”

“That’s stupid. I don’t think there’s even a point in calling back until we get something a little more substantial that ‘we saw our neighbors bury a body in the backyard.’”

“What exactly are you suggesting?”

Louie grinned a mischievous smile. I was not too thrilled.

“You know, unlike you I don’t have a death wish. You think spying on them again is going to get us anything we didn’t already find other than a gun to the head or a blade to the throat or a boot in the back of the neck?” He punched me playfully.

“Come on… where’s your sense of adventure?”

“I definitely have a sense of adventure. It just doesn’t involve snooping around the home of people who enjoy bumping other people off because ‘fucking crazy is what they do.’” Inexplicably, my brother chuckled.

“Yeah, that was pretty funny. I almost laughed. And then I remembered we were trying not to get caught.”

“Jesus Christ.” I had a psychopath for a brother, too. “Are you serious? You found the utter and complete mental disturbance of someone who lives across the street from us funny? I don’t know who I should be more afraid of— them, or you. Because even though they’ll be the ones doing the killing, YOU are going to GET us killed! KILLED! Do you understand what the word ‘dead’ implies? It implies that you will no longer be able to play hockey, to eat Chinese food, to ride your bike, to torment the cat, to do ANYTHING except LIE in a GRAVE and have your EYES EATEN OUT BY WORMS!!!!” There was a silence where I tried to make it seem as though I was not going insane.

My brother seemed more disturbed by my outburst than he was by the possibility that we could die. Granted, I was starting to lose it a little bit. But that was no explanation for his total lack of concern for our lives. Then again, it was two o’clock in the morning. Sleep was necessary. And so we dragged ourselves off to bed with heavy feet, preparing ourselves for the ball-and-chain combination we would have to deal with in hell, a place we would probably be visiting soon.

The next morning, a curious psychological phenomenon came to our attention. Not only had my brother’s desire to spy on the neighbors not been flushed away by sleep, my absolute aversion to exploration had actually turned to an utter and inescapable yearning for suburban espionage. The feeling was so strong that I was actually rather troubled by my nearly total support of his theory that we should spend our time on that Sunday peering into windows and even entering the structure across the street which was, of its own accord, foreboding. At this point, had we not known that the house had been built nearly thirty years before the current murderous family had moved in, we would suspect it had dead bodies in the foundations as well as in the backyard. Though many things we had once thought were totally improbable were coming to pass, we were still convinced that time travel to hide corpses was not a possibility that we needed to entertain.

Still, even with space-time bending out of the question, there were still many things for us to fear, the biggest of which was what exactly would happen to us if we were caught snooping. For some inexplicable reason, our active imaginations chock-full of torture methods from watching strange movies were not enough to dissuade us from going across the street again once they had all left again.

This time, we were not satisfied just to peek in the back window harmlessly like gardening busy-bodies. My brother, in particular, was convinced that we really needed to go into the house.

“And how exactly are we going to accomplish that? It’s not like either one of us knows how to pick locks, and they probably have some sort of home security system.”

“Honestly, Claire, who in this neighborhood has a home security system? WE don’t even have a home security system and our parents are the most paranoid people ever to walk the face of the earth. They probably keep a key under a rock or the doormat or some shit like that.”

“Oh, come on. Like people actually do that.”

Much to my chagrin, Louie reached under the gross burlap “welcome” mat and pulled out a key.

“That’s ridiculous. That’s just ridiculous.” And then, a more pressing dilemma. “Dude, we can’t just break into someone’s house like this, even if they are stupid enough to leave a key under their doormat.”

“Like anyone is going to know. Everyone’s at church right now. And anyway, like you said, they were stupid enough to leave their key under the doormat.”

“That is not an excuse! …Oi.” I grabbed my head with exasperation, but did not stop him from turning the key in the lock.

Instantly, the tiny dog started to bark. His little nails clicked on the linoleum as he ran towards us and the tiny pink bow on his head bobbed up and down with each step.

“See? The dog is barking. We should leave. Someone will be alerted.” My brother looked at me incredulously.

“Do you see this thing? It weighs less than my hand. And there is no way it’s producing enough sound to alert the neighbors, who AREN’T EVEN HOME!”

“Whatever. I’m just saying, this is a bad idea, so if we get killed, I told you so in advance.” My brother made his characteristic derisive noise. I raised my hands defensively, absolving myself from all blame. “I’m just saying….”

“Yeah, yeah. You’re just a wuss.”

“Shut it, boy.” Antagonized slightly, and in the mood for some joking, my brother turned around and put on his frequently-adopted rapper attitude.

“You talkin’ to me, bitch? I don’t put up with no shit like this, bitch.” He pushed me in the shoulders, and I, with my classic lack of balance, lost my footing slightly and knocked into the very large lamp behind me. I righted myself, but the lamp had no such power.

We watched the it fall as if in slow motion, just like in movies, and I half expected to hear my brother’s voice (sounding suspiciously as if it had been digitally slowed down) crying out “NOOOOOOoooooo….” accompanied by a futiley reaching hand. Instead, all that happened was we watched the lamp fall—directly onto the dog, who just looked up and watched his death descend. A slight crunching sound as his bones were crushed under the heavy pole of the lamp alerted us to his passing, and we stood still with utter horror for a moment as a very small bloodstain crept around the edges of the white fluff.

My brother and I looked at each other and saw an indescribable look on the other’s face which we thought most likely approximated what we ourselves must look like. Immediately, there was only one thing we could think to do. We bolted from the house and ran into our own backyard, thankfully remembering to lock the door behind us and replace the key under the mat.

Back in safe territory—if any place was safe anymore—and panting as the animal beneath the bronze lamp once had, we looked at each other yet again, and the inevitable accusations began to fly.

“You killed the fucking dog!” My brother was nearly tearful with the mixture of emotions running through his body.

“No, I didn’t kill it. That lamp fell on it after YOU PUSHED ME INTO IT!”

“I didn’t push you NEARLY hard enough for you to fall onto the lamp! God! What are they going to think when they come home and their dog is DEAD under a LAMP in the LIVING ROOM?!?!”

“It kind of looks like an accident…the dog might have just moved the carpet wrong and the lamp fell on it.”

“Well let’s hope for our sake they’re JUST AS STUPID AS YOU! That’s the worst excuse I ever heard. ‘Yeah, that fifty pound well-grounded lamp must have been knocked over by a ONE POUND FLUFF-BALL!!!!!’” He paused to catch his breath. “Jesus. This is bad. This is some bad shit.” He turned to look at me again. “NOW WE’RE MURDERERS TOO!”

“Oh, come on, Louie. It was a stupid little dog. And it was an accident. It’s not like we’re SHOOTING people and BURYING THEM UNDERNEATH THE ROSEBUSHES!”

Suddenly there was the roar of the daughter’s SUV and she pulled into the driveway recklessly, as she always did. My brother and I were frozen with fear, though not frozen enough to avoid running into the house as if we were being pursued by Jack the Ripper. Once inside, we hid in Louie’s room and peeked like toddlers between his drawn blinds. Nearly the instant we looked through the lens of the binoculars, we heard a scream that echoed as if it had come from the mouth of a denizen of the underworld instead of from between the lips of an anguished 20-year-old girl. Obviously, she had found the dog. We could see her frantically search through her unnaturally large purse for her cell phone and dial a number, speaking tearfully to the person on the other end of the line with such animation it required that she readjust her hair every three seconds. Within minutes, nearly everyone in the family had returned home to console her. However, when the father, mustache-a-quivering, pulled into the driveway, he seemed to have something else on his mind other than a dead dog. Entering the massive room that was the middle of the house, he immediately went straight to the kitchen counter that protruded like a bar. Not finding what he needed immediately, he went into a panic and began to throw everything off the counter in search of whatever it is he was looking for. I was rather concerned by this development.

“Louie, you didn’t take anything from there, did you?”

“Do you think I’m insane? The last thing I’d want to do is give them ANOTHER reason to kill us!” He turned his back to me and paced across the room in exasperation. As I caught a glimpse of his posterior side, I was confronted with something unbelievable.

Stuck to his back pocket was a pink sticky note with a few lines of writing on it in a neat and professional hand. I plucked it off and held it up in front of his face.

“This was stuck to your ass pocket. Even when you’re not consciously doing it, you manage to fuck things up.”

“Oh, come on. You can’t blame me for that. And what does it say? It might just be a grocery list.”

“Well, let’s find out.”

Written hurriedly, but still neatly across the piece of paper was “Carl Benneford, 3252 Fairway Ct. Found out about last job. Is allergic to peanuts. Will be home alone at 6:30.”

“Oh Jesus, Louie. Jesus.” There was no other exclamation that would possibly be warranted. “Okay, well, we have to call the cops now. There is no choice here. We can use mom’s cell phone or something.” My brother looked terrified and nodded in assent.

“Okay. I’ll go get it.” He sprinted from the room and I looked out of the window again, only to see, much to my utter shock, police cars pouring into the neighborhood and up the driveway across the street. Unless my brother was capable of telepathic communication, someone had beaten us to the punch. Louie, hearing the sirens, came back into the room and we watched through the binoculars, chuckling maniacally as the two sons and the father, mustache shaking with anger, were handcuffed and put into the back of the police cars.

Listening to the local news that night, my brother and I were not surprised to learn that there had been a total of 11 bodies found in the backyard during the excavation process. The tip that had led to the arrests had come from an ongoing investigation into the person killed right before Laundry Man, and the pieces had come together, resulting in the arrest of the family who ran the largest illegal car parts industry in the country. The killing had started two years ago, when an employee earning blackmail money had gotten too greedy, and had escalated as knocking people became easier with practice. Thanks to questions asked of all the surrounding neighbors, my brother and I were solely responsible for getting a police protection unit put on allergic-to-peanuts guy, and we grinned smugly about it whenever we could.

We were just beginning to sleep well that night when the doorbell rang. We answered it, as our parents were already comatose, and upon opening the door, were faced with nothing but a box on the front doorstep. We were rather apprehensive, but seeing as the entire family except for the daughter was in jail that night, we didn’t think we had much to be afraid of, so we lifted the lid cautiously.

Staring up at us were the dead eyes of the tiny dog we had unwittingly crushed beneath the lamp in our spy-like efforts. I felt my heart clutch in my chest and we looked up across the street, where the bedroom curtains hurriedly closed, hiding the frightening eyes of a young woman full of hatred.

How to make a long post

It took the better part of four hours and some disgustingly potent coffee, but you now have a great way of making long posts to our blog! With this method, readers on the front page of the blog will only see a snippet of your post, but readers on the post page will see the complete post.

Click on "Post Page" below to see the rest!

These steps assume that you want the beginning of your post to be the preview. If you really, really want something different, let an administrator know and we'll help you out.

Step 1: Put your entire blog post into the new post text box under the "Compose" tab. If you want to format your post, now is the time to do it.

Step 2: Click on the "Edit Html" tab.

Step 3: Find the spot where you want the preview to end. Put the cursor there and paste the following:

<span class="frontpageonly">

Click on "Post Page" below to see the rest!</span><span class="postpageonly">

If you want to change the "Click on..." text, go ahead, but don't touch the span tags unless you know exactly what you're doing.

Step 4: Scroll all the way to the bottom. Paste the following to the end of the post:

You're done!

As always, those of you who know HTML/CSS are welcome to apply that knowledge to this system. Play around with the frontpageonly and postpageonly classes to your heart's content, but try not to break the blog in the process.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Magic Wallpaper

I wrote another story :) It can be found at (link) and on the post page. Comment please :D

Click on "Post Page" below to see the story!

It all began when someone left the window open. Before that fateful day, it was just a normal bedroom. But after that, it turned into the emptiest 100 square feet in the universe. The emptiest, and yet the most alive.

No one quite knows what sort of devilish magic entered that day, but at first it seemed like a boon. The walls became so much more colorful. The wallpaper went from being drab and uninteresting to the most natural scenery you have ever seen. But if you looked closely, you could see the fear in all the faces of the birds and the bugs in the picture. I had a fantastic attraction to those frightened faces. Something about them made me never want to leave that room.

One afternoon, I stayed just a little too long. I was sitting on the bed reading my weekly novel when I suddenly felt a strong tug from behind me. Confused, I glanced behind me to find nothing. Suddenly, I felt pulled again and started sliding along the bed. It was like it was some crazy magnet and I was a piece of iron. I couldn't release myself from its pull. As my back hit the wall, I felt myself losing motion and then started to feel myself flattening into the wallpaper. Within fifteen minutes, I was part of the scenery. Then I understood why all the other animals were so lifelike and frightened.

Behind the wall, everything still had its voice. I obviously couldn't understand any of the animals, but they were clearly just as frightened as they were when they got pulled in—as was I. None of us could move, and we were all stuck looking into the room, but we still had our minds and souls, and our thoughts echoed in this crazy world we were stuck in. I often wonder if that's what plants feel like. It stayed like this for a few weeks; I could tell by counting the sunsets. Then one day, someone else found the room. I wanted to yell to her to leave before she fell victim to the same fate as we had, but I was unable to do anything in the world from whence I came. There was something different about this woman, though. She had an air about her I can't describe. She carried herself like a queen and always wore the same flowing, white robes with the same flowery, white crown. She was tall and moved with a grace that surpasses that of a butterfly.

Day after day, she came into the room and sat down, looking around her with a look of satisfaction on her face. If I hadn't know any better, I would almost have called that look smug. Around the end of the fifth week of my capture, something amazing happened. The lady came into the room again, and sat down on the bed with that same look on her face. But this time, when she looked around the room, her gaze stopped by the window. She walked over to the wall by the window and stopped in front of a large ant. She looked at it for a while and muttered something I couldn't understand. Then she stroked it twice with that long, slender finger of hers. As her finger moved down the back of the ant the second time, it gained form and body, and left the wallpaper. She petted the freed ant softly and then put it down by her feet. Then, standing tall again, she spread her arms, palms up, and started muttering, in what sounded like the same language as before. Slowly, she started shrinking, both vertically and horizontally. Her arms flattened out while her hair started growing into her head. Feathers started sprouting up everywhere as her legs became stalks. Her nose elongated and her eyes spread out across her face. Then suddenly, there was a dove standing in her place. She bent down, grabbed the ant in her beak, and flew up to the windowsill. Looking back once more at her trap, she let out a satisfied chirp and flew out away from the cursed room.

Every day since then, I've been hoping for another magician to come and undo this incantation she placed on my third floor bedroom.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Spider Lies

They are my friends.
They're all I've got.
I have a home,
A place to sleep
because of them.

Spinning, strand by strand
fortifying my home, my safety net.
they've done it all for me.

they're busy at work
I sit and watch, and suddenly
my arms and legs
are bound.
I've been tricked.

I've made a mistake.
The spiders have me.
This web, this home,
Is my prison.


"make me immoral,"
the protagonist whispers
"let me taste her love,"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

An old poem

I decided to post this because it's very old, and the plant to which it pertains has finally been repotted. Poor thing. I think it's been... 6 years?


Bamboo plant is looking brown
Crispy leaves scattered all around
I think that plant is a little parched
Haven’t watered it since March
Used to be a thing I loved
Now it’s going to plant heaven above
The sun that used to be its friend
Is bringing it to its tragic end
Photosynthesis can’t take place
If I don’t toss some water in that vase
I think I’ll just throw that plant away
It’s surely seen some better days

I’m holding it above the can
But suddenly, something grabs my hand
Bamboo plant! It lives and fights!
And I am what it wants to smite!
It curls its leaves around my neck
It’s just a plant?! What the heck?!
I never expected retaliation
Now I am filled with trepidation
Bamboo plant has had enough
It’s ready to be strong and tough
It knows it won’t be the one to croak
As I continue to be choked
There is no hope; I commence to crying
I know it’s me who’s really dying
I confess my sins as I begin to pant
I should’ve watered the bamboo plant