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Excerpt for Animals with Issues by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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Animals with Issues


Copyright © 2015 by Bill Runyan

Smashwords Edition
All Rights Reserved
Cover artwork created by Monica Haynes




Table of Contents

Title Page
Copyright
Preface

The Trial
Betrayal

The Great Escape
Art Appreciation

My Trip to Tokyo: A Personal Memoir
Death of a Salesman

Rehab
Retribution
Dance Fever
Phil
The
Duel

Gourmets of the Savannah
Nancy
A Dysfunctional Relationship

Holy War

Doppelganger
The Contender
Scout
The Comeback

The Architect
Wisdom
Bullies
Foster
Care

A Clash of Philosophies
Epilogue

Preface

In the course of my life, I have been confronted with many difficult philosophical questions such as Does God exist? What is the meaning of life? When did you get out of prison? I never seem to have answers for these perplexing queries, at least not sober. But in philosophy, are not the questions ultimately more important than the answers? And if there were answers, wouldn’t they be in the back of the book?


You won’t find the answers in the back of this book, but what you will find are moving stories of individuals wrestling with the trials and tribulations of the human condition. It is particularly tough for these characters because, except for a couple of exceptionally disturbed personages, they are not human. They are animals. It’s not even obvious what kind of animals they are, but fear not. Each story ends either by giving you a strong hint or has links you can click on that will take you to place(s) on the internet featuring the animal(s) in question.


Please note: This book is not suitable for children. It wasn’t written for children; not even evil little children like you see in horror movies; so, don’t read them to your offspring. It may give them nightmares, and they could be in therapy for years. I’m not paying for your kid’s therapy, so don’t even ask.


While not family friendly, this charming collection of short stories is suitable for adults with attention deficit disorder because the stories are short and you don’t have to read them in any particular order. It is also good for a drinking game where you try to guess what the animal is and you have to take a drink if you get it wrong. If nothing else, there are links to YouTube videos that will keep you amused and you won’t get arrested for drunken driving if you are kept busy watching videos until you sober up. Consider this work my contribution to public safety.


Table of Contents

The Trial

So finally, my time has come. They’ve brought me in to face my inquisitors in a cage, in a cage mind you, like I am some wild animal. What are they so afraid of? Cowards! So, there they stand in a circle around me, all dressed in white. Do they think they are angels? Blasphemous bastards! So now they sit in judgment of me, me! I can scarcely believe it. These overfed excuses of humanity. These meat puppets are now going to judge me. Judge me and for what? For eating a little extra food, I suppose. Times are tough.


So, I found a sack of grain in storage. Yes, it wasn’t part of my rations, but the bag was open. It would have been ruined by rain or ransacked by vermin if it weren’t for me. Or worse it could have gone bad, gotten some fungal infestation and someone could have eaten it and died. Why it could have been contaminated already. I was risking my life for the community. Yes, it was an heroic act. I’m a hero damn it! Aren’t you listening? Are you deaf as well as ignorant? What is wrong with you people? Why do you stand around pointing and talking amongst yourselves? What kind of trial is this? What kind of kangaroo court is this? Where is my lawyer? I demand representation by counsel this minute! This minute, do you hear?! But I can see you don’t hear. My pleas and exhortations have fallen on deaf ears.


But now my cage is wheeled away. I’m being taken outside, at last into the sunshine. I’m going to be set free. They must have realized it was all a horrible mistake and were too humiliated to talk to me. Well, that’s alright. Mistakes do happen. I’m not one to hold grudges. I can be magnanimous. I’m just that sort you know.


I’m taken out of the cage and put on a platform. Oh, nice view from here. If someone could direct me back home, I’ll be on my way. What’s this? Now I’m being held. My neck is pressed to the platform. Is that an ax?! No! No!


The head chef at the Epicure addressed the others, “That last bird squawked way too much. He disturbed the patrons. Next Thanksgiving, we’ll inspect the turkeys outside.”



Table of Contents

Betrayal

I hate this reality show. I’ve been here so long I can’t even remember signing up for it. Getting old, I guess. Yes, I hated and still hate this show. I hate the noisy neighbors and the complete lack of privacy, but I at least had Wzui. Such a silly name, but that just made him even more adorable to me. Then you took him away from me. Yes, I blame you, all of you sick twisted voyeurs that had to watch us every minute of every day. The only time we could get even a modicum of peace was in the evening when you all leave to sleep or gawk at someone else, or whatever it is you do. No matter.


So that was the time of day that I decided to strike, to strike her, that foul temptress, the one who lured my beloved away from me. At first, there was just a coy look now and then. Yes, just a glance here and there, occasionally followed by the most casual caress. As time wore on, she became increasingly bold. The casual caresses turned to passionate embraces and when she wandered off with him behind the rocks, did they think I didn’t know what they were doing?


Oh yes, I bided my time. I know this is just a show for you. You people brought her in just to stir things up. I knew that and thought that soon you’d grow bored with her sordid displays and take her out, or us out. I thought that you wouldn’t leave things as they were. Would you destroy a family for entertainment? I thought surely not. Little did I know the depths of your depravity. You would do anything to be amused, and your amusements are always of the basest sort. Drastic action became necessary, so I took it.


It was on a lovely evening in early fall that I made my move, an evening when love was in the air or should have been, love between him and me. Yes, I loved him still, even though he had succumbed to the charms of that bestial beauty, that salacious slut, that...well I run out of words to verbalize my disgust, but I digress. I crept slowly, oh so slowly to where she was sleeping. My intention was to choke the life out of her, but no, I couldn’t, not from any second thoughts or lack of courage. I didn’t choke her because her neck was covered, shielded by the head of he who had once been my one true love, the one that was now sleeping by her side.

Then suddenly it all became clear. She was not the one that needed to die; it was the one that had betrayed me; the one that had left my side and snuck off in the middle of the night to be with that vixen. Well, their little affair was going to come to an abrupt end.


I struck suddenly and without mercy, he struggled, but I hung on tight, choking the life out of my faithless fiancé until I felt his body go limp. Only then did I let go. And she, what did she do you might ask as I was giving him his just rewards? Well, she never even woke up. So, do what you want with me. Without him, my life is over. You sick freaks!


Jealousy

Table of Contents

The Great Escape

I was growing tired of dirt. I was covered with it. I’m an aviator, not an excavator, but I had volunteered for this, so I continued to dig without complaint, except to myself. We were good at this, even though it didn’t come naturally. Luckily, we had good direction from some army engineers who were captured before we got here. They called themselves the Cunicularia, egg heads all. I did wonder if they were so smart, how did they get caught in the first place?


I did have to admit; they supervised us well. We worked as a team. Everyone had a job, and they knew how to do it. Some of us dug, and some of us carried the dirt out of the tunnel. Still more of us scattered the dirt in such a way that the guards didn’t see what we were doing.

We’d been digging for over a week now. The last two tunnels had hit a wall; maybe this one would be different. It wasn’t. Once again, we had been stymied in our progress. Our captors were most clever. Had they surrounded the whole camp with concrete down to the bedrock? Looked like it. Captain Gannet was not going to be happy about this, but someone had to tell him. We drew straws to determine who was to do this potentially unpleasant task. I drew the short straw so that someone was me.


I walked in on the captain during a meeting. I was going to back out before he could see me, but I was too late.

“What is it Peck?” growled the Captain.

“Bad news, sir,” I reported.

“I hate to tell you this Captain, but…”

“Out with it.”

“The tunnel has hit a wall. We can’t go any further.”


The captain just hung his head.

Finally, he looked up. “Very well; you’re dismissed.”


I just stood there. The Captain repeated, “You’re dismissed.”

“Sir, I have an idea.”

“Really?” The captain looked quizzical.

Yes, sir.”


“Okay Peck, you have my attention. What’s your idea?”


“Well, every day they bring in our chow in those big containers, right sir?”


“Continue.” The captain looked on with interest.


“Well sometimes, after they distribute the food, they don’t take the containers out right away. When they’re not looking, I could hide in a container. They wouldn’t know I was there and after they took me out of the camp, I’d just wait until dark and then I’d slip out of the container and go get help.”


I stood there as the captain just looked at me without saying anything. Finally, he spoke.


“Very well. Godspeed.”


“Thank you, sir. I won’t disappoint you.”


I was so excited; I flew away from the captain. I couldn’t wait to tell my buddies about my plan. They’d been cooped up so long they would help regardless of the consequences. They wanted out.


Al and Rodney had been my best friends since before we could walk. We learned to swim together. I knew I could depend on them. We met behind a large rock where the guards wouldn't hear us.


Okay, guys; the captain has approved the plan. After they finish passing out the chow, I want Rodney to create a diversion. I’ll sneak in the food container. Al, you put the lid back on. Got it?”


“Got it.”

It was almost time for our evening meal. We didn’t have to wait long. The guards wheeled in a container. These things held a lot. They could easily hold one of us. Hungry prisoners crowded around as the guards passed out the food. Usually Rodney would be the first one up, but not today. He was on a mission. Rodney came up last. Just as they were about to close the lid, he started dancing. It was quite a display. He wiggled, he waggled; he stomped his feet. I hadn’t known that he could move like that, but I didn’t have time to admire his technique. I had to get moving.


The guards were totally enthralled with Rodney’s dancing. They even clapped and stomped their feet in unison with him. Not one of them was looking at the food container. Now was my chance. I climbed over the side of the container and slipped in. Al pushed the lid up over its side, and I helped guide it into place.


It was dark. Like black ink dark. I was so scared; I could hear the beating of my heart. I hoped the guards couldn’t hear it. Then I felt the container move. This was working! I listened to the squeaking of the wheels as it was taken away from the feeding area. Next, I heard gates opening and closing. I was out! Even though I was still enclosed in a box, this was the first time I had been out of camp since I’d been captured. I felt the anticipation of liberation.


Finally, I could feel that I wasn’t moving anymore. I heard the guards talking, but eventually, the voices ceased. For a long moment, I strained to make out a sound. Silence. Had the guards truly left? I had to take the chance, or eventually, they’d find me anyway. I slowly opened the lid and peeked out. Nobody. Little by little I slide the top back and then after looking around one last time, I climbed out. I wasn’t out of the camp yet. I looked around. There were piles of containers, nets, rowboats, and paddles. Apparently, I was standing in a storage area. The outer gate stood ajar. More than that it looked like it was propped open with boxes. They must never close it! I snuck out, taking great care not to jostle any of the equipment and make a noise. I could taste freedom. Just a few more steps and—

“Be careful, I want him alive,” a voice echoed off the walls. Suddenly I was grabbed by strong hands. I heard another voice say, “Where do you think you’re going?”


The guards were on me. They picked me up and put me on a table. I found myself staring in the face of what appeared to be the chief guard. He interrogated me while his minions held me down. He cocked his head and looked at me quizzically.


“How did you get out?”


I was determined not to talk. I didn’t care what they did to me. I wouldn’t betray my own. So I just stared back defiantly. The head guard smiled a maniacal smile.


“We don’t get many escapees from this place. I can’t think of a one. Why did you think you’d be the first?”

I admit it, my heart was pounding in fear, but I still wouldn’t talk. The chief guard looked at the other guards. “He is a handsome fellow. I’d hate to see him injured. Be careful with him.”


He turned and left the room. So now I knew. That was an implied threat if I had ever heard one. Was I to be tortured? It appeared so. The guards were getting out tools. I closed my eyes and prayed. I heard a noise like metal being rubbed on metal and felt something on my leg. I looked down. They had placed a manacle on my leg, but oddly enough there was no chain attached.


Next, I was picked up and placed in a box, much smaller than the one that hid me when I was wheeled out of the camp. It was claustrophobic. My mind raced. Was this the cooler? Are they holding me in solitary? Am I to die here? Surely, they won’t leave me here. Aren’t they signatories to the Geneva accords? They can’t do this. There will be UN inspectors coming in. Yes, there’ll be UN inspectors and they’ll come in and free me from this hell hole. I freaked. I started screaming. I didn’t even notice at first that I was moving. Suddenly the lid was lifted, and I was unceremoniously dumped on the ground, right back where I started. Obviously, I had experienced some form of psychological torture. I was infuriated. I yelled back at them as they were leaving.


“You sadistic pigs. There’ll be a special place in Hell for you.” They just laughed.


Soon my fellow prisoners surrounded me. They gave me sympathetic looks. Al and Rodney came up to comfort me.

“You want to talk about it?” Al asked.

“No.” I was ashamed of my failure. I thought I had let everyone down.

Suddenly Captain Gannet pushed his way through the crowd. “Report.”


I struggled at first to get up on my feet, but I managed and stood at attention.

“What did you see?” the captain commanded.

“Beyond the gate where the guards come in, there is a storage area with a table where they torture the prisoners. Beyond that, there is another gate that leads to the outside. It looks like they keep it propped open. I thought I could make it out and I nearly made it, but they caught me. I failed.”


I hung my head in shame. The captain came over.


“That’s okay son. You have brought us valuable intelligence. Now we have enough information to plan our escape.”


“We do?” I was flabbergasted.


“Yes, we do. Now we know that only two gates are separating us from freedom, that they are not well guarded and the outer one is propped open.”

“They caught me, sir.”


“Yes, but you are only one. They are expecting that. They won’t be expecting a mass exodus, so that is exactly what we’ll do. We’ll all rush out at once.”


I was astounded by the audacity of the plan. Now I knew why he was the captain and I wasn’t even an officer. I didn’t think big enough. The captain looked at me.

“Peck, since you were the one that got us the critical information we needed to plan this operation, you can lead the charge as we overwhelm the guards and make good our escape.”


I’m sure the captain thought I’d jump at the chance to do this since I volunteered before, but I still hadn’t recovered from my ordeal. “Sir, I appreciate you thinking of me, but since I was in the cooler, I think I got a touch of post-traumatic stress disorder, so I think I’ll have to decline your kind invitation.”


The captain became very stern. “Peck it wasn’t an invitation, it was an order.” I was crestfallen, and I guess the captain could see it.

“Peck, I know you have been through a lot, being caged up in that tiny space and all, but you need to get over it. You need to think of the wide world out there when we are finally free. You need to quit living in the past. You need to think outside the box.”


He was right. With those words of inspiration, I suddenly felt better. Inspired even.


“Okay sir, I’ll do it.”


“That a boy Peck, I knew you’d come around.”


“Okay everyone, here’s the plan. Tomorrow when the guards come in, they’ll have to open the gate to wheel in the food cart. At that exact moment, Peck will lead us out. He knows the way.”


The next day we were ready. We tried to act casual, but there was a palpable tension in the air. We waited in silence. You could have heard a pin drop. Then it happened. The gate opened. “Now!” the captain cried.


We all rushed to the gate. The guards were overwhelmed. There were so many of us they were knocked down. We made it to the storage area. There was the gate. It was closed! I couldn’t believe it. It was propped open the last time I saw it. Why had they closed it? Could I open it? I tried. I couldn’t. It must have been locked. No time to think. There must be another way out. There must be.


But there was no other way out. The guards recovered. More guards arrived through the very gate that was to lead to our freedom. I couldn’t count, but there seemed to be dozens of them. Now I know what all those nets were for. We struggled, but to no avail. We were all captured and returned to camp. We wondered what punishment awaited us. A listlessness overcame us. We were distraught. Some of us let out screams of despair. I just stood and stared. Captain Gannet came over to where I was standing and stood beside me. “It’s not over Peck. Someday God willing, we’ll find a way out of here.”


Then, as if in answer to our prayers, it happened. We heard a roaring. A tempest was hammering at our enclosure. The roof creaked. Then I heard the shattering of glass. Next, the whole structure that was our prison imploded. Steel beams, wire and glass, were everywhere. Pandemonium ensued. At first, we didn’t know what to do; we were so shocked. Al and Rodney struggled through the debris and made their way over to me. They looked dazed. I felt the same. We saw that Captain Gannet was trapped under some wire. We worked to free him. We couldn’t. The guards were coming.


“What the hell are you doing?


“Get out of here.”


We hesitated. We didn’t want to leave him.


“That’s an order.” the captain squawked.


I looked back. The guards were almost on us.


“Go! Go!” The captain waved at us to leave.


I took off. Rodney and Al were right behind me. We were free, free at last.



How the great escape happened

Table of Contents

Art Appreciation

I love art. I love the interplay of colors, the tango of the hues, I love the textures, and above all, I love to explain it to people who aren’t blessed with my gift for critical discernment. So when

my faithful domestic Jeeves told me that there was going to be another outdoor art festival this weekend, I jumped at the chance to go. I knew that this would be another opportunity to share my insight with the masses.


You couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. Puffy white clouds chased each other in the azure blue above and put me in a merry mood. My body shivered in anticipation of critiquing the artist’s works. I wasn’t disappointed. There was booth after booth representing all styles and genres. Jeeves and I walked up to a tent. This one held contemporary modern art. It looked like the artist had painted it blindfolded, but I could tell what he was trying to do. I’m sensitive that way. One painting, in particular, caught my eye and I knew this artist had potential. Many of the patrons seemed to appreciate it too, but couldn’t quite grasp its significance. They were clearly out of their depth, so I proceeded to enlighten them.

“This piece explores the relationship between new class identities and life as performance.” People gathered around. With just one statement, I was already drawing interest. I continued. “The variations in tone you see here clearly show influences as diverse as Kierkegaard and Andy Warhol. New combinations are crafted from both mundane and transcendent discourse. Though seemingly an airy piece, on reflection the viewer is left with apprehension of the darkness of our future.”


The artist was noticeably stunned. He didn’t say a word. Obviously, no one had ever articulated such an insightful interpretation of his work. I moved on to the next booth. A crowd had begun to form behind me, as they waited in breathless anticipation for my next critique. This one really moved me, so I thought I’d give it a personal twist. “Ever since I was young, I have been fascinated by the theoretical limits of the zeitgeist. By exploring the relationship between gender politics and Jungian archetypes in a visual medium, this work expands our conceptual boundaries and perhaps even our collective unconscious.”


The artist was overcome with joy. Apparently, no one had understood his work before, much less verbalized its essence with such brevity. He fell to his knees in awe. I permitted him to touch me. Soon, more people joined the crowd. They must have realized they were in the presence of genius. I allowed the children to hug me. Sometimes I can’t believe my beneficence.

Next, I came to a work that could only charitably be called inferior. To the untutored eye of the ignorant layman, it might have been deemed satisfactory, but by astute observation, I quickly grasped its flaws. It didn’t have a center of interest and didn’t seem to make a firm statement

about anything, but its greatest deficiency was that it appeared that someone’s pet pig had gotten loose and disgorged the contents of its entire digestive system on the canvas.

And the creator of this monstrosity? In addition to being totally bereft of talent, the poor wretch looked like he was as foreign to the idea of sanitation as an ape to fire. He must have come from a country that had not yet experienced the joys of indoor plumbing. I wondered if there was even a brain behind those vacuous eyes. Probably not anything one would recognize as such. More like a couple of neurons playing tag in the wilderness. It was sad. I was going to leave, but I could tell by the fawning looks in their eyes that my admirers were hoping, nay praying to benefit from my wisdom, so reluctantly I began.


“What may have started as an abstract representation of the human condition has only become debased into a manifesto of greed that has been manipulated into a tragedy of distress, leaving only a sense of nihilism and…” I couldn’t continue; it was just too horrible. I had to mark it as such and move on.


Then the extraordinary happened; this pernicious pustule of a person who had been all smiles only seconds before became enraged. He screamed, he yelled. His body shook with paroxysms of rage like someone receiving electroshock therapy. God knows he needed it. He did not take criticism well.


Then he did the unthinkable. He kicked me; yes, he kicked me! He simply could not face the ugly truth of his inadequacy and had lashed out with his foot. This was a bridge too far for my loyal man-servant. Before I could even react, Jeeves was on him. He grabbed the purveyor of this monstrosity masquerading as art and threw him into the adjacent tent trashing the paintings within. This was not well received, and he was again grabbed and thrown out into the crowd where he was promptly beaten to a bloody pulp.


It was difficult to see what happened next as there was so much confusion, but it appears

a melee broke out. My valiant valet and I managed to escape as the authorities got there, but I don’t think we will be going back to any more of these festivals anytime soon. Artists are just too sensitive.

Breaking news: Poodle pees on painting, starts riot. Update after these messages.


Table of Contents

My Trip to Tokyo: A Personal Memoir

It was my first time in Tokyo. My body quivered at the prospect of exploring the city. I’d just had an existential crisis, so my therapist suggested I take a vacation to work things out. At first, I thought of Hawaii as I have a certain aquatic affinity, but the tragic passing of that state’s favorite son, Don Ho, was still too fresh in my mind. “Tiny Bubbles” used to be my favorite song. Now I can’t even listen to it without bursting into tears.


The next place I thought of was Japan. Perhaps I could go to the local Disneyland and get in touch with my inner child. God knows I needed the break. It’s hard enough to be an international celebrity, what with the paparazzi and their insistently irritating camera flashes. It’s particularly tough when you’re in the fight game. It seems like everywhere I go some miserable miscreant is itching to challenge me, trying to be the next superstar. I’d give it all up if it weren't for my fans. They cry out with joy when they see me, but they respect my privacy. They don’t hound me for autographs like other luminaries of my stature. I’ve been extremely fortunate in that regard.


I decided to come in by sea. I adore the salty air, and I was never one for flying. I didn’t arrive until nightfall. I thought that would be better as there would be less chance that someone would recognize me. I was dead wrong. Someone saw me and let out a shout, and soon there were legions of admirers screaming for me. The little people, where would I be without them? I could feel the love. Typically, I’d have spent some time with them, but I was here for personal reflection in the supposed anonymity of a large city. I needed me time.


So, ignoring my fans, I walked off the beach and headed for the city. I thought I must be getting close to Disneyland. There was a parade coming my way where the vehicles shot off fireworks. I’d never seen a moving fireworks display before. Some of them were coming awfully close. A few of them hit me. That last one stung. They ought to be more careful. Someone could get hurt. Does this town have no fire codes? Nevertheless, it was so lovely; I had to go in for a closer look. I was almost there when suddenly the pyrotechnics ended, and all the vehicles turned around and sped off the other way. I must have gotten there late, Disneyland had closed, and everyone was gone. I was, of course, disappointed, but I figured I could just come back tomorrow.


I was wandering around the streets of Tokyo wondering what happened to the nightlife (was there a curfew?) when I saw him. I could tell by the look in his eye that he was yet another aspiring punk fighter wanting to make a name for himself by taking down the big guy. Not again. I sighed. This was so tiresome, my cross to bear. My first thought was that I should give him a hug and tell him he didn’t need to prove himself to be loved, but I could tell by his inappropriate gestures and the way he stomped towards me that our interaction might just possibly result in an escalated interpersonal altercation.


Well yeah, he was trouble, but he didn’t seem substantial enough to be a threat. He was obviously some local that couldn’t hold down a job and had dreams of hitting the big time. He should be pitied; I tried to tell myself. I was going to suggest tactfully that he consider getting therapy as it had done wonders for me, but somehow it came out differently. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I somehow managed to make degrading remarks about the legitimacy of his birth, his physical appearance and his fashion sense all in the same sentence. Not the best way to win friends and influence people, I’ll admit, but besides being ill-mannered, he was of surpassing ugliness. I simply couldn’t help myself. Am I too superficial I wondered? Regardless, I’m sure his reaction was entirely disproportionate to whatever it was I said as he attacked immediately.


His first assault sent me crashing into a building. I could hear the sounds of breaking glass, but I emerged relatively unscathed. When you’re in this business, you learn how to take a fall. I got up, brushed myself off, came at him and proceeded to pound him vigorously about the head and shoulders. Unfortunately, he was a lot tougher than he initially appeared. He was able to take the blows and then throw me into another building. The building was apparently not up to code as the force of my body crashing into it caused enough structural damage for it to collapse and bury me in rubble.


It should have ended there. I could have just lain beneath the ruins and waited until he went away. I was on vacation; this was not a title fight. I had no logical reason to continue the conflict as I tried to tell myself, but I was distraught. He had wounded my pride and caused me to be covered in filth after I had just had a bath. It was too much. I tried to calm myself by doing self-affirmations and going to my happy place like my analyst suggested, but it just wasn’t working.


Sometimes bad things happen to good people for a reason. I had a revelation. It was crystal clear. I had been living a lie. I thought I was in control, all ego and superego, with no id, but it was time to admit the awful truth: “I HAVE ANGER MANAGEMENT ISSUES AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS!” That insight immediately energized me. In a blinding flash of self-awareness, I let out a primal scream as I burst forth from the debris. I was in an adrenaline-fueled rage, and this hoodlum was about to feel my pain by getting the thrashing of his life.


I raced towards him. He didn’t see me coming. I tackled him head on and sent him flying into another building. This one crashed too. Did this town have no building nor fire codes? I didn’t have time to reflect on this. He hardly missed a beat and was right back at me. We pummeled each other for an interminable period. We rolled back and forth, crashing into more poorly constructed buildings and making a mess. I administered severe corporal punishment, but he could always take it and come back for more. Finally, I had enough. This was not how I wanted to spend my vacation. I had a right to my own space. I had come here on a quest for spiritual growth, not to engage in fisticuffs with some disadvantaged youth. It was time to use my secret weapon.

Yes, my secret weapon, the weapon that is both my blessing and my curse. It is halitosis. My condition is congenital. It will not respond to even the most vigorous regime of dental hygiene as it comes deep from within. It has wreaked havoc on my love life but has made me a champion. So, I did what I had to do. I ran directly into him, took a deep breath and then exhaled. He crumpled. It was over. Finally, I was at peace.


I hadn’t seen much of Tokyo, but somehow, I was no longer in the mood. The parade, the fireworks, this fight with a total stranger in this shabbily constructed city; the combination was just all too Kafkaesque to be enjoyable. So, I decided to go home and headed back the way

I came. Maybe next time I’ll go to Paris. They have a Disneyland too.

News flash: Godzilla and Mutos trash Tokyo in epic battle; more news at 11:00.

Godzilla Theme
Blue Oster Cult - Godzilla


Primal Scream Therapy


Table of Contents

Death of a Salesman

I was broke. Dead broke. I hadn’t made any money for a while. Now I was almost entirely tapped out. Luckily, I still had a tab at Murphy’s. So still despondent over the day’s sales, I wandered in and took a seat at the bar. Apparently, business wasn’t too good for Murphy either. The place was empty. Luckily for Murphy, he had a photography business on the side. Some of his work hung on the walls. He said that they were photos of old customers, customers that didn’t come around anymore.


Also, he had friends in low places. Sometimes he took pictures for them and sometimes he let them use the back rooms of his establishment for things that weren’t exactly legal and they helped keep him afloat in rough times and occasionally did other favors. To put it bluntly, Murphy had mob ties. Some said he even worked for the mob. I was hoping to be a beneficiary of this arrangement whatever its exact nature, if only I could find some way to broach the subject.


Hello, Murphy.”

“Hello, Mr. Green.” After all these years, he still addressed me by my last name. “I don’t suppose you’d be interested in buying any insurance?” I already knew the answer before I asked the question, but it never hurts to ask.

“No, you’ve already sold me plenty, but I’ll give you a shot of whiskey on the house. You look like you could use it.”


Murphy poured the whiskey. I raised my glass to toast him and drank it down. He poured me another.

“Thanks, Murphy.”


This time I just nursed my drink, while Murphy cleaned glasses. Finally, I broke the silence. “I want him to die.” I hadn’t meant to say it, at least not that bluntly. It just came out.

Murphy looked up from the glass he was polishing. “Who?”

“You know who. Mr. White.”

“Not him again.” Murphy rolled his eyes.

“Yes, him again. Business was great until he came to my town. Why did he have to come to my town?”

“It’s not your town. Anybody can sell insurance.”

“It used to be my town. It was my territory. Salesman used to respect that. There is no honor anymore.”


“Honor among thieves?”

“What was that?” I was offended.


“Nothing, Mr. Green. Just a little joke.”


“I want him to die.”

“Seriously?”

“Murphy, indemnity is my life.”


Murphy just stared at me for an interminable interval. Finally, he spoke.


“Okay, Mr. Green. You’ve always been a stand-up guy. When I had that car wreck, when the claims adjuster thought that I shouldn’t get paid just because circumstantial evidence suggested vehicular homicide, you made sure I got what was due.”

“Yeah, I remember that. I always stand up for my clients.”

“Yeah, like I was saying, you’re a stand-up guy. You stood up for me, so I’ll stand up for you.”

“So, what are we talking about here?”

“I know some guys.” Murphy paused and looked around like he was checking to make sure we were alone. “Guys that can take care of problems; problems like this Mr. White.”


“Really?” Murphy had gotten my attention.

“He could have an accident,” said Murphy.

“So, how much will this cost me?” I was concerned.

“Oh, don’t worry about that Mr. Green, I’m sure we can work something out. Maybe give these guys a good deal on insurance, with a little kickback, know what I mean?” Murphy winked.


This was getting better by the second. “I know this may sound strange, but may I watch? I don't get to see many accidents.”

“Sure thing. I’ll give you a call.”


I couldn’t get to sleep that night; I was so excited. I wondered how and when they were going to do it. Murphy hadn’t provided any details. Would there be blood? Would he suffer? I certainly hoped so. I was thinking of calling Murphy and asking if his friends could maybe rough him up a bit before they did him in. Nothing excruciating, just some enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding or something. Perhaps they could get some good sales leads out of him before they finished him off.


My musings were interrupted by a phone call. I punched the button for the speaker. I’m clumsy handling receivers. It was Murphy.

“Hey, Mr. Green. Sorry to call so late, but it looks like Mr. White is going to have an unfortunate adventure involving a car.”

“Wow, that was fast.”

“So, Mr. Green, if you want to see this go down, you should be on Main Street near the Orpheum at 8:00 o’clock tomorrow morning.”

“But how do you know Mr. White will be there?”

“He always has breakfast on Main Street in the morning.”


“How did you know that?”


“I know his habits. He’s a regular too.”


It made me a little nervous that Mr. White was a regular at Murphy’s. I wondered how I had managed to miss him, but I was glad that Murphy’s primary loyalty was to me. Shows what excellent customer service will do for you.


Now sleep was out of the question. There was so much to think about. Maybe Murphy would be there, and he could take a picture. I could get a picture and have it framed and hang it on my living room wall. Maybe a couple more shots for the dining room and one more for my bedroom. It would help me sleep at night just knowing they were there.


I continued to toss and turn contemplating the finer points of photography and how my sales were going to improve after the accident. I was still ruminating on the aesthetics of death by dismemberment (I know they didn’t promise that, but I can dream, can’t I?) when I saw the sun peep through my window.


“Time to go.”


I hurried down to Main Street as fast as my legs would carry me. It took me a while. I have a short stride, but soon enough I was there. The sun was rising in the cloudless sky. “What a beautiful day for an accident.” I mused.


I hoped Murphy was coming with his camera. I had never gotten a camera because the good ones had been big and bulky and I didn’t want to lug one around, but now they were getting so small, surely, I could get a good one. I still don’t trust cell phones for taking artistic photographs.


My musings were interrupted by the bells kneeling out eight o’clock. I didn’t see Murphy, with or without his camera. Well, he never said he was going to come. I should have asked. Silly me. More importantly, where was Mr. White? I was beginning to panic. What if he didn’t show?


Before the bells quit ringing, I saw him, Mr. White, walking down the street like he owned it. I thought I’d go over and greet him. I might be the last friendly face he would ever see. So, I walked up to him and greeted him in my most gracious manner.
“Good morning Mr. White. You don’t know me, but I’ve heard so much about you, and I just thought I should come up and say hello.”


Mr. White uttered some nonsense syllable and kept walking.


How rude! I couldn’t believe it. I had been blown off. It’s not like I’m a celebrity. I don’t go to rehab and have stalkers, but I am somebody. People know me, damn it! I felt like calling Murphy to see if I could get the hit delayed until Mr. White was properly tortured. A quick death was way too good for him.


I was too late. Just as I was turning this idea over in my mind, I saw a black car pull up. A brawny man jumped out of the car. He was huge, like the biggest man I ever saw kind of huge. He picked up Mr. White and carried him into the car before it sped away.

“That’s it?” I said aloud to no one in particular. I was so disappointed. I thought there’d be blood. Instead, he was just scooped up and taken to an unknown, but hopefully fatal fate. I hoped they’d make a video. Everyone has a cell phone these days. Surely that wouldn’t be too much to ask. I didn’t trust a cell phone to pick up the finer hues of blood splatter, but it would be better than nothing. I had to laugh at myself for lowering my cinematic standards in minutes, but I wanted to see what was happening with Mr. White.


I thought I’d walk back to Murphy’s and see if there was any news. It was a beautiful day for a walk. As I meandered down the street taking my time getting to Murphy’s, my mind drifted between creative visualizations of Whitey’s mangled corpse (Mr. seemed far too formal an appellation for this pirate) and thoughts of how I was going to spend all the money I was going to make from the commissions on new sales.


I was having a fantasy of dragging Whitey’s body around Murphy’s like Achilles drug Hector around the walls of Troy when suddenly I found myself at the bar. My, how time flies when you’re having fun.


I walked in the door and ambled up to the bar and hopped up on a bar stool. “Hey Murphy, make it a double. I feel like celebrating.”

Murphy, who hadn’t even looked at me when I came in, was silent.

“Murphy, is there something wrong?” I was concerned. A death in the family perhaps?

He finally came over and looked at me. “I’m afraid so Mr. Green. I just got a call. Mr. White is alive.”

“What happened? Did he escape? He must have escaped. How was that even possible?”


“It gets worse. You know the guys I told you about? Well, they picked up Mr. White, and they thought they’d ask him a few questions. A few questions about insurance. Thought it couldn’t hurt to ask a few questions before they silenced him permanently, and well…”

Well, what?” I was on the edge of my seat.


Well, they were so impressed they didn’t kill him. Instead, they bought insurance from him.”


I couldn’t believe it. I was crushed.


“I’m afraid it gets worse Mr. Green.”


“Worse? How could it possibly be worse?” This paramour of peddling had won again.


“Well, those guys I told you about that take care of problems, now they consider you to be

a problem, requesting a hit on Mr. White and all. He is under their protection now, and you are a threat. If I were you, I’d leave town.”


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