Posts Tagged ‘Storytime’


Some of us just find out at different points in our lives that they are just careers that are…not quite for us. Some may be not up to our talent levels, some may be unsavory or embarrassing. And then some just…are a bad, bad idea. For example, you wouldn’t want someone who is naturally gifted athletically to try to take on computer programming. You wouldn’t want someone with social anxiety running for public office (wait…shit.). You wouldn’t want a politician to be a lion tamer…or maybe you would, depending on the politician.

The point is that there are careers where it just does not fit the personality involved. Case in point? I’m no longer allowed to teach sexual education in elementary schools…or anywhere, for that matter. Let me explain.

Sometimes in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to take a part-time job in order to stave off poverty, alcoholism, and a broken left wrist from bored masturbation. Say, a part-time job such as substitute teaching. Well, with my glowing resume bulging with qualifications, the school district I approached offered me my choice of three schools to sub at: the high school, the middle school, or the elementary school. Well, I declined the high school because the prospect of barely legal teenager girls becoming magnetically attracted to the AK-47 in my pants would just complicate matters. I turned down the middle school job as well because middle schoolers are basically walking, talking balls of hormones and insanity. That left me with one choice: the elementary school. That seemed relatively safe, I thought. I was, however, sadly unprepared.

You see, I managed to have the incredibly poor luck of substitute teaching on the day that the boys and girls are separated by gender and brought to the library or the gym and shown a little film designed to try to stave off the oncoming train of pain that is puberty. You all know the one and if you don’t, well…luck has smiled upon pre-teen you. Well, since the gym teacher was a female and I was taking the place of one of the fifth-grade English teachers, I was drafted (read: forced) into joining and helping out by the principal, one third-grade Science teacher (not a dude, by the way), and the janitor. For some reason. I’m not sure he was there as part of the help.

Anyways, the first half of the lesson was fine, albeit what you would expect. Fifth-grade boys giggling at the words ‘penis’ and ‘vagina’ and ‘sex’ and then having the laughter stolen from their lives by the sight of a 1980s mother pushing a ten-pound bloody sack out of a hole the width of an iPod. You can tell which students have gone through the video because they walk around for the next two days with the thousand-yard-stare.

And then I made things worse.

You see, in a stunning display of unjustifiable bad judgment, the principal and other teacher decided to step out to grab some coffee and probably bang in the electrical room, leaving me alone with fifty already-traumatized ten year old boys. The janitor had already been forced to leave after making some sounds watching the video that were akin to a lion dying of cancer on a hot savannah with ants crawling up its ass. Thus, I had thirty minutes and a captive audience that was going to be receptive to everything I would say. This is, as we say, a really bad fucking idea.

To begin with, I explained what the class they were in at the moment really was – less “sex education” and more “This is what your penis will bring upon the world”.

I told them of just how much suffering and pain they would create through those potentially (in the future) four-to-ten inch skin snakes currently tucked into their Spiderman briefs. I spoke to them of the all-consuming fire that would rage through them when some spurned lover or sadistic band geek would knock their dangling sack back up into their lower intestines. And I explained to them just how much power their scepters would allow them to wield, were they only man enough to grab hold of it. The power, not the penis. Well, maybe both.

I would rewind the tape and pause it at the worst possible frame and just let it sit and stare at them, the Eye of Sauron burning into their souls, as I screamed at them: “Boys, this woman is in agonizing pain and you know who caused it? YOU. You did this! WITH YOUR PENIS! Your penis entered her and brought her into this unimaginable agony! SHE IS BEING RIPPED ASUNDER BECAUSE OF YOUR INEPTITUDE!”

The baby would come out and they would scream in terror again. Rewind, fast-forward, and repeat. The horror of seeing a full bush suck a howling blood monkey back into it like some sort of primordial gaping maw cannot be overstated. After a while, it almost became comical and the urge to play Yakety Sax during the thing was nigh unstoppable. Of course, then the placenta came out and it was game over.

After about ten minutes of that, I decided to finish up my time with them by explaining to them the process of sex, pregnancy, and birth. I can actually recall the exact wording because apparently security footage has improved to the point where subtitles exist.

“This entire process begins when you engage in the act of sexual intercourse. Nobody can really TELL you what sex is, but I shall endeavor to try to explain it. When a man loves someone or simply just feels the biological impulse to blow a load of genetic material from his scrotum, he engages in sex with the woman. Or man. Or transvestite. Or even his hands or a Ziploc bag full of water placed between the mattress and box spring of his bed. Anyways. There are many various ways to approach the act of love, such as [from this point, I spent about ten minutes listing all the ways to fuck – ALL of the ways]. Inevitably, something will happen and a mistake will be made. The condom may break – a condom being a piece of rubber you tie around your junk like a bowtie to make it all fancy, or the pill may fail – the pill being ecstasy, a powerful hallucinogen, or you may just be drunk and say “Eh, fuck it. Chance.”. When this mistake happens, those little Phelpsians nestled in that bean bag will explode into her with the force of a neutron bomb. The sperm, as they are called, will accelerate towards her uterus (her balls in her belly) at a speed of well over a thousand miles per hour. They will strike the uterus and explode, sending genetic shrapnel throughout her vagina. One of those shards may even fly far enough up into her to lodge itself in one of her eggs, since women contain chicken, as you well know. Once lodged in the egg, it downloads a computer virus that infects the egg, turning it into a self-replicating human, You will instantly know the next day if she is in the state called ‘pregnant’ because she will violently vomit when either smelling or viewing certain things, none of which you can know until it is too late, a cruel trick. This period lasts for about three months.Now, once the pregnant woman has reached the second cycle, the sun god Ra will come to you in the form of ’78 Buick and demand it as a sacrifice. However, you can appease his bloodlust with a sacrificial steak and eggs breakfast instead, the food symbolizing the merging of male and female. After a period of approximately nine months, a gong will sound from inside the woman, signifying the onset of the final process. I won’t spoil it for you here but suffice to say, there’s a lot of angry driving and police work involved. Any questions?”

It was about that time that the principal, teachers, and security burst into the room, grabbing me by the arms and legs and forcibly ejecting me from the window of the school, told never to return on pain of actual death. Seriously. They showed me the gun they would use to end my life.

I got paid pretty well though so…that was a plus.
——
(That was the most horrifying thing I’ve ever read. – ed.)

We both know that’s not true.

(Well…I did have to read Twilight on a dare once. – ed.)

There you go! Deuces yo!

When In Doubt, Stay Home

Posted: March 31, 2012 by kaostheory in Slice of Life
Tags: , , , ,

Instead of going with the standard ‘rant and rave about x issue’ polemic or the ‘pack as much violent and sexual content into an article as possible’, we’re trying something different this time. We’re going to offer up a cautionary tale so that you may understand the depths of madness that sometimes infest our daily lives.

Okay, there will almost certainly be violent and sexual content packed in too. Because that’s how we roll.

Anyways, on to the recounting of our trip to the Mouth of Hell.
——
The letter that came was, even before it was opened, an ominous portent. Even though there was what appeared to be the Disney logo on the back, the letters looked…odd. Reversed maybe. The envelope itself was ragged around the edges and there was a brown, leaky stain in the lower left-hand corner. When it was opened, the paper ripped with nearly no effort required and four asymmetrical chunks of paper and a creased sticky note fell out. The note read as such (naturally [sic] applies):

“Congrates! Yu an ur famly ur frens ar invted too bee spehshell gests at thee furst universery selleebrayshun of Dosneyworl! Heer ar for tikets fur u. Com on March 20, 20_year. Yu get thre gests. Bring moneies.

(signed)

(something unintelligible and probably racist)”

It was…a concern. Something definitely smelled fishy and it wasn’t even the leaky stain (which eventually was determined to be Kentucky Fried Chicken gravy). None of us (us being myself, Superfly, Pred3000, and Raybestos) had ever had any direct interaction with Disney but we came to the conclusion that would could reasonably assume that they wouldn’t send such shoddy quality material. At least not since Walt went in the freezer, at least.

Our opinions were split. Superfly and Raybestos thought it would be funny to give it a shot, while Pred3000 and I were more interested in not being abducted, raped, and our kidneys being sold for crack money. Finally, we came to an agreement: we would go but we would apply for and get open carry licenses first, just to be safe.

After each getting comfortable with our respective weapons (Raybestos and Pred3000 chose 9mms, Superfly got a .22, and I went all out with a Desert Eagle), we hopped in Raybestos’ car (another requirement for going was that I was allowed to be drunk and not having to drive) and set off for Puerto de la Muerte, Florida. Yes, you read that correctly – Port of Death. Not Orlando – although I suppose it could have an alternate name.

The drive was long and boring and I was starting to nod off from a combination of the rhythmic hum of the car and the half a bottle of Jameson I had killed on the drive when the car slammed to a halt, only to start up again at a very slow speed.

“What the hell was that?” I grumbled as I felt the car make a turn and finally stop.

“We’re…here?” Raybestos said, the question in his response worrying, even through the whiskey fog. We all unbuckled and got out of the car (I admit that I had a bit of trouble with the seatbelt, but I’m allowed). Blinking my eyes, I peered at what stood in front of us. It was…troubling.

The park itself seemed to span a couple acres of land but we couldn’t quite tell. A giant red and blue sign welded to a telephone pole read “Welcum too Dosneyworl” and flashed rapidly every few seconds. If any of us had been epileptic, it would have been dangerous. As it stood, it just added a “carnival of the damned” feel to the whole experience. We looked further ahead of us as we walked. Behind a very tall chain-link fence, complete with barbed wire rolls at the top, we were able to view what were ostensibly rides. I could pick out a roller coaster, merry-go-round, Ferris wheel, and various other attractions you would expect to see at an amusement park. For whatever reason, that actually frightened me more. But we had made it this far. We couldn’t go back now. As we walked to the front gate, the ticket-taker glared at us, surprise and resentment in his eyes. I don’t think he wanted us to be there. That made five of us.

He growled at us when we reached him. “‘kits, now.” We handed him the ragged scraps of paper and he tossed them in the garbage. With a sigh, he pressed a button, shifting the large steel doors apart. “Park closes at 7. Don’t be late. Seriously.” We scurried in, all checking our watches. We had four hours to spend in there. We all agreed we’d spend three at most, just to be safe. Bad things come at night.

The ‘road’ beneath our feet was a mixture of gravel and sawdust and kicked up little clouds with every step we took. A wooden sign nailed to a lamppost nearby read “Man Stret Yousa”, scribbled in the same retard patois that the invitation was written in. It was about this time that I really started to regret not eating lunch. I made this fact clear to the group and, fearing that any puking in this tortured land would invite its denizens to feed on our souls, they hustled me to the nearest food cart to get something greasy and delicious in my stomach.

Let me tell you. Nothing changes your “I have to puke” status than realizing that your other option is choking down a ‘befstik’ or ‘shulsie’. I just got a glass of water and even then it took all I had to kick it back. It was tap water but that was comforting since I was expecting bleach or something.

“So what do you guys want to do first?” Raybestos asked, trying to keep up a brave face.

“You mean besides go home?” Pred3000 muttered, already sulking in fear.

We wandered the streets of the park, only occasionally seeing a handful of other people, all with the same unsure looks on their faces. We passed the ‘Fast-circly-go’, the ‘Spiny-tal-circle’, a tea-cup ride that looked more like a human-sized centrifuge, and what looked to be a haunted house. Yeah. We sure as shit weren’t going to go in there. We kept wandering and and were about ready to mercifully leave when the 5 PM Parade started.

Have you ever seen madness walking? Like upright and walking? You lucky bastard. You never saw the mascots then. Let me give you the rundown.

First up was Mackey and Mornie Moose. Giant towering moose creatures with gloves on their hooves, pendulous hanging breasts and genitalia, and fur that looked to be at least half-mange, if not more. Instead of the charming “Ho ho!” that Mickey would always give, whoever developed these outfits really went all out to nail the sound of an angry, horny moose. The gronking and howling was beyond unsettling. I think that was the point that I realized that I had unsnapped the holster on my gun. Unconsciously, mind you.

Next up was Gorfy. You know that look in the face when something just isn’t…right in the head? Like the glossy, unfocused eyes, the slack jaw, the aggressive stance. Yeah. Gorfy had that. He also decided to stuff a live chicken through the mouth hole while right in front of us, so all we could hear for the next couple minutes as he ran around in pain were agonized screams and clucking.

Then we had Ronald Pigeon. I won’t say much about this one but you know how birds shit EVERYWHERE when they’re startled? Yeah. Gorfy startled Ronald Pigeon. I’ll leave that to your imagination.

I can’t really say what all happened next. All I know is that one of us – probably Pred3000 – started firing into the crowd and, well, we’re not going to leave our buddy out to dry. Did you know that guns can overheat if you pull the trigger too fast? I sure didn’t!

To cut a long story short, we’re not allowed to enter the state of Florida for the next ten years, we had to spend a week in firearm responsibility training, and I have a moose head mounted above my fireplace.

All that being said, would I call it the worst Spring Break ever?

Nah. I mean, have you SEEN Panama City Beach?
——
(Ending on a punchline. How classy of you. – ed.)

Shut up, Ed. Sometimes you can create gold, sometimes you can just be happy with creating lead.

(I don’t think that’s accurate. – ed.)

I don’t think you’re accurate! Deuces!


Billy Joel. American classic. Musical Hall-of-Famer (or should be, we didn’t bother to check). Alcoholic, although we can’t judge because we basically treat a 750 of tequila like an oversized baby bottle. Yet his career will always be defined as the Washington Generals to Elton John’s Harlem Globetrotters. Joel has Piano Man, John has Your Song. And Crocodile Rock. And Candle In The Wind. It seems like no matter what Billy does – marries a supermodel but then Elton comes out as gay, tries to kill himself with furniture polish but Elton is knighted – he is destined to be second. Somehow, however, we believe he knew before he even started that it would be that way and thus battles a psychotic side to this very day. We will examine all his released songs – by title only – and we believe we will show a very dark, violent pattern to the music of Mr. Billy Joel, the albums telling a sort of story of pure darkness, murder and life.
——
Cold Spring Harbor (1971)
She’s Got a Way – The start of our tale of woe happens in New England. This has only a simple typographical error. It was not meant to be “She’s Got a Way” but rather “She Got Away”, ostensibly from his basement.
You Can Make Me Free – He thinks about the woman who left him non-stop. Obsessive behavior to a T. The only way that he can be free from the hellish torment of his mind is through someone else.
Everybody Loves You Now – Drinking and thinking about life, the bitterness seethes in this title. He almost snarls this at someone who is more popular than him. Elton John?
Why Judy Why – A musing on a suicidal former ex, he begs her lifeless body to explain to him why she snuffed out her own candle.
Falling of the Rain – He stands outside, wanting to acquire hypothermia to leave this world.
Turn Around – He thinks back on violent rear-entry sex that was about to ensue with the woman that left.
You Look So Good to Me – Tripping on LSD, even the most grotesque creature appears as if Aphrodite to him now.
Tomorrow Is Today – He begins to lose his perception of space and time the more drugs he consumes.
Nocturne – He howls at the moon and wonders if he can become a werewolf for real.
Got to Begin Again – The next morning, he contemplates sleeping his life away but drags himself out of bed out of sheer habit. Perhaps it’s time for a life change.

Piano Man (1973)
Travelin’ Prayer – He wanders the country, humming to himself a song of growing madness.
Piano Man – In a horrific song, he encounters a piano/human hybrid in a seedy bar, the creature garbling its words with an atonal nightmarish quality.
Ain’t No Crime – A moment of weakness overtakes him and he commits a mercy killing on this Pianoman, justifying his crime through its lack of humanity.
You’re My Home – He drunkenly slurs this to the cocktail waitress who looks at him askance, his drunkenness overtaking him.
The Ballad of Billy the Kid – In his dreams, he imagines himself to be the Billy the Kid of legend, riding around the country like some sort of folk anti-hero.
Worse Comes to Worst – He wakes up in his car. Behind the wheel. He is driving and apparently has been doing so for a good three hundred miles already.
Stop in Nevada – Panicked, he pulls over near what looks to be Reno in order to vomit up a meal of In-N-Out he apparently had eaten along the way.
If I Only Had the Words (To Tell You) – A policeman stops, concerned, and begins to question him as to whether he’s okay and what happened.
Somewhere Along the Line – The cop makes him take a roadside sobriety test and, in the middle of it, suffers a heart attack and dies.
Captain Jack – Billy seizes the policeman’s badge and identity – Capt. Jack Thomas – and clothes himself in the uniform as he takes off in the police car.

Streetlife Serenade (1974)
Streetlife Serenader – He arrives in California and, as soon as he pulls over, is accosted by a terrified prostitute who begs him not to arrest her.
Los Angelenos – He agrees only as long as she sleeps with him at her place. She is confused and a little aroused so she hops in and gives him directions in her Spanish-tinged accent. They stop by a drive-thru in order to get some lunch. He pays.
The Great Suburban Showdown – As they arrive at her place, her mother erupts from the front door, screaming at her daughter who begins to yell back at her.
Root Beer Rag – He watches the fight quickly escalate into something physical as he sips from his drink, amused at the violence. He hums to himself the same tune that he was humming earlier.
Roberta – After the fight is over, she gets him out of the car, limping a little, and leads him by the hand inside. She tells him her name. He lies to her about his own.
The Entertainer – She performs everything he wants on him with great gusto. He quickly finds himself falling in love with this hooker.
Last of the Big Time Spenders – As she finishes with her actions, he takes out his wallet and gives her every single bit of cash he has in there, nearly five hundred dollars in twenties. He doesn’t care. It was worth it.
Weekend Song – He tries to convince her to come with him, to drive the country with him. He comes clean about not being a cop but she already knew. He begs her to come with him, if only for a few days.
Souvenir – She smiles at him and hands him a pair of her panties. He knows she cannot come with him but she does not want him to forget about her.
The Mexican Connection – The two sleep together one last time. She kisses him as he gets in the car and drives away, leaving her in the rearview mirror. She cries.

Turnstiles (1976)
Say Goodbye to Hollywood – Still in the cop car, he drives through downtown Hollywood and looks at the sights. The decadence, glamour and excess somehow now disgusts him and he vows to never return.
Summer, Highland Falls – The country becomes a blur around him as he thinks back to his childhood, playing in the grass and feeling the warm sun on his face.
All You Wanna Do Is Dance – His mind changes the closer he gets to another big city. His lust begins to tear at him and he feels the need to go to a club somewhere.
New York State of Mind – He is in New York now. The lights and flashing and noise inflame his senses. He starts to lose his grip on himself as the city takes him.
James – He finds a young homeless man on the streets, begging for money. Curious, he lets the man into his car and they drive the city, taking in the sights.
Prelude/Angry Young Man – The man tells him about his hatred of the world, his misanthropy. He is violent, deranged. Billy thinks he may have found a kindred spirit.
I’ve Loved These Days – The next few days are a blur of randomly assaulting passerbys, stealing and looting stores and sexual experimentation.
Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway) – After a very vivid dream about a future in Florida, Billy comes to in an apartment on Broadway just as he finishes strangling James, the life dying in the man’s eyes.

The Stranger (1977)
Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) – In a blaze of regret and confusion, he calls down to the landlord as James’ roommate and informs the man they would be leaving and so to not check for a few days as they got rid of their junk. Hanging up, he realizes what a horrible idea he just went through with and that he needed to leave now.
The Stranger – Running down the fire escape, he hops down into a dumpster, climbs out and does as best he can to merge into the crowd. Soon, he has disappeared.
Just the Way You Are – Taking refuge in a convenience store bathroom, he stares at himself in the mirror, wondering what has happened to his life. He does not care.
Scenes From An Italian Restaurant – He walks down the street and peers through windows occasionally. He sees couples fighting and loving, he sees lonely people eating alone, he sees a waitress trip and be berated by the maitre’d. The sheer humanness frightens him and he walks on.
Vienna – As he walks, he is pulled into an alley by an angry old Austrian man. The man screams at him about his home in Austria and how the Jews have destroyed it. He is insane and racist. Billy takes a very quick dislike to him.
Only the Good Die Young – Billy stabs him to death with a few fast jabs and tosses the body into a trashcan. He feels as if he has done the world a favor.
She’s Always a Woman – Searching for comfort, he happens upon another prostitute who takes pity on him and leads him to an apartment. The prostitute, however, is not a her. Billy is shocked and becomes irrationally angry, furious at being, what he feels to be, tricked.
Get It Right the First Time – His military training kicking in, Billy wastes no time in snapping the transvestite’s neck with one short, violent twist.
Everybody Has a Dream – The bloodlust drains from his eyes and he sees the apartment for the first time. Dance shoes. The hooker wanted to be a dancer. He flees, feeling ill.

52nd Street (1978)
Big Shot – He goes to a bar just down the street from where he killed the hooker. As he sits at the bar, the bartender becomes excited. He has mistaken Billy for a famous singer and piano player. Billy doesn’t argue. The bartender comps Billy’s drinks for the next couple hours.
Honesty – After fourteen or fifteen Manhattans, Billy lets it slip that he’s just some dude, not this famous person. His conscience was apparently killing him. The man is very unhappy and tosses him out into the street.
My Life – Lying in the gutter, drunk as a skunk, Billy bemoans what has become of his existence. In an existential funk, he wanders down to find another bar.
Zanzibar – He manages to find a bar, seedy as it is, that will let him in. He stumbles to the bar and orders a drink. The bartender shrugs and gives him more alcohol. It numbs the pain of his being in the world.
Stiletto – On his way to the bathroom, he accidentally stumbles into a man and spills his drink. The man becomes angry and combative. Billy reaches into his pocket and pulls out his knife, waving it in the man’s face. The man backs off but Billy stabs him anyways, runs out the back of the bar and takes off down the street.
Rosalinda’s Eyes – Weaving down the street, he thinks back on the hooker he left in Los Angeles. He remembers the beauty of her eyes yet is too drunk to remember her name properly.
Half a Mile Away – Once he is far enough away from the bar, he collapses in an alley, exhausted and completely drunk.
Until the Night – In his hazy state, it is difficult for him to imagine any life other than this. All he knows is that he will live until that point in time where he dies.
52nd Street – His last conscious thought before passing out is to glance at the street sign nearest him to see where he is. Then, his brain shuts down and he rests.

Glass Houses (1980)
You May Be Right – The next afternoon, around four or so, he is awoken by a worried garbageman who tells him he still looks drunk. Billy grumbles his agreement, gets up and staggers away down the street to find some company.
Sometimes a Fantasy – He finds an illegal brothel in some backroom and hires a pretty blonde to get spanked and anally violated, calling it a desire of his.
Don’t Ask Me Why – The girl, curious, questions him on his choice but he yells at her to mind her own business and tells her he’ll pay for it. She reluctantly agrees.
It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me – She leads him up to her assigned room and turns on some Elvis. He is repulsed and demands she explain it. She shrugs and leads him to the bed, beginning to service him the entire way.
All for Leyna – He finishes his business on her as she coaxes a huge eruption out of him. She’s good at what she does.
I Don’t Want to Be Alone – She gets up to make him leave but he grabs her arm and tells her he’ll pay extra to stay the whole day and night. He needs company. She shrugs again and agrees, going downstairs briefly to tell her pimp.
Sleeping With the Television On – After multiple hours together, they sit on the bed, watching Letterman. She falls asleep curled up on his arm. He cracks a rare smile.
C’Était Toi (You Were the One) – In her sleep, she starts mumbling in French. He only can catch bits and pieces of it but she seems to think he’s someone else. Someone she loved a long time ago.
Close to the Borderline – Her loving sleeptalk begins to attack his brain. He thinks back to all the women he has loved and lost and finds his sanity beginning to slip again. He is worried, as she should be.
Through the Long Night – Finally, he can take no more and wakes her up. Violent lovemaking fills the air until dawn, the sunlight stealing away the pain from him.

The Nylon Curtain (1982)
Allentown – He flashes back this entire album to his teenage years living in Pennsylvania. He can smell the steel and feel the cold snow in the winter. It was a hard place, it was a tough place, but he loved it all the same.
Laura – His first real love is there. They kiss in the gym their freshman year and go steady the rest of high school. He remembers every single detail about her, even through the drugs and booze he’s hurt himself with.
Pressure – They lose their virginity to each other. His friends have hyped it up so much to him that he can barely achieve an erection due to her nerves. But he eventually does and it’s something special, if nothing else but that.
Goodnight Saigon – He manages to avoid being drafted because of a bad knee playing football. He breathes a sigh of relief.
She’s Right on Time – An even bigger sigh of relief comes a few weeks later when Laura finally gets her period. The scare nearly broke them up for good.
A Room of Our Own – He and Laura move in together in a little apartment just off the highway. It’s not much but it’s theirs.
Surprises – A few months later, this time the period does not come. A baby is on the way.
Scandinavian Skies – Terrified of the prospect of becoming a father, he cleans out his bank account and drives to the airport, intending to fly to Europe to escape his responsibility.
Where’s the Orchestra? – At the airport, he sees a mother and her child walking. If this were a cliched sitcom, music would play to warm his heart. But none exists and he flies off, leaving the town and his growing family behind.

An Innocent Man (1983)
Easy Money – As he wakes the next morning, the hooker is still asleep. Sensing an opportunity, he steals all his cash back and climbs out the window.
An Innocent Man – Down the street, he believes he is scot-free. Suddenly, he is confronted by an angry bouncer from the brothel. The man believes that he stole the money but Billy swears up and down that he did not take it. He becomes very vocal and loud about it, attracting attention to himself.
The Longest Time – The bouncer stares at him for quite a while, then finally nods his head and walks off back down the street. Billy lets out a shaky breath.
This Night – He spends the day wandering the town, willing the sun to go down so he could drink and forget his life. Soon, dusk falls and he runs to the nearest bar for a beer or ten.
Tell Her About It – As he drinks, he rambles to the bartender about the hooker in LA. The man urges him to confess his feelings to her but Billy never got her number. As far as she is concerned, he is dead. This thought makes him more morose and he begins to drink harder.
Uptown Girl – A college student in a fancy dress walks into the bar and comments on how quaint it is. This draws the ire of all the regulars. Billy looks at her, incredulous.
Careless Talk – The girl does not quiet herself, instead going around and talking to all the different men in the bar. There are gangsters, thugs, bikers, all sorts of bad people. Yet, she does not seem to care and chats along happily. Billy comments on how this will not end well.
Christie Lee – Finally, he decides to take pity on her and goes up to her, talking and leading her out of the bar, walking back towards her apartment. She tells him her name and he again lies about his.
Leave a Tender Moment Alone – After a few minutes, they stop talking and she just looks at him. She gives him a soft kiss and starts to talk again but he stops her, annoyed that she would ruin something so quiet.
Keeping the Faith – Leaving her by her apartment, he stumbles across a church with the lights on. On a whim, he walks inside. A priest is there and they start to chat. Then, without warning, Billy begins to spill his guts, confessing anything and everything he has always does. Something about the religious feeling inside the place caused him to find just a little bit of his spiritual side. He needs nothing more than to just get it all out. The man listens patiently and smiles at him.

Greatest Hits Vol. I & II (1985)
You’re Only Human (Second Wind) – After the confession, the priest lets him know that he is only a man and that he will slip up sometimes.
The Night Is Still Young – Leaving the church, Billy feels cleansed. He looks at his watch. 8PM. There is still plenty of time to get up to more trouble.

The Bridge (1986)
Running on Ice – Eager to get back to his drinking, Billy does not notice that the weather outside has become cold and rainy. He attempts to sprint to the bar but slips and falls, hurting his back.
This Is the Time – As he lies on the concrete, he begins to feel himself slip away. Is this time for him to die? Has his life finally come to a close?
A Matter of Trust – Without warning, he finds himself lifted to his feet. His eyes, still blurry from the pain, cannot focus. He very much hopes this person doesn’t want to kill or even rob him, although he is amused at the potential irony of either of those.
Modern Woman – His eyes clear and he is astonished to find a lady in a business suit cleaning him off. She speaks brusquely to him and strides off.
Baby Grand – He walks around town all night, still conflicted at the woman who helped him. He is grateful for her aid but her condescension and classist attitude rankles him. Finally, to assuage his annoyance, he breaks into a music store – to him, the symbol of wealth – and destroys a piano. Surprisingly, he feels much better and decides to walk around the street nude. His insanity is beginning to take root.
Big Man on Mulberry Street – Dancing happily down the street, he enjoys the stares of those he passes by. Though they are not many, he can tell they are impressed.
Temptation – He happens upon a lady who stops him and, with a furtive glance around her, asks him if he would want to come with her and maybe cuckold her husband. After a moment of thinking, he agrees and she leads him off to her place.
Code of Silence – As they reach her home, she makes him swear that he will not tell a soul about this. He laughs and calls her paranoid.
Getting Closer – They have sex in her entryway and she yells at him that he will soon make her orgasm. Smirking, he wonders if she’s ever said that before.

Storm Front (1989)
That’s Not Her Style – He flashes back again on this album. While in Sweden, he is confonted by someone saying they need him to go back to his family. They say that they are there on behalf of Laura. He ignores them and walks away, knowing that she isn’t the kind of person to become that desperate.
We Didn’t Start the Fire – A few days later, he is arrested in Stockholm for arson. Apparently, his apartment has gone up in flames and his roommate and he were the chief suspects. Annoyed, Billy starts to proclaim their innocence. Soon, they are set free.
The Downeaster “Alexa” – Knowing he needs to leave the country, Billy charters a boat to take him to Russia, where he will be safe. The boat is creaky and leaks but it holds well enough and he arrives safe and sound.
I Go to Extremes – Unfortunately for Billy, he is unable to escape his past. He is walking down the street when he is nearly killed from a sniper’s bullet. Laura is no longer playing nice.
Shameless – Billy gives up his dignity and runs to the American Embassy. He explains that he needs protection from someone who is trying to kill him. He is laughed out of the building.
Storm Front – As he walks out of the Embassy, thunder begins to roll and rain starts to come in sheets. A perfect topper to an awful day for Billy.
Leningrad – He wanders the city while looking over his shoulder. His paranoia is starting to get the best of him. He decides to leave Russia.
State of Grace – He briefly contemplates becoming a monk and trying to achieve enlightenment, but his mind quickly flashes to wine. Time to go to Italy.
When In Rome – Rome is wonderful to Billy. He stays out all night, drinking wine with locals. He soon forgets his life in the States. Until one day.
And So It Goes – A telegram reaches him. How it does so, he cannot understand. Laura died in childbirth. His problems are solved. He shrugs and takes another drink of wine.

The River of Dreams (1993)
No Man’s Land – Back in the present, he finds himself having nowhere to go after he leaves the woman behind. He cannot go back into his past and he has no future. He feels he is lost completely.
The Great Wall of China – He remembers wandering China after Laura’s death, seeing the Wall. He marveled at its stature. But to him, humanity is so much more impressive. His heart rips. He needs someone, one more time.
Blonde over Blue – He finds one more hooker, one that looks as close to Laura as he can find. He takes her to a hotel and makes love to her. Her hair makes golden ripples on the deep indigo of the bed and pillows.
A Minor Variation – This time, when she falls asleep, he does not. He sits up, thinking about what he can do. Is there no relief?
Shades of Grey – He also thinks back to his few minutes with the priest. He IS human. He is not evil and he is not good. He is both and he is neither.
All About Soul – And what if he chooses to end his life? Will his soul be damned? Does he have a soul? These questions plague him but he cannot wake the sleeping woman up to comfort himself. He need to think them through.
Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) – Finally, he decides. He gets up quietly and kisses the woman on the cheek. He says goodbye to Laura or at least her image.
The River of Dreams – Once more, he walks the streets, unsure of anything. Then, he sees the Hudson River and suddenly, in an instant, he knows what he must do.
Two Thousand Years – Time seems to flash around him as he peers over the edge of the George Washington Bridge. People yell at him, trying to get him to come down, to no avail. He thinks back on the entirety of human existence. It overwhelms him.
Famous Last Words – “I love you, Laura” and then he jumps.

Greatest Hits Vol. III (1997)
Light As the Breeze – As he plummets through the air, he feels no gravity. He could float for ages. It’s a rare peaceful moment for Billy.
Hey Girl – As his life flashes before his eyes, he remembers the first thing he said to Laura. He thought he was so big and tough. He smiles. He is nearly there.
To Make You Feel My Love – He also remembers the last time they made love. He makes it very hard because he wants to know he’s being felt.

Single (2007)
All My Life – His last thoughts are on what he did with his life. He spent the entire time making up for his mistakes and even till the last moment, he is unsure as to whether or not he succeeded. It is with uncertainty in his mind that he hits the water and it all goes black.
——
(…holy shit, Kaos. That was insane. – ed.)

I know. I wanted to make it special.

(No, I’m serious. That is the most…it…okay, you know what, I don’t know. I can’t fight this anymore. I give up. You win. – ed.)

Yay victory by forfeit!


(Why don’t you just bring it on home now, KT? – ed.)

Don’t wanna.

(Do it. – ed.)

No.

(Do it! – ed.)

No.

(Fine. What will it take to make you finish this story? – ed.)

No. I mean, Snack Pack.

(Snack Pack? You want a Snack Pack? You want a Snack Pack in order to do your job? – ed.)

Yes. And not one of those crappy vanilla ones that look like coagulated semen. A REAL one. Chocolate.

(Fine. I’ll get you a chocolate Snack Pack if you do this. – ed.)

Yay!
——
Groggy, the young man shook his head, trying to come to his senses. His senses came back very quickly as he realized that his head and the rest of his body felt very heavy. Opening his eyes, all he could see was darkness, save a grate in front of him, the light split by the thin bars. Panicked, he began to thrash about and soon felt arms holding his limbs down, calming him. Through the darkness, he could hear a muffled voice.

“Calm yourself, Ken. Calm yourself. You are just fine.”

“Mistress Calliope?” he heard himself say, the sound echoing around him.

“Yes. It is alright. You are alive. Here. Let me help you.

Light flooded his face and he winced. Now he could see the world in full color. He wished he couldn’t as soon as he could because he now knew the situation. He was on the battlefield, the war raging around him already. He was clad in heavy armor and a large sword was strapped to his waist. He was on a horse and the horse clearly did not want him there. This…was not good.

“Oh shit.”

“Friend!”

He could hear the joyous shout of Nubbins as the funny little creature climbed up on to his horse and sat down in front of him.

“You are awake! Good. We were unsure how much longer we could protect you from Baphomet’s legions. Many good creatures died. But you are awake and with us now! Grab your sword. I shall direct the horse where it is needed. All you need do is swing your weapon.”

“Seriously, this isn’t something I – ”

“Thank you, Ken,” Calliope said softly, “Our child will grow up in a better world because of your actions.”

“Oh. Right. The kid thing. Look, it’s been real but I actually HAVE a girlfriend back home and it’s starting to get pretty serious so…”

That’s when she kissed him and his protestations went away.

“Ah what the hell. This is probably just a coma dream anyway. If I die in here, I’ll probably just die in the real world. Whatever. Let’s ride, Nubbins.”

With that, the horse took off, charging towards the armies ahead of them. Using as much of his strength as he could manage, Ken swung the very large sword he had been given. It was clumsy but effective. He could hear the screams of the wounded as he severed limbs and other assorted body parts. He could feel blood spray his face and he began to smile. He finally felt alive. He was free. He was…

Lying on his back on the ground, struggling to get up. His horse had been rammed and killed by some beast and he and Nubbins had been thrown to the earth. As he regained his balance, he saw what stood in front of him. It was a big, angry, snorting and spitting and raging…unicorn. Blood from his poor mount ran down the horn and stained the white hair of its face. For a moment, all the world seemed to stand still.

Then, the unicorn charged. Frantic, Ken looked around for an answer as to what to do. Nubbins, in a cracked voice, called out to him.

“Friend! Climb astride the ‘Corn! Get on the back!”

As quickly as he could, he dodged, grabbed ahold of the unicorn’s mane and swung himself up onto its back. It was, to say the least, displeased. It began to buck in a tireless effort to hurtle him to the ground where he could be stomped into oblivion.

“What! Do! I! Do! Now?!” he cried, every word punctuated by another buck from the creature.

“You must break the horn off!”

“WHAT?!”

“Break the horn off! It is the source of its power and rage!”

Shaking his head in disbelief, Ken punched as hard as he could at the horn, his gauntlet chipping at it. With every punch, another crack formed. The unicorn, sensing danger, began to buck harder but still the young man held on, swinging away. Finally, with a mighty blow, the horn cracked at the base and fell to the ground. The animal screamed and knelt down in pain. Ken quickly jumped off and looked at the pitiful sight. He heard Nubbins call to him.

“Now it’s just a horse! A horse you can beat to death!”

“What? But I just beat it!”

“Nooooooo!” the little creature cried, “You have not defeated it yet! You must kill it and drink the blood from the horn!”

“You’re kidding!”

“Drink its BLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!” Nubbins cried, his voice rising to a high, keening shriek, mania filling his eyes.

With disgust evident on his face, he picked up the horn and looked at it.

“Noooooooowwwwwww!”

He shook his head, tipped the horn back and began to drink. He coughed loudly, the blood clearly not agreeing with him.

“OH my God. I thought it would be pink and sparkly! It’s not! It’s black! It stinks and it’s black!”

“You have gained the power of the unicorn! Now take your mighty, magically imbued horn and stab it in the eye!”

“I don’t HAVE a…oh God no. WHY AM I ERECT?!”

“The magic has filled your horn with energy! Stab the unicorn and gain his life essence!”

“No. I am not going to skullfuck a unicorn. I draw the line there.”

“Then you must DIE!”

Ken turned to see Nubbins charged at him with a spear. Before he could react, the spear pierced his chest and…

Ken gasped as he sat up, his bed all a shambles. His sheets were twisted around him and he looked around. There, surrounding him, were his concerned – now joyous -family.

“He’s alive!” his mother shouted. A beautiful woman – his girlfriend – ran over and embraced him, smothering him with kisses.

“What happened?”

“You suffered a pulmonary embolism. You nearly died, ” his girl, still latched on to him, said.

“Uh huh. Well, I was just in a magical land where there were weird creatures and Baphomet and this girl. I think I made her pregnant.”

“Was I the girl?”

“I…no.”

“…you asshole.”

The room erupted in laughter as Ken sat there, looking perturbed. In the night sky outside, stars twinkled.
——
(…that’s IT? He WAS in a coma? – ed.)

Yuh huh.

(WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? THAT IS THE BIGGEST COPOUT ENDING OF ALL TIME! – ed.)

Yuh huh.

(I…I am so mad I can’t speak. – ed.)

Yay! Goodnight everyone! I hope you don’t hate us too much!


(Alright, KT! Aren’t you excited about writing today? – ed.)

Nnnnnnrg.

(Okay, let’s try again. Are you ready to do this? – ed.)

Mrrrrgn.

(Okay, let me clarify yet again. You’ve been drunk for a week and a half. It’s a miracle you are actually still breathing. That being the case, are you at least ‘not hungover’ enough to try writing? – ed.)

…yeah.

(Good. Then hop to it. – ed.)

I said I can probably try to write. Movement of any kind – especially hopping – is right out. Jostling my stomach is a poor choice.

(It’s…an expression. – ed.)

YOU’RE an expression.

(…just write the fucking story. – ed.)
——
As the quartet traveled through the winding paths of the Jodhpur Forest, Nubbins briefed Ken on the most salient details of the history of Beautopia. The facts were somewhat different than he expected.

“Okay, let me see if I have this straight,” Ken said, “Leprechauns are real but reside entirely in the Wastelands. Elves are not real. Nymphs are real and work as prostitutes in Portland – prostitution BEING legal…”

“You can thank me for that one later,” mused Cal Jack.

“Griffins are real and serve the same purpose as school buses do in my world. Fairies are not real. Gnomes used to be real until you exterminated them in…what did you call it again?”

“The Great Gnome Pogram,” said Nubbins.

“Right. The Great Gnome Pogram. Okay. Not that I approve of that in any way, shape or form, but…why?”

“It’s quite simple, my human friend,” Efrem rumbled below them as he walked, “The gnomes were unbelievers. They let their souls become clouded with the promise of mountain berry juice, nymph sexuality and unrestrained illegal back-alley parcheesi tournaments. We could have stood by and let them be damned to the Netherland far below the surface of our world or we could cleanse them and give them back life in the Aetherland. We chose to be mercy-bearers. Do not judge us too harshly, K. Oz Terry. We do not have such developed consciences as you humans.”

“…just out of sheer morbid curiosity, how many gnomes did you ‘cleanse’?”

“Just shy of seven hundred fifty thousand, plus or minus a few hundred or so!” Nubbins cheerfully chimed in. Ken, however, looked incredibly uncomfortable and the next several minutes of travel were met with awkward, tension-filled silence, not unlike that of a morning after fornicating with a spherical lady. Without warning, however, Efrem ground to a halt. Ken – facing backwards – was nearly thrown from the creature’s back.

“Why the hell are we stopping?” he yelled, turning to face his ridemates.

“Look up, friend,” said Cal Jack.

In front of the young man were the tallest city walls he had ever seen. They stretched far into the sky and appeared to be seven layers thick of what seemed to be a cross between granite and limestone. The city gates – gilded steel – portrayed fantastic scenes of violence and love and violent love and loving violence. Finally, beside the gates was a small black button.

“We have arrived at Lozenthol. The crown jewel city of Beautopia. The capital. The Big L. Ell City,” Nubbins pontificated. Cal Jack smirked.

“I think I get it, thank you,” said Ken.

“You almost forgot, dear Nubbins,” Cal Jack said, “that this is the city that houses our most beautiful and kind patron Mistress Calliope.”

“Mistress? Is that…”

“Yes, my human friend. The title means exactly what you think it does. We are not unversed in the linguistics of human sexuality here.”

“You’re shitting me.”

“No, K. I have not yet consumed you and so cannot be engaging in that particular act.”

“So you ARE unversed in human cursing linguistics.”

“Pardon?”

“I said a swear.”

“I see. Please forgive our backwards ways. We do not understand. We have different ways of expressing vulgarity.”

“Wait, so if I said ‘cargo hold’ or something like that?”

“You would have grievously insulted the Birth Mother of the World by calling her a common harlot with loose genitals.”

“I see. Well…apologies then. Shall we go see the Mistress?”

“Yes, of course,” Nubbins chipped in, “Let me go ring us in.”

Nubbins hopped off the back of their living vehicle and trotted over to the black button. After jumping a few times, he gained enough height to slam his fist on the button, caused a loud electrical hum to erupt from the gates, which slowly began to open. Nubbins quickly ran back and climbed up onto the toad again.

“Onwards Efrem! To Mistress Calliope’s villa!”

Croaking a bit from exertion, Efrem hauled his load through the town. The architecture was a curious combination of avant garde and mud hut. The citizens, all curious as to the new arrival, came out to the street to watch. A more varied lot one could never find. Seven eyes, two eyes, no eyes, one eye. Repeat the same for arms and legs. Wings. Horns. Tails. Stripes. Spots. If one were to compare the citizens of Lozenthol to anything in our world, it would most likely be a schizophrenic’s nightmare while drunk and high on LSD. Ken’s mind nearly spun attempting to comprehend the sights. Soon enough, they had reached the edge of town, where the mighty villa stood.

Once they reached the front sidewalk, Cal Jack, Nubbins and Ken disembarked, standing in front of the villa. None of them were sure what to do.

“Do…do we knock?” asked Ken, the most unsure.

“I have never been so I do not know, friend,” said Cal Jack.

Suddenly, the front door swung open and a beautiful human woman, hair like spun gold, eyes as blue as the waters in Capri, stepped out, her body covered in leather and lace, sewn together elegantly and yet with an air of sexuality to it. She smiled, teeth bright white in the sun.

“Hello! I am Mistress Calliope. I know you, Cal Jack, Efrem and Mr. Nubbins. That must mean that you, handsome stranger, must be Ken, the other human. Welcome. Please come in!”

Stupefied at her beauty, Ken let himself be led by his arm into the sitting room where the two others – Efrem could not enter – sat down. Calliope, however, did not let go of his arm, squeezing it gently.

“You boys make yourselves at home. Mr. ‘Terry’ and I need to speak privately. Come, Ken.”

Dutifully, he followed her up the grand staircase and out of sight. Time passed.

About an hour later, the pair walked back downstairs, smiles on their faces, although Ken’s was larger. Ken also appeared to be doing a small dance of some sort. Cal Jack and Nubbins stood and made small bows.

“Welcome back, Mistress,” said Nubbins. “You two were gone quite a while. Were you speaking to one another?”

“Hell yes,” said Ken. “First I spoke to her, then she spoke to me, then we spoke to each other, then our bodies spoke.”

“I see,” Nubbins said. “Well, it must have been a very rewarding conversation, as we could hear the word ‘yes’ repeated over and over and at quite high volume.”

“That’s because I fu-”

Calliope nudged him and shook her head. Ken coughed.

“I mean. That’s because I…sequoiaed her…spare tire with…demarcation?”

“We do not quite understand but…”

Just then, a guard burst through the door, scared and sweating.

“Mistress! It has come! The time has come! The Dark Lord is approaching with his army!”

“The Dark Lord?” Ken laughed. “What is he? A disgrunted teddy bear?”

“Baphomet.” said Calliope.

“What?!”

“Baphomet. The goat’s head demon. The swallower of souls. In your culture, he is associated with Satanism and the Devil. He is in flesh in our world and seeks to destroy us,” said Cal Jack, reverentially.

“Oh God. I didn’t sign up for this.”

“Not to fear, Childbringer,” said Calliope. “We have nothing to fear as long as I survive.”

“As long as…WHAT DID YOU CALL ME?!”

“Childbringer. I am filled with your seed which has already begun to form our child, the savior of the world.”

“I’M GOING TO BE A FATHER?!”

“Indeed! The father of our salvation!”

Ken fainted. Calliope shook her head.

“Why is it that men always faint when they hear of this? No matter! To arms!”
——
(Uh, KT? Something you want to confess? – ed.)

Not really, no.

(Uh…huh. Okay. – ed.)

Can I pass out now? Oop. Too late. Night all!


A short time ago, in a place not too far from here, there was a boy. A boy looking to go on a magic…

(Wait. Wait wait wait. Hold on a damn minute here. What are you doing? – ed.)

Uh, it’s called setting the scene, Ed. It’s an integral part of effective storytelling.

(Fine. WHY are you doing? – ed.)

Because I have a story to tell. I figure that we can go exploring another world again as we…

(NO! Holy crap, absolutely not. Are you like…clinically retarded or something? Do you remember what happened last time? – ed.)

I…

(DO YOU REMEMBER THE INFERNO, YOU BASTARD? – ed.)

…yes.

(Do you remember how it took way longer and way more effort than you were expecting to pull it off? – ed.)

…yes.

(Good, so you understand why we are not – NOT – going to explore another world. Not now. Not ever. – ed.)

Fine. Just let me…

INAMAGICALKINGDOMFARAWAYAYOUNGMANWOKEUPINALUSHGREEN
FORESTANDLOOKEDAROUNDTOSEEAWORLDHEDIDNOTRECOGNIZE!

(YOU SON OF A – – ed.)
——
The young man sat up and stretched as he attempted to take in his surroundings. He could scarcely see the sky through the towering treetops, though what he could see was dark and expansive. Moonlight shone through the cracks in the treetops, illuminating the clearing he sat in. The forest around him seemed to stretch for miles and miles and he could sense no way of leaving his clearing. Confused and a bit frightened, he called out.

“Hello? Is anyone out there? Where am I?”

The only response he got was a resounding silence. After a few minutes of fruitless yelling, he flopped onto his back and placed his left arm over his eyes. Quietly, he began to verbally collect his thoughts.

“Alright. Hold it together, Ken. You just woke up in a strange place where there is no living creature around and no clear way to escape. Did you do something really wrong? Are you dead? Is this what Hell is like?”

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by quiet giggling and a voice that sounded something akin to Prince on helium.

“My goodness! What an odd fellow! Speaking to himself as if he were the only one alive! Very odd indeed.”

The young man jumped at that, scrambling backwards away from the voice, looking frantically around for the source of the mysterious voice. Right in front of him, he quickly saw, a few bizarre creatures stared at him, confusion in their faces. One appeared to be an extremely large toad – nearly the size of a full-grown heifer, yet purply-blue and with wings. Another, a curious little fellow – almost a cat but with much longer legs – wearing a yellow tunic and smoking a hookah. The middle creature, however, was the one that spoke, a clear ringleader. It was what one could imagine a teddy bear being crossed with a hedgehog. It wore a tan-colored suit and top hat and a small, gold pince-nez balanced on its nose. It made eye contact with the young man and its face split in what was ostensibly a smile.

“Do not be afraid, young man. I am Mr. Nubbins and these are my friends Cal Jack and Efrem,” he said, gesturing to the cat and the toad, respectively.

“H…hi. I’m…”

“Oh hush hush, new friend! Do not say your real name. Choose your own! Let your own imagination be your only limitation!”

“Uh…o…kay. I’m…uh…Noturmos.”

“What are you, a fag?”

“Excuse me?!”

“I said ‘Please keep choosing’ since that name is so…stigmatized in our society.”

“Stigmatized how? And what society?”

“JUST CHOOSE A NAME!” the creature thundered. The young man looked at him, a bit more frightened than he was before. Mr. Nubbins – as the young man now knew the creature – coughed and smiled again, nodding for the young man to continue.

“Alright…uh. Call me…oh I got it! Call me K. Oz Terry. KT for short.”

“Pleased to meet you, KT!” Nubbins exclaimed, extending its paw. The young man – KT – noticed with a moment of apprehension that Nubbins’ hand was just that – a nubbin. In fact, all his limbs terminated in the very same rounded edge. Nubbins laughed.

“Do not worry. Though I possess only nubs – per my name – they are as fully functional and dextrous as human hands.”

“So…if you have nubs because your name is Mr. Nubbins, what does, say, a guy named Long Richie have?” KT laughed, trying to lighten the mood.

“Godhood,” Cal Jack grumbled behind Nubbins, taking another long draw on his hookah. KT smiled uneasily. After a moment, Nubbins broke the tension with a loud laugh.

“Ah, Cal Jack. You never cease to amuse! Come, friend KT. Let us depart.”

“Depart WHERE? Okay, I need a few things answered before we go…wherever it is you’re taking me. Where am I? Why I am here? Where are we going? Those are kind of big ones to start with.”

“Of course. Let us see. You are currently in the geographic center of our country – the Jodhpur Forest. Our country, then, is the fanciful Kingdom of Beautopia!”

“You’ve got to be kidding me…” KT groaned to himself but let Nubbins continue. As he did so, he took a step back, nearly stepping on the head of a tiny chipmunk. Startled, KT turned and looked at the thing. It glared at him, unhappy.

“I’m sorry, little guy. I didn’t mean to…”

“Stuff it, cocksucker,” the chipmunk snarled in a surprisingly gruff voice as it ran back into the bushes. KT’s eyes flew open wide in surprise. Nubbins coughed loudly to get his attention again.

“Pay him no mind. His harvest was poor this year. As I was saying, we are heading, whenever we are finished here, to one of the two main cities that we may enter in Beautopia, those being the city of Lozenthol to the east and Portland to the north.”

“Wait. Wait, Portland? You have PORTLAND in this…place?”

“Of course, friend. Portland is the home base of our shipping trade routes all over the world! Our ports are the finest in the Northern Half.”

“I see. And to the west and south?”

Nubbins’ smile disappeared as he heard that question, replaced by a stony frown.

“To the west, there is nothing but the Western Wastelands, the only place where those in exile from our fair cities may dwell.”

“And the south?”

“To the south,” Efrem burbled, “lies only death and the reign of the Dark Lord himself. The south is the forbidden land, where no good creature can survive.”

“The Dark Lord?”

“We have spent too much time here as is, friend KT,” Nubbins interrupted. “Hop on Efrem’s back. He will take us to the east. I assume Mistress Calliope will want to meet you.”

“I’m not even going to ask.”

“Good boy. Hop on up. I shall be along in a moment.”

KT shrugged and followed Cal Jack to the toad where he climbed up and settled in. He did not notice Nubbins glaring into the bushes and drawing one paw across his throat. He also did not notice as shadows descended into that bush where the chipmunk had left. He still further failed to notice as a brief struggle ensued, ending up with a large spray of blood peppering the nearby tree. Satisfied, Nubbins nodded and climbed onto Efrem with the other two.

“To adventure!” he cried and they were off.
——-
Well, what do you think so far?

(I’m…surprised. It’s actually quite enjoyable. Plus it’s demented enough that it works well. Alright, KT. You won me. I’ll let you do your damn story. – ed.)

A winner is me!

(Uh…huh. Okay. Well, goodbye everyone. See you all back soon. We hope. – ed.)