Gregson pressed the red button and waited…

and then the gears started turning.

Under the ocean, the detective looked up into the sunlight that filtered through the dark water. Sharks swam around it, like goldfish searching for a way out, and then the sun shifted. The yellow orb shrunk to the eye of a needle and turned red, like a lava sunset boiling the sky and burning a black hole through the heart of the island. Gregson thought he heard far-off screaming, but under the water, it sounded like a symphony, or perhaps it was his untrained ear and a dislike for politicians. He swam up the magnifying glass, until his face breached the surface. The core of the island was burning, like balsa wood, and the world’s leaders were swimming out to sea. Domino gave Gregson her hand and he nearly pulled her out of the boat.

“Should we rescue them?” Domino asked.

“They’d swamp us for sure. No, let’s make a discrete call to a communist country and have them picked up. It shouldn’t be a problem because most of them are communists.”

Domino, in her black bikini, pushed the throttle to FULL, and they rose out of the water, leaving the island behind.

“What are those red dots?” Gregson asked.

“Oh, that’s the fish finder,” Domino said. They’re too large to be regular fish, so I think they’re sharks or politicians or perhaps there isn’t any difference. Should we try to save them?”

“No, there’s blood in the water—it’ll be election day soon.”


Chapter 10 No Could Mean Yes

“No could mean yes,” Gregson said.


“I’m just joking.”

“If you won’t succumb to pleasure, perhaps pain…? And a little madness.”

“You have to catch us first,” Gregson said. He dove into the speedboat and turned the key in the ignition, while the rooster tail soaked everyone on shore.

Jet skis gave chase, while Gregson searched for anything explosive on the horizon. PROPANE. He pulled the flare gun out and lit the tanks. The observatory exploded and world celebrities filed out like hypnotized wanderers.

“Is that Hillary Clinton?” Domino asked.

“No, I think that’s a man with a bad haircut,” Gregson said.

“Look, the whole island is powered by solar from that magnifying glass.” Gregson hadn’t noticed the translucent glass that enlarged the sun.

“What if we switched the swivels?”

“And the looking-glass is reversed?”

“Right. The whole island would burn.” They rode out to the tower, with bullets popping off behind them. Gregson jumped out of the boat in full diving gear and went to the bottom of the reef where the handle of the glass was securely lodged. The controls were there, as he punched in the numbers to rotate the sun.

Breaking Mirrors

the warm masterful feeling of superiority

is a dream I never wake up from

ascending mountains

or sitting

in the throne room

with deep spiritual understanding

that cannot be discussed

for if I speak

I distort what I know

in the same way that a wise man knows

that he knows nothing.

What do I do with these thoughts and feelings

that are otherworldly

and exist, only in my own mind?

What is the purpose of wisdom

if it does not manifest

and what will we do with what we create?

it vanishes and reappears someplace else

in some other mind

pushing out, pushing up, on lots of limits

denying the idea in my head that comforts me

is too difficult

when the world tells me differently

or worse, when they say what I want to know

and how can I trust this

how can I trust the mirrors I look into

that show me what I want to see

breaking them is my only recourse

and accepting the bad luck

A wise man can say a wise word and not cut someone wide open

because the truth is the only comfort we need.

the weather inside my mind

the weather inside my mind


like fair Easterlies

until islands of bad energy

consume my soul

and soul-sucking tasks get done


my creativity loves chaos

and so, cleaning closes my mind

forcing a new direction

with artificial power

unwilling to allow a mess.

I’m making the waves

as my universe shuts down

until the big bang

Where did this energy come from?

the point of no return

wasn’t there a second ago

and this chaos must be ridden

hopefully, it rolls for thousands of miles

sprinkling sand

like ideas

under a noble sunset

that smiles

until the darkness

goes down.

A Friend in the Sky

Sometimes we reach for things, even though we know there is nothing there, maybe especially because there is nothing there—it’s an insane hope. -Intellectual Shaman

I don’t know if everyone thinks this way, well… I guess I know they don’t, but I think there must be some who do. I asked the counselor at my school how she measured time, and she said she didn’t. She didn’t know what I was talking about. Recently, I lost my ruler, and when that happens, it can be difficult to measure things. There is no ruler, there is nothing, and this is difficult to fathom, but if you are lucky, there is something worth doing despite logic failing for any reason to do it. I was looking for greatness and I still am.

That’s why I decided to rent a cabin in the mountains. There would be no internet connection, just the wind and snow and god to connect with. I was hoping that everything in my life would make sense, and I was willing to do anything for that. You always hear of the man who goes crazy alone, and people usually dismiss him, as the man who goes crazy alone. He got that way, perhaps… because he had a drug habit or some mental disorder.

My parents were always discussing the need to connect to god, that I hadn’t tried hard enough. Well, now I was putting god to the test. I was putting myself to the test. And I was hoping that my two-week vacation would be more than silence and a return to noise. My pickup truck had difficulty climbing the mountain. It was full of supplies, including toilet paper, lots of toilet paper. And for some reason, that was a big concern—not losing my way or getting stuck someplace where people didn’t go, but not being able to wipe my own ass.

When I got to the cabin, I got into the bunk and just rested there. I lay like that for 30 minutes. I thought that would be enough time, but I didn’t want to move, so I waited another 30 minutes just listening to the wind. I wouldn’t call my state, a state of depression, more like immobility caused by a realization that any realization wouldn’t matter.

And that’s when I heard it… a far-off bird call. It sounded happy. It was far off and worth getting out of bed for. I opened the cabin door and looked out, into the pink sky where the silhouette of an enormous bird swooped across the sunset.

I couldn’t go back to sleep. It was turning dark and I felt the need to stretch my legs. So, I went for a walk. There was a trail that looped the mountain, and as I went down, the trees got taller, so that I noticed how still they were and how old. They would probably be alive when I was dead and they wouldn’t have many visitors. It must get lonely for them up here, just standing there, year after year. But then I noticed something, something I didn’t expect. Were those coconuts in a pine tree? I pushed the trunk to see if I could knock one lose and sure enough, one fell. I didn’t want it to break, so I caught it in my coat, and rather than it being a coconut, it was an egg, shining like a pearl. I brought it back to the cabin and put it in one of the warm bunk beds. Then I took the other and went to sleep. The next morning, I awoke to knocking. Maybe the park ranger, I thought.

When I opened the door, I was greeted by a sharp beak. “Kaaw…Kaaw…Kookaaw.”

“Oh my God!” I screamed. Then it dawned on me— it must want its egg back, so I wrapped it in a blanket and brought it out. The bird gave me a reproachful look and gathered it in its mouth. I sighed as I watch the bird ascend and I closed the cabin door and got back into bed. A little while later, I heard knocking again.


It was the park ranger. “I just wanted to see that you were situated right. We’ve had some poachers in the area, so keep your eyes out.”

“Are they dangerous?”

“Only if you’re an endangered bird.”

“A what?”

“It’s kinda like a tetradactyl. Some hiker got a polaroid of it ten years ago, and we’ve had trophy hunters up here ever since. Just make sure you stay out of their way.”

“Oh, I will,” I said. “I’m trying to write.”

“What do you write?”

“I don’t know… I don’t know if I can even do it.”

The park ranger gave me a funny look. “You will. It’s written across your face. If it were in ink, it wouldn’t be any clearer.” With that, he got into his pickup truck and left and I sat down to my typewriter, but no words came out. I decided to go for another walk and as I got close to the tree with the eggs in it, a shadow flew above me and landed on the path.

It was the magnificent bird with red and green coloring, a long slender neck and golden eyes. And rather than backing up, I reached out my hand and its head bobbed closer until I was petting its feathers. It wrapped its neck around my arm and made a vibrating noise like it was purring. Then it shifted its feet close to my body, like it wanted me to climb on its back, and almost as if in a dream, I did. Then we left the laws of gravity behind and I never saw the sky that way, like a bird. I discovered what mattered, even though, perhaps, nothing mattered. We were instantly close. We were instantly friends. We were in free-fall together, until we pulled out of that dive and we touched the sky.


Luther’s Game

I’m on the clock before I get to work because it’s Wednesday, and traffic is worst on Wednesdays. Rather than dressing up, I dress down. I wear the shirt I slept in and put my jeans on. Fundamentally, I quit caring a month ago.

There are two kinds of drivers on the road, those who drive too slowly and those who drive too fast. The worst are the slow ones because they know you’re in a hurry, but they follow the laws just to spite you. I have no problem with those who break the rules because they are being honest. Their rage comes out in how they drive, and who can blame them? The job isn’t any different, except for one thing, it’s not socially acceptable to be unprofessional, and that’s where the rage comes from. You have to say and do the right things, and then the powers that be expect you to be civilized on the roads. It’s a recipe for crazy.

My work is in a school near the suburbs. It’s a farming community that became overpopulated by people who wanted to escape the city, and now nobody can escape. It’s gridlock. So, I’m always weaving in and out of neighborhoods, trying to beat red lights and traffic. I’m obsessed with saving time.

I’ve been studying the maps in the Maple Valley library to see if I can improve my commute. I can see how the city has changed, trees were cut down, the ground was releveled, and the old logging roads are mostly gone. I’m looking for ways to get to work faster. Maybe a road that is no longer in use, that I can use.

Then I stumble upon an unusual map. It’s unlike the city maps, and there is a great black spot in the center. I ask the librarian, “Why?”

“Oh, that’s one of those mining maps,” she said. “That blacked out region must be where the mines were. That’s why the roads reconnect on the other side.”

Later that week, I kept getting stuck in traffic, and I was late to work every day. It was a nightmare…

“Would you come into my office?” My boss said. I complied—what choice did I have? She was wearing black nylons that ran up her legs and attached somewhere I couldn’t see. It was the same red lipstick and red hair that said yes to me while always saying no. “I don’t know if you think you’re special, but you’re replaceable. If you can’t get to work on time, I’ll find someone who can.”

“But the traffic is unbeatable,” I complained.

“I don’t have any trouble getting to work.”

“That’s because you get here at 5 AM. I don’t want to spend my entire day here.”

“Why not? Don’t you like it here?”

“Well… I don’t hate it, but I want a life outside of work.”

“What possible life can you have, more trash TV?”

“I don’t know.”

She looked at me, like she owned me. “Just get to work on time.”

That weekend, I decided to test out the map. Most of the city had changed, since the logging roads were used, but there were still a few places that were impossible to build. They were hills that rose high above the city and sure enough, off the main highway, there was a big yellow gate that blocked off a gravel road. It was one of those ridges that divides part of the city in half. I pulled off the road, next to a Starbucks, and got three shots in my latte. There was a cute blonde waiting in line who opened the door for me, but I didn’t talk to her. I worried that she would be my excuse for not traveling the road. The coffee gave me nerves, and saying no to a woman, built up repressed sexual energy. I got out of there quickly and walked directly to the gate with my bolt cutters. I snapped the lock and entered the point of no return. The road was one lane, that hadn’t been maintained in over 50 years. So, I didn’t know where it went to or if it was washed out. If I encountered any potholes, getting stuck was a definite possibility, and up I went, watching the city grow smaller. Then it started to rain.

The ground was getting muddy and my wheels started to slip. The road was so slick, if I stopped moving, I would slide backwards, and I didn’t want gravity to take over. Then the sun came out and I descended into a green valley in farming country. The sky broke wide-open, turning blue, and I almost forgot why I climbed up the mountain in the first place. There were sheep herding in the fields down below and beautiful young girls tending them.

I drove to a crossroads where there were four signs for four different roads. The sign where I came from read: The Future. The sign where I was going read: The Past. I was more interested in the signs to the East and West. To the West was a sign that read: The Village, and to the East was a sign that read: Luther’s Castle. If this had been a sightseeing trip, I would’ve enjoyed visiting the castle, especially because it was a magical place that I wasn’t sure I could get back to again, but for some reason, it was more important that I get back to Maple Valley, at that particular moment, so I kept driving into the Past.

Soon the trees started to do strange things. It was like they were reaching out to grab me, or they were folding around my pickup, and the forest became blurry. It was like driving down a drain at lightning speed as I pushed through a vortex and was reborn on the other side. My pickup jumped through the woods onto a gravel drive that merged with the roadway half-a-mile from my school. I checked the time, and rather than losing it, I had gained 30 minutes. I had beaten the game, and nothing felt better. Then something began to dawn on me, all the time I spent traveling from the future to the past was free time. What if I just lived in the shortcut between work and home? There were beautiful women there and a castle. What if I could be their king? I spent the rest of that weekend thinking about what to do. It was possible that I could get stuck and never get out.

On Monday, I followed my routine with perfect commitment. I even left my apartment early, so that I would be on-time for work. But when I got halfway, there was an accident. The police walked by my truck and I overheard their conversation.

“We’ve got another crazy on our hands. It’s one of those arrow murders—some freak that hunts women—pulled her right out of the car after he shot her boyfriend in the chest.”

“Is it a compact bow?”

“A crossbow is more like it. The bolt is shorter, the only problem is, it looks as if it’s homemade. We’ve got a killer who puts love into his killing.”

“How do you know?”

“Look, you’ve been socialized to believe that men and women are the same, but that’s simply not true. Man is 99% animal and 1% human. He wants to hunt. He does not want to be cooped up in an office all day, surrounded by beautiful women who tell him what to do.”

“Well… I guess I know how you feel about female authority and paperwork.”

“Listen Kathy, it’s difficult for you to understand. The modern man is completely suppressed.”

“I don’t think I want to hear it.”

“Suit yourself.”

It was strange… that traffic cop described exactly how I was feeling. Fifty yards ahead, I noticed the big yellow gate, along the shoulder. If I was going to make it to work, I would have to take the shortcut. I gunned my engine and hoped no police would see. I pushed through the gate without getting out of my truck and soon I was climbing up the ridge again. This time, rather than driving into the Past, I took a left and drove West to the Village.

The scenery began to change. Now, there were sand dunes. I drove until I reached a beach where a seaside town stretched along the shore. Women were tanning themselves and when I got closer, I realized they were naked. They were all young and beautiful and when I walked closer, their eyes dilated with desire. Some of them were speaking foreign tongues; it was difficult to understand them at first, until I heard English, but it was not the English that I knew, it was much older than that.

“If you value your life, you will drive to the Past or the Future, but don’t stay here. When the master of the house returns, he will do horrible things. He has spent a lifetime collecting girls and no man who trespasses ever lives. Even if you leave, he will hunt you.”

Then a girl grabbed my hand and smiled. And another girl grabbed my other hand and smiled. They giggled as they led me upstairs. Ten or twelve other girls followed. It was impossible to resist and in two hours I was drained of my life force. I barely had the energy to make it back to my truck.

“Wait, what are you going to do about Luther? He will kill you.”

“How will he know?”

“Girls talk.”

“Well… what should I do about it?”

“The only thing you can do is kill him first.”

To think, all I wanted to do was save time on my way to work and now I had to kill a master assassin. I didn’t even own a gun. Driving back to the Past was not as exciting as it was yesterday. And when I got to work, the last thing I wanted to do was listen to my boss describe the new way to fill-out paperwork.

My mind was ricocheting against my skull. Where would I get a gun? I didn’t know the first thing about hunting. So, after work, I went to the gun shop. I was still dressed in my professional clothes and I must’ve had an agitated look on my face because the seller looked worried.

“Did you come from work?” He asked.


“And what kind of gun are you looking for?”

“I don’t know much about guns, so I need something that can shoot itself.”

“And what are you planning to use it for?”


“What do you plan to hunt?”

“Deer, I’m hunting deer,” I said. I could tell he didn’t believe me, but he continued…

“You want the Bushman; it’s what the DC Sniper used, and the shooter wasn’t a great shot; scared the city though.” I paid the man and left with the modern weapon and 200 rounds of ammunition. Hopefully, it would give me an edge on a crossbow.

The problem was, I didn’t know what Luther looked like, but he would know what I looked like, if he talked to any of his women. I thought about taking a hunter safety course, but I realized that time was not on my side and Luther had access to all points in time. If he found out, he wouldn’t kill me today, but he might kill my mother or some other distant relative so that I would never be born. No, the only way was to kill Luther before he found out, so I entered the big yellow gate again with the resolve to kill him.

When I got to the crossroads, I turned East, towards Luther’s castle. The trees grew smaller there, until they were shriveled. The rocks were volcanic, and the air was difficult to breathe. From afar, I could see the castle, high up on a cliff with a perfect view of the road. I had two choices. One: I could drive as fast as possible to the front door, or I could spend hours climbing over the sharp rocks until I was cut to pieces. I opted to drive like a maniac. My pickup reached 60 miles per hour in 7 seconds and threatened to die, but I kept my foot pressed to the floor anyway.

I screeched to a halt and switched my safety off, then knocked. The door was solid oak, several inches thick, and would’ve been impenetrable except that it was open. The massive door swung lightly on its hinges and I entered an enormous room, marbled, with a vaulted ceiling. A piano was tucked in the corner, near a door that led into a greater room. On the walls were animal tusks from the prehistoric era, dinosaur bones, and trophies that made the soul sink. If a man had consistently killed during a hundred lifetimes, he could not have filled the walls with so much death.

I heard screaming coming from upstairs. So, I ran up the spiral staircase and into a bedroom where a nude woman was tied to a satin bed. When she saw me, her eye got twice as big and she started moaning. Then I undid her bonds. And that’s when I heard a peculiar sound. Was that a siren? I rushed to the window to look out onto the volcanic fields where I noticed a motorcycle cop racing up the road.

“That’s strange, I guess the police figured out how to get into the shortcut. Maybe they followed me?”

“That’s him,” the girl hissed. “The man who kidnapped me.”

And then everything clicked. I had to kill the policeman. He was riding without a helmet and when he got closer, there was something familiar about him. He was the cop that I overheard on the road. I took careful aim out the window and almost squeezed off a round when he drew his revolver and fired a handful of shots at me. One hit my gun and knocked it from my hands. The other went into my shoulder and right out again.

I aimed at the door and waited, but nobody walked through. Hours went by like this, until nightfall.

Then I saw a shadow, and then something was choking me from behind. My eyes were bulging out of my skull, and a voice whispered… “You tried to take something that’s mine.” Then there was a woosh and another whoosh. It came from the bed and Luther fell dead on the floor. I looked at the smoking barrel and the smoking hot naked woman who pulled the trigger.

“Let’s get out of here,” I said. And she nodded. She got on his motorcycle and I got in my truck and we drove into the Past. When I got to work, my boss was there to greet me.  “Congratulations, you’re not late today.”

I almost said something, but then I realized I didn’t need to. I could be King of the shortcut between work and home, and rather than fighting traffic, I would live where life was perfect, with hundreds of women who wanted me, in my castle on the hill. So, I left, never to go back to work again and I lived happily in the shortcut between worlds.


In the early hours of insomnia

I’ve woken up

before the workday

with nothing to show for it

and there is nothing worse

than not having any love to give


people have more of it than they know

they say they don’t have it

so they don’t have to look at the other things

Years gone by

the answers are finally

bubbling up from within

how do I know?

it’s the same way I’ve deciphered what’s meaningful

and what isn’t

it’s a feeling of satisfaction

like I’ve been listening to music

of all kinds,

a blur of country, rock, and jazz

and then I hear classical

it’s the song I composed

when I was feeling a certain way

on a certain day

and I say to myself, “that was time well spent.”

satisfaction is a warm feeling

I can’t get from entertainment, recognition, or professional success

And when the hour draws near

there will be a great expanse of everything

and when finality stays

and there is no rest

I will hear my own music.

Pistols at Dawn

It was a question of Honor between gentlemen at the prep school I retired from. Back then, I was the head of school, on my way out with French lessons occupying my time rather than my governing duties. I had become tired, no, exhausted, from the continuous demands parents made on me and their children. In my last year, they were calling me a child, so that I put my head down, endured the humiliation, and walked the fine line between fantasy and reality before my permanent vacation to the south of France. The blue Mediterranean and topless beaches would be where I reentered my teenage years; it’s funny to think I spent 10 years as a monk, in a monastery. I was old when I was young and now, I am young as I approach old age. My entire life has been an anachronism.

Stranger still was the teaching staff we hired on during my last year. We had the reputation of preparing young men for Harvard, so the teachers needed to be exemplary. We had two history teachers who made dead time come back to life. The fencing club began to enact scenes from The Three Musketeers, and the teachers got so into character commanding their troops, that I was worried someone might get hurt, but the kids were having such a good time, that I thought I’d just leave things alone.

Then we had the Teacher’s Teatime on the 1st of October. We were only a month into the school year with parents threatening lawsuits due to safety violations and the history teachers who seemed to be increasingly losing touch with reality. Oddly enough, they were both married. Their wives were as strange as they were and exceedingly beautiful, and that’s when I noticed the danger. I had been drinking, which was my custom at these after-school soirees. I didn’t care how I was remembered, knowing that no principal lasts in the minds of their staff, unless they’re hated. I was neither liked, nor disliked, so my name would vanish within a year, just like the mission statements I came up with.

The history teachers were drinking brandy, which gave their faces a ruddy color, and may have been a forecast for their boiling rage.

“Sir! You are mistaken!”

“I am not!”

“Your smartphone will tell you otherwise, idiot! You need technology, whereas, I have educated myself with the right books!”

“How dare you!”

The Renaissance Man who taught post-medieval history pushed the Medieval Man who taught about the knights of the round table.

“You touched me! A smack on my honor! A duel and may your wife mourn your death, as you have murdered my reputation!” If they had access to pistols, they would’ve drawn arms in the company of their sponsors and students. As it was, the scene was so outrageous that many of the guests thought it was only a bit of entertainment, some impromptu acting, by the faculty.

The next Monday was routine, as if the events of that weekend belonged to some drunken revelry masquerading as a tea party. I even got to many of the papers on my desk when a mass email went out to all the staff at Heritage Academy. “Mr. Bills has offended my honor, and I ask any noble man to be my Second. He only needs to apply to get the job.” Moments later, Mr. Seeley responded, “Mr. Bills is a nincompoop, a third-rate teacher, and coward. He does not have the nerve to face me on the field of open combat.”

The messages even got circulated to some of the students. It was a mechanism set into motion that I was powerless to stop, like a watch that is perpetually wrong and still tries to tell the right time. Emails went back and forth with more jabs, and our students wrote an article in the newspaper giving gambling odds and reporting the best insults. “It’s only a matter of weapons… which ones will they choose?”

Mr. Bills was fencing champion in college, so he had the clear advantage. No, this duel would be a test of raw nerves, so it would be pistols at close range. Mr. Seeley had a pair of dueling pistols, flintlocks; and it was a small wonder they were being used to fight a duel over the disagreement of facts, in the information age.

The Seconds were in my opinion, sniveling weasels: Randy, the Science Teacher and Mr. Kelley, the Math Teacher. Things were heating up, so that nobody could concentrate; the SATs were in two weeks and the practice tests were so bad, it would be a miracle if the students could even make it into the top State schools. Parents were agitated and I kept fielding their phone calls, demanding to know what was going on. It would all be over tomorrow. The dawn rose. I had upgraded my drip coffee maker to an espresso machine which emanated regal smells as I slung a pair of spyglasses about my neck. The fog made the forest road difficult to see as I parked in my reserved spot. There were already students standing on the field of battle where the history teachers were checking their peep sights.

“I will count 1, 2, 3, fire. There will not be a 4. Are you ready?” Mr. Sias asked. He was a short man, so he had to yell a bit louder. Pace it out 30. Turn when I give the command and meet your fate.”

“They’re really going to do it,” the students were whispering. I looked at Mr. Bills and Mr. Seeley. There was such iron resolve, such arrogance, such courage. It was beautiful to watch. The school nurse had the bandages ready. It was total madness; such craziness I couldn’t believe I was watching.

“AND TURN! 1, 2, 3 and…”

“Wait, wait a second,” Mr. Seeley said.

“I told you he was a coward,” Mr. Bills laughed.

“No, that’s not it, I just wanted to say you are a cheeky fellow.”

“How dare you, sir!”

“Dare me?”

“Dare you.”


Both pistols exploded and the two men stood their ground. It was magnificent.

“Since you both missed, you have the option to fire again or you can sort out your honor with swords.

“It’ll be swords,” Mr. Bills said before Mr. Seeley could protest.

And steel crashed against steel.

I couldn’t watch. I’d had enough of education. Later I was told they’d both wounded each other and shook hands. I reflected on the moment from an airplane landing in Nice. That life was behind me now. I had enough of male boobs, and I wanted to see the real thing, that is… on females, if you know what I mean?

When I landed, I went straight to the beach and the beach did not disappoint. It never does…

“Monsieur, would you put some tanning lotion on my back?”



Enjoying an Everlasting Meal

Lakes of desire




to something

deep within

or four walls

where you spend your day

surrounded by positive quotes

and knickknacks

a ship

sailing on black water

makes me smile

at the twinkling stars

as the master stares into infinity

where carbon is born

and office papers burn

counting down to 3:30


Blowing your mind

where fragments land

in different worlds


the next great art

where we go

and know

it has meaning


of lovers

of life


an everlasting meal.

The Mechanic in the Dumpster

When we find things we want, but we realize they aren’t good for us, and we can’t give them back…

I was on empty and it was the kind of emptiness that grows. When I was younger, I’d experienced it and I had found ways to fill it— distractions and goals that didn’t take me anywhere, but now the emptiness was banished. It was growing, and there were no stops, only go, no authority, not even my own.

The gas station was one of those places that used to be used, but now was on an inconvenient corner, with a convenience store that was no longer convenient. It was so dilapidated and run down, one wondered if they were still in business. The pump technology and dials hadn’t changed in 40 years, and only lost and nostalgic drivers stopped there. The man behind the counter wore a thick beard and didn’t say anything. He stared straight ahead, like he was in a trance and accepted payment from the rare customer.

It was one of those days where I sensed my power rising, and the same shore held me at bay. The day begins and ends and it is difficult to know if there is a progression, just like the tides. People want to get to the end of it. Some gain and lose. Some maintain, and spend their lives maintaining. There is no progression.

I put the pump in my gas tank and watched the numbers roll. Everything turned in a circle, generations of people who forgot generations of people. My tank was full, but my tires were flat, so I pumped those as well. There were take-out food containers in my cab, so I threw those into the dumpster. My ride was clean and ready to go when I thought I heard something. It sounded like farting and eating at the same time.

“Whatcha gonna do with those empty containers?” It asked.

“I don’t know what you mean,” I said.

I looked over the edge of the dumpster, expecting to find a bum—in some ways, I wasn’t disappointed. It was disgusting, dirty, slimy, even its face looked disreputable.

“Don’t look at me like that,” it said.

“Like what?”

“Like this.” And it held up a broken mirror so that I could see the frown on my face.

“You don’t like me, do you?” It said.


“Never mind, but I do know you’ve been running on empty for some time, and I’m the gas station mechanic.”

“What’s that?”

“I fill windshield wiper fluid, tires, I used to pump gas, but economics made me obsolete, now I’ve got to scrounge for dinner.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Yesterday, I found a half-eaten egg McMuffin. Now, how can I service you?”

“I wouldn’t put it that way,” I said. “You sound like a hooker.”

“What if I am?” It winked.

I almost laughed. “If you can fill my emptiness, I’ll buy you dinner.”

“You’re on. Now, what you want is a little power that you can use in a big way.”

“I don’t know that I want that,” I said. “I think I just want to be left alone.”

“But you see, that’s why you’re empty. You think you want peace, but you already have that, you’re bored. What you need to do is find an enemy and go to war.”

“What?” I asked. I didn’t like how it said that.

“Enemies, everybody has enemies, just identify one or two, and I’ll do something about it.”

“Well, there is a guy I work with named Bob, but Bob is a good man, we just don’t get along, different personalities, you know.”

“Oh, you don’t know what you’re saying. You’ve got so much repressed rage under that peaceful exterior, it’s like a tornado waiting to touch down. I’ll do something about it, silent like, and you’ll have the satisfaction it was done. Do you know the word ‘mechanic’ used outside its normal meaning?”


“Well… there you go. You don’t even have to say the word. I know what you’re thinking.”

“What’s your name, anyway?” I asked.

“My friends call me Ego.”

“Well, don’t do me any favors.”

“It’s too late…”

Suddenly, I realized my tank was full.