Sunday, June 24, 2007


All the windows wore horizontal white shutters, which could be closed on the will of the inhabitants, effectively shutting the house into it’s own reality, it’s walls protected by custom and privacy laws. The vines were carefully tended so as to not block the windows; after all, it was important to occasionally let the light in. At least, that’s what Nancy said, and we pretty much did what Nancy said.

To the outside world she was Nancy N. German (as by friend/brother Toolie was fond of saying, the second “N” stood for Nazi), a dental hygienist in her early forties. Never married, few friends, usually found either at work or at home. As it was, Nancy bemoaned the necessity of her spending any time away from the home. However, money being as it was, something had to be done to bring it in.

Sometimes people ask me why Sammy doesn’t work so my mother (they think Nancy is my mother, because she told them she was) can stay home with the kids. I tell them it’s because Sammy (who is also supposed to be my father, even though the little freak hasn’t gotten it up since 1981) is simple. In the head. And then I do that thing where you poke your temple and twirl your finger. Sometimes I cross my eyes and let my tongue hang out.

As you can imagine, this behaviour hasn’t won me many friends. What it has won me has been a lifetime of abuse and ostrasization. If you have ever experienced life outside of the pack, you will understand me when I say that when you are an outsider, anything can happen to you. My guidance counselor (whose name was Mr. P. Didhee, I shit you not) used to rag on me all the time. He had a favourite line: can’t you at least try to fit in?

The thing was, I could, but I couldn’t, you know. Yeah, lot of times I knew what everyone wanted from me, what I was supposed to do to be normal. Sometimes I could do it, because it was nothing much. Sometimes I could do it, but I wouldn’t, because I thought it was dumb. So yeah, I’ll have a smoke. No, I won’t help you burn ants. I never got that. Where’s the fun in that? It’d be like God putting you into a family where everyone hates each other.

The other thing was, Nancy prefers me to be on the outside looking in. Apparently we can never really trust anyone else, from the outside. No matter what, they have a different agenda, and sometime our agendas will conflict, and they will become the enemy. It was inevitable. And yes, she really does think like that. If there’s one last sweater on sale and you stand between Nancy and her discount, do yourself a huge favour and step aside.

To date, Nancy has physically assaulted seventeen different women during sales at the mall. She has been banned from the mall seven times, but simply returns the next day as if nothing had happened. Mall security just leaves her alone. Can you blame them? Who would want to deal with a gigantic (five foot eleven!), angry woman with rage issues? Not worth the $4.50 an hour.

So everyone outside of the house is an enemy. Pretty intense training for a kid. I have to say, it has come in handy. While my neighbour was learning to play the violin, I was learning to pick pockets. I could hotwire a car by ten. I was driving at 9; I used to prop Sammy up in the passenger side and tool around the neighbourhood. I liked to see how many times I could swerve suddenly and slap Sammy’s head against the side window.

Sometimes a cop would pull me over, so I would cry and do the “my daddy’s drunk and I’m just a little girl” thing, and tell them how I had to drive my daddy home so mommy wouldn’t leave us. That bit worked perfectly every time. Well, one time the cop took me in to the station and put Sammy in jail. I fucked off while the cops were photocopying Melissa Sotheby’s library card (I had also long ago learned the advantages of a set of fake ID).

I’m pretty sure Nancy’s not my mother. I remember someone else, a redhead like me. She used to hold me, and sing me a song. I can hear the song when I’m asleep, but it always sublimates into whispers when I awake. The kind of recurring dream thing that really starts to piss you off by, oh, aged eight. Nancy says the redhead is a false memory, or maybe a movie I watched. Only the dream woman didn’t call me Sarah; she said my name was Lydia.

Sometimes, when I was about six or seven, we would have to do these bullshit assignments when you wrote about your families and what they did, and stuff. The very first one I wrote caused a lot of trouble for me. Nancy had made quite certain that I understood the importance of secrecy, and the value of lies. My problem was, while I understood this on a verbal level, the idea didn’t quite translate into the written.

My first assignment told it as it was. Every grisly detail, including the times that I found Sammy masturbating in a closet/bathroom/hallway/kitchen/McDonald’s restroom/etc. They made me stay after school and talk to a man with a nice voice who had licorice. Luckily I had come to realize by then that when strangers gave you candy, they were out to fuck you one way or the other.

They wanted to talk about my assignment, which I knew right away was bad, so I immediately disavowed all knowledge. After being reminded of my signature, which appeared at the bottom of the written confessional, I immediately switched to story mode. I explained it all as a fantasy, a game I played when pretending to be someone else. It could just as easily have been a pirate story.

Nancy got there pretty quick, and took me and the paper home (although she had to threaten to sue before they would give it to her). Each one was punished by burning; the latter via fireplace, the former via curling iron. You didn’t like to bother Nancy too often, that’s for sure.

I guess maybe I am a bit selfish. Nancy says it’s all for a good reason, the secrecy and paranoia. She says we’re part of an army, a tiny unit hidden away in a sea of hidden units, all over the country, all over the world. When the time comes, we will rise and throw off our disguises, and glory in the death and destruction of all mankind.

That last part pisses me off a bit, because I still haven’t kissed anyone. I’m not picky, boy or girl is fine by me, but if we kill everyone else off, all we’ll have left is guys like Sammy. I’d toss my own salad before I’d kiss that bloated white freak.

But you don’t know, either, because there could be some hot guys on our side too. After the slaughter there will probably be some kind of orgy, I suppose. After all, there ought to be. After all, where’s the fun in fighting for Hell if you can’t enjoy the sin along the way?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hey Kids, Who Wants Meaning?

When it comes right down to brass tacks, there's only one question that really matters. Its the whole "Is there a God" thing. Whether you refer to a supreme being as God, Allah, Vishnu, Thor, doesn't really matter much for purposes of this discussion. People for the most part can be broken down into one of two camps: theists and atheists (agnostics, face it, you're really theists with a fear of committment).

Many people have argued both sides, usually quite passionately. I must admit, I'm surprised at the passion that can be aroused in atheists. Its hard to believe people can get so worked up about what they do not believe in. And I am sure that no matter what side you are on, nothing I will ever say will shift sides. However, I would like to weigh in on the issue with a carefully mangled metaphor.

Imagine you're in a casino. There are only two tables. On the right is a game called "Theism". To play, all you have to do is put your marker on the table to indicate your belief in a divine being. If you win, you get an Eternity of splendour and happiness. If you lose, you get nothing. All you lose is your marker.

To the left is a game called "Atheism". To play, all you have to do is put your marker on the table to indicate your belief that there is no divine being. If you win, you get nothing, and you lose your marker. If you lose, you burn in agony for all of Eternity. Or maybe get your marker back and a chance to play again (however, if this does happen, your memories of playing the game will be erased).

Which is why I chose to believe. Frankly, the odds - as infinitesimal as they may be - are in my favour.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Six Bottles of Beer on the Wall

The fridge contained an odd assortment of sundries and condiments. It was the kind of fridge that would belong to a crazy but lovable beach-dwelling, hard-core rocker character in your average back-to-college style comedy. The fridge was, indeed, living monument to stereotypical irresponsible bachelorhood.

The inside of the fridge was a chaos, as if designed by the mind of a frog in a blender. Top shelf, near the front, was the resting place of the pickle jar with one and a half pickles in it. Behind it, to the left, the box of baking soda that had long ago gone solid, and was now technically chalk. The second shelf was home to the ketchup and soy sauce packets, the coffee shop creamers, and a crisper that had long ago fused shut. The lower shelves were mostly given over to a variety of fungus that had sprung into life on the remains of a fried egg.

But the center shelf, the center shelf was clean. The second shelf gleamed white porcelain bright, like George Hamilton’s teeth by black-light. In the center of the second shelf, this most cleansed – and therefore sacred – of shelves, there rested six bottles of beer. And each and every one of them knew that one of them had to die.

“I think it’ll be Left.” One from Left sounded soft spoken, and nervous. He was certain that Left was Next. Because if Left were to be Chosen, then that Act would transcend One from Left into Left, and therefore put him most certainly at risk of being Next.

“Fuck that,” Two from Left sounded rash, rude, and loud. Rosie O’Donnell on a sugar rush. “The One who Chooses is right handed. He’ll go for Right.”

“I think he should choose me.” One from Right sounded bored and amused. Like he was at a party, instead of inside a fridge.

“I hardly think you need to worry,” chuckled One from Left. Two from Left responded with a resounding raspberry.

“Like the One who Chooses would choose such a loose and disreputable beer!” She laughed.

“Why not?” One from Right asked. “I’d drink me.”

“Can we please keep down this blithering drool?” The center beer, who from some reason was known as One from Two from Left (to the Right) – rather than the much more obvious and less torturous Two from Right – had a voice that like an ice knife that could cut through life itself. Of all the beers, it was she that was the eldest, the most wise and knowing in the ways of the One who Chooses.

One from Left, Two from Left, and One from Right all stammered out hasty and embarrassed apologies.

“Now, what has gotten you all so worked up?” Asked One from Two from Left (to the Right).

“I worry about the Choosing,” said One from Left, “and am wondering who is to be Next.”

“I understand your concern,” replied One from Two from Left (to the Right), “but you must know these are as fool’s questions. For in the end, no talk or tears can bring the Nature of the Choice to light before its time. In the time of the Choosing, then we will know.

Time passed, but soon enough, the door of the fridge opened, and a soft, cleansing white light rained down from above. The white light turned green where it traveled through the pickle jar, casting a darkened emerald shadow upon Right. Each bottle of beer grew still and silent, waiting in breathless anticipation.

The hand of the One who Chooses began to descend slowly, with ominous determination. It paused for a moment, hovering in the middle, before coming downwards. It was then that all could see that One from Right had become Next.

“About what I expected,” muttered One from Two from Left (to the Right). “It’s always the one that doesn’t get it that gets it.”

Quick as he was Next, he was Ex. The hand of the One who Chooses withdrew, taking Ex into the Hereafter. Right rolled over into the empty spot left by Ex, and remained Right.

Left remained Left. All was as it was before, and soon enough the Five forgot that they had ever been Six.

Quietly, they wondered who was to be Next.

(c) Asher Hunter (Garry J. Sled) 2007