Saturday, May 14, 2011

It'll Cost Extra If The Rats Are Hyperintelligent

I need to be frank, here: You've got a serious infestation. I'll set some poison in the crawlspace and attic. Also we'll have to poke around outside to figure out their access point and seal it off. And before I give you an estimate I want to discover how they killed that priest. Now maybe they got lucky when the poor guy tripped in the basement. But here -- I have some photos. You see these old sheets that have been torn, or possibly chewed, into long strips and then tied together like a crude ankle snare? Yeah, that tells me that maybe glue traps aren't going to cut it.

The other thing that troubles me are these droppings. It's not just the number of them that indicates heavy breeding. It's also the fact that they seem to be arranged into some kind of written characters. I focussed on a few places here and here. That language is Old Norse. It's some kind of Scandavian curse that comes from one of the sagas. So they're definitely Norwegian. And they seem to be angry about something. Like I said, we have some serious work to do.

My plan is to get a team of structural people out here tomorrow to start replacing the cellar windows with high-impact plastic. It's going to take all day because the dowser can't arrive until early afternoon, and I think you'll need him asap. His name is Yngvar, and he's considered a seer in his village. Tomorrow will run about $500, but it's just a down payment. We really won't know more until Yngvar reaches the spirit world.

Now at this point I'm sure you're thinking about going with a budget exterminator. I can understand the feeling. You could have a guy poke around with a bag and a flashlight where you heard the scratching sounds and the foreign whispering. But then he's going to disappear and the next day you'll open the mail to find a tape recording of his cries for help. Believe me that's not the first time that's happened. Better start taking it seriously now.

Here's some of the initial paperwork. Please fill out the part with religious beliefs, next of kin, and -- yes, the employment information is really important, because...

You work at Pfizer? Not in research, though, right? Oh.

Listen, I'm sorry to do this, but we just can't work with you. No. No! I have a family for Chrissakes. I have to go. I really -- no, I don't want to talk about it. Just standing here puts me at risk. The only thing I will say is you should pack up and move today... and leave behind a 20 lb. block of the most expensive gouda you can find so they don't follow you.

Goodbye. And God help you.

An Old Poem About My Life in NYC Before The Earth Cooled

It is Times Square, a minute after midnight.
This guy comes up to me
with a story about money and getting home.
I’m saying and then he says,
but I’ve walked away far enough.
It was so quick, and now I'm not worth it.

All the time here
Counted down in handgun deaths
or Peep Show minutes.
The hours pour out like people from the bus station, blinking, confused.
The years marked on the street in bits of gum trampled into tarry spots
like a photo negative of the night sky.
And someone has taken the days, and rubbed out their edges.

There are too many lights to see the stars by, and know the season,
too much neon and flourescent.
You can’t even hear them all hum with the cars rushing in,
washing the sides of buildings with their headlamps' crawl.

The city can’t get to sleep; even the crumpled men in big coats
nodding off on subway trains,
get nudged up with black flaslights before they can begin to dream
and they wander, dreaming out loud,
telling anyone who glances
everything --
all of it running together
the way children talk when they’ve scraped themselves.
And their story is mine: it is all the bosses I ever had,
the thick heat of the mid-summer that made me forget where to go,
the delivery that meant fifty bucks, and the sudden job offer
disappearing just as suddenly,
the kind word from the powerful man that turned out to mean

And all the old jobs and ex-girlfriends follow me around these streets
late into the night
because you shouldn’t go to bed angry
like you shouldn’t go to bed beaten.
You shouldn’t go to bed wondering what’s going to happen to you.
You shouldn’t go to bed ready to surrender
if only you could find the thing that had defeated you.
But it’s only time, and more time, and now it's gone.

Storefront grills come down
like tiny car crashes,
and I check my pockets,
count my money,
and go find somewhere to stay for awhile.

Hop-Frog's Last Jest

Behold the end of "Fool's Fire," the crazy puppet version of Poe's "Hop-Frog."

See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. And I've mentioned it before, but here is the link to a real story behind the whole tale.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

So... Is This My Mother's Day Gift Or My Birthday Gift?

I'm just asking.

I mean, it's certainly a wonderful present -- a whole escape pod with three people trapped inside. You must have worked pretty hard to find one that still had survivors. Are all three alive? Oh, wait. I can tell by the smell in the exhaust. Two are still hanging on, and one seems to have died.

So... one of them is for Mother's Day and the other is for my birthday? I guess that's okay. What's the dead one for? No, I completely understand. You didn't want to open up the pod or they would have gotten out. Right, right. Makes sense.

Don't you get like that with me, mister! You do not have the right to say that, not after I didn't even get a call on May 2. What, they don't have phones on that cargo ship where you were hiding? I am mad. That's right. But what concerns me is you don't even know why I'm mad. I am upset -- let me finish -- I am upset, because I feel like my son doesn't know how to express thoughtfulness and to be considerate of other people's feelings. I guess it's easier with Jordan-23. He was born so close to the holidays that he grew up knowing what it was like to have people ignore his special day. It made him sensitive. Which is why I got those cryogenic capsules. The people will keep for months in those things. The boy knows how to package a gift. And for Mother's Day he didn't try to double up, either, like you're doing. He sent me a nice card with a spa treatment coupon.

No, I'm not making it all about Jordan-23. I'm worried about you. I'm worried you're so obsessed with your career you're not going to take the time to care about people, and that means you won't be happy.

I know you are busy. I understand. You're fighting off people who want to blow you up or burn you with flamethrowers. Yes, as a matter of fact I know exactly what that is like, because that is just what I had to do when I was protecting your egg sac from that terrible woman in the robot suit. So don't make that the excuse.

Fine. Yes I love you too. It's because I love you, you understand? It's because I love you. Okay, go. Go! You obviously have things to do. I will see you in a few months. You can pick the time and place. I don't care. No, I don't care. You pick. I won't pick so you do it. Pick somewhere nice, and that will make me happy. Be thoughtful.

Do you have a coat?
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