23 Dec


Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Some one came, and kissed me there.

Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen””and kissed me there.

-Walter de la Mare (1913)

11 Dec

That’s it.

For the gruesome story.

Here’s my version of a unicorn chaser — Tember and I dragging the Christmas tree home:

Tember drags the tree.

I’ve also been experimenting with Tumblr. At the right, there’s a link to Wiscotumblr, which has some videos and pictures that I’ve come across in cyberspace. I put a video of Tember pulling the tree up there.

08 Dec

It’s Not Exactly Suicide (Part 8)

By the time I’d finished throwing him into the dumpster, I felt oddly calm. He was right: after the first one, you just kind of know it’s right. I ripped open a couple of plastic trash bags to cover his body, spilling rancid leftovers in the process. Some things are ugly when spilled. Like rice. It looks like maggots. Others, like Szechwan Chicken, look no different. But then there are things like milk or blood, it turns out, that look quite beautiful.

I told Maggie I cut my arm on a piece of sheet metal hanging out the back of some pickup truck. We ate the Chinese in the emergency room – quietly until Maggie asked if I was having second thoughts.

“About what?”

“About college.”

I had no idea what she was talking about, of course.

“Cuz I got online this afternoon and found out that you’ll be an Oregonian resident in two months. So you can start up next fall, like we talked about.”

Thanks to the casual drug use in my past, I was well practiced in bullshitting my way through subjects I had no recollection of. Which is how I got Maggie to recap “our” lunchtime conversation.

We’d apparently come up with a five-year plan. “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle,” I said.

“Why?” Maggie said.

I tousled her hair and claimed I was just delirious from blood loss.

“I don’t suppose you’d be up for a friendly match of snooker when we get home?” she asked.


“What do you mean? It’s been, like five days. I think this is a record for you. Besides, you have to redeem yourself for last night.”

He was a good guy, Eric Two. They’re all good guys. But you have to kill them. It doesn’t get easier, but you have to do it.

06 Dec

It’s Not Exactly Suicide (Part 7)

I told him to screw himself.

He swung the knife toward me. I held up my left arm, the one he thought was broken, knowing full well I was offering it as a sacrifice. But before he cut me, I plunged the chopsticks into his Achilles heel. A split second later, I felt the slice across my forearm. My own blood splattered into my face as he fell to the ground.

I’ve never heard anyone scream like he did. I’d shoved the chopsticks behind his Achilles tendon, penetrating the soft patch of flesh between the tendon and the ankle. He was writhing; his knife lay on the pavement beside him. Only when I reached for it with my left arm did I realize that I couldn’t move my hand. He’d cut through several tendons just below my elbow on the outer, hairy side of my arm.

I grabbed the knife with my other hand and stood above him. But in the three seconds I took to contemplate how best to proceed, he kicked me, landing a blow to my groin. In real fights, it turns out, you don’t ever have time to think.

As I doubled over, he stood up. “If you make it out of this alive, there’s one more thing you need to know.”

I noted his chopstick-skewered heel.

“If you meet a first-timer, like yourself, you have to make him hate you.”

“Screw your rules,” I said, dropping to the ground and sweeping my leg toward his. I made contact with the chopsticks. He went down. I plunged the knife into his thigh and pulled it out.

Possessed, I jumped on top of him, slicing both of his arms at the elbows, rendering him essentially immobile. Then I put the knife to his neck.

It was almost disheartening to see how easily human flesh gives way to a sharp knife. Maybe more difficult than cutting through ravioli, but definitely easier than slicing a bagel. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of blood, though. I thought I was being delicate, poking into him like he was a water balloon. But blood gushed out.

He let loose terrified shrieks as the knife was covered in a violent rush of red ooze. It got on my hands and made everything slick. I pulled the knife from his neck and blood spurted into the air like a geyser. He wouldn’t stop screaming, so I chopped at his Adam’s apple like a sous chef dicing carrots. That stopped him.

But my squeamishness returned full force at the sight of the bits of red pulp on the knife. I tried to stand but slipped on blood, landing with a thud on top of him. I thought he started screaming again but I was nose to nose with him, staring into his eyes, which had lost the spark of life; I realized it was I who was screaming. I could smell my own breath.

04 Dec

It’s Not Exactly Suicide (Part 6)

Maggie’s expression melted into concern. “Is something wrong?”

What was I supposed to do? Tell her I’d been wondering for the past 30 hours whether I’m insane? Tell her that the revelation of a hot lunch date only confirmed that I’m not? And that the alternative to insanity is actually more disturbing? “No, I’m fine. How about Chinese food?”

I think she could tell I was lying. But she put on a happy front. “Ooh, I was hoping you’d say that.”

I grabbed my keys. “The usual?”

“Yes, please.”

I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

When I was sixteen, I had a brief stint working at a Chinese restaurant in the mall – The General’s Chicken. (They billed themselves as the Kentucky Fried Chicken alternative, and their logo was of a Colonel Sanders look-alike with squinty eyes. Not very PC, but, hey, this was northern Illinois we’re talking about.) One day, the manager put me in a chicken costume and had me flap my wings as I stood just outside the food court. I only did it once, but it was for a six-hour shift on a Saturday, and now every time I go to a Chinese restaurant and smell the scents of scalding sesame oil and hosein sauce wafting through the air, I’m back in that bird suit, flapping my heavy wings, and smelling my own breath.

Tonight was no exception. Just outside the front door, I recalled the ridicule I’d been forced to withstand. And then someone hit me in side of my head. I fell to the ground, my ears ringing.

Through my star-filled gaze, I saw Eric Two looking down at me. “Let me guess,” he said. “Szechwan chicken.”

I held my ear and moved my jaw a few times. “Kung Pao,” I said.

“Let’s go around back. We don’t want anyone breaking up the fight.”

I didn’t have the first clue on how to fight somebody. He did. When I charged at him, he threw me against the dumpster. It hurt, but not as bad as I made it sound. “Ow, Jesus! My arm!”

He smiled.

“I think you broke it,” I said.

He took a step closer. “Told you I was good.” He was holding a knife.

I remained cowering against the dumpster like a hurt animal. I noticed a pair of chopsticks on the ground.

“Your girlfriend thinks I’m pretty good, too.”