Sunday, November 17, 2013


1. I woke up with a scar through my left eyebrow after I dreamed I was a wolf that received a glancing blow from a blade.
2. When I was in the 9th grade, I wrote to Late Night Fright Theater, and Spook Man Dan read my letter on the air. 
3. I put handcuffs on my ankles and hung upside-down on the chin-up bar in my doorway once for purposes of escape artistry and fell on my head when the handcuffs snapped.
4. When I was 14 I pulled a knife on a man in New Mexico who was trying to put my younger brother in the trunk of his car. 
5. A lot of people think I'm serious when I'm joking, and joking when I'm serious.
6. I am a master of mimicry.
7. One time I walked into a wall thinking it was double-doors.
8. I dragged a canoe for about a mile down the Eel River with a woman sitting inside as one of our first romantic dates.  
9. I have more than once stopped my car in the street and punched  a dude in the face. 
10. I believe in all kinds of people, human and otherwise, and that we are all part of the same family.
11. I resent plutocracy.
12. I hated to go to sleep until I was about ten because I would usually have a nightmare and wake up with a headache. Looking back, I think this was related to low blood-sugar. Then my dreams became more vivid and I learned to fly.
13. When I'm waiting for something, I can make it happen by slowly counting backwards from my age and saying, "Now!" until it does. Then I go, "See?"
14. The first song I ever wrote got played on the radio less than ten months later. With me doing the vocals. Notice that I didn't say singing.
15. I imitated William Faulkner's writing style from "The Bear" for a Humboldt State University upper division English class because I was pissed off at some damn thing or other about the assignment, and yet was totally surprised to see after reading it to the class the only spontaneous standing ovation I've ever seen for anyone in college.
16. I fell a great distance from a rope swing as a kid and when I landed on the road I thought I was dead because of the sheer shock of the impact, and witnessing the long moment of my siblings on the hill above looking down and saying later they were sure that I was dead. But I got up. I was fine. Then they told me to make sure to never tell Mom.
17. My favorite TV shows are "M*A*S*H," "Cheers," "The Simpsons," "The Six Million Dollar Man," "Gunsmoke," and "The Twilight Zone."
18. One time as a kid I saw a white dot of light suddenly appear in my room and expand into three robed, bearded figures appearing before me with the one in the center closest, and with both hands held forth palm up. Then the glowing vision retracted and disappeared. I think it was three Anunnaki traveling through an x-point diffusion zone.
19. I wrote an anonymous column for 8 years in The Independent called Ask Dr. Awkward, sort of Dear Abby meets Andy Kaufman. 
20. I saw a UFO about five years ago late one night. I was standing in the yard looking directly at two stars. Two regular stationary stars, just like normal. Except, then they moved. Together in a fixed position. I got the feeling it wasn't two separate navigable bodies, but rather one huge craft of some kind overhead that suddenly silently drifted upward and disappeared completely.
21. I hate bars, usually. In theory, anyway. I really never go. Bar beer's too pricey, and then you have to drive home. That said, the last time I was in a bar was pretty good because--well, I probably shouldn't get in that, actually. 
22. Stemming ambiguously from the above, I wrote a 333-word sentence which is for all involved both a punishment and a story, a post I call THIS IS MY SENTENCE.
23. I'm the only person I know who compiles random facts about himself, and do feel something similar to guilt. But this guilt is balanced out by my sense of martyrdom at having to bear the cross of marketing.
24. The secret to getting on my good side is simple: Buy my books, read them throughout your life with ever-increasing understanding and joy, say wonderful things about them to everyone all day, supply me with excellent women, plus plenty of Guinness and lobster, and just don't bother me, or annoy me, or piss me off, ever, and yeah, all right, okay, sure, you're on my good side. So easy!
25. I don't care for that car air-freshener smell.
26. I would rather if the word "palindrome" was itself a palindrome. Palinilap, perhaps.
27. When I was twelve walking on a fence in a light rain I suddenly slipped, did a complete flip, landed on my feet, and kept walking. Felt really weird.
28. I entered a sanctioned Highland Games competition a few years back, having never touched any of the equipment in my life. I didn't do the worst, and I didn't do the best, but I found out halfway through I was old enough to be the dad of every other dude competing.
29. A picture of a famous painting by Raphael had Guns n' Roses' USE YOUR ILLUSION CDs literally leaning against it for weeks before I finally noticed, holy sbit, the picture of the figure on the CD cover comes directly from the very same painting by Raphael. 
30. Listening to Gorecki for the first time I noticed how the huge, ominous, moody sound dovetailed perfectly with the reading material for an HSU grad seminar on Herman Melville. When I mentioned this to a classmate while he perused liner notes which I had not read, we were amazed to find reference to MOBY DICK specifically. 
31. I've worked for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation on a salmon restoration project, and as the only ranch hand for 2,500-acres of primarily elk refuge. I toolbelt-up, and can take down a thirty-foot tree as thick as your leg with a Cold Steel kukuri machete faster than it takes to read these random facts. 
32. A Garberville Rotary member asked me to write a $5,000 grant for Tooby Park playground equipment years ago. Ka-ching, $ucce$$ on my first and only one. And I hope I never have to write a grant again.
33. There is a strange scar at the base of my skull, about a half-inch wide, unaccountable, which screams alien chip. So you know.
34. One of my dad's uncles--who looked like Col. Sanders--had the family tree traced back and found we're related to Daniel Boone. He's my great-great-great-great-great grandfather. My mom's side was more of the Irish side. She was pretty sure we're distantly related to Edgar Cayce. 
35. In high school I read Jules Verne's MYSTERIOUS ISLAND three times.
36. Driving southbound into town a little over a year ago I saw suddenly dart across perpendicular to the highway from the west side an eight to ten foot-long mountain lion weighing at least 250 pounds. Two months prior, visiting Portland Zoo, I saw African lions, male and female, and the lion I saw in front of my car was fully as big as a lioness. I distinctly recall saying aloud (to myself in my car), "We're gonna hit!" And in fact, we did. I had my window open, and heard what must have been the tip of its long tail tick somewhere on the front driver-side part of my car. In the last several weeks I also happened to mention this incident to a friend who had himself  seen a large mountain lion in the same spot crossing the highway and bounding up the hill. 
37. My favorite musical composition is Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.  That's crack, right there. 
38. But on the other hand my favorite musical composition would have to be the White Album. No wait, The Rolling Stones. 
39. I can never have anything to do with forms or paperwork. I have sixty bucks waiting for me at Humboldt State University Book Store--six of my books still there, locked in limbo--because there are forms for me to fill out. Ever since the divorce, I don't know why, but I can't fill out forms. Of any kind. Ever. Ever.  
40. I wrote the first story in the Humbaba County cycle, DRIFTING ROOM, in an empty journal my dad gave me after my mom passed away. It's not that I'm one of those people who can't say "died." I say "passed away" because I think that's the truer way to describe what happens. We don't end. We pass away into another way of being. Mom hadn't written a word in the journal. It's small, with brown leather binding, lined pages, and a clasp. I can see it in a stack of journals on top of my computer now. It was one of the few things of hers that I took. I wrote standing up in my shop.  When that story passed away, another took its place. Looking out this window now, the way Mom so often did musing in the kitchen with a cigarette, I feel her spirit in my work.

1. When someone likes something that I've done, I usually feel special until I see what else that person likes just as much or more. Then I feel so cheap.
42. Almost every time I step outside the house now, someone I don't know recognizes me. I started writing stories reflecting my dreams. And you know how in your dreams people just automatically know who you are. So now at any given moment, maybe standing next to a redwood, someone I've never seen will appear and together we will briefly speak as civil entities. Dreamily surreal. Never used to happen before. 
43. I also stack cord wood like stories. I'm the only 49 year-old I know who sometimes splits wood to make money. And I'd go on about that, but I can already hear my 50 year-old self doing it.

44. A lot of people don't get along with me for very long. I think I accidentally scare the shit out of them. So then they push. And then it's not so accidental on my part anymore.
45. I never ask for a woman's phone number. I always only ask if I can give her mine, usually with the suggestion to perhaps have a coffee sometime. Sometimes they say that sounds great. Then I never hear from them again. 
46. When I used to maintain a journal and write about my daily life I learned over time that mostly what I wrote about was too boring for me to want to read later on. Page after page filled basically with bitching. However, once in a while, I'd stray from that, and just sorta cut loose with something else. Turns out, the departures from personal problems are much more interesting. Many of those instances suffice as poems. I can't stand most poems. Most of what gets called poetry is absolutely awful and comes from pretentious posers that I want nothing to do with ever. 
47. I don't like most of what I see published. It's like this: Jimmy Joe Bob makes the best damn burger anybody ever tasted. And he's never made a dollar off of a burger. Meanwhile, it says on the sign outside the burger joint down the street that they've sold billions of burgers. Even though their burgers aren't anywhere near as good as Jimmy Joe Bob's burgers, they make money off of their crap while he makes the best burgers. It's that way with everything, hint hint. 
48. Probably the hardest thing about writing is regularly reaching the correct mental state. This means learning to ignore the outside influences, all of them.  Even composing this list of random facts is something I should be ignoring. For you see, the desire to express is a relentless engine and requires maintenance or else it gets discombobulated and goes wunk wunk wunk.  
49. I went into a store to talk to a woman again and see if she'd like to see a movie, play gin rummy or go zip-lining with me, but she wasn't there. Two other young women were, though, so I asked them instead. They said yes. Except, one wanted to ask her fiance first. I turned my sights on the other one, and she said only if we also brought the chick I first went in for anyway. Bingo!
50. I have a collection of stories I call TRUE FIGHTIN' TALES AND SCREWY ROMANCES. Naturally nobody wants to hear about those things, but sometimes I figure what the hey and moon the world with a memory. 
51. I don't drink hard alcohol, particularly Tequila, because when I was 23 I won the bet. 
52. One time in a hotel in Portland called University Place I had to respond to a buncha goddam grabass going on in the hall. My baby daughter was in danger of being awakened. She had a cold, and I was tasting that bad taste and feeling like I was starting to come down with it, too. So I jumped up in my boxer shorts, opened the door, stepped into the hall and told at least ten dudes to shut the fuck up because my kid was trying to sleep, I was trying to sleep, and we sure as hell didn't pay to hear their goddam shit in the hall. It was some Colorado college football team playing Portland. I was 38 or 39. They knew I was right. I ruined their evening. I think their loss the next day had to be in part due to the loss of morale I had to give them. But the coolest part was that I got so pissed off, it literally killed my cold. I felt great afterwards, and totally healed.  
53. In a swanky hotel in Boston a couple years back I told my kid that her mom--we had been waiting for her for about an hour--was just outside the hotel. Walking two fingers I said, "She's in the lobby"--fingers walking, doot-doo-doo--"and now she's in the elevator...she's going up the elevator...elevator stops, she's walking out"--doot doo doo--"she's heading down the hall...she's got her key and she's outside the door..." Sure enough, at that exact moment, we heard the door unlock and in she stepped.  
54. For a person who strongly believes in writing by hand, I could stand to do it more legibly. Gonna pull up an old soap box here...You know, a digit hittin' a button on a keyboard ain't the same thing as a hand writin' out each word letter by letter. You don't get as much out of it. It's like workin' out with a machine instead of free weights, only more so. So much gets lost when we lose closeness with language, it affects everything. It makes it so we can't even finish a...finish a...goddamit. What the hell was I doin' here?  
55. I got the idea for THE OVERMEN a few days ago on the night of my birthday after I saw my mom in a dream. I didn't see only her, but rather two of her. One, her middle-aged self, still walking, and the other her child self, dressed like she was in a picture for the paper as a red-haired girl in Alabama on St. Patrick's Day. Her older self introduced me to her younger self, and her younger self and I hugged. In my dream I felt my mother hug me. It felt like it was really her. Then the next morning, the story came to me. So to me, THE OVERMEN feels like a gift from the other side. "Mom's present," it says on the card. 
56. Last year one night somebody said there was a bear outside, so I went out barefoot with a flashlight and sure enough saw a black bear's hairy butt hanging up in a straight tree it shimmied. Cars parked all over and people inside for the night, mostly. It went around getting into garbage at night on a weekly circuit till somebody shot it. And that's still a bummer. 

57. Writing books has hurt my life much more than helped it. Regular readers around the world snap up my work voraciously. Because of my experience as an author whose work is sold throughout the county and beyond, I've taught Creative Writing, hosted radio shows where I read my work and the work of others, been interviewed for my writing on radio, online, and in local periodicals. Because of writing books, I was even asked to sing for a band--and then got us a couple of songs on the radio. I've been recognized for having been on television, and I didn't even know I had been on television. (The station had my picture plus a blurb when they talked about local artists.) I get recognized by people I don't know every time I step outside, and I couldn't care less.  I write the stories I want the way I want and I don't ask anybody's permission for anything. But my wife left me after I put three books in print. We met in college. I raised the kid. I worked on a ranch and wrote movie reviews when I was the primary caregiver. That was the best job ever. Got my kid reading by age three, and I have it on video. "Do you know how often I get to write?"my wife said toward the end. "Do you know how often I get to profess?" I replied. A couple hours after my first radio interview in Humboldt County, she left me. We'd been together for twenty years. I've been marooned now for three. What seems to some like sheer indulgence on my part, this wanton sharing of my mind, has been nothing but an attempt to grab purchase on the cliff side as I fall.   
58. Something else I don't like about having shared my work with the world is learning more about people than I wanted to know. It's amazing what family and friends will refuse to acknowledge, incredible the resentment for what seems like empirically a good thing. But in the bigger picture I can still appreciate the joke: That dissonance with others which contributes to the writing also prohibits recognition. 
59. Anytime I see anyone in any job ever, I always see a phony, merely pretending. This is because you're not really real unless you're rich and famous, and I don't know anybody who's rich and famous. 
60. Those tiny people that goddam Dr. Pretorius unveils are too cutesy and more complex than the monster in Bride of Frankenstein. It's jarring, and a random fact about me that I've always known this. 
61. I don't like that Qui Gon Jinn just flat out dies. It doesn't make any sense. Obi-Wan disappears when he dies, leaving empty clothing and running around as a naked ghost telling Luke what to do right away. When Yoda croaks, he disappears. But when Obi's teacher dies, he plain old dies and doesn't disappear leaving empty clothes at all. Yep, no way around it, they sure fucked up.
62. I never used to eat cream cheese on a bagel. Until my mid-twenties it seemed a repulsive prospect. Then one day, I gave it a go, and by golly, I've never gone back!
63. I have a few checks waiting for me from Amazon from ebook sales which for some weird reason I can't access. I never have time to square that away. I mentioned what I could to a guy at the credit union. I dunno, just sits there. Long time now. I'm sure some business-minded person adept at online strategy and good at making profitable connections could make a fortune from my work in forty-five minutes. But that's not me.  

64. When people think well of me, I like that just fine. When they don't, then I dismiss them. What matters to me is what I think of other people. I'm never part of a group of people speaking ill of someone else. Many times, even countless times, I've been the one that collections of people bolstered each other to dislike. But the last time I was part of that I was in junior high school, and that was only a few instances. Can't count that. From my perspective, it's like being a dinosaur in a world of scared little rodents hiding in holes while I stride about. I don't ever seek or desire a consensus, and I have nothing but disdain for those who do. I'm never worried about gossipers. Anybody willing to take part in that, willing to believe whatever was said, isn't someone I can respect. So by definition, anybody giving me the cold shoulder only reveals cowardice, ignorance, and the shameful absence of style. 
 65. Ah, the gossipers. The gossipers have their tiny little audience, and I've got my great big audience. They say their tiny things in their meager ways, and I say my big things in my amazing ways. Their bullshit accounts dissipate, and my factual accounts remain. They start shit, and I finish it. They lose, I win. Thanks, gossipers, ya stupid fuckin' twats. I always feel better because of you. 
66. The reason why it's difficult for a truly great man to put on his boots as he advances in his greatness may be explained with the analogy of a football trying to put on boots. The football would have to be significantly deflated in order to bend in the slightest. Therefore, in the case of a truly great man, much exhalation is absolutely required. Ah, but then the exertion of pushing the foot into the boot demands respiration. Hence the struggle and the markedly audible strains of a truly great man putting on his boots.  
67. I miss real news. There used to be actual journalism. I think that after Watergate, journalism became too much of a threat for the crooks, and the news has steadily suffered ever since. Certainly for at least the past fifteen years, we don't see reporting of news, we see the shaping of perception. 
68. We used to have a sort of democracy. It was largely phony, true, but at least it wasn't totally phony. It's a crappy situation. I don't like it.
69. I miss real food. Industry has ruined food. It's all either weird hormones pumped into test tube animals, or genetically modified cancer-causing vegetables, or fake sugar that causes brain cancer in lab rats, or cancer-causing water in plastic bottles. Used to be we could just turn a handle and get clean water. For free. 
70. I miss real clouds. We used to have actual rain instead of this chemtrail poison dumped all over. 
71. We used to have due process of law. Even the Nazis got a trial. Nothing remotely like that anymore. For years now what they call justice is simply murdering anybody with drone airstrikes. And they also call it brave. 
72. We used to have a pretty decent educational system. And jobs. And actual stories with real writing on TV and in the movies. When you turned on the TV, it wasn't 90% commercials for unnecessary deadly drugs being pushed on the public. The worst thing out there was the jingle for Alka-Seltzer. Too many things are too off track. 
73. I've never eaten soup out of a bread bowl. That's just gross.
74. Thirty years ago, when I was 19, I went out on a couple of dates wearing a shiny, skinny '80s neck tie. With other clothes on, too. (But don't you believe it.) 
75. I don't miss shiny, skinny '80s neck ties one bit. It's almost worth all the rest of the goddam crap of life just to not have those anymore.  
76. One thing I greatly appreciate is that most of the time no one wants anything from me. Not in person, not online, not anywhere. Quite infrequently someone has something brief to say. In person, or online. Mostly though, nothing. I rarely get calls, and when I do get a call, it's usually a wrong number. There are a couple of people I speak with regularly. Generally though my existence is pretty isolated. I love having plenty of time to think and not be bothered. It's like getting to live in a deep dark cave except with adequate light and no bat crap. You don't want to breathe that in.  
77. I have zero credit card debt. None whatsoever.
78. It is a random fact about me that I know most people don't understand what it means to be skeptical. The average person thinks that always refuting evidence of UFOs and ancient alien architecture means being skeptical. In fact, a skeptic is "one who habitually questions matters generally accepted." Because the doctrine of the mainstream denies evidence of UFOs and ancient alien architecture, in reality, the skeptic is the one who questions that doctrine. Gullible people giggle at anything not part of mainstream mind control.
79. Incredible depression feels like incredible clarity. I feel this way sometimes. Any happiness ever had was only a temporary sensation obscuring the awful truth. Everything is pointless. There is no meaning. People don't love. People don't live. Everybody's a slave scrambling around and nothing ever happens.
80. Today (7-1-16) I found out from my dad and my sister talking in the dining room that one time traveling through New Mexico in a mall when I was around 7 or 8 years old I didn't like the way some stranger, a grown man,  was treating my older sister, and I pulled a knife on him and he backed off. I barely have any memory of that, although I do remember the time I did pretty much the same thing for my little brother in Santa Fe. So weird. It's like sometimes in my life I've just turned off and gone on some sorta auto-pilot. 

81. My imagination is just strong enough to keep me from seeing ever having a real life. 
82. I have to look at my life like the stock market crashed. I have to start completely over from Ground Zero. With basically nothing. People kill themselves for less all the time. You'd think I'd learn my lesson and stay down. But I never do. A chunk of meat, which no matter how hard it is slugged always returns to upright position. One requires a sense of humor.  
83. Sometimes in my dreams I try to howl but nothing comes out. I can't remember if I wrote that before. I miss the touch of a woman. I can't concentrate anymore. I see things in the long distant past, and I see things in the far distant future, but I can't see my own life now. Trying to wrap my mind around my life story makes me dizzy. I have tried so hard. I'm so thankful to have this much here. I have to keep going.
84. Among the things I've learned in my half-century, life isn't about seeing who can be the best martyr. I mean Jesus, I could have been the world's greatest martyr of all time, if I hadn't sacrificed my rightful win to the next best down the line.  
85. Sometimes, digging a ditch or chopping wood, I'll think of Nietzsche, how I could teach a course on him, how I have this authoritative movie bio of him in mind, and how strange it is that my potential contribution to the world around me is always such a fleeting shadow. I can dream the dreams, and write them down--in fact, I can't stop--but that's only because I don't know how to make any connections with people.
86. When I see pageviews from Russia, it's usually dozens at a time. I don't know who it is in Russia checking out my stories and articles. Maybe a school, maybe a prison, maybe a mental institution. But it's almost always 20 or 50 or 100 or more at a time. For a long time, too. And I love it! I feel like Russians understand my work. I feel there are many Russians who actually like me. This makes me love Russia so much. I get the feeling that Russia is a place of tough, smart people with great taste. Therefore I must honor my Russian friends. I've always loved Dostoyevsky,  but now I'm reading Pushkin, too. My favorite wrestler is Alexander Karelin. one of my favorite filmmakers is Eisenstein, I can never get enough of Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky, and Russian women are the most beautiful in the world. This beer I raise for Russia. Much obliged, friends!
87. I notice women are not as wonderful as my libido is strong. Kind of a bummer, but there it is. At the end of the day, all the passion in the world for no good reason at all.  
88. When faced with the choice of quietly accepting a rotten situation in hopes of maybe nibbling a fallen crumb, or accurately expressing some forbidden truth and thereby earning eternal cosmic honor for having the brains and the balls to do the right thing, yeah, random fact number 87 right there. Suitable for framing. 
89. I like to squish kitty bellies and slap kitties, as well. I like a kitty who's a sport, one who takes a good squeezing. I talk to kitties, frequently calling them names and biting my own lower lip because they make me have to.  
90. For me it's easy to see people across space and time in parallel worlds, unwitting interactions and intentional. I can see how capturing sounds from the distant past drifting through the universe can allow those sounds to then be plotted and displayed for viewers to move through and witness the past exactly as it happened. I can see how ancient alien technology deep underground could leak into the biosphere in unpredictable ways resulting in giant bugs and reanimated corpses, and I can imagine dozens and dozens of characters in dozens and dozens of short stories and novellas doing all sorts of remarkable things, but I can't imagine ever getting to be part of anything, of having a normal life with a stable job and a home with someone who loves me.  I can't imagine a world where most people have excellent taste and honor shit right. 
91. I'm never interested in purchasing gadgets. There could be a totally new kind of computer game that everyone else thinks is completely amazing and I won't care at all. It'll look like the same old thing to me and I'll never want anything to do with it. 
92. One time writing in my shop I heard a deafening sound outside overhead. My shop had no windows and I was in there writing a story and taking a break with a bong rip. It was the loudest damn chopper I ever heard, and if it had anything to do with me it was a total waste of time and money, but I wouldn't be surprised because there was no way any of the neighbors figured correctly that the reason I spent a lot of time in my mysterious shop was because of writing stories. If the chopper was there because they were trying to see with heat signature what I was doing in my shop, then they probably saw I was flipping them off with two hands wholeheartedly. If they'd given me the money they wasted trying to terrorize me, I might have decided to buy things all the time instead of write. They sure blew that one.
93. Sometimes, as in the case of number 87 here, I write things that seem true at the time, but which change later. Turns out, I have indeed found a woman every bit as perverted as I am, and totally devoted to me. She's a very nice lady who just happens to give me every single thing I want. Isn't that delightful?
94. I can do fifty pushups in under a minute.
95. I carry a big knife every day. And I use it.

96. I don't like to be seen crossing the street. It happens all the time, but I don't like it. I prefer for any cars to pass by rather than wait for me to traipse across.

97. I address most people most of the time as "sir" or "ma'am" because respect is big with me. It's not every utterance. But it's pretty frequent.

98. I'm really looking forward to sharing my 99th random fact.

99. Now that I'm here, meh, ain't that huge a deal.

Thursday, October 31, 2013



If you want to learn to surf, you'll find ideal conditions at Shelter Cove.

The small, predictable, mellow waves that meet the crescent sweep of the cove are perfect for beginners, according to longtime surfer John Dowd.

I'd never surfed before, so it seemed like a great place to start. But first, surf conditions: You can find out how choppy the water is and how high the waves are by contacting your local surf shop or by going online. The site has up-to-date information, but it's very technical. I checked In with Tsunami Surf and Sport in Garberville and was assured that on my chosen September day the water was fine.

The bucolic, meandering jaunt from Redway to Shelter Cove takes about 40 minutes. Twelve if you're local. As you drive down into town, surfing access is found on the south side.

Whether new or used, purchased or rented, a wetsuit is as essential to cold Humboldt surfing as the surfboard itself. For me, the purpose of the wetsuit is to instill superhero-like feelings of double-extra safeness from sharks. Plus protection from the cold. Mostly though, the sharks.

Salmon trawlers a few hundred yards out from shore might seem like they would attract sharks to the area. White sharks, in particular. Porkers. But Dowd explains that any sharks in the vicinity will linger on the other side of the shelf, far out from shore, waiting to strike seals and sea lions from below.

"In Shelter Cove, the water is too shallow for ambush predators," Dowd says. "There have been only two attacks in 10 years, and one fatality in 20."

Even though the cove is a kiddie pool to experienced surfers, it's not without its dangers. If your wetsuit doesn't include booties, you're likely to lacerate your feet on the rocks in the shallow water without even knowing it. Worse yet, take a spill and hit your head.

To help us stay on our boards, we smear them with Mr. Zog's Sex Wax, applying it with rigorous rhythmic swirls right there on the beach. This creates a textured surface good for standing on, and lends a minty aftertaste for any huge, tooth-filled mouths that come chomping along.

At the end of the board hangs a leash with a Velcro strap for attaching at the ankle. This is to ensure the oneness of surfer and board, a mystical connection that also keeps the surfer from having to play fetch. For most people, the strap will be on the right foot, with the left foot in front. A natural stance with the left foot in back is called goofy foot.

In the water, the first 30 seconds can be a mite chilly, but, incredibly, that's as long as it takes for the body to reach perfect comfort. Chest-high in the water, you lie down on the board and start paddling far enough out to ride a wave back in.

The importance of an accompanying experienced surfer can't be overstated. At all times, be sure to keep the surfer between you and the sharky side of the water.

There's no trick to surfing. All it takes is split-second timing and impeccable balance. Perhaps it's the buoyancy of bobbing in the water, the need to time your actions with the natural flow, the acceptance of a power infinitely greater than yourself that leads the surfing soul to peace and exaltation. A kind of perpetual surf-birth into the world.

Back on land, food never tasted so good. Largely, this is due to the good deli sandwiches at the market up the hill. And yet, undeniably, there's something about standing on a moving surfboard for about a second and a half that sharpens one's appetite.

I recommend the shark fillet.

Stewart Kirby writes movie reviews for The Independent, has authored weird fiction books set in an alternate Humboldt County, teaches Creative Writing at College of the Redwoods, and hosts a radio show on KMUD.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


A horned man I met in the woods told me the country didn’t have a democracy. “It’s a plutocracy,” he said, scratching the hair of his shaggy chin. “Democracy was taken over in a hidden, long-term coup by a totalitarian system of bankers and globalized corporations. It’s a government of the rich, for the rich.”

High in the sky overhead, intersecting lines of chem-trails formed giant white crosses linked like a vast net.

“Looks like it’s gonna rain,” I said.

“Within forty-hours,” the horned man replied.

“I wonder what we’re ingesting.”

The horned man nodded.

From where we were sitting, we could see the long line of limos gleaming on the road thread through the trees. A sickly trickle of river ran below like a varicose vein. The occupants of the armored vehicles hid behind tinted windows with one-way views, but we knew who they were. Slick old whites packed inside entered the redwood forest like parasitic tapeworms in the heart of the host.

I wondered if it wasn’t the chem-trails that woke me up.

Quietly through the woods we traveled for a spell. Through the dancing branches we moved with roots and the sway of green growth till we came to a place where uniformed interlopers held automatic rifles. 
Protectors of the parasites.

“I hear they got cell phones that shoot bullets now,” one of them said from where they watched the long line of gleaming limos.

“Those have been out for awhile.”

“They got cameras on those bullets?”

“Bullet’s basically a mini-cam. Shows all the details goin’ on when it hits. You get a video of the impact in slo-mo sent automatic to your email.”

“How long’s the video?”

“Most you can slow it down to is ten seconds.”

“That’s pretty good.”

“Yeah, it’s amazing what they can do.”

Stepping out of the trees, the horned man and I appeared behind them.

“Slug ‘em good,” the horned man said.

I had a pinch of dust already in my palm. At my directed exhalation, the powder shot forward and expanded as it landed on the enemy forces. The glistening black and yellow forms of hundreds of banana slugs instantly grew into view. Firmly sticking to clothes and skin, the slugs swelled on contact, completely covering even the automatic rifles. A muffled bubbling churned as the slugs grew bigger than actual bananas and didn’t stop until they were ten times bigger than a big banana slug, all of which took about eight or nine seconds, and then there wasn’t any trace left of the enemy at all, just a couple of smears of dark mucous, mostly from the metal of the gun.

Hundreds of giant banana slugs oozed away, jostling sword fern as they passed.

Brushing off my hands I said, “Let’s go,” and we melted into the forest.

I thought about the things that the horned man told me. What a nightmare it was to wake up to what the world had become. He hadn’t been awake much longer than me. I could see what he said was true.

“When I woke up,” the horned man said, “everything was different. The world was different. I’ve seen all this come to pass. Some say not since the Dark Ages. But that was just an isolated event, and didn’t threaten the entire planet.”

Further elaboration on this point was interrupted by the great gray helicopter that materialized overhead and began firing, indiscriminately splintering the lofty green branches between us in an otherwise ineffectual display, for I had chanted the power of protection, and the meager weapons of the enemy posed no threat to us at all.

Still, the thought counted.

Leaning back and bellowing terrifically, the horned man sent forth from his mouth a blue blaze of flame that enveloped the chopper, shook it, spun it, then dashed it as though with a giant blue glowing hand on the dried up river bar below.

Quaffing a draft from the flask at my hip, I grew ten times my size and charged down the hillside onto the Avenue of the Giants, smashing into a couple of limos.

Bullets everywhere, zing zing zing . . . Reaching into one of the cars I found what I was looking for.

I could hear they had orders to stop shooting. I held the jar perilously poised thirty feet over the asphalt between two tremendous fingers. There was a severed head inside.

The horned man’s voice rang clearly below. “Which head’s that?”

“Not sure,” I replied. “Looks like it might be J. Edgar Hoover.”

“Is it wearing a blonde wig?”

It was so small, I could barely tell through the Formaldehyde. “Yeah, I think so.”

From the torn limo I thought I heard one of the angels of destruction squeak.

I leaned down close.

“You got something to say to me, little man?” I boomed.

“Do not harm the head of Hoover!” squeaked the voice.

Do not harm the head of Hoover. This was intolerable. “Fascist heads,” I intoned, “hear me now!” As if they couldn’t. “If you give this Hoover a damn, stop your totalitarian tide! Bringers of terror to the world, this is your chance to listen to reason. Pull out your fascist heads. Let’s go, on the hoods, pull ‘em all out. I’ll smear the head of Hoover like a goddam booger. DO IT!”

Limo doors opened as one by one the fascist heads inside the limos were reverently and tearfully placed by their unholy acolytes onto the ticking hoods of the cars.

“Hey,” the horned man said, “the heads talk.”

“Really?” I took a closer look at the jar between my fingers. Gasps of concern for the head of Hoover accompanied arms upraised pitifully like the bobbing beaks of baby vultures. Upon repositioning the jar, I saw that the top of it had some sort of screen portion that looked vaguely like a stereo speaker. Hard for me to tell, being enormous. Inside the jar, the head of Hoover looked in every way sloshed. My shaking it around so much clouded it up, but I could see there was a hose between the speaker on the lid and the back of the head. Some sound was coming from it. It sounded like Hoover was trying to speak.

It was not a human voice, but rather an electronic simulation, a voice-box, which said: “Military warheads brought to you by . . . televangelist snack clown park.”

I thought about that.

“Hey,” the horned man said again, “this one speaks German. Looks a little like Charlie Chaplin. Hard to tell, though. The brine in here’s all murky. Everything’s mostly worn down to a shapeless lump.”

Ten more heads on ticking limo hoods completed the set of twelve.

“The clean little man,” the electronic Hoover voice flatly stated, “with the white plastic smile loves you. Obey.”

The fools, the damned inbred idiots!

And now the things the horned man told me about the public educational system getting dismantled started to make sense. Now I understood why this was the only industrialized country lacking a system of socialized health care. Now I could see why the entire divided nation was shackled with sugar and TV and strip malls and cheap plastic crap caught in a blanket of poison rain. The hidden fascist heads worshiped by the inbred elite had been pickled in their jars for so long, they were completely insane.

Before the spell of size wore off, I smashed the cars and stacked them on the river bar for the horned man to torch down into slug-able lumps. All the guns, cell phones, clothes and credit cards went in as well. Everything, all of it.

“You’re free now,” I said to the people who used to be evil. I had returned to my normal size at this point, and could look at these naked wretches, so newly free, as though we were equals. The horned man had the jars all set up on a long driftwood log. “Now that you’re free, what do you have to say to your fascist heads, hmm?”

At first the nouveau homeless in their redwood Eden didn’t know what to do. They just stood around looking pathetic and beleaguered like dehumanized idiots until one of them finally developed some sensible initiative and picked up a rock. The rock had a gross sort of film left on it from the big business pollution that killed the river. He didn’t seem to like to have to touch that rock, being concerned for his health, but he went ahead and threw it.

The rock bounced away well shy of the mark. Even though this character couldn’t throw a rock worth a damn, the fresher heads in the jars seemed to understand. A few of them became relatively animated and began talking all at once. But who can make any sense of that?

“More of our kind are on the way,” the horned man said, returning a crystalline globe to a satchel at his side. Giant butterflies with black light wings fluttered around high in the trees. The land was waking up. Finally, the nightmare was over.

I told the wretch with the rock in his hand he could scoot up and try a little closer.

Monday, October 14, 2013



WHEN THE PUMPKINS GREW limbs, they started to walk. Then they went bad. Bands of rotting pumpkins hide in the woods.

The rotting rovers are not from any fields I'd ever seen till last week. That's when I found they like to put dead meat inside themselves. They like live meat, too. Sometimes it's a mix. I've seen their rotten orange heads stuffed so much with meat, they could barely even stagger around on their gnarled root legs.

The rotters carve themselves into jack o' lanterns. I watched in my bug from the road while a fresh one was run down. From the great green field it ran, madly dashing from a racing pack. Ten that I could easily count. There may have been more.

They held the mute and struggling thing full in my view and they pulled out a knife and they stabbed. And they stabbed. They stabbed a face that screamed to life.

The rotters skated through the poor thing's innards in the most disrespectful manner. I would have liked to try to do something to help put a stop to it, but the one that got carved up turned its hideous face toward me and spat its pulpy anger in my direction.

Inside the bug I had the engine off. I wasn't even sure if they were aware that I was there till they all started moving toward me. With a seedy look on its fresh wet face, the new one took the knife. Through the open sun roof I could hear quite clearly the rubbery squeak of their limbs as the decrepit pumpkins crept.

I did consider teaching them a lesson. It should be noted, however, that I couldn't simply plow into them. They weren't on the road. Maybe they were attracted to the orange color of the bug. Maybe the sun roof open was like a giant lifted lid to them. Whatever the case, the new rotter seemed to have something to prove, and I had about five seconds to make this determination before I turned the ignition and shut the sun roof barely in time to avoid the stabs of the enraged pumpkin as it jumped up on the hood and slashed.

Immediately I backed up, screaming inarticulate oaths. I heard the sharp unpleasant sound of metal on metal as the unwholesome plant-beast strove and struck mid-roll while I turned the bug sharply, suddenly stopped, and abruptly tore forward over the thing with the knife in its grip and back onto the Avenue of the Giants with the rest of the rotters left running behind.

I had taken the old road through Drakewood. About a mile down the road stood a lone stone chimney on a steep green hill thick with ivy vines. Here cowled figures could sometimes be seen conducting uncanny rites. The glow of a weird nimbus near the chimney reminded me of this as I sped round the winding curves toward Madrani, the second-story hell I called home, and the seedy vicious witch I called my girlfriend.

The room I rented wasn't the only one upstairs in the old Victorian. Meadow, the witch, was living in the other room when I moved in. The one on the dark side of the house. She was behind on rent, and we hit it off quite well at the start, so she moved in with me about six months prior. Then at the end of August some kid moved in the room.

At first I figured I should probably cut him some slack, even though I really didn't like him. He lifts weights loudly at odd hours--intentionally loudly, I think--and he says stupid things in passing that piss me off, always talking about some new record weight he lifted, or the degrees he's reached in the Occult Sciences.

Hoyt. I hate Hoyt. The only thing I liked about Hoyt moving in was his not having a car.

As soon as I walked upstairs, Hoyt opened his door. He's not so big that I couldn't see Meadow sitting in the room there behind him. I didn't say anything. Nobody did. I just went into my room. A couple minutes later, Meadow came in. Till this point I'd been all excited to tell her about the rotters.

"Hoyt's taking me chanting," she said. "You can come along if you want."

"Where's he taking you chanting?"

"Down in the forest at the pit. He's teaching me how to levitate."

"Watch out for rotters," I said.

"And what's that supposed to mean?"

"I just saw a bunch of them. One came after me with a knife."

"You lie."


"Well, we're not worried. What did you do to make it come after you? I'm sure you probably deserved it!" She laughed and said, "Just kidding," but looked at me with this bitter face she gets when she thinks she's being vengeful in a winning way.

I knew she’d pick that moment for her exit. And she did. I stared out the window at the roofing and the trees until I heard the door shut. Then I put on some Penderecki, cracked my last Rasputin Stout, and read up on John Dee.

In the quiet spots of “Dimensions of Time and Silence” I couldn’t help but hear Hoyt’s big-boy voice followed by Meadow’s sardonic snorting. Overdone, for my benefit, though she never would’ve admitted it, to confirm her new affiliation.

Upon finishing my Rasputin, I resolved to boost on down to the market for another wee dram. And then I thought, hey, long as I’m there, might as well pick up a pack of e:yes and see what we could see with those things.


You could find packets of e:yes "eyes" just about anywhere, squishy little gizmos similar to fishing roe that didn't do anything until activated online. It used to be the occasional person you'd see with an e:yes eye floating nearby, one that maybe you hadn't even noticed for the first few minutes. Someone somewhere controlled the device, remotely, same as they do with unmanned planes. What began as mobile drone security cameras--big clunkers existed for years--simply became a cheap way for people to follow each other around on social media. I picked up a packet of eyes from Madrani Market along with another Rasputin four-pack.

"You got any eyes?"

"Any what?"

"Packets of eyes?" I set down my four-pack.

"You mean for like online?"


I was kind of stoked the way the girl behind the counter made eye-contact. Timing with Meadow and all. There used to be another girl with the same job who treated me like crap. This one though, she was different. Still new. Hadn't been broken in with shit-talk yet. She craned lithely backward toward the open door to the little room where the manager sat out of view. Something was said. I couldn't hear. A hand appeared, like the Once-ler's in Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax." I was glad no one else was in the store.

The girl behind the counter hustled earnestly over to where the hand had indicated. I turned to follow, trying to hide the fact that I liked the way she looked, but she yanked me a package of eyes and came back over faster than I could do anything.

I had a line ready for her. It came to me in a flash. "Hey, glad to see you have eyes for me," I said. I had hoped she would reciprocate. I reckoned she didn't get that one, though. All she told me was the price.

"You're new here, huh?" I said it, but it came out unexpectedly right when the cash register dinged and I could tell she probably didn't hear me. Still, I wasn't totally sure.

"These those things that float around?" she said, picking up the package and shifting it around without really inspecting it.

"They're so you can spy on people," the voice in the room said, Once-ler-like.

Well, I resented that.

Thought about it all the way back to my room. How could I appreciate the serene majestic beauty of the towering redwoods with so much goddam disrespect all around? Cracking a fresh Rasputin I cranked some Black Sabbath and hopped online to see how exactly one went about activating new eyes.

Tearing the packaging revealed three small gelatinous spheres. The rubbery, semi-opaque devices rolled into my hand like magic beans smelling faintly of formaldehyde. Also inside there was a number on a piece of plastic.

"Huh," I said. I took the first pull from the beer as the page loaded, then let out a long sigh that I was glad no one else heard.

You're supposed to expose the eyes to air for a couple of minutes. The loaded page told me what I knew from the package. If I'd had the right kind of phone, I could've already called in the number. It was a 14-digit number, printed so small I could hardly read it. Overall though the e:yes user interface was pretty good. I liked that you could use one eye at a time, or have all three going and view each perspective on a split-screen.

From the images fading in and out on the website I knew to expect the magic moment of the rising eye. Corny-looking stuff where models pretending to be happy families made faces showing awe. I didn't need any of that. I just wanted the damn thing to work.

"Let's go, let's go," I said, right as the program finished loading. It had taken a couple of minutes and seemed forever.

I had the eyes set out on the flat surface of a book. I didn't want to waste all three at the same time, so I clicked the box to operate only one of the eyes and went into full screen.

Nothing happened.

All I saw was the close-up of a book cover stretching before me on the screen.

"What the hell?" I protested, certain it was all bullshit, barely conscious of my facial features displaying displeasure. Then I remembered to use the mouse. Sure enough, one of the eyes rose right up off of the book. Looked about as magical to me as a magnet dragging a paper clip from beneath a thin surface.

I practiced moving the eye around the room.

It was a hassle at first, I thought. I’m just not that good with all the techie stuff. It’s daunting, until you realize they want it to be easy enough for the maximum number of customers. From the time I first got the eye up to the moment it floated out through my open window, it took probably ten minutes of practice.

I’m not going to be able to describe exactly how every little detail looked, no matter how hard I try. It’ll never come out right. This is stuff that happened a week ago. I’m not what anyone would call a writer, per se. I only write this now because I thought it was pretty interesting even while it was happening. I mean sure, I’ve written some poems and shit. I was editor of my high school paper. I guarantee, if I’d seen any mangy rotten bands of roving pumpkins knock over my garbage cans looking for meat, or stuff any of my pets screaming under those awful lids, that would definitely have made the paper.

Navigating the e:yes brand electronic mobile eye, I observed the roof in its detail, stealthily slipping over the dark side of the old Victorian, it being a lovely fall day and why the hell not, and then discreetly slipping, ever so nonchalantly, right . . . outside . . . the window.

Fortunately, the curtains were open. Why wouldn’t they be? Nothing but the wavering ends of lower redwood branches outside, as far as almost anyone would suspect.

But now, I could see them. They were in there, all right. Talking. I could barely hear their muffled conversation between Sabbath songs. E:yes, however, was equipped with a lip-reading function. I could see their dialogue translated in real-time messages.


“I’ve been having great dreams.” This was really cool for me to hear, and at some level I think I did feel a little bit like Gene Hackman, because I was privy to this totally forbidden knowledge just when I had changed the music on YouTube to Penderecki’s “Paradise Lost.” Hoyt went on:

“Last night I flew all over the place. I just flew and flew, all around the towns and the forest.”

It was so incredible to me that Meadow even considered this kid. Twenty-eight, for crying out loud, and she was actually considering a nineteen year-old. Hoyt had his face turned from the window for a bit. I had to admit, the oil portrait of Salvator Rosa lent a very nice touch to the room. Can’t see it standing in the doorway. A couple of lava lamps casually churned. One orange, the other purple. The music was getting old. I decided to change it.

“I would be ecstatic to meet a ghost,” the Hoyt-message appeared. Prrfft! I almost spat my Rasputin on my keyboard. What a geek! This was what she was leaving me for. “If I ever met one that scared me to my grave, I’d just rise up and kick his ass.”

I was starting to really not like Meadow. Most of all I was amazed that Hoyt finally shut up long enough to let her talk. She was telling him about the vortex.

“Sometimes I try to picture myself falling in a huge endless vortex where everything is blue and swirling in the distance. I look up and see no limit to the extent of the vortex. The tube. I see no limit in the other direction. I am bathed in an eerie light. I look at my hands, my arms, my legs. I concentrate on falling. It’s a place I’ve gone for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I fall asleep this way.”

“Me, I’m a wolf.”

What an impossible a-hole Hoyt proved himself routinely. Even after everything Meadow said about this special place she goes to, Hoyt ignored what wasn’t in his script and returned the subject to glorifying himself.

“I’m wolf heart, wolf mind, and wolf soul caged in human form, really. It’s all in the chakra. Hold on, listen. Do you hear that?”

“Holy shit, he’s listening to Gustav Holst.”

Early in the summer and a million years ago Meadow loved it when I put on “The Planets.” I was starting to feel really rotten.

Of course, near as I could tell, the whole world had turned rotten.

Everything was all about greed. There wasn’t any innocence left. As a kid I had always loved Halloween. It bothered me now that even pumpkins could go so bad. Wasn’t anything sacred?

I watched while they started going at it. With exceeding ineptitude, I have to say. It was disgusting.

The truly bad part is, I didn’t feel disgust only for her. I felt it for all witches. She became, on the instant, momentarily emblematic of her kind.

And as if in a trance, I could not look away. I kept thinking, “I need to get up to get more snacks right now,” but remained perpetually unable because I was glued to, transfixed by, the sheer seediness, the pure pulp of it. Then they headed down to the pit.

I could hear them stop outside my door. Suddenly I realized: I hadn’t locked it.

Because of the position of the eye outside the window I could see on my screen Hoyt in the open doorway of his room, patting his pockets, and Meadow right outside mine, her hand approaching my knob.

Fortunately, in the moments it had taken for them to exit, I had gotten rid of “The Planets” and cued up the strong magic of an old CrowMag song, “We Went to Town (On a Bigfoot We Found),” and was able to launch into the lyrics just in time to repel the advancing claw of the witch.

The whole time they walked so merrily on down to the forest, just like Henry Fonda in “The Grapes of Wrath,” I was there, baby. I was there the whole damn time.

It was like following them in some toy maze. Frankly, part of me was excited to see the pit. I hadn’t dare venture there in many, many years. The last time I saw the pit, everybody called me Kris. Navigating my e:yes eye wasn’t easy, but I managed to keep in view of my quarry to catch they did on one occasion at least talk about me. Meadow revealed to Hoyt something I had told her. That my older brother introduced me to Penderecki when he said here was a living composer with my same name, Krzysztof. Hoyt kicked a rock and said Penderecki was overrated.

In trying to maintain visual contact while retaining anonymity, I couldn’t help but spin the darn thing around too much. So doing, I happened to see flashes of orange up the hillside in the brush.

Rotters. They were roving, looking for meat. Meadow and Hoyt were oblivious.

A message kept popping up onscreen that I kept canceling because it looked like spam and I was busy trying to navigate my eye. It was my warning the eye’s power was running out. I realized this right when I saw, from perhaps thirty feet overhead, a half dozen dirty ragged rotters charge down the slope. Then the power died.

“Great!” I said, throwing up my hands in frustration at having to activate another eye, go through the whole thing again, and then have to fly all the way over and see what was going on. Instead I saw something in my window, trapped between the dirty glass and the torn screen. It was a little white ball, about the size of a marble, bobbing gently . . . it was an e:yes eye. Somebody was spying on me!

Upon being perceived the little white sphere flitted madly about. Reaching for the nearest receptacle, my hand lit upon an ancient plastic mug from a long-ago box of Apple Jacks cereal. Quickly sliding the window open, I scooped the eye into the cup.

“I got you now!” I said, leaving a crack between my hand and the cup wide enough for whoever was operating the eye to see my mouth and read the words. Bicuspids meeting lower lip, I started with the “f” sound nice and clear…

Pretty soon though, I heard this soft ticking sound. I looked in the window and there were all these colorful little dots bobbing around. I shut the window just as one started to get in. This allowed the one in the cup to get free, and for a couple of minutes I had to chase it around, knocking things over and stepping on my stuff before smashing the eye between two books.

Outside my window looked like the end of “The Red Balloon,” multi-color spheres floating around. The meager curtains were insufficient, so I threw a blanket over the rods, tucking it around all sides and carefully concealing myself from the prying eyes.

I sat down at my computer in the otherwise unlit room and pondered how best to sneak a new eye out of the house and see what was happening with Meadow and Hoyt without these spies outside my window knowing. Little round silhouettes bobbed behind the green blanket. It was like being inside a giant bottle of 7Up.

The chimney, I decided. That was the way.

I had no idea who any of these people were. They could have been my next door neighbors, for all I knew, or living somewhere on the other side of the world. I realized that if I thought of the chimney, probably someone else would, too. Maybe already did. The flue, I knew, was open. The fireplace doors should be shut, I thought, but sometimes they didn’t shut all of the way properly. There might be barely enough room for someone to squeeze through. Maybe other people in other places were saying, “Oh, what’s the harm?” Or, “Besides, they’re pretty.” But for me it was the principle of the thing. I wanted to see what Meadow and Hoyt were doing without anybody knowing.

The fireplace was securely shut. Nor did any eyes pop out when I suddenly opened it up. I looked around, set my eye to be activated inside, quickly closed the fireplace doors again, then went back upstairs to start up my eye.

Slipping my hand behind the blanket covering the window, I flipped the bobbing eyes an ardent bird. Mostly because I meant it. Also though to keep them busy.

Onscreen I saw the interior of the chimney in green night vision mode, then switched to the regular setting when I exited at the top.

“Suckers,” I said, and cracked a fresh Rasputin with my bright blue eye on a bee-line to the forest.


I had the Aqua Velvets on. “Surf Nouveau.” Slicing over the switchbacks winding down below reminded me of a giant dollar sign. It wasn’t just the e:yes corporation. Nobody behind any of the $hit wanted the $hit done to them.

High as I was, I could see the high school, and the store, and the Post Office, and Just Desserts, and Kung Food, and Barney with a couple of customers among the life size Bigfoot chainsaw carvings. I could see the green shimmering sheen of Mist River threading like lifeblood below.

Descending into the sea of trees I perceived several rotters roaming. I followed the direction they were heading and found the pit, unchanged by time, hole of legend, six-feet deep, and Hoyt, goddam Hoyt, hovering over it, eyes closed, cross-legged, in the lotus position. I could see Meadow peeking around from behind the cluster of redwoods at the corner of the pit, peering with eyes full of wonder down into a gray and limitless (((vortex))) swirling and swirling. Now I could also see that the rapacious gleam in Meadow’s eyes upstairs before had changed to betray something deeper than I had suspected, her humanity, a vulnerability that made me forgive her and want to protect her.

Lip-read mode didn’t work on Hoyt. He was speaking an unknown language now. Seeing things, just like me, that no one was meant to see. Only he didn’t do it right.

I suppose somewhat accidentally I rather helped in that. My eye dropped down inside a rotter. The walls of the hollow triangular eyehole advanced around me as a rotter strode forth and unwittingly received a little blue pupil for a moment. I tried navigating out, but too late. The rotter’s stride jostled the e:yes eye so that it stuck to a mass of decaying meat. 

Inside the rotter, everything changed. For one thing, weird sounds crackled through my speakers. That certainly wasn't supposed to happen. Ugly sounds, churning like a river of trash. Whatever strange energy it was behind the rise of rotters, it didn’t mix well with whatever it was in my e:yes eye. I barely had time to see, from within the interface, the pumpkin stumbling toward the pit, pitching into the mad gray spin just as the eye went out.

Fast as I could I dashed from the house. I didn’t give a damn for any eyes following me. I ran to the forest as fast as I could. I knew it wasn’t far. Why had I been screwing around with this shit? I could have simply told her what I had to say to her face.

When I got to the pit I found Hoyt was spinning. Thick gray vapor billowed out everywhere, as though the pit were a giant cauldron, a fog machine for Humbaba County and beyond. All but a couple of the rotters were gone. One tried to menace me, but it didn’t have a knife and I was pissed. Yelling and looking really ugly and primitive I bet, I punted the pumpkin as hard as I could and sent it thudding off my boot way over into some fern. After a few seconds it murkily grunted and scuttled away, its wary buddy reluctantly taking the cue.

I tried to talk Hoyt down, but there was no way. He was stuck spinning like a perpetually retracting window shade. Like meat on a really speedy rotisserie. Like a turning onscreen icon indicating loading.

Meadow and I watched for awhile, wondering what to do. Pulling her close to me, I felt the tautness of her waist. We could see that Hoyt’s face had turned black from being spun around so fast so much. It was over for him. I couldn't help but notice Meadow’s hair smelled so sweet. I looked down into the little liar’s eyes. I’d never seen her so demure. She took this moment to grab my ass. I told her what I had to say.

“Look,” I said, “Hoyt’s a piece of fuckin’ shit. I'm sorry, but that's the truth. I’m very disappointed in you for this business, you know. And you’re gonna pay for it, later.”

“Oh yeah?” she said, squeezing my ass harder.

“Yeah,” I said, flexing cheek. Then I added, “Seedy wench."

“Pulpy bastard,” she replied.

Eventually, Hoyt spun into a mottled, white-ish lump roughly the size of a deformed human brain. I retrieved Hoyt’s lump and his copy of The History and Practice of Magic from the pit the next day.

Walking back up to the house with Meadow, she told me Hoyt had found curious crystals in a cave, glowing crystals that imbued Hoyt with powers far beyond his ken. One of the crystals Meadow kept in her possession.

Back in the room, I still had two Rasputin stouts. I put on some Bartok. Meadow moved around a little bit, then sat on my lap.

I noticed some e:yes eyes had gotten in the room. I told her about it while she bit at my neck.

“Oh, what’s the harm?” she said. “Besides, they’re pretty.”