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            The door of the convenience store opens -- she is 3 hours late for her nothing job.

            The register beeps and slams shut and her manager is standing there expectantly while she pulls off her jacket and pulls off her scarf and bites off her gloves and rolls them up in a frustrated ball to be shoved under the counter. She doesn't try to explain her way out of it because she has no good reason and she doesn't believe in excuses. Late is late is late. One of these days they'll fire her, but not tonight.

            She reads the body language of every newcomer like subtitles that pop up too soon, before anyone has even opened their mouths. She says as little as humanly possible to each customer because she's afraid of her own subtitles.

            "Will that be all?

            Your change is 6.42

            Will that be all?

            Your change is 2.57

            Between customers she rinses out coffee pots and counts cigarettes, mops floors alone on a Saturday night while the never ending blizzard rages outside. She scribbles thoughts that aren't her own onto a napkin each time she passes by the pen.

            "Living alive.

            Just living a lie.

            Smoke on the water


            in the


            Writes it just to get it out of her head, writes it just to look at it.

            "Write to sooth the soul sang the spirit.
            Sing to sooth the spirit wrote the words."

            Someone always walks in just as her eyes begin to glaze over and she blinks it away and crumples up the napkin, tosses it towards the garbage and misses, trudges back to her post with her wrists all tense and full of his words. Looks at the stranger and the stranger looks back but neither of them see anything but body language and social ques. She says as little as humanly possible to get them out of her store as quickly as they rushed in. Nobody comes to stay anyway.





            And when they turn their backs to leave, she chews the skin on the edge of her finger.
Nation Prophetic's avatar

Viice's Husband

Benevolent Bibliophile

Tan pants loose from a hungry few days full of restless thought and restful, empty drinking, he saunters into a gas station a world away from her holding them up with one hand and opening the jingling door with another.

A few days he thinks... May as well have been a few lifetimes. He asks for the key from the clerk behind the glass for the restroom. The man obliges with a grunt and a toss of the key in his direction under the counter. He never understood why gas station attendants had such a propensity for grumpiness... One of these days he hoped he'd find one less grumpy and more worth asking.

The water splashes across his face. Cold and sharp and it's wellwater and smells vaguely of earth and he drinks it and tastes the murk in it before spitting into the sink.

The hangover isn't settling and neither is his headache. It swirls with flashing thoughts of something he thinks is a dream... But really can't be sure. He knows his wallet is in his pocket. He lost his shoes. Couldn't think on where they may have been left. He turns up to the mirror. Circles, dark and ringed around his eyes stare back above a mug of unshaven stubble and he could almost laugh at the state of his hair. Wild and unkept and curled. He's the bright and shining example of generation Y all rolled up into a stereotypical ball of wishful, unbathed indignation. No wonder the clerk didn't shine to him.

He's trying to shake the song in his head till he realizes it's playing through the speakers in the bathroom. Bright Eyes. The Bottom of Everything. He winces like it's stabbing him. Like it's wrapping the words around his heart with fingers of a creeping, eerie familiarity... Because it is and he turns to leave the room that's closing in with the song pounding like a drum.

"and we crashed into the deep blu-"

He slams the door behind him. Shaking. Tosses the key back to the clerk and runs to his Beetle sitting idle in front of the gas station.

He turns on the radio. Praying for something to drown out the ringing in his ears. The crushing, total truth that's assaulting his every sense.

"oh it was a wonderful splashhh"


The little, one-doored rustbucket peels out of that Sunoco like hell was on its drivers heels.

            Her tone is tuned to the [********] channel and echoes through the stiff silence of the gas station. It is only broken by the peanut parent wah wah wah coming from the receiver she has lowered from her ear.

            She stares down the isles for a long time, then raises the phone again.

            "I can't go to Disney."

            Wah wah wah wah

            "I'd rather melon ball my eyes out."



            Wah wah wah wah.

            "No, it wouldn't be."

            Wah wah wah.

            "I photograph dead birds and insects. This has no place in my portfolio and you know I can't stand children -- "

            A customer walks in and she cups the receiver and growls into it.

            "I'm not going to goddamn Disney Land you're out of your ******** mind. Find someone else."

            She stares through the lens at Mickey from her senseless Indian-style seat beside a park bench. He's embracing a highly photogenic child and she feels the twitch in her finger, knows this is the shot they want out of her. Perfect for a magazine cover, upward angle with castles and flags in the background, larger than life.

            She lowers the camera a bit to let a crushed coke can into the frame, then lowers a bit further for cigarette butts, and further for spilled milk. She adjusts the focus slowly. Keeps Mickey's big stupid shoes in the background, round and shiny and cartoonish.

            She clicks like she's pulling a trigger.

            When she lowers the camera, her red sunglasses fall down from her burnt forehead and one lens is traded for another. Everything is swimming in a sickly maroon red, and they're crooked on her crooked head, with perfectly round circular frames like she's some kind of artist. This weather reminds her of a dream she had when she bundled herself up in too many comforters. Everything hot and sticky and far off -- she's never seen the air move like this. It literally wavers from the heat, and she's frustrated that she can't quite capture it on camera.

            She cranes her neck for a bathroom, for a dumpster.

            Where do these bastards in costume go to smoke their cigarettes? She wants a picture of that.

Nation Prophetic's avatar

Viice's Husband

Benevolent Bibliophile

His last five dollars in all the world buys a Turkey leg.

The sort that looks just too good and smells even better to be true and never lives up to the expectation it gives your eyes and always ends up being WAYYYYY too much turkey for anyone to eat in one sitting. He never was the kind of man to back away from a challenge...
But this leg with the warm whiskey under the California sun was making him wish for a tapout.

Donald Duck walks by his bench. A thousand yard tail of snotnosed, mouthbreather spawn in tow to go with the thousand yard stare he gets from the giant duck.

He flips the bird to Donald with all the nonchalant subtlety of a wave.

He chews a chunk of turkey in the corner of his mouth and watches the brats drag their parents shambling along after the big D. The last 20 dollars before this turkey legs 5 went into the bottle of Jack wrapped in a brown paper bag in his foodless hand, which he raises to the display. A cigarette rests between the fingers he doesn't need to hold the bottle. He smokes in the no smoking section because he's drunk. He's drunk in Disney because he doesn't remember how he got here in the first place.

Some folks drink to forget. He drinks to remember.

He's trying to figure out how to write where he is. How the light just hits the castle right and he can see the lens reflecting sunlight on the photographers camera. He's just about to make her out in that California haze when the first Mickey cop comes at him off the none too serious red and black Sedgeway that transported the burly black man into his vision.


A hostile grip comes around his wrist. He's expecting some part of it to be like everything else Disney. Fuzzy and tempered and safe. The Mickey cop grabs like he thinks Robocop would. It startles him just enough to make him wonder how he ended up smashing the half full bottle of Jack against Robomickeycops big, bald, black head. The bottle shatters and the big man goes down in a heap of puddled whiskey and broken glass. He only wonders for a moment how he just did something like that... Because now he's running. A turkey leg in one hand and a broken bottle of Jack in the other. Running even as he see's A squadron of Segeways in pursuit of him. Even as children cry for their ruined Disney trip and parents gasp and pull their children away from the harsh, unbuttoned reality that runs laughing by.
            She's got a toothpick in her mouth instead of her usual cigarette, because naturally Disney and all of it's magical glory frowns upon smokers, and while she would love to flip them all the bird she is getting paid to be here. She can't get kicked out until she gets a couple good shots -- her agent had been clear on that. Maybe he had just sent her here to see what would happen if he dropped a fox in a chicken coop...

            She adjusts the wood between her teeth and straightens her legs on the pavement, sighing, fanning out her fingers above her brow to scan the horizon for something interesting to photograph.

            She's got a white mickey mouse t-shirt on that's way too big for her with a pair of black short shorts over combat boots. Her knees are bruised. She's sickly pale. Her hair is a black messy mop tied up on the top of her head. On her shirt, Mickey's eyes have been crossed out with big thick sharpie X's and there's an upside down cross on his forehead that make passers by glare and children stare.

            She thinks maybe this would be the perfect picture...strangers gawking hatefully with a Disney Land backdrop.

            But then she smells a familiar vice.

            And thank the Gods for vices, or she might have missed him.

            Just as she spots him, he's eyeing up Donald and his parade of children with a look she hadn't seen since her last glance in a mirror. Her eyes fall on the brown paper bag, the bare feet, the mess of hair, the turkey bone, and just as she's putting him together in her head, just as she's realizing something about him is more significant to her than circumstance, he lifts

            his middle


            at Donald and all the children

            and she's suddenly scrambling to lift her camera and focus the frame -- but there are legs between herself and the man so she pulls herself up quickly from the ground, plants one boot on the park bench and hoists herself up with determination only a photographer of fleeting moments could possess.

            By the time she gets up there, though, he's done giving them the finger. She takes a few simple shots of him just drinking and smoking being generally miserable, but truly what she waits for is the next transgression, and she knows he'll deliver.

            She prays for him to sin again.

            And sure enough a cop is approaching him and she quickly adjusts her shutter speed and prepares for an action shot.

            Her finger lingers in wait.

            She watches the cop address him, watches the cop lose his patience at being ignored and finally grab the man she has now decided is her friend.

            She sees him look up.

            Sees murder in his eyes through the lens.

            She knows exactly when to hold down the shutter button and trigger an explosion of rapid-fire photographs.

            The lens blinks, and she watches him move on the digital screen in a stop action sequence. He lifts the bottle, the cop lifts his hands, her friend is too fast, the bottle shatters across the cops face, the children in the background scream, glass and blood fan out everywhere. Donald runs towards the cop to try to help him and trips over his own big, stupid feet, and her friend is running away barefoot and laughing like a madman from the scene.

            She watches from over the viewfinder, stunned. It takes a moment for her instincts to kick in, perhaps when she realizes he's almost out of view...

            He's getting away.

            So she propels herself forward off the park bench and chases after him behind officers and segways...

            and the two of them are now the only ones in the entire park who are laughing.
Nation Prophetic's avatar

Viice's Husband

Benevolent Bibliophile

A spinning world of 1960’s futurenoire flashes by with sirens blaring under the whir of electric engines propelling the halt-hollering joke-police after the laughing, fleeing man as he tears into Tommorowland with tornadic purpose.


“Somebody stop him!”


The Mickey-cops are in hot pursuit. He looks back just enough to catch their number. 7 at the most… All Steely eyed and brawny and itching to exercise their non-authority. Dressed to the nines in their wannabepolice duds. He’s laughing at them and the entire thing… And the photographer... She’s behind them in pursuit. A woman… He see’s. Wild eyed and smiling. Laughing along with him. He spots her smile and her uptied hair and looks through the mess of the chase directly into her eyes…and for a moment… He forgets everything else. Looking for the shot that catches the scene in picturesque eternity. Her eyes are wild and happy like someone who was given exactly the thing they had been unhappily waiting to see. He feel’s something from her. Some connection even through his drunken, chaotic haze between him and her and them. Even as he barrels into a thick crowds that part before him to reveal what Disney has to offer in the way of turn-the-tide boss battles... He’s looking still looking after her until a stiff shove knocks the wind out of him and knocks him on his a**, stopping him and severing that connection.


Buzz ******** Lightyear bars his way.


Wings wide and standing heroic like some archangel of plastic and neon and chrome come to halt his wild escape. That face frozen in a creepy, Toy story grin stares at him. Blank and cold and shining. The convex curvature of his glass helmet seals shut with an intimidating hiss. He hears Tim Allen speak through the costumes pre-recorded, kiddy-giggling lines and the costumed character throws up a hand and strikes a majestic pose with lights flashing on his armored suit and everybody cheers. Children smile and cry out to the savior of their Disney day all around him.

He stands calmly and approaches the giant toy. Cracking his neck as he nears.


“I am Buzz Lightyear; I come in pea-.”


The boss goes down with a swift, powerful kick that sends his balls to infinity and beyond. The crowd of exalting children cries out in horror over the humanity of their costumed giant toy hero writhing in cursing agony.


“buzzbuzzbuzzlightyear to ********”


Mickey’s Gestapo draws close. The turkey leg pops into his mouth, and he vaults bodily over the toppled hero and over to a merchandise stand, grabbing one of the many ridiculous, novelty Mad Hatter hats and he’s onto the moving walkway that leads up to the people mover in a flash. He’s ducked low. Moving through the line and hidden in the forest of legs as white America shuffles out of his way… Not wanting to make a scene or cause a ruckus. Compliant and dulled by the days tired shuffle through the park. He hears the Mickey-Cops flustered searching through the crowd left around the fallen space ranger. Bites off another chunk of turkey even as he’s panting and catching his breath. His mostly opened white button down is soaked through with sweat from the run through the California heat… He abandons the broken top of Jack with a kiss goodbye into a garbage can and rolls up his sleeves and the legs of his tan pants and puts on the Hatters hat… Hopping into the nearest empty people mover cart with a mischievous grin.


He’s looking around. Not for the cops that he lost for the moment… But for the photographer. For the woman he saw in chase of him. He’s looking even as the people mover moves him through the line of carts around the turnstile for more passengers to enter before the thing gets ready to take off along down the guided tour of Tomorrowland in all its twinkling splendor.


Something about her he can’t quite shake. Even the brief glance was enough to give him pause. Like Dejavu or a daydream. He knows her from someplace, Recognizes her.


Heavily, he breathes in the people mover. Blending in as best as he can while the tour readies to start.  

A hand comes up to his mouth... He chews on the skin on the inside of his left index finger... Nervous suddenly at the idea of knowing someone. Knowing someone who would follow him where he was.

Knowing her.
            The collective voice of the crowd fills her ears.

            It's a thrumming, alive, rhythmic, squabbling, bitching, excited, overwhelmed, aggravated series of chirps and dips and cries and questions, and she only cuts above it because she's laughing hysterically and no one else is...except him. In the distance.

            And then, violin.

            She hears it somewhere in her mind. It plays madness, jumping and happy like her laughter while she tries to aim her camera, see through the lens instead of through her own eyes. She's running into people with a camera for a face, pushing her sunglasses up with the back of her hand so they tangle into her hair and stay out of her way.

            She turns on the flash.

            Gets a series of washed out shots up the noses of people she has elbowed, with their furrowed brows and open mouths and flabbergasted bamboozled HOW DARE YOU expressions. Tripping over children, shouldering through....

            She sees him look back at her for a moment and she stops laughing.

            Every instinct screams for her to take a picture, to smash that button like it's her ******** job and capture the look he gives her because it has the answer to EVERYTHING within it, but she can't. Where is that music coming from? She lowers the camera a little and looks back at him, her pace slowly slightly, her lips parting to breath and her hair falling over the bridge of her nose. Over her brows, creased and confused. Then he turns away not because he wants to, but because he has to run.

            She knows him.

            And then, kick-drum.

            She snaps out of it, nods her head to the sudden bass that comes with his leaving, it's just pounding in her ears and she aims, clicks, flashes, legs tangling until she falls flat and skids a foot or two while still laughing, tripping over a giant plastic swearing screaming buzz lightyear who she has just photographed getting his balls kicked in. She leaves blood and skin on the pavement, leather soles skidding to scramble - up - one hand on the camera and the other flat on the ground, pushing - up - she projects forward and she's all laughing teeth and torn shirt and glass lens.

            Violin and kick-drum. Violin and kick-drum.

            But suddenly, he's gone.

            She stops dead in her tracks and stares out on the crowd, eyes wide, wondering if he's been caught until she sees the cops still searching and scrambling and swearing -- she goes the opposite way they're going. Runs where they think he isn't because that's where he is. Her heart is pounding harder each second she doesn't find him, and she bumbles around in his general direction for a while before finally leaning against a turnstile, biting the inside of her right index finger with the hand that isn't holding her camera. The music in her head is gone. She just hears the crowd now, collective white nothing noise and no laughter because everyone else, like her, is recovering from the shockwave of him.

            She looks down at her knees, even more busted up than before now, blood trickling down one of her legs. She takes a picture of it, then turns her camera and takes a picture of herself and her disappointment. She lost him.
Nation Prophetic's avatar

Viice's Husband

Benevolent Bibliophile

Grinding teeth and grinning. He hangs out of the people mover and over the railing. His hat is crooked and flapping in the wind. He’s practically a man out of time. Some 18th century pirate hanging off the deck of his 21st century tourist trap with his thickened stubble and his turkey leg and his stink of booze. He’s looking down into the maelstrom of disneycops and flustered, frustrated, shocked Californians left in the wake of his chaotic romp through tomorrowland. Admiring his handywork. Last week he was suitbound, deskbound, and set in the ways of his life. This week he is anarchy.


A reckless waif in search of something he never knew he was missing.


He’s not looking for her. Forgets for a second that there even was a her to begin with. He doesn’t find her because he’s trying to, or because she’s sticking out at him like some sort of sore thumb. There was this person someplace in the crowd that saw him. Saw something in him that he saw right back in her in that brief, flashing, principal moment. She pursued him. He wondered why. Had to ask her. Needed to.


He see’s her before he finishes the thought as though his very eyes were guided to her by the gravity of fate.


She’s at the Turnstile leading up to the people mover. Taking a picture of her knee. He see’s the blood. Knows she was booking it like a bat out of hell to find him. Knows she thinks she lost him.


He doesn’t think. A breath is taken deep and true without him consciously deciding to take it. His chest is full and puffed as he leans into a shout that thunders across the space between them. His voice comes out like a roar. He cries out above the crowd. Loud and clear and full of bass. It’s not just a yell. It’s a warcry. A come and get me for the authorities second and her first. He’s alerting the police to his presence. But he’s alerting her too. Staring straight at her as he laughs at the end of his shout and shakes his fist in the air.




He swings that turkey leg through the air like a cutlass. Flipping the bird to all the threshing mob gathered below as his people mover cart disappears into the tunnel leading under Space Mountain.

            “YOU’LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE!!!!”

            She pushes off the turnstile and is moving towards him before she even sees him. She follows the sound of his psycho mad hatter laughter, diving.

            Until there he is, leaning out of the people mover, waving, screaming, a picture of utter insanity.

            She has tasted the fear of never knowing. This time, she does not laugh in pursuit of him. She lets the camera hang around her neck by it's thick leather straps, drops it completely for the use of her hands to shove through the chaff, the crowd --

            nothing but warm bodies between them.

            The people mover is people moving and she's not on it. She runs along side it for a minute, glancing, calculating, swearing, looking down the path of it to him and to where he is going as the carts start to move faster -- she tries to find her way in. There must be a way to go with him, to slip into the cracks without losing an arm, a leg...or maybe there isn't.

            Maybe she doesn't care what she loses to momentum and stupidity.

            What if she's wrong?

            She runs, clutches her camera, shoves it under her shirt, feels it press to her chest. She holds her breath. Her feet leave the ground.

            What if she isn't?

            The people mover rocks as her body slams into it, her hands grasping for the edge and clinging to it like a lifeline. Her feet scramble as her body is pulled forward, her arms trembling against the force of all her weight multiplying, catching up with the motion she has thrown herself into. God it hurts as all the strain is put on her shoulder, as she cries out and pulls herself forward, curling her bicep and clenching her teeth and gathering herself up and over the side of the people mover until she falls -- just topples right into the cabin. Immediately she nurses her shoulder and rolls onto her side, gasping, letting the pain wash over her and into her to tell her she's stupid and tell her she's wrong. That was reckless. She could have broke something, she doesn't even know him. She doesn't have health insurance and couldn't pay to save her own life. She'll probably get thrown out. She'll probably get fined.

            She stares up at the sky, sees it perfectly right through the false shelter of an alloy umbrella. Smiles right through it like it isn't even there.

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