It Makes Me Want to Build A Zoo

I hate you all so much,
        I really really do.
        I hate you all so much it makes me want to build a zoo.
I’d build it on the edge of town, where no one ever goes,
        but even when it’s empty, the zoo will never close.

First I’d hire men with nets, and send them into town.
        Each man or woman with the task to track one of you down.
They’d carry each a photograph, and when they find you, well.
        Let’s just say your friends will have some anecdotes to tell.

“We were having lunch,” they’ll say, “in the open air.
        When suddenly these men appeared. They were everywhere!
They tipped over the tables and spilled all of our wine,
        and our waiter was accosted as they broke the serving line.
They all came up to Jeramy, and what an awful sound
        they cast their nets upon him and threw him to the ground.
They tied him up, they gagged him, and they threw him in a bag,
        then they put a collar round his neck and fixed it with a tag.
As they left, I hear one saying on his radio
        that they’d captured Jeramy, just twenty-six to go.

Let’s try something different.

Let’s try something different.
        Shall we?
Different as in what exactly?
What a tone! It’s different silly,
        something new to set the mood.

Well you’re the continental fellow,
        what do you suggest this evening?
Why am I the one who always has to know what hip
        or square?

Don’t get so defensive darling.
It’s not defense,
        just watch your tone.

Now that’s the issue,
        your last stanza.
What? It fits the rhyme and meter.
Yes but check the one above it.

The Trained Duck Store

        Sandy took several paper napkins and her ice cream cone from the counter and went to sit by the window while Michael, Dani, and Simon made their orders. “Hey guys look, someone is moving into the old arcade.” Sandy called out.
        ”Is it another arcade?” Asked Michael. “I hope they have Ridge Racer. When I went to Texas last year they had Ridge Racer in the hotel game room, and it had seats and a steering wheel and petals and everything.”
        ”I don’t think its an arcade. The sign in the window says ‘Norlen and Associates’.”
        Dani rolled her eyes as she pointed to the container of mint choclate-chip through the display case to the woman behind the counter. “That’s the real-estate agent’s name dummy.”
        Simon and Michael picked up their orders and joined Sandy at the window to take a look. Simon pressed his face against the glass, bending his glasses and squashing his nose into a funny shape. “Nope!” Simon said with authority. “It says Morlen and Associates, and it has something else underneath. ‘Trained Ducks for Sale or Rent’.”
        ”Trained Ducks?” Asked Michael. “That doesn’t sound like any arcade I’ve ever heard of. I was really looking forward to a new arcade.”
        ”That doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard of.” Said Sandy as she ate her ice cream.
        ”Let me see.” Dani placed her ice cream on the table next to Sandy and walked over to the entrance to the ice cream parlor. She opened the door slightly and slowly leaned her head out, careful to balance against the door handle. She made a show of how far she could lean out the door, and then she read the sign out aloud. It was just as Simon had said. “It’s probably just a pet shop or something. They put that stuff on the sign so you’ll come in and then they tell you it’s just a joke, and try and sell you some old hamster or something.”
        Sandy became very excited. “Wow, a pet shop! Let’s go look at the animals.”
        Dani protested. “I’m allergic to animals. They make me all itchy.”
        Michael began to laugh. “That’s just because you don’t take baths.”
        ”I do to! It’s the dandruff.”
        ”I think you mean dander.” Corrected Simon. “Animal dander causes allergic reactions.”
        ”Whatever it’s called it makes me sneeze whenever I’m around animals.” Dani turned up her nose and continued eating her ice cream.
        ”Do ducks have dandruff? Birds don’t have any hair.” Said Michael.
        ”Well I don’t care what they are. I’m not going in there. Besides, I have to finish my ice cream.”
        Simon sat back in his seat and took another bite of his ice cream. “I don’t think you need to worry Dani, it doesn’t look like it’s open yet. It’s still dark inside.” Simon took several more bites of his cone, and then wrapped the remainder in a napkin and placed it in the nearby trash can.
        Sandy also finished her cone and placed it in the trash. Michael had eaten the ice cream from the top of his cone, and then bit off the cone’s point, and was now making a slurping sound sucking the melted ice cream from the bottom of the cone. Dani gave Michael a dirty look before taking another dainty bite of her cone, conspicuously dabbing the corners of her mouth with her napkin.
        ”Well I’m go’nna go have a look.” Said Sandy. “You can all sit tight, I’ll be right back.”
        Michael and Simon looked at eachother and then spoke in unison. “Hey, wait for us.” Sandy spun out of her feet and bolted through the door. Simon quickly followed, and Michael took several final slurps of his cone before tossing it into the trash and following his two friends.
        ”Humph!” Snorted Dani.
        Sandy ran up to the window of the closed shop and examined the sign as Michael and Simon cupped their hands to the windows to see into the darkened building. The glass door was completely covered by the sing and the two large windows were obscured with thick brown paper, but the smaller window at the end of the building was unobstructed.
        ”What do you see?” Asked Sandy.
        Michael leaned into the window, placing both arm against the glass in an effort to shade his eyes. “I can’t see anything, just a bunch of boxes and a lot of dust.”
        ”Look there, in the far corner.” Said Simon.
        Sandy hurried down the sidewalk towards the two boys. “What is it?” She asked.
        ”Eggs.” Said Simon.
        ”Where, I don’t see them.” Said Sandy.
        ”They’re right there.” Simon motioned with his finger against the glass. “They’re stacked inside that big glass machine in the corner. The blue things.”
        Michael stepped away from the window and gave Simon a puzzled look. “Eggs are supposed to be white.”
        ”Not all eggs. Robins have blue eggs. And some chickens have brown ones. You can even buy them at the store.”
        ”What about duck eggs?” Asked Sandy.
        ”I don’t know. I guess they’re blue.”
        Michael looked back into the darkened storefront. “Maybe they’ve been painted, you know, like on easter.”
        Sandy started to giggle.
        ”What? I don’t hear any better ideas. Maybe it’s part of the training process.”
        As they talked, Dani came out of the ice cream shop. She looked around until she spotted the trio kneeling at the end of the sidewalk peering in the window of the new shop. She called out. “Hey guys, I’m all done. Let’s go all ready. Are we going to the movies or not?”
        Sandy stepped back from the window and examined the ring of condensation where he nose had been pressed against the glass. “Her highness is calling.”
        Michael stepped back from the window and snapped to attention. “My leigh! Fear not, the enchanted house of moving pictures awaits.” Michael cut the air with an imaginary rapier. “Come comrades, lest you incur the ire of her majesty.”
        Dani wrinkled her nose and gave Michael a dirty look.
        Michael galloped towards Dani and Sandy and Simon soon followed.

Front Shirt Pocket

        Sam climbed up into the seat in the row of connected chairs next to his mother. The chairs were made of wide tubes of shiny metal all stuck together in a row, and each with two pieces of stiff leathery stuff string between them. One for the seat and one for the back part. The seats were very low to the ground, so Sam had little trouble climbing in, but they were also quite slick, and when he tried to lean over against the arm rest, his new dress pants would slide his lower body out from under him. He tried the right arm rest, and then the left, digging his free hand into the shallow groves pressed into the material, but it was no use.
        ”Honey, try and sit still. The plane will be landing any minute now.”
        ”Mommy, I can’t. These dressed pants are too slippy. I wana wear my other clothes.”
        ”Slippy?” Sam’s mother smiled and began rummaging through her bag. “You look very dressed up in these clothes. Very hansom.” She brought a folding hairbrush out from her bag and began to fix Sam’s hair which had been mussed by sliding against the seats.
        Sam held onto the arm rest with both arms to keep himself up. He wrinkled his nose at his dress clothes and then pushed his feet against the opposite arm rest to wedge himself in. Finally in a stable position, Sam leaned back a bit and looked down at his outfit, examining each piece of unfamiliar clothing. When he came to his new shirt he noticed the large flap of fabric on his chest with a button in the middle. “What’s this, mommy?” He asked.
        His mother turned from fixing her own hair with the brush. “It’s a pocket honey.”
        Sam gave his mother a puzzled look but she was too focused on his hair, which was again being pressed up against the chair back at an odd angle. “Here honey, look out there. See? Thats where Ceci’s plane is going to land. The plane will come right up to the window, and that long ramp will move out to meet it, and then Ceci will walk through the ramp and come out that door, and then she’ll see how dressed up you are.”
        ”Where, where’s the plane?”
        ”It’s not here yet, the plane is still flying, it’s in the air somewhere.”

Eyebrows

        Ms. Stevens had not been a teacher for long, granted. But in her so far short career, she had certainly grown accustom to the job. She could still remember the first day of teaching 2nd grade all by herself. She had of course worked in classrooms for almost two years, first as a student teacher and then as a teachers aid. The weekend before her class started she hadn’t given it a second thought. Even leaving for work on that first day he roommate was practically a wreck, but not Ms. Stevens. The full impact of her situation wasn’t apparent until she arrived at the gymnasium to collect her students and lead them to the classroom for the first time. She was petrified, and the kids knew it instantly. While other teachers ferried their classes in neat and tidy lines down the halls like something out of Madline, it took Ms. Stevens nearly 45 minutes to make the journey, collecting stragglers from every side room, lavatory, coat closet, and hallway as she went.
        Things eventually calmed down, and Ms. Stevens was generally comfortable with her position. She had even dealt with a few crisis―when Nathan fell from a stool hanging open-house decorations and broke his wrist, when Samantha, a little girl with a neurological disorder confined to a wheelchair, had a seizure and they had to call an ambulance. Despite her short time in teaching, she had gained a reputation for working well with difficult kids and situations, and the district would often send children with troubling family situations or medical conditions to join her class from other teachers who could not handle them. She was happy to take them on board.

        Although it was almost half way through the semester, Ms. Stevens was told that she would be receiving a new student. Usually after about 3 or 4 months of classes the district would not let a student transfer until the next academic year, but an exception was being made for Scotty, then there was some talk that very high level strings had been pulled to make the transfer happen. This small breech in protocol didn’t really concern Ms. Stevens, after all she was always happy to have new faces, and she began to prepare for Scotty’s arrival.
        At first she considered informing her class. maybe they could put together some kind of welcome party, but she soon decided against it. Although the district hadn’t given her any details of his case, her experience told her that if someone was transferring this late in the year, then something must be up, and it would probably be best to keep the excitement at Scotty’s arrival to a minimum, at least until there was more information.
        Scotty arrived on a Thursday. Ms. Stevens came to the principle’s office to meet him and bring him to class at about lunch time. She was hoping to have a short talk with Scotty’s parents, but by the time she arrived, it looked as thought they had already left. She smiled at Susy the receptionists as she entered the office and made her way to the back conference room. She was about to knock when the principle, Mr. Green came up behind her and tapped lightly on her shoulder.
        ”Oh, good morning,” said Ms. Stevens, “where’s Scotty.”
        ”Good morning, he’s right inside. He’s been in there for about an hour.”
        ”Oh my, I thought you said to come at…”
        ”No, no, its not your fault, I had him come in a little early so we could talk before things started.”
        ”Oh, good, are his parents still here?”
        ”Well I’m afraid he hasn’t got any. I meant to get you a copy of his file. Scotty is transferring from the children’s ward at county west. He’s a ward of the state.”
        Ms. Stevens was a little troubled. “Is he sick?” she asked.
        ”Not as far as they can tell. He just doesn’t talk.”
        ”Doesn’t talk? You mean he’s mute?”
        ”They think he can talk, throat and all is just fine. He just doesn’t want to. He seems to understand just fine. Can even write his name.”
        ”Does he write anything else?”
        ”Not so far, but he’s in there drawing right now. Quite prolific at it actually. Has a thing for cats.”
        ”You just left him sitting in there for an hour by himself?”
        ”I tried talking with him, but it didn’t seem to do any good. Maybe you’ll have better luck.” Mr. Green handed Ms. Stevens a manila file bristling with papers and began to leave. “Oh, the transport service from the hospital will be here to pick him up after school. Just have him wait here in the conference room. And ahh, well … you’ll see.”
        Ms. Stevens leafed through the file she had been handed. A medical release, immunization records, some standardized testing scores. Then tucked the papers under her arm and knocked lightly on the door to the conference room. She could hear the light tap of crayons on paper inside the room, but nothing else. She opened the door and stepped inside.
        Scotty was sitting in the high backed chair at the end of the table, the one Mr. Green usually sat in during staff meetings. He liked to let new kids sit there while he talked with their parents. In-front of the boy was a haphazard pile of finished artworks, and next to the pile was a short stack of blank copier paper and an open box of crayons. Scotty had removed the crayons from the box and lined them up above his current picture, all facing the same direction and in order like a rainbow. When Ms. Stevens entered, Scotty didn’t look up, but continued working on his picture.
        ”Good morning. You must be Scotty. My name is Ms. Stevens, I’m going to be your teacher.”
        Scotty continued drawing for a moment, and then placed the purple crayon he was using back into order with the others a looked up at Ms. Stevens. As he did, Ms. Stevens had to bite her tongue not to gasp. Above Scotty’s eyes were two large black marks. At first Ms. Stevens thought maybe he had gotten crayon all over his face, but as Scotty continued to look up at her, she could see they were his eyebrows. They were black as ink, unlike his hair which was a brownish blond color, and from across the room it gave Scotty an almost cartoonish look. They were each nearly an inch tall, but the hairs must have been very short, because they seems to lay flat against his face.
        Ms. Stevens suddenly realized she was staring, and tried to move the conversation along. “Well, Mr. Green tells me you quite the artist, are these drawings all yours? Can I see them?”
        Scotty stayed silent, but seemed to be considering her request. After a moment, he picked up his purple crayon once again and continued with his drawing. Ms. Stevens walked in from the doorway and sat down at the table. “Well if you don’t mind, then I’m just going to take a look at these.” She reached over and gather the stack of finished works and began to leaf through them.
        ”You know, my brother is an artist too. He paints murals on the sides of buildings.” There was still no response from Scotty. As she flipped through the drawing, Ms. Stevens was amazed. There must have been over a dozen pictures, each meticulous and detailed. There were quite a few cats, as Mr. Green had said, but there were also giraffes, elephants, buildings, plants and trees, all drawn very realistically for a 2nd grader.
        ”Wow Scotty, your drawings are very good!” There was still no response from Scotty.
        ”Well, I’m sure your going to love my class. We do all kinds of fun art projects. Last year we made African tribal masks, and about a month ago we all designed and painted our own t-shirts. This year Mr. Green asked if we could decorate the set for the rain-forest play the 5th grade is putting on. Would you like to help?” Scotty was still silent.
        Just then the warning bell rang. Both Scotty and Ms. Stevens looked up as it chimed over the intercom system. “That’s our warning bell Scotty. It means that the lunch period is over and class is going to start again in 10 minutes. That’s how you know when it’s time to come in from the playground after lunch.” Ms. Stevens gathered Scotty’s drawings and placed them into a stack along with the file Mr. Green had given her. “Alright Scotty, would you like to come back to my room with me. I already had a desk set up for you, and I will introduce you to your classmates.”
        Scotty carefully gathered his crayons back into the box and placed the box neatly in the center of the stack of blank paper. Then he placed the drawing he had been working on on top of the other pile and quietly got out of his seat to follow Ms. Stevens.

Pilgrimage

        Once when the country was young, there was a small village to the west, just beyond the mountain ranges. Today this village is little more than a clearing in the forest, and all the buildings and gates have rotted away, but at the time this village was a very vibrant and a new place because of its special position.
        Every year, the Emperor would send 32 of his most wise and learned monks and thinkers over the mountain for a month. The Emperor was young, and inexperienced in the ways of ruling the land, but he was wise enough to know that his empire depended on the luck and good blessings of the gods, and so he sent these 32 men each year to the uninhabited forests beyond the mountain range so that they may speak with the gods through their messengers that lived in the forests. Each year as the monks and thinkers passed towards the forest, they would pass through the tiny village and bring with them news from the capitol, and each year as they returned from their pilgrimage, they would again pass through the village, this time bringing with them news from the spirit world and the heavens.
        Each year as the pilgrims passed through the town, the townspeople would stand at the gates to their houses and offer the monks and thinkers gifts of food and drink. “Come,” one would say, “you’ve a long journey ahead of you. Please, take with you some of my wife’s sweet breads. They will surly give you strength on your path.”
        As each monk or thinker was belaiden with these gifts, the towns people would ask of them favors to pass on to the gods. Each in turn would ask if possibly the monk or thinker would mention to the gods of his specific devotions, and for favorable harvest of their beans this season, or a relief from nests of gourd flower bugs. As each monk or thinker was only allowed by the emperor to make the journey once, each year the monks and thinkers were taken by surprise at the largess of the townspeople, and once they had partaken of their kindness, found it difficult to refuse their meager requests. Each monk and thinker knew how important it was to the Emperor to focus on the task at hand, but being wise and learned men, they knew that the village was an important bridge between them and the forest spirits beyond, and that it was in everyone’s best interest to keep the villagers happy.
        One month later as the pilgrims returned from the forest, they would again find the houses of the townspeople who had given them food or drink and asked of them favors to the gods. Each monk and thinker had of course mentioned the townspeople’s concerns to the spirits in the forest, but as always there was little the spirits could do other than offer their blessings for the people, as the cosmic laws forbade them from meddling in the affairs of the mortals unless so ordered by the gods. The pilgrims would each apologize to the villagers for their ineffectuality, but the villages, well aware of the situation, would always smile, and thank the monks and thinkers politely, and then send them on their way back to the capitol, often with bellies full.
        And so it went for as long as the villages could remember. Each year the monks and thinkers would pass through, and then a month later, would pass through again.

AkuAku

        The first time AkuAku spoke, no one was there.
        It had been almost 3 months sence Aku was built, but but no one lived in the house. He could vaguly remember some flashes of what had come before, but only vague and fleeting images. He could remember when they cut the vents in the celing. That was the first theing he saw becuase the vents became his eyes. They were square and slotted and had metal fins that could be opened and closed. Not the most parctical of eyes, but Aku didn’t care, he was happy to see the floor below him. He could remember the darkness and the gravity and worried that nothing lay benieth him but some terrible pit. It was reasuring to see the concrete below.
        The next thing Aku remember was the day his windows were cleaned. The windows sat atop aku’s head, and made a starburst crown to anywone who would lie on their back and look up at him, but his crown was covered with paint, and the light could only make a diffued shadow in Aku’s room.

Computers Have Lots of Kinds of Brains

This computer is incharge of the rest. I told it so. It wasn’t the first one here, or the first one built and running, or anything first. The others said I was playing favorites, but because none of them existed yet they were only talking in my head, and their personalities had not fully diassociated with my own. The only one that really could have put up a fight is the laptop, because it came here from a previous job. Laptop, lapdog, lapland.

This one not working. I tried to give it my name and it said to me, but I couldn’t understand what it said. It was all in 16s. I keep it here. I don’t know what else to do with it. I can’t just throw it out. The parts are still good you know. They said on TV that people are made up of $126 of raw materials if you break them down into constituent chemicals and elements, and the fact is that with this computer, you don’t even have to go that far. It has ram which is like the brains of the computer, and it has a drive which is also like the brains. And there is also the processor and the motherboard which are like brains that the computer has. The computer has a lot of brains, but not this one, it doesn’t work on account that the brains that are in the drive are corrupt. It’s not a bad computer, it’s corrupt, in a data sense.

This one has a printer, and that makes it the loudest of the computers. The printer is loud, and it makes a screech, but louder are the words that you can print with it. They say things like words are mighty and pens too, and books, or pencils, or I guess crayons when you don’t get them on the table, just keep them on the paper. But I think that a computer must be mighty too, but only when its printer is mighty. The printer is like pens for the computer. The printer also needs paper, so thats the computers paper I guess. Or maybe the computer doesn’t own the paper, but just the printer, and the printer lets the computer tell it what to write. Like when you go to the barber and say give me a haircut, but the barber knows that what you want is for him to cut your hair, and he uses his scissors and buzzing clipers, and you supply the hair. Well on the computer, the computer supplies the brains and the printer gives you the paper and the pens and what-not.

This computer has a pink post-it note on the front stuck to the plastic cover. The note is in hand writting so that’s how we know that the computer didn’t write it, and also the note didnt get stuck there by the computer, becuase computers don’t have hands or moneys to by the post-it notes. And a good thing they don’t too. The computer is efficient, and it would make lots of notes telling you what to do and you would get worried and scard because you can’t do all of them as fast as the computer would be expecting. The computer has lots of brains, but not the patient kind of brains, and not the kind that tells the body to smile either.

This one is not a computer. Its an ocilliscope. The scope has a green screen and you can see, but there are no letter keys for typing about what you want the computer to do becuase it’s not a computer. It does have buttons, but they are not for playing with becuas they change the screen and then people can’t see what the screen is telling them becuase they make the waves too big or small. The scope has brains too, and can see very well. The scope tells you all about the waves, but it has no frineds, because who whats to hear about waves all day, not me. The scope also has arms of sorts. They hold the other computers and look at their insides like a doctor, but you don’t have to pay the ocillisocpe, he has no magazines and all of his stuff is inside him, there are no rooms or anything.

Ombudsman

        ”Good morning, you’ve reached The Office of the Federal Ombudsman, my name is Brian, how can I help you today.”
        ”Mmm Hmm, let me just get a file started for you. Is this the first time you’ve called the Ombudsman? I see. Yes, well you see it a very large agency. The Director does not take the calls directly. No, no, that what I’m here for. Thats right.”
        …
        ”Ok, well can I just get your name please. Mmm Hmm, is that with a C or … a K, great. All right, what can I help you with.”
        …
        ”In your trash? Is this at your residence or place of business?”
        ”So the bags were all ripped up then? How, how long had the bags been out? I mean was this trash day or … Were they inside of the dumpster or just … oh you have cans there, of course.”
        …
        ”Well … perhaps this is an issue you should bring up the animal control service in your … Well no … I, I, I can just look up the number and …”
        …
        ”Oh, I see. Well did you get a look at who it was. Right, the one who ripped the bags up. Right, right. Were there several of … just the one.”
        …
        …
        …
        ” … Uh … Yy-Yes I’m still here. Umm … Right, soooo I just want to make sure I have this right for the report. You’re stating that on the night August the 21st of this year … The morning of the 2 … 22, mm hmm, OK, so some time that night, and you found them the next morning. Right. So during the night of the 21st, you witnessed an individual digging … uh huu, digging through your trash and … ”
        …
        ” … OK, so you witnessed Teddy Kennedy digging through your trash. Is that accurate?”
        ”Mmm Hmm. And … sooo you mean the senator, senator Kennedy? Right? How can you be sure it waaaas him?”
        ”No no, I just … well it was the middle of the night after all and … mm hmm … a streetlight. Still … no … no … well did he say anything?”
        ”Noooo, I don’t think the senator can speak French. Well … no, no, it’s not listed here on his personnel page.”
        …
        ”I suppose so, but why would he keep it a secret? … Yeah, ya … No, I’m entering it into the log now.”
        …
        ”Ok, well did he say anything else? Anything in English?”
        …
        ”He said your lasagna … he wa … No, well I’m sure your lasagna is very good. Well it was a very rude thing to say … Yes right, over, over on the boat, I’m sure it’s a very good recipe … Well your right, it’s not going to be as good in the trash, I agree, I agree with you.”
        ”Can I ask you about the, aaah, the senator again.”
        …
        ”No. Well it’s just that I’m wondering if maybe you could be mistaken … Right. Right. Well it’s just that Idaho is quite a distance from Washington D.C. and I thought that maybe …”
        …
        ”Well I’m looking here at his voting records and it says that the senator was present for votes on the 21 and the 22 … ye … yes, well I don’t know about security cameras, but senate proceedings are broadcast … they broadcast them live on, on CSPAN”
        ”About 11 am … Washington, eastern, eastern time.”
        ”Well I suppose, but why would he travel to Idaho to … but why to … the … the lasagna … right.”
        ”Well have you talked to your local Police Department about this?”
        …
        ”No, I’m sure that the senator would be delighted to get a copy of the recipe, I just think that …”
        ”Right, but what I mean to say is that … mmm hmm, …”
        ”Ok, well let me just pull it up.”
        ”Ok, you have a pen handy? Right, it’s Office of Senator Kennedy, United States Senate, Washington D.C.”
        …
        ”Umm hmm, and it’s 20510, … 510, 20510.”
        ”Right, well I’m glad to help. Umm hmm, you have a nice day. Well thank you. Have a nice day. Goodbye.”

Gravitons and Graviollis

        Nick came up the steps out of the Underground and made a bee-line for the bakery. As he turned the corner passed the news stand he could see scaffolding and a small truck with a rain on the back sitting in front of the bakery. Nick had been meeting Mark at the bakery every weekend or other for almost 8 years now. At first it was to get some help on his Physics papers and Mathematics assignments, but now that they were both working under the same Professor, their little meetings had evolved into something of an impromptu business breakfast.
        Nick made a surreptitious path through the construction debris and came to the front window next to the door, only to realize a large pain of glass resting on the scaffolding supports was blocking his way to the door. As he turned around he could see Mark sitting inside at their usual table gesturing excitedly at a new counter girl.
        Mark had something of a stutter, and found explaining what he wanted generally frustrating for both parites. One of the reasons their weekly meeting were situated at this bakery was that the counter girls there knew him, and he could gesture and grumble his way through his order knowing that whatever came out he would get what he always got anyway – a raisin scone with blackberry jam and an almond scone with nothing, so it didn’t much matter what he said to the girls. Every once and a while the owner of the bakery Mrs. McCaren would hire a new counter person, but general the other girls would prepare the new hand for Mr. Gorin.
        Nick could see the young woman’s look of desperation as Mark got more and more flustered and his order more and more unintelligible. Mark was never inclined to anger, but as his frustration grew, as the length of every stuttering spell grew longer, his voice grew softer until it was little more than mumbles. Nick rapped on the window and gave a cheerful wave at Mark, who gestured frantically for Nick to come inside and save him.
        Nick rounded the scaffolding and came through the door. He walked up to the counter and put his arm around Mark’s shoulder, obviously to Mark’s discomfort. He explained Mark’s order to the counter girl and added his usual, some redleaf tea. Mark wiggled out from under Nick’s arm and headed for his table by the window.
        ”So what’s with all this construction,” Nick made a production of looking at the counter girl’s name tag, “Angela.”
        ”New owners.”
        ”New own … what happened to Mrs. McCaren? And Sarah and Jamie … and aaah …”
        ”Rachel? All gone. Bakery was bought out by Starbucks. But not before they told me about you. Mr. Ritchie I presume.”
        ”Please, call me Nick.” He gently picked up her hand as if to kiss it.
        ”Mmm hmm”
        Nick could tell she had been warned. Nick drained the charm from his face and placed her hand back on the counter. “Well you would think that if they had time to sing my good graces they could have gotten to the part about Mark’s scones.”
        ”Mark? Thats mark? He said …”
        ”Oh, right, Hen3ry. Well you might as well learn it now my dear, you’ll be seeing him a lot.”
        Angela’s considered the prospect and smiled. “I’d rather talk to him than you.”
        Nick laughed has he picked up the tray and walked towards Mark’s table. “Now where have I heard that before?”

        Nick sat down opposite Mark and handed him the tray. “Did you hear that? McCaren sold out, and to Starbucks!”
        ”Yyy-yes, a real tragedy. Now where are you going to find young women to bother.”
        ”I’m sure Starbucks hires young women too.”
        Mark scoffed.
        ”So what’s this business about you and Galviston? The dean had that grumpy secretary of his calling me all morning saying that you’ve cooped his lab. He marched into the dean’s office this morning and quit.”
        ”She’s always nice to me.” Mark responded.
        ”Every time we talk it like she can’t stand to be in the same room with me.”
        ”Well whhh-who fault is that?”
        ”For someone who doesn’t like to talk, you sure have a sharp tongue.”
        Mark smiled and took a large bite of his scone as he ruffled through a stack of notes covered with equations and diagrams.
        ”You can’t keep acting this way, you don’t have tenure like the others, your not even a professor, your a grad student, and Jefferies isn’t here anymore to stick up for you in front …”
        Mark pulled something from his knapsack and threw it onto the empty tray in front of Nick. “LLll-look at this.”
        The thing was wrapped in an old rag. Nick picked it up and unwrapped a tangle of wires and bare circuit boards stuffed into a cardboard playing-card box..
        ”Gggg-gg-go on, turn it on.” urged mark through a mouth full of scone.
        Nick looked the device over. Turning it over in his hand he found a large toggle switch on which Mark had written the words “DANGER”, and signed the note “(Hen3ry)”.
        ”Go on, thh-thhhats just for show.”
        Nick shrugged, but made sure to touch only the edges of the box as he flipped the switch. At first nothing happened, but soon a dim green light began to leak from the edges of the box, emanating from some circuit inside. The green glow grew slowly brighter, and then began to flash, first slowly, but with greater and greater frequency. As the light grew faster and brighter, Mark began to hear a sound from the front side of the box where a grid of holes had been punched through the box. In the middle of the grid were the words “exhaust”, evidently Mark’s version of “speaker”. The sound began to modulate, and soon Nick could tell that it was soft music.
        ”Oh, a radio,” Nick laughed, “I was beginning to wonder.”
        Mark continued to munch his scone and stare into space. “Keep lll-lli-listening.”

Hen3ry

“NN-nnn-n-No your honor, H-e-n-3-r-y, with a th-ttt-three.”
“A three?”
“Thh-tt-thats right your hhh-hh-honor.”
“Look Mr. Gorin, the law says that to grant you a name change, it has to be ‘in the best interests of the public’. I fail to see how changing your name to Henry with a three meets that criteria.”
“Bbb-bb-but your Honor. THH-THhh-thats NNN-Nnn-nnot…YyyYY-Yyyou kkkk-kkccan’t …”
“Mr. Gorin … I can’t understand you. Mr. Gorin … MR. GORIN …”
“Nnno-nnoo yyyo …”
“Mr. GORIN. Mr. Ritchie. If your going to be councle, learn to control your client or he will be healed in contempt.”
“Yes your honor, he’s just a little excited.” Nick turned to his friend, “Mark, you’ve got to calm down.”
“Nnnn-nnn-nnNN-No, ddDDDOn’t tell me whhh-wwhh-whhat to do. MMmmMmm-Mmy name is Hen3ry!” Mark was almost hysterical now, “Yyyyyour Honor, please!”
Nick forced Mark into his chair, “I told you, let me handle this.” He turned to the judge, “Your Honor, My apologies. It won’t happen again.”
“Well see that it doesn’t Mr. Ritchie”
“…but I think you can see how important this is to my client your Honor. It’s just a name, what harm could it do?”
“But a three? H-e-n-3-r-y?”
“I know it’s a little unorthodox, but I think you’ll agree that Mr. Gorin is an unorthodox person.”
“This is not the way I envisioned spending my entire afternoon Mr. Ritchie.”
“Well let me put it this way your Honor. If nothing else, my client is a VERY persistent person. Last year my client sent 344 letter to The New York Times demanding a correction to the spelling of a crossword puzzle key from 1988.”
“…” the judge sighed heavily and then reached for his gavel, “thats it! Stand up Mr. Gorin.”
Mark rose from his chair and glanced meekly at the bailiff, holding out his hands for the shackles.
“In the interest of the sanity of the public, I here by grant your request. From this day forth, you shall be known as Hen3ry with a three M. Gorin.”
Hen3ry’s face lit up, “Oh Yyyyy-your Honor, THhthhthh …”
“You can thank me by never setting foot in my court room again.”
“Right away your Honor.” Nick grabbed the still stunned Hen3ry by the arm and headed for the door.
“Bailiff, next docket.”

Nick flew down the stairs at the front of the court house and practically danced as they walked down the street towards Hen3ry’s building.
“You see, what did I tell you,” Nick laughed, “and it only took 4 hours.”
Hen3ry nodded and smiled.
“Well, I guess I’ll have to be using your new name now.”
“ThTh-ttthats OK Nick, you can call me wwh-what ever you want.”
“Well, I guess I’ll just have to give these to somebody else then.” Mark reached into his coat and removed a small silver case from his breast pocket. He took a look at the case, shrugged, and then passed it to Hen3ry with out looking.
“Business Cards! Nick!”
“Yep, it’s official now.”
The two friends continued on to Ferrel Street, and then up the three flights to the office.

White Telephones

When man way young, and woman too, each person lived in a silent world. But man soon came to a realization, or more likely woman, that the ideas of one person are too important to keep to one’s self, and they each decided on their own, for they knew not of each other’s intentions, that some method must be found to make the other see as you yourself saw the world.

Woman and man tried with all of their might to give their thoughts to one another, but the thoughts of man were silent, only dancing chemicals, and woman too could only fail at this endeavor. And so it was to the children of man and woman, and to their children in-turn to solve this, the first of human kinds engineering tasks.

Many ideas were submitted, and their efficacy tested. Despite the great distance of minds they were all of the same form after all, and many found agreement in their methods. Some took the hair that their bodies produced, forming it this way and that until messages emerged. Some found understanding in the careful layering of the brittle shells of the trees where tiny foods and stinging things crawled, thought their resource was is short supply. Still others made their points with the rhythms of rocks as they fell.

Each like minded man and like minded woman gathered their followers about them and shared their ideas, limited as they were by the necessities of their mediums, but to each woman and each man of a group, the thoughts of the other groups became foreign and strange. For as long as they could remember, each person was like an islands of thoughts, and the thoughts of others were of little concerns, but now with such easy understanding between so few, the thoughts of others suddenly mattered a great deal. With no basis to move thought between the groups, each was forced to imagine the thoughts of the others.

Here in was the first of human kinds mistakes, for with no foundations to base the imagined thoughts of the others besides their rejection of what was thought the best communications method, each group learned fear and suspicion of the other. Soon there was war, war until society tore itself apart for the first time. And from the ashes came a new thought among the people, so profound that only the war itself could have brought it to the minds of the men and women.

Man, and woman too found language, and then art, and music, and on the shoulders of each of man’s children grew new and innovative methods of moving thoughts. This time, each building on the last, so that no one method supplanted or displaced its progenitor. Woman and man found ever more elaborate tongues, but still, the entropy from mind to method to mind was great.

All until one day. On this day a woman of letters, in and of themselves a symbol of the many thoughts she had collected into her mind, found a new path from mind to mind, a direct path. With excitement she used her old methods to spread the thoughts she had with her colleagues, self-assured with the thought that such a clunky process would soon be a thing of the past. Soon her device was constructed, and two volunteers came forth to be the first to see from the mind of the other. She gave them each a metal hat, and she told them that each hat would move the mind of one man into the mind of the other, though only for a moment. In that moment, each man would see for an instant what was the other man’s view onto the world for his lifetime.

Each man agreed, excited by the prospect, and they took their places in the laboratory of the woman. She checked each man’s hat in turn, and then she moved to the controls she had built, and she activated the device.

The woman was ruined. The boards convened, boards of her former colleagues, and each in turn berated the woman for her experiments. How obvious it was to all of them now how wrong she had been; the puzzled why she could not see the folly herself, even when they too had missed it when congratulating here just a short time before.

The woman didn’t care anymore, no thought could enter her mind, nothing would block the images of the two men. She could still see them every day, and hear them too, each running to opposite corners of the lab screaming, tearing off their hats, and then laughing uncontrollably. Furious one minute, and giddy the next, their minds now a blur of what they thought the world was like just 5 minutes earlier, and what they now knew it to be having seen it from the other side.

Their laughter brought other researchers running to the lab, and the woman desperately tired to snap the men out of their delirium. She told herself now that she wanted to help them, but at the time all she wanted was to know what they had seen. Each man’s yelling grew louder and louder until they caught sight of each other from across the room and suddenly fell silent. Then each man fell to his knees and then slept and slept and never woke up again.

Sales

        ”Good morning sir, how are you today.”
        ”This is a restricted area, how did…”
        ”Good, good, glad to hear it son. Allow me to introduce myself, name’s Roger, Roger Finbek. My card,” Roger quickly thrust his hand from his coat towards the uniformed man.
        The man in the uniform reacted instinctively, reaching for his side arm, but before he could get to it, Roger deftly placed the business card in the front pocket of the man’s uniform and grabbed his hand, giving it a hearty and cheerful hand shake.
        ”My my son, that’s quite a grip. Pleased, I say, pleased to make your acquaintance. Well like I was saying, name’s Roger Finbek, that Finbek with a K, the ol’ boys on the defensive line used to call me Roger Dodger,” Roger laughed, “heh, yep, but you can call me Roger, just plain Roger. Say now, with a grip like that, I bet you’ve seen a football feld or two in your day. Am I right? Well sure, a strong lad such as yourself, you must have been the pride of the team, yes-sir-re.” Roger gave the man a wink and nudged him with the tweed elbow of his jacket, “Pride of the team, and pride of the cheerleaders, am I right, he hehe.”
        The uniformed man finally regained his composure. “I said, this is a restricted are …”
        ”Now now son, you’ll have to forgive ol’ Roger, my hearing ain’t what it used to be. Be a gentleman and take off that helmet. My my, thats quite a contraption, all those hoses and wires, why you’d think you were going off to outer space or something with a get-up like that. You know my father had a rig just like that; brought it back from France after the war, ghastly business that. He used to…”
        The uniformed man gave in and removed his head piece and respirator. “I said, …”
        ”Ahh, Roger, Roger Finbek”
        ”Mr. Finb …”
        ”Just Roger son, Roger will do quite nicely, thank you.”
        ”Roger … this is a restricted area, I’m going to have to ask you …”
        ”You see, thats much better. Now as I was saying. I come to you today as a an official sales representative of the Worston Brothers United Manufacturing Company. Worsten Brothers is THE prime manufacturer and supplier of the worlds finest metal, plastic, ceramic, and composite materials manufacturing equipment and products since 1925. But I’m sure you are already familiar with our world renowned product line, isn’t that right?”
        ”… well I …”
        ”Of course you are. Well in any case, I am here today with fantastic news. Worsten Consumer Products, a fully owned and licensed subsidiary of the Worsten Brothers Manufacturing Company Holdings Limited, had decided to offer a fantastic opportunity to allow our loyal customer to purchase top quality Worsten Brothers merchandise directly from the company. Now this offer is only being extended to a select few individual customers, and I’m happy to report that this morning as we were checking the rolls …” Roger fumbled through the pages of his clipboard, “that umm … ahh, The Consortium of Affiliated Evil was right at the top of the list.”
        ”Look, this is a millitar … a factory, factory, you can’t just come up to the door. How did you even get here? This building is 45 miles from the main road?”
        ”Never mind that my lad …”
        ”Yes, but what about the guard at the gate? How did you …”
        ”Ahh, you must mean Mr. Williams and Mr. Harling. Two fine gentleman, yes-sir-re. Did you know Mr. William’s wife just had twins. From the pictures they look like 2 strong boys.”
        The uniformed man reached for his weapon again, and again Robert thrust out his own hand, this time passing the uniformed man a thick glossy catalog from his carrying case.
        ”Yes, you see, right here on page 22, SBS-2: Side-By-Side Twin Jogging Stroller. Boy you should have seen his face. Said he’s been looking for one all over town but, well, living out here in the middle of nowhere, no thats just not easy on a family man you know. But that’s where I come in my friend, your friendly neighborhood Worsten man. Say, you look like a family man to me Mr. … ahh … well now, how rude of me. I haven’t even learned your name yet. Page one line two of the sales manual my boy, right after the hearty handshake, right before the business card. So, to whom am I speaking this fine afternoon?”
        ”Umm,” the uniformed man cleared his throat and stood at attention, “Henchman Number 485-L.”
        ”No no no son, now Williams gave me that same line. I can’t be writing 425-whatever …”
        ”485-L”
        ”I can’t be writing that on my order forms, the boys back at the head office will laugh me out the door. Now you must have a name, everyones got a name.”
        ”Regulation A7-22b: All henchmen are assigned a personnel number, each henchmen will be addressed by their personnel number at all times. Henchmen are required to divest of all personal identifying articles and customs during duty hours …”
        ”Fine fine,” Roger laughed, “have it your way. For all I know the boys back at the office put you up to this. So Mr. 485-L, is there a Mrs. 485? Maybe some little lower-case L’s running around?”
        The uniformed man tried hard to maintain a professional composure, but Roger was not about to back down. He had dealt with far colder customers than this.
        ”Come now, I know you’ve got some pictures of that lovely wife and kids in one of those pockets. Tell ya what, I’ll go first.” Roger reached into his coat and pulled out a well worn leather wallet fat with pictures. The uniformed man by this time had given up on reaching for his gun, instead hoping Roger was about to shoot him, but when he saw the wallet his disappointment was evident. “Now I know what your thinking,” said Roger, “you were hoping to see kids, well so was I, but I tell you what, what I’m missing in children I more than make up for in cats.”
        ”This one here is Annabel, and the woman, that’s my first wife Sue. Annabel and Sue never did get along, though you wouldn’t know it from this picture, but just seconds after the shutter went off, BAM, POW, if Annabel didn’t take off like a shot. Knocked over Sue’s tea and 4 potted plants.”
        ”Ahh, and this one,” Roger laughed to himself, “that there is Simon, Spots, Newton, and the black one on the end is Katze, thats German for cat. That one is actually the little neighbor girl’s. She was studying German at the university.”

Milk Carton

        ”I know not my liege. He simply insisted that you must see him immediately.”

        ”But now page? It’s the middle of the night! That old wizard has been living as a hermit on the other side of the forest for 4 years, you would think that whatever it is could wait until the break of dawn.”

        The King slowly made his way down the dark corridor behind the page, careful to stay in the light of his lantern. On any other night, the King would have lead the way himself, holding the lantern before him and swinging it back and forth as he walked. He liked to pretend that he was Apollo, guiding the sun across the sky in his charriot, bringing light to every nook and cranny of the hallway as he passed. Knowing the King’s flair for the dramatic, the page was usually glad to indulge him, after all, he was the King, but the insistence with with the old wizard had sent him to fetch the King made the page uneasy, and he was determined to finish this errand as quickly as his King would allow.

        ”This way my liege, the stable has sent up your horse.”

        The King passed through the archway of the keep’s main gaits and walked up to his horse, giving it a gentle pat on the nose. The horse gave a snort, and shook his head.

        ”Well, at least I’m not the only one unhappy to be up at this ungodly hour. Page, let’s make haste, if I’m lucky I can be back in bed before morning.”

        ”You’ll get no argument from me sire. This way, the wizard has claimed the old stables as his laboratory, he has asked that you meet him there.”

        The King quickly mounted his horse and the two men were off into the night. As they approached the old stables, they could see a large column of smoke and steam rising from its roof, illuminated an odd orange and green color by the fires feeding it from below.

        ”Show yourself old man. I hope for your sake this is worth disturbing my dreams,” shouted the King.

        ”Ahh my friend, I was beginning to think you weren’t coming. Tell me, do you still dream of pies.”

        ”Aye, pies,” sighed the King.

        The old wizard laughed, “Well, we’ll see if we can get you some pie while we talk. Come in, come in.” The old wizard lead the two men into the stables. They passed tables and shelves filled with old books and papers covered in numerological scrawling. They came to a large box, about as tall as a man, and twice as wide, with a color so back that not even the shadows cast from the boiling fires could be seen on its surface.

        The page stared at the box as he had earlier when the wizard had called him to bring a message to the King. It had still been light then, but the box had been no more light than it was now. The page could see however the markings in the dirt around the box where it had moved this way and that a few inches or so.

        The page was a young man, no more than 12, and the way he looked at the box reminded the King of how he must had looked peering at the old wizards creations when he was that age. Even now, despite his experience in such things, the old wizard never failed to pique the Kings curiosity, though the King’s weathered face told more of the late hour than of his boyish interest in the box.

        

Ant – first try

        ”How could he do this to us!?” Warren thought to himself, “I can hear that back stabber in the meeting now, ‘Why sure, the more the merrier. What’s that, you need space for the ant colonies too, sure, we’ve got acres of space, we’ll just put them down in Nuclear Physics with Warren. Heh, he could use a few friends down there. Now, lets say you gentleman come with me in my effeminate little pill box of a car and well go piss away the rest of the department’s budget on cotton candy machine for the directors lounge.’”
        Warren was practically yelling now. He didn’t care, no one could here him down there in his office, no one but the ants.
        ”Oh, wait, not my office, oh ho ho ho no! What does the sign say my little pretties? ‘Radio-Nuclear Physics Laboratories – Director Warren S. PhD; Etymology Storage’,” Warren sighed, “at least they left my name at the top.”
        Warren placed his results clipboard on a large stack of results sitting precariously on the corner of his desk. The desk had once been surrounded by shelves of books and papers, but all of that had to be moved out to make space for the 4 large plastic aquariums of ants that now stood along one wall of the room. All of Warrens books and papers were strewn in untidy piles on his desk and chair, and scattered around the floor leaving only a narrow path from the door to the case of controls on the opposite wall. the office had never been spacious by any means, but Warren had little need for a large workspace.
        However, once the workmen installed the 4 large tanks, not to mention the crisscrossing network of clear plastic tubing connecting them to the ants in other storage rooms, there was scarily enough room for Warren to stretch his arms out. The tanks blocked the one wall outlet in the room, so now the only light left was the small stream that came in from the florescent lights at the end of the hallway. Warren couldn’t even sit at his desk and look over to monitor the control panel for the test equipment in the next room anymore, relegated instead to balancing sideways between the stacks of books and papers and the ant’s plastic tubing to see the readouts.
        Warren blew the arrant strands of his comb-over out of his face and sat down hard on the stack of thick teachers editions he had made his new make shift chair. He let out another sigh and continued grumbling. He reached up for the cup of coffee he had placed on to of the tank nearest his desk. Warren took a few sips and looked down at the cup with a sower expression, it was awful. “Perfect,” he thought, “you’d think if they were trying to kill me she could just get it over with rather than this slow torture. Yesterday it chicory, before that its orange zest, what the hell is this? It tastes like cheese!”
        Warren moved to set the coffee back on to of the tank, then thinking twice he quickly downed the rest of it and threw the cup at the tank in the far corner of the room. “Have some coffee you ingrates!”