Chapter 9

Phil was tired of the “automated menu runaround”. He waited for a “live” person to finally pick up the phone.

"Hello, this is Leanne, thank you for calling Rent-A-Pus. How may I help you today?

"Hi, Leanne. My name is Phil. I just received my octopus in the mail today and I am having problems with it."

"Well, I am very sorry for that, Phil. We here at Rent-A-Pus aim to fill all your temporary mollusk needs. Anything less than 100% satisfaction is UNSATISFACTORY. Let’s see if we can help you. What exactly is the problem?"

"Well, the octopus I received is not actually an octopus at all. It’s a squid."

"I am sorry for that, sir. Are you sure it’s a squid? I mean the two are easily mistaken for one another."

"Are you saying that I do not know an octopus from a squid, Leanne?"

"Of course not, sir. I apologize. Perhaps you would like to hold on to the squid for a few days and see if it meets your needs. It’s one of our most popular models."

"I’m sure it is, Leanne. But what I really need—and ordered—is an octopus. So, if you can’t ship me the octopus, I guess I will have to cancel my order altogether. And I must add, the Mrs. and the kids will be sorely disappointed. They were really looking forward to having an octopus. Now all they have is a squid."

"Of course, sir. Can’t disappoint the family like that. And so close to the holidays, too. Can I put you on hold for a minute?"

"Sure, I’ll hold."

[Hideous Xmas music piped in]

"Phil, I’m sorry to say that we are completely out of stock of octopuses. Christmas rush, you know. But we here at Rent-A-Pus want you to KEEP the squid as our gift. Once again, our sincerest apologies."

"Jeez, Leanne. I just don’t know what we’re going to do with a squid we don’t want. And now I still have to find an octopus or little Sammy will be heartbroken."

"Once again, sir, we are truly sorry. Just one more thing. You might get a follow up call asking you to rate our service. We sure hope that you won’t let this little mishap lead to us getting anything less than a perfect score."

"I can’t lie, Leanne. Mollusk substitution is pretty serious."

"I understand, Phil. Well, thank you for using our service, anyway. Is there anything else I can get you? An oyster or nautilus perhaps?"

"Hey, do you carry any sea cucumbers?"

"No sir, we do not."

"You guys should really get out of the business, Leanne."

"Doubtful, sir. It’s not like we have a lot of competition."

Chapter 8

"Thanks for the lift", Jerry remarked as he closed the passenger door.

"No problem. Where you headin’?"

"As far as you can take me", Jerry replied. I’m a drifter, you know. The road’s my home."

"I see", said the driver. "So, how did you ever come to this—"

"You can stop here!", interjected Jerry.

"Are you kidding? We’ve only driven about 50 feet."

"Don’t want to go too far" Jerry said. "My wife’s expecting me back by 5."

"So…uh…drifting’s only a—"

"Hobby. That’s right", Jerry said.

"You sure you don’t want a ride back?" asked the driver.

"Nope. You’ve done more than enough. Being an amateur drifter means never staying in one place too long. Never setting down roots or making close friendships. It gets too hard to say ‘goodbye’", explained Jerry as he got back out of the car.

"But what will become of you?" asked the driver.

"Who’s to say?"

"I’ll miss you, amateur drifter."

"Don’t—", Jerry interjected again.

The driver watched in the rear-view mirror as Jerry disappeared back into the colonial split-level from whence he came. A strange tinge of regret came over him as he started up the car and turned the corner. But then he realized that was from the Bean Burrito Grande he had for lunch.

Chapter 7

A Special Thanksgiving.

Kip loved this holiday most of all. The warmth of the fire burning in the living room. The excitement of the fire department bursting into the house to put out the fire. That’s right. Kip’s family didn’t have a fireplace. They didn’t have a lot of luxuries, but they did have one thing. Diphtheria. That’s right. Kip’s family had something that few other families would ever dream of having. And for that they were thankful.

This previous day in school, Kip’s teacher was talking about the first Thanksgiving, which may or may not have taken place in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1978. That was when the Amish invited their Jewish friends over for a feast. But alas, the feast was not kosher and so the Jews slew the Amish and fed upon their remains until Hanukkah. Or so Kip recalled.

Kip had attention problems. It was well documented in his school files.

But his favorite part of Thanksgiving was the meal. The way his mother’s cranberry sauce resembled the can it came in. Because his mother neglected to take it out of the can first.

Kip’s mother had drinking problems. It was well documented in the order of protection.

Chapter 6

"Bill?"

"Yeah, Bob."

"Penny for your thoughts."

"Serious, Bob?"

"Sure."

"Well, Bob, I have to admit I am a little concerned about the future."

"Of course you are. What with the instability in the Middle East and the impending Fiscal Cliff."

"No, I mean the fact that I was removed by net from my habitat a day ago and am now lying on ice. I get the sneaking suspicion that the end is near."

"Oh, THAT. Really, Bill. You worry over the silliest things. Look at those guys to your left. They’re not worried. Are you, guys?"

[Guys in unison] “NOPE! WE LOVE IT HERE!”

"See, Bill?"

"I guess you’re right, Bob. Hey…where’s that guy going in the waxed paper?"

"I think he’s been accepted to the Relocation Program. So, Bill, how ‘bout that Fiscal Cliff, scary huh?"

"Yeah. Scary."

Chapter 6

"Bill?"

"Yeah, Bob."

"Penny for your thoughts."

"Serious, Bob?"

"Sure."

"Well, Bob, I have to admit I am a little concerned about the future."

"Of course you are. What with the instability in the Middle East and the impending Fiscal Cliff."

"No, I mean the fact that I was removed by net from my habitat a day ago and am now lying on ice. I get the sneaking suspicion that the end is near."

"Oh, THAT. Really, Bill. You worry over the silliest things. Look at those guys to your left. They’re not worried. Are you, guys?"

[Guys in unison] “NOPE! WE LOVE IT HERE!”

"See, Bill?"

"I guess you’re right, Bob. Hey…where’s that guy going in the waxed paper?"

"I think he’s been accepted to the Relocation Program. So, Bill, how ‘bout that Fiscal Cliff, scary huh?"

"Yeah. Scary."

Chapter 5

She sits in the career counselor’s office.

"So I see here that you are hoping to join the…do I have this right? The "Fiah" Department?" the counselor asked.

"Yes" she replied.

"And where did you hear about this line of work?"

"I get all of my best life advice from Top 40 radio." she said.

"Of course" the counselor stated, trying his best to remain supportive. "Have you ever thought of perhaps joining the [ahem] FIRE department instead?"

"Oh no" she countered. "That sounds way too dangerous."

Chapter 4

Quinn strode into the real estate office.

“Can I help you?” asked the agent.

“Why yes” relied Quinn. I am looking for a new residence.”

“Co-op, condo, house, apart—?”

“Condo.” Quinn interjected.

“Excellent! I have some lovely condos in downtown—”

“Oh no. I know exactly which residence I like. In fact, I’m even ready to put down the first month’s maintenance fee.”

“Very good. And where exactly are you hoping to live?”

“The International Space Station.” replied Quinn.

“Well…uh…sir, there’s no possible way you can live in the International Space Station.”

“Oh, dear. All the units taken?”

“Well, yes. I mean, no. I mean, I’m not sure. What I’m trying to say is that the International Space Station is strictly for astronauts.”

“Restricted, eh? What are you, some kind of racist? Look, there are laws protecting people like me from that kind of discrimination.”

“Yes, sir. Laws. But before I refer you to another agent (aside: or even to a good psychiatrist) , what exactly drew you to the space station in the first place?”

“My allergies.” stated Quinn. “I am very allergic to pollen—terrible hayfever. And in all the pictures I have seen, there seem to be very few trees and little grass around there.”

“Very true. Let me ask, do you like it quiet?”

“The quieter, the better.” answered Quinn.

“And gravity?”

“Not a big fan. Things are beginning to sag as it is. Don’t need to speed it up.”

“‘Not…a…big…fan’” stated the agent, pretending to take notes but actually looking to get Quinn out of the office as soon as possible before he scared off more mentally stable, prospective clients. 

“Current residence?” asked the agent. “In case I need to mail you any space station-related brochures or prospectuses.”

“American Museum of Natural History” Quinn responded. “It’s on West Eighty-Sixth Street and—”

“No need. I’m familiar with the place.”

Chapter 3

Elias found the DVD peddler at his usual spot on the corner.

"Excuse me…" Elias stammered while the peddler rooted through his gym bag of discs. "EXCUSE ME!"

"Can I help you, buddy?"

"Um…yes. I uh bought this movie from you yesterday."

"Oh sure, pal. Of course I remember you [eye roll]. So what’s the problem?"

"Well, I’m not so sure that it is a legitimate director’s edition of Argo.”

"Sure it is." the peddler replied, holding up the DVD case. "See, it says so right her."

"Uh…be that as it may. About 13 minutes into the film, I can clearly make out someone walking in front of the screen."

"Yeah, well that’s the director.” the peddler snapped back.

"Well, I suppose. But what about the murmuring I hear throughout?" Elias asked.

"Never heard of Celebrity Commentary? I’m surprised. A discerning movie-viewer such as yourself…"

"But they’re talking about where to go for dinner"

"Hey, even celebrities have to eat. Particularly after a full day of commentary."

"Probably right. But…uh…perhaps the most troublesome thing is that…uh…6 minutes before the apparent end of the movie, it suddenly cuts to…a…[whispers] an adult movie. Clearly in…uh…progress."

"BONUS FEATURES! Say, how much did I charge you for this?"

"Five dollars." stated Elias.

"Well, then you clearly put one over on me. Now get outta here before I call the cops.”

"Yes, sir." Elias stammered. "And thank you for not involving the authorities."

"Don’t mention it, buddy. And hey, maybe you should consider keeping your nose on the right side of the law."

"I’ll try." said Elias. "Apparently, I have issues."

Chapter 2

Bill brought his “laundry” to the Wash-o-Mat. I say “laundry” because these weren’t Bill’s dirty clothes. Nope, they were just some old sheets and dropcloths. Props. Bill was here to pick up women.

Bill’s routine was simple. He would strike up a conversation with someone as he began loading the washer. First, he would throw in the aforementioned props. Then, without breaking stride in his patter, he would start undressing in order to toss in all the clothes he was wearing at the time.

Then, after the arrest, he would hope to meet a female public defender.

"This is a lot of effort" he thought to himself. "But then again, it’s all for love."

Chapter 1

Evan sparkled like no vampire ever had the right to sparkle.

"I am looking particularly fabulous tonight" said Evan to the emptiness that stared back at him in the mirror. "But I think I missed a spot shaving."

"Oh Evan," cooed Miranda who was taking in all his glittery sparkleosity, "will our love endure for all time or perhaps even longer?"

"LOL" replied Evan. "Ours is but a fleeting hookup. You have already begun to lose your youth, while I sparkle still."

"But Evan, we only met last night at the Young Republicans Mixer."

"I’m sorry, but did you say something, old lady?"

"But Evan—"

"Look, Miranda. It’s nothing personal. But a vampire’s gotta vamp. Wherever I hang my hat is my casket, and so on. Be well, my little…wrinkled…prune."

And then Evan was gone. Leaving nothing but hurt feelings and a trail of glitter not unlike the slimy trail left behind by the common garden slug. Albeit one with six-pack abs.

"Goodbye forever, Evan" lamented Miranda as she slowly turned around and updated her Facebook page with vicious rumors about Evan’s sexual orientation, endurance and opinions about the role of big government in the lives of private citizens.

"Goodbye…"