For Filthy Lucre

The concept is to use the phrase “Glenn McGee” in a 50+ word paragraph in the attempt to make a buck or two. So I have to question, “Is it worth it?” Selling out, in the literal literary sense.  <a href=”https://mitpress.mit.edu/authors/glenn-mcgee”>Glenn McGee</a> The answer: “Philiosophy is grand, but beer ain’t free.” So, here’s to a new future were I throw random words into space and hope people give me money. Cheers.

 

https://dialecticofheresy.wordpress.com/

Advertisements

Your hemispheres turn me on

Been reading up on the “left brain vs right brain” situation. Which side controls what function, why left brained people are better at art while right brainers are better at math, which products to buy, how to manage your employees, etc etc.

Apparently, it’s bullshit. Commercialized, over-hyped fallacy. Certainly there are gleams of truth shining out of this turd-burger of pop psychology, but just because you see some lettuce on a shit sandwich doesn’t make it healthy.

Speaking of McDonald’s, I ordered a Big Mac the other night. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to be good, and was saddened to be proven right.

Was it my expectation? Did my mind manipulate my taste buds into percieving a delicious, all-beef patty smothered in special sauce into just a grease-laden amalgam of flavored goop and rotting vegetables?

Maybe.

At 3AM and with 10 beers in me, my brain is capable of amazing things. Drunk dialing the phone numbers of exs I have purposefully deleted from my phone. Manifesting long, ‘word-y’ ramblings on religion, politics, and the decline in English literature (I blame Harper Lee).

Wishing you all a happy random day in September,

#WindsorPotts

An apology

Some days, I have the faith of earth-moving magnitudes. I’m sure of the existence of miracles, magic, reincarnations, hope for humanity, and that my enormous student loans will soon be forgiven.

Then other days, I refuse to acknowledge there is anything supernatural in this world, that logic and reason have or will explain any phenomenon, and I should probably get on the phone with some kinda debt consolidation company about those student loans.

While I’m caught betwixt these vying tides of emtional upheaval and intellectual insecurity, I gleam a kernel of truth: at some point in this misma of indecision, I am absolutely insane.

Obviously, all humans are prone to flights of fancy, even the most sober minds dream. Of course, seriousness is necessary if one wishes to be a functioning adult. But I’m talking extremes here.

At one end of the spectrum, whether skeptic or mystic, there is a dire dose of madness.

*shrugs* Oh well. Obviously I can’t be trusted to distinguish the fault here, so moving on. New cup!

Towards the end of June, I had the notion to write a novel. CampNanoWrimo was upon us! I took a pile of novel ideas I’d been jotting on, mashed them through the sifter of my unbalanced mind, and by July 1st, I was 5,000 words ahead of the game.

By week two, I was up to 25,000 words, stalling and stretching for ideas, but still writing. Then the kittens died.

Born June 21st, Kira (Kirasawa) and Bro (Bronson) were the only two that survived in their litter. They were squirmy, blind, and a weird mix of pink flesh with patchy white fur. For three weeks, they were healthy, pesky, mewling little fiends.

Then I walked in to find Kira, cold and motionless on the bedroom floor. The next day, Bro’s health began to decline. By the end of the week, I held her in my arms as she screamed out in pain and then died.

Anemia. Caused by fleas.

Here’s the thing. I’m poor white trash. I don’t mean to be, but when it comes to money, well, I just don’t have much. We’d treated the mother for fleas, but too late. The house was infested and no amount of poisons or powders seemed to work. Treating Bro would have meant blood transfusions and, honestly, I barely make enough to pay my child support. In those last moments, I’d have given my last penny to ease her pain, but I’d hoped, foolishly, that she’d get better. I’d hoped that the color would return to her nose and mouth and she’d be biting my fingers like normal in no time. I’d hoped, and I’d been wrong.

I can’t work through my greif. I can work through a hangover. I can work through my own near fatal tooth infection. But I can not function when I grieve. I stopped the novel, stopped my short stories, couldn’t blog or Facebook.

And just over two silly little kittens. Maybe I’m crazy on more than one level.

*shrugs* Who knows?

Sorry to be gone so long. I’ll try to do more around here, tidy the place up a bit. I might even start proof-reading my post before publishing them! (But don’t get your hopes up).

The Ghost in the Machine

The crew has performed as expected. That’s what I was going to report during the weeks the Commander was gone. He wasn’t a man of many words, so I suspected the Company prefered brevity. I’d finish with: Nothing of special interest worth noting.

“Potts?”

I turned to see one of our two temp hands approaching. “Yes, Mr. Wright. How can I help you?”

Dressed in the same uniform as we all were, he was still distinguisable by his walk. Like he knew where he was going, what he was doing, and at any moment would start issuing orders. I found out besides being a published columnist, he’d also published some crap poetry a few years prior. I hated him immediately. Envy is a terrible vice, but since I don’t smoke, it’s a fair trade.

He went to salute, but stopped himself. “Uh, do I salute? I mean, I can salute if I’m supposed to, but I don’t know if I’m supposed to.”

I was actually frightened by people saluting, pledging, or passing out pamphlets. “Uhm, no. This is just a company job, after all, not the Navy.” I gazed to see if the others had seen the awkward near attempt of decorum. “Besides, we’re all equals here.”

“Yes, that’s what the Commander said. And I was to report anything strange to you.”

I nodded. “Well, the Commander knows best. And what’s your report? If it’s about the strange noise in the bathroom, I already know the source.”

“Really? What the blazes is that?”

“The Kid singing. He apparently does karaoke in his down time.”

“People let him do that in public?”

I shrug. “I assume they sell alcohol wherever he sings at.”

Wright nods. “Probably lots of it.”

I remind myself that I’m supposed to hate this prosaic poser and supress my smile. “If that solves your mystery then, Mr. Wright…”

He hesitated. “Actually, that wasn’t it. But that does clear some stuff up. Now I know why the Commander told me to keep an eye on him.”

I was confused. “Wait. The Commander told you to watch the Kid?”

“Well, he said to watch out for the ‘odd one’.”

“And you assumed he meant the Kid?” We both turned, looking at the Kid. He was standing with his feet shoulder width apart, knees bent, elbows in with his fist clenched, ready to strike. There was a wall in front of him. My curiousity got the better of me. “Oy! Kid! What are you doing?”

“Horse stance, Windsor. Working on finding my center.” He turned to speak and promptly fell over.

“Keep working at it.” I shook my head and turned to Wright. “Ok. I see why you would think him the ‘odd one’. But what about Robert? He doesn’t strike you as odd?”

It was his turn for confusion. “Robert? Really?” Considering a moment, he shrugged. “Well, he’s quiet and seems unimaginative even when he does talk, but I wouldn’t say he’s ‘odd’. Well, not odder than that.” He motioned towards the Kid who was standing on one leg, arms high in the air.

“Hey, Kid!” Once again, he toppled over. I covered my eyes and then continued once he regained his feet. “Why don’t you grass-hopper your ass over to the Machine and check the gauges, huh?”

As the Kid walked off, I couldn’t help but sigh as Wright smirked. He continued. “Honestly, I don’t know Robert very well, but he seems melancholy most of the time. Morose at his worst. I believe he has relationship troubles.”

I nodded. Ah, relationship troubles. How well I relate. Can’t fault a man for failing at love. “Well, I guess we all are troubled by our own burdens. Be that as it may, what was it you were wanting to report?”

His smile faded, setting his jaw firm. “Well, I know this is going to sound crazy, but I saw someone else here last night. Not one of us. Not one of the day crew either.”

I squinted, digesting what he said. “Explain, please.”

“The short version is this: at 4AM, I felt tired, sat down in my chair, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a child standing beside me.”

My goosebumps peaked. “A child. In here. What did he look like?”

He shook his head. “Can’t say for sure. Turned my head to look and it was gone. It was the size of a child, ten to twelve. It wore a bright yellow raincoat that came down to its knees. The hood covered the face but I could see long, dirty blond hair hanging down. Couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl, honestly. It was there, then it wasn’t.”

I wasn’t sure what to say. In this line of work, dealing with the Machine, you begin to assume most every nightmare and dream are a possibility. That’s why the company hires somber, sober men like the Commander and Robert. Writers like Wright and myself would be able to rationalize what we saw. The Kid, I have no idea why he was here. Regardless, we all knew what we knew might not always explain what we saw. “I believe you, Mr. Wright. I’m just not sure how I’m going to report this to the Commander and the Company.”

“Report what, Mr. Potts?” The Commander stood a few feet behind us, packing his pipe. “Just tell me and I may be able to save you the paperwork.”

Taking Charge (or Leading Blindly)

I arrived on shift early. Technically, I arrived on time, something I never did. It was early for me.

“You’re late.” The day shift’s leader had been expecting me at the Commander’s usual time, fifteen minutes before scheduled. “The machine’s running fine. New belts, fresh supply, and it seems to be in a good mood.” He walked away, leaving me to watch the machine, alone, until the night crew arrived.

“You’re blooded,” the Commander had said his last morning before vacation.

“Sir? Blooded?”

“Aye,” he’d been drawing a heavy breath on his pipe. “You’ve been injured while maintaining something on the machine before, yes? You’ve given the machine your blood.”

Recalling the times a wrench had slipped, busting a knuckle, or a gear pinched the palm of my hand, I nodded. “Yes sir. Reckon I’m skinned and blooded then.”

A puff of smoke and one of his rare smiles was his reply. “It’s had a taste of you. It knows you.”

“Wait. I’ve seen those Stephen King movies with machines eating people. I’d like to turn in my two week notices, dated last month.”

He chuckled. “Calm yourself, Potts. It’s a machine, not a monster. It tastes you but it doesn’t have an appetite. Think of it like a dog’s sense of smell. Or a blind person touching your face. Or a cat-”

“Raking it claws into your leg? Gouging out your eyes? Oooh, when you pet them and they latch into your hand? The machine sounds just like a cat, sir.”

He studied me a moment while inhaling on his pipe. “I take it you’re not a ‘cat person’, Potts?”

“I have twelve, sir. I hold them in equal disdain they hold for me. I feed them; they don’t kill me in my sleep. It’s our understanding, sir.”

Wide eyed and nodding, the Commander asked, “You truly are a man of unique perspective, Potts.” He waved a small cloud of smoke away. “Ignore the comparisons. Just know, the machine trust you. It may have blooded the Kid, but I’ve not seen it. The two men who’ll helping in the interim have little experience with the machine and its nature. Its quirk.”

“Its juvenile sense of humor?”

“Precisely. Potts, you’ll have to be the one to calm it. You’ll have to be in control if something goes wrong.”

I watched as he dumped the last of the ash from the bowl. I twisted my heel as I thought. “What if something goes wrong and I can’t control it?”

“The machine nor the men will know the difference. Fake it. For all your worth. That’s what I do.”

Distraction to the point of …

Why the comedy? To quote a fictional villain: “Why so serious?”

Comedy, to me, is a source of manipulation. I read someone, the moment, the weather, the ambiance of a room, and I tell a joke. It’s about control.

Why though? Why, in my mind, does laughter equal control?

Partly, it’s because I’m an attention whore. The other part of partly is in the deep seated psycho-babble that surmises thusly: “I just told you a lie and your laughter shows that you trust me.”

Demented? Absolutely. But I’ve never been reckoned as a most straight-forward logistician, so you’ll have to mind the mess of my mind’s mess.

Is there a point to this? Not really. I’ve just had a lot (bunches of bunches, oodles and boodles) on my noggin lately and one thing that has been pointed out to me is that I always “try to hard” to make people laugh.

Always.

Ever since I was small, I’ve joked and made goofy noises and said whatever I thought was funny outloud. That resulted in many spankings, fist fights, and at least one discussion of ‘things we don’t say in church.’

But what was most confusing was that I wasn’t trying. Not back then. I was just being funny, in my mind. I thought all the stuff I did and said was humorous, surely everyone else would think so too…..right?

Not so much. So, I made efforts to become funnier. To express my sick sense of twisted reality in such a way that others saw the world through my humor. Like Mormonism but without the annoying fucks on the bicycles.

Time has gone on (two and half decades since the “approved things to say at church” list was decreed by my parents) and I still have the same outside resistance. My dad still tells me “that shit just ain’t funny”. My ex-wife constantly cited me as “trying too hard”. Even my current girlfriend will level me with a “I don’t get it” on occasion.

But my efforts have not been in vain.

After all this time, I have a group of close knit friends whom I know will get a Monty Python reference, insist I tell a joke with an Irish accent, or reference some of our glorious highschool experiences involving a PA system.

So, the control is for me. The humor helps me mediate a world full of bland, inane ninnies with the absurdly, insane ramifications of reality. Plus, bestiality jokes always need a place in peoples’ minds.

So…

Why so serious?

Catching Up

“For fuck’s sake, Kid, put your eyes back in your head.” Bug-eyed, The Kid stared at, mouth gaping. I nudged his jaw with a finger. “And close that before something moves in and builds a nest.”

Snapping his mouth closed, he waved his arms, like a distressed, bespectacled crane. He was too excited or irritated to say much. “For the love of balls, Windsor. It’s been a week! Where have you been? What have you been doing? I thought you quit or died or got fired or died or went on a binge or died.” Maybe he wasn’t as speechless as I thought.

I grabbed his arms, restraining them to his side. “Ok. Firstly, ‘for the love of balls’? Are you trying to tell me something? Secondly, I’m not dead. You keep saying I died. Why would you think I died?”

After he was released, he fidgetted with his uniform, tugging on his sleeves, repositioning his glasses. “Well, honestly, you drink alot, so it is a strong posibility that you died. In two weeks, you couldn’t have sent word you were alive?”

“I did.” I nodded to the man standing at the far end of the machine. “The Commander knew. Why didn’t you ask him?”

His grin showed his discomfort at the thought of approaching the Commander. “Ha. Well. I mean, it was only three weeks. If it were important, he’d have let me know, right?” He looked down at his feet. “Things weren’t the same while you were gone.”

If he hugs me, I’m going to punch. Just so that he understood how I felt, I was very tactful discussing my feelings. “If you hug me, I’m going to punch you.”

“It’s good to see you, Windsor.” Before he could wrap his arms around me, I dodged aside, landing a heavy fist into his shoulder. “Ow! You’re gone a month, and as soon as you get back, you slug me.” He rubbed his shoulder, his pride more injured than his arm. “Some kind of friend you are.”

“We’re not friends. We’re co-workers. Kid, we’ve had this talk-”

“Gentlemen, you are aware of the Company’s policy on horseplay, rough-housing, and violence. Please refrain.” The Commander had silently taken place between The Kid and I, both of us oblivious to his movements. “Kid,” he nodded toward the machine, “watch over it while I have a word aside with Mr. Potts.”

“Aye, sir.” Playfulness gone, The Kid took the Commander’s post, diligently watching the machine work.

The Commander stepped away, and I needed no order to follow, dropping into step behind him. A section of our building, used for storing supplies, offered some insulation from the machine’s hissing, whirring, and spitting. The Commander drew a pipe out of his pocket, applied a lighter to the bowl, drawing in quick succession as the tobbacco lit to a cherry. He exhaled a small cloud and then nodded, regarding me. “You look well. You feel well?”

“Well enough, sir.”

He nodded, puffing another small nimbus into the air above us. “I’m not a doctor, nor do I pretend to be. However, I have studied medicine for several years and I know there are pains even the strongest medicines can’t curb. If you feel you are well enough to work, we’re glad to have you back.”
It was my turn to nod. “Thank you, sir.” We paused for a moment, silence and smoke filling the space between us. “So,” I asked, “how were things while I was out?”

He shrugged, non-chalantly. “Twas only a few days. Nothing major happened during the nights. The day crew had to replace a few bearings, a thermal coupling, and a cooling unit, but it was no alarms. The Company sent a Fixer; the machine was barely down a full shift.”

“That’s good.” Again, silence, smoke.

“I’m looking to take some time off myself, Potts. Soon.”

I nodded. “Congratulations, sir. Going on a vacation?”

He huffed through a mouth full of smoke. “Ha. Not likely. I haven’t had a holiday in quite some time. I believe I shall simply rest. However, I make mention of this because there will be no one to supervise the night shift while I’m gone.”

Calculating where the conversation may be headed, I made a comment. “I believe The Kid is the more senior of us two, sir.”

While relighting his pipe, he agreed. “Indeed. He even has seniority over me. However-” We both peek around the corner to see The Kid mimic playing a guitar while his off-key vocals punished lyric strains of Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’. “Well, as you can see, The Kid is better suited in a more functional job. Less of a supervisor, I dare say.”

“Surely, sir, you’re not suggesting I supervise in your abscence?”

Horrified, he nearly dropped the pipe from his mouth. “Oh gods, no.”

I sighed. “Thank the sweet Lord Cthullu!”

Having fully recovered his composure, he puffed on the pipe again. “No, Mr. Potts, the position of supervisor is to remain open in my abscence. You’re job is to insure that everyone understands that.”

“Sir? I, uh, I don’t quite follow.”

“Well, ypur reaction confirmed much of what I believed about your views of leadership. You respect authority but desire none yourself. I’m sure psychology has a tern for that, but let’s move forward. More than desiring yourself not to be in authority, you desire someone you gauge to be worthy to be in such a position. This isn’t a reflection of myself; I am not the focus here. Your duties are.”

“What are my duties then? Uh, sir.”

“The Company has relayed the order that in my abscence, you Mr. Potts are to continue doing your job.”

I waited. “That’s it.”

I’d never seen the Commander smile, but I reckon the half-grin he shot me was as close as I’d ever see. “Aye, that’s it.” He pulled a note from his pocket, unfolding as he spoke. “And here are the duties assigned to you.”

I read through the list, noting my normal duties, and then the new ones. “Wait. This. This is some kind of enforcer job. What’s this about corporal punishment? You think I’ll need to, like, flog The Kid?”

We both peered around the corner where The Kid had moved into an elaborate, choreographed set of dance moves. “No,” the Commander noted. “Not unless he continues doing that.”

I whistled sharply, then yelled at him. “Oy! The ballet might be hiring, but audition later.”

The Commander and I shook our heads in unison. He tapped the ash out, returning the pipe to a coat pocket. “We had a couple of blokes working in your abscences.”

“One of ’em a writer?”

“Aye. Name’s Wright. A poet, by his merit.”

I winced. “A poet? Oh, just shoot me now. What am I gonna do with a poet? They don’t even know how to write in a regular column; can’t expect them to think in a straight line.”

“He’s published some non-fiction. Some articles, I believe he said. Besides, he won’t be your problem. It’ll be the other. He worries me.”

Never knowing the Commander to worry, I pressed him for more. “What do I need to know?”

“Don’t know his right name for certain, but he answers to Robert. He won’t say anything; he’s a solid worker. But-” He hesitated, looking around for anyone nearby, even though we both knew we were alone. “I’ll say this plain, Potts. He’s not to be trusted. He’s got a way about him, puts me in mind of a tiger. Not hungry but still ready to pounce. It’s in his eyes. Lethal, he is.”

“Right.” I wasn’t afraid but I sure as hell wasn’t calm.

Nodding towards the machine’s direction, the Commander made to go. “I’m going back to my post. Just be sure while I’m gone you keep an eye out for our prima ballerina? Good lad.”

“Aye, sir.” A smile and a joke. He needs a vacation for sure.