Drop 173: Review

curtains

‘So, what did you think, Sam?’

‘Honestly?’

‘What do you mean honestly? Of course.’

‘OK,’ Sam said, lighting a cigarette and squinting. ‘Then I’ll tell you: I hated it. I really hated it. It was just plain awful. What the hell kind of directing was that? No skill in it, no flow, no intuition for pace. No knack at all for the simple art of story telling. What was he trying to do? I mean, sure, put your stamp on a famous work, by all means, but this guy’s artistic license was off the charts. The plot was all over the place, and none of the characters were believable, though maybe the fault there lay more with the actors — god, don’t get me started on the actors! Every last one, clueless. Not one bright spot among them. No one understood the conflicts inherent in the characters, and the two leads showed none of the ambiguity that drives the story’s critical undercurrent. It was sad. Just sad. All of it. The sets were lame – not period appropriate at all; in fact, the production value overall was appalling, the effects idiotic. Admit it, the horses looked more like overgrown rats! And what were those brown hanging blankets supposed to be?’

‘Wow, that’s harsh.’

‘Well, you asked for the truth,’ Sam said, looking away from Mary as if something had caught his eye on the other side of the street, then snapping his head back to face her, ‘and this is it: every last person involved in that atrocity should be taken out back and shot. I’m upset I had to sit through it. Outraged. Honestly, I’d rather have eaten a bad oyster on my wedding day, got dengue fever in rural Gabon, sawn off part of my pinkie, or lost my only set of house keys during a blizzard in Minsk.’

‘Man! You felt that strongly about a 4th grade play?’

‘Oh Christ, Mary. You fucking asked. You know, just cause your kid is nine, doesn’t mean she can’t wear a ball gown with a soupçon of panache.’

By E.M. Vireo

Drop #168: Crumbs

cappuccinoJohn is having lunch with Sandra. ‘You have some crumbs on your shoulder,’ she says, pointing, then staring at them till he brushes them off.

Two minutes later she stops mid sentence to tell him he has something in his teeth. ‘What is that, basil? Here, I have a toothpick.’ He accepts it, removes the culprit, then returns his attention to her so she can finish her story.

A few minutes later she interrupts him to ask what that stuff is in his hair. ‘Those pesky crumbs again. How did you manage that?’ She leans in and picks them out, one by one. ‘There. All better.’

Sandra goes to the bathroom to pee. When she comes out of the stall, a woman putting on makeup looks up at her reflection.

‘Woah!’ the woman says. ‘Bull’s-eye.’

‘What?’ Sandra says, then checks the mirror. She immediately sees it: a massive bird poop above her right ear at the hairline, blobbed thick and wide in white and greenish brown, seeping a full inch down her face in three gooey strands. ‘Oh my God!’ she says, grabbing at the paper towel.

Back in the dining room the cappuccinos have come, each served with two biscotti. John eats his and quickly helps himself to Sandra’s before she gets back. He gobbles them up, spilling crumbs down his face and onto his lap. His first sip leaves a foam mustache on his lip, and the cutest smudge of powdered chocolate on the tip of his nose.

By EM Vireo

Drop 161: Haircut

scissorsJim was at the bar, talking to some guy.

“Hey, Jim,’ I said, interrupting them. ‘Nice new haircut you got there.’

‘Thanks.’

‘Thanks!’ I mocked, stepping left and right to view his whole head. ‘You can’t think I’m being serious? Looks like the rats have been nibbling at that skull of yours.’

‘Oh.’

‘What, you going to one of those blind hairdressers now?’

‘No.’

‘Oh yeah, I remember, you have some fancy new guy conveniently coming to your place.’

‘Actually–’

‘Honestly, buddy, he should pay you for the chance to butcher your head like that! Just a terrible cut. I’d go as far as calling it an abomination. Anyway, buy you a drink, drown your sorrows. Buy one for your pal here too.’ I stick out my hand to introduce myself.

‘Oh sorry, where are my manners?’ Jim says. ‘This is Serge. My barber.’

By E.M. Vireo

Drop #135: Confrontation

I came home late. My roommate, Pete, usually hit the sack early but I heard loud talking coming from the back of the flat as soon as I stepped inside. It sounded angry too: ‘Get out. Please. Just get out!’

I locked up softly and took off my coat. ‘Damn you, bastard. Damn you to hell!’ Pete now screamed.

Was he OK? I’d only moved in a month back and knew little about him or his acquaintances.

I took a few steps towards the ruckus, listening. There was a bang, as if something was being thrust against the wall. Jesus, what the hell was going on? I grabbed a golf club from the nearby closet and tried to compose myself. I’m small and weak and I’ve never been good with confrontation. I’d certainly never had to deal with violence. A few more tentative steps and more shouting: ‘You’re hurting me! Seriously, I want you out now!’

I’ll admit I was scared. I went closer but wasn’t sure what to do.

There was an eerie silence now. No shouting. No banging. I stood with my weapon in the dark corridor for a minute, procrastinating, soaking in the growing fear.

Then the toilet flushed, the faucet ran for a few seconds, and Pete came out of the bathroom whistling. ‘Oh, hi buddy. When d’you get back?

‘Just a couple of minutes ago.’

‘Man, hope you didn’t need the John. I wouldn’t go in there for a while. Quite a battle, if you know what I mean. Not pretty at all.’ He grinned. ‘Hey, what’s with the golf club?’

By EM Vireo

Drop 120: My Week

poop cabinMonday was quiet. I made a sneezer salad for lunch – you know, I always aim to sneeze. I went for a drink and had an argument with a friend. I said it was possible for the best driver in the world to have an accident. He said it wasn’t. Neither could win; it was like playing solitaire with an incomplete deck. I walked home. On the way, I slipped down a hill: just one of the unpleasant slide effects of shoes with poor souls.

On Tuesday, I saw an ex girlfriend in the supermarket fondling cabbage. That sentence could be read two ways, so to be clear: she was the one fondling the cabbage. I don’t do that sort of thing, sticking with nobler produce to fiddle with and finger. We went to a super special place with donuts and hung out for a while. We were into each other but we couldn’t have sex since she had a least infection. I didn’t get why it was a big deal. I figured it was a minor thing at most.

On Wednesday I got a radical new haircut and no one noticed – weird that people aren’t closely following my hairstyles. That evening, angry about my anonymity, I bought an intravenous flytrap, stuck it in my arm and sat back on my footstool to ride out the buzz. Sobering up, I spent a while online. Lots of spam. The most impressive subject line: Robotic Surgery Lawsuit. Have you or anyone you know ever had it? Cause we can help you sue, if you have. Interesting, though I find the simple, direct emails like Slutfinder, and Localshag have a certain succinct charm that can’t be beat.

not lupusThursday was a bad day. I hid under the covers all morning, worrying about the blood in my phlegm till I remembered I’d had beetroot juice for breakfast. I went out to clear my bed. ‘You can get it cheaper in Australia,’ I heard, passing two people on the sidewalk. I wondered what it might be. I ate dinner alone in a new restaurant. Sign read: Proudly serving whole brain breads! I passed, opting for the pasta, then listened to the conversations scurrying about around me: ‘I’ve had mantis shrimp maybe a dozen times, but I’ve never had the opportunity to eat a pregnant female.’

Friday, I got a high paying job as the CEO of a large chain of command. Coming back from the interview I went to the station to take the train but it seemed to never come. I read through the paper while I waited. A captivating headline on page C5: One in four Flemish Belgians thinks their partner stinks. I waited an hour until a nice lady with big biceps came over and said: ‘You do know this is a tranny station, don’t you?’ I took a cab.

Saturday, I stopped by a friend to check my email cause my service has been disgruntled for over a day. ‘Go right ahead,’ he said. ‘Laptop’s in the kitchen.’ I didn’t want to stay in there long. He has bread bugs, and he’s got them bad. He’d left a Google page up with an open search for ‘vagina in Latvian.’ I didn’t ask, opening a new window. She’d sent me an email. She was staying at a nearby hotel. ‘I just got back, she wrote. ‘Call me in my womb.’ So I did and went over. Warm in there. Her problem had cleared up so we got sexy. Later she admitted that she’d thought about work the entire time. Well, for a short while she’d also thought about them cloning a woolly mammoth soon. That was when she’d shouted ‘YES! YES! YES! That’s so fucking awesome!’

Sunday I just wanted to chill and watch movies. Mongolian Death Worm, Fragrant Night Vampire, and Robot Geisha were my choices on cable, so I immediately ordered toilet pay per view – a messy channel – but it’s always done the job. In the afternoon, I baked a cake. Unfortunately I misread the recipe and used Yeats, instead of yeast to make it rise. It was a wonderfully poetic, articulate cake, an epic cake, but in the end, it was hard to digest.

By EM Vireo

Drop 119: Cup of Tea

I go to make a cup of tea. When I’m about to switch on the kettle, I see the power strip it feeds off is busted. Piece of the plastic’s broken off the plug, exposing wire. Unsafe. Needs replacement. I can fix it myself so I pop out to the hardware store, get a new plug head, buy a new 4 socket strip too, since the house needs it. I get the toolbox out. It’s a mess. Repacking it I realize the thin screwdriver’s missing. Could use a different one but I look around. Find it in the cutlery drawer. Drab brown rusty thing. I get to work. Free the wires, brown, green and blue from the old head and replace them in the new. Screw the pieces back together, good to go. But I figure I should use the new 4 plug board instead. Would be nice to have the toaster, juicer, microwave and kettle plugged in at once. Have to move the heavy fridge to make the switch. Socket’s behind it. Plenty of dirt under it too, which I pick, sweep, and mop up. Give the old icebox a good rub down too while I’m at it. Interior too, going through the jars and tubes to toss the expired ones. I rearrange the rest. Fridge back in place, the new strip’s an eyesore. Nowhere to rest easy. Too long to fit on the counter like the old one. It won’t do. Back to the hardware store for supplies. I get a new thin screwdriver too. Nice red and black one. Spend some time mounting the extension block on the wall, running its cable neatly behind the fridge, along the bottom of the cupboard with ties so it looks neat. Good. Job done. Of course, now I have the old 3-way adapter to play with. I know just where I could use it, but I have to move the couch and lamp, and hang the three large photos elsewhere. The wall is concrete and I need to drill new holes. Perfect, but it makes the TV console seem too tall. I try it against two other walls before I move it to another room. I quickly pop out to by a longer, lower one, which i build in a jiffy. The TV looks great on it but makes the speakers look odd. I replace them with the smaller ones from the bedroom, which takes some rewiring. I need to drill two small tunnels clear through the wall near the door frame to feed them in. Just a small spackle and paint job and voila, done.

I go to the kitchen and switch on the kettle. And that’s how you make a cup of tea.

By E.M. Vireo

Drop #114: Cool Friends

‘Hey there, neighbor.’

‘Hi. Say, I noticed you had friends over for dinner last night.’

‘That’s right.’

‘So why did you invite me to dinner on Saturday and then cancel, and not invite me again last night? That’s kind of rude, don’t you think?’

‘Well, yesterday I wasn’t hanging out with my cool friends; I was hanging out with my boring friends, and I’d tentatively put you in the cool category, so I figured you wouldn’t have mixed. The friends that canceled on Saturday were also in the cool category so next time I have them, or other cool people over, I’ll invite you too.’

‘Oh.’

‘Unless you think you belong in the uncool category. I could always move you over. I was a bit hasty with your placement and might have got it wrong. Happens sometimes. Not much evidence to go on really. More of a hunch.’

‘No, no, that’s okay.’

‘Are you sure? An honest mistake, perhaps. No harm, no foul. I’m having some rather boring people for dinner on Wednesday. A sweet couple. Really nice folk. Both vegans with matching gluten allergies. He’s a tax attorney and she’s a paralegal secretary. They’ll bring their one-year-old twins, Luther and Timotei. We’ll probably have a hearty discussion about third world inflation or mortgage rate projections before playing Trivial Pursuit, though Sandra has a rare blood disease and bad asthma and often feels too tired to finish the game. Let me know if you’re interested. There’s definitely room for one more, though I should warn you, it might be hard for you to get back into the cool crowd once transposed. There have only ever been two switchovers, and they were both from cool to uncool, like you might be doing and not the other way round. Some of the cool crowd is coming over on Friday – about six of them, though that number could balloon. We’ll have pasta or something, probably smoke a chillum or two, listen to music, watch a movie, maybe go for a drink. Rodrigo sometimes pulls out the guitar and gives us a live show—he’s a wizard with the whammy bar.  He’s in a punk band that just signed to a pretty major label and he’s bringing two of his girlfriends. The other guy, a friend I know from high school is a licensed shaman and grows his own peyote. The other two are a couple of skinny polyamorous tattoo artists who split time between New York and Austin. Really funny chicks. They can never keep their hands off each other, even in public – off all the rest of us too, now that I think of it. We usually end up having a pretty wild time.’

‘Yeah. I think I’ll wait for that.’

‘You sure? As I said, it’s not too late to join on Wednesday. I can buy another couple of heads of lettuce, and you can help keep an eye on the babies when Don plays his usual hour of Chopin scherzos on the piano, though you shouldn’t touch them because of the skin rash, of course.’

‘No, really. I’ll wait. Thanks.’

‘Sure? It’s really no bother to scoot you over, hardly any logistics to it at all.’

‘Absolutely. I’ll wait for Friday.’

‘Suit yourself. We’ll start around nine. Oh, and let me know if we disturb you Wednesday night, though I doubt it. It’s usually a quiet affair.’

‘Okay. No problem.’

‘Great, by the way, I love those shoes.’

‘Thanks, neighbor.’

By E.M. Vireo

Drop #106: Moth

MothThey were young and in love – the type of fresh, true love that makes wall paper peel down castle walls in sticky, messy ribbons – but it was war-time (someone wanted to appropriate someone else’s means of exploitation, to strip bare land just stolen from a different someone) so the fellow, call him Theobald, was sent to a distant land full of swamps and strange foods that smelled of armpits and leather, to offer his brawn, mediocre intelligence, dedication and if it came to that, his young life. (He was barely old enough to have grown his first mustache, which he proudly bore and trapped morsels of cheese in.)

After some time in the field, in which Theobald lost a toe to infection and an earlobe to the wayward swipe of a countryman’s saber, and during which he watched many of his friends die gruesome and peculiar deaths, several others twist ankles, some badly, and still others become crippled with terrible haircuts, his troop joined with the ninth battalion, a hairy, smelly bunch, and fortified a stronghold on a cliff near a pretty little peach tree with the most delicate branches and intricate silk-like leaves, that caught the afternoon sun to show off a potpourri of colors and textures so varied and lovely, the sky looked dull and silly beside it.

Here, the courageous men awaited reinforcements, playing cards, singing songs out of tune, and dabbling in buggery, and here, at last, Theobald (or Theo BO, as he was sometimes called) finally had a chance to write to his beloved (call her Beatrice) and state his undying love anew:

Beatrice, my dove,

The ugliness of war has done nothing to douse my love for the world’s one true beauty: thee. I think only of a return to your delicate arms to plant endless kisses upon your visage. I do not know how long this hell will endure, and when I will be set free, but perhaps you can come to me instead, in not too long. We will soon depart for Cottonsmere, not two days travel from our cherished abode. It will take us some time to march there, so I ask you to wait for a month, and then set out to meet me. We can spend the day together before my troop pushes on towards the coast.

I cannot wait to nestle my fellow in your bosom once more, my sweet, pillowy darling!

Yours, ever in love,

Theobald Nungus III

He sent it with a carriage at dawn and thought of nothing else as they took off once more, marching miles in ill-fitting shoes, and the days dripped slowly by.

Theobald worried that the letter had not reach his beloved, but it most certainly had. Unfortunately, he was unaware of the tragic typo he had made when he wrote it. He had written moth, instead of month, and so, ever since the letter had arrived and filled her heart with the most luxurious glee, Beatrice, who’s astuteness was inversely proportional to her ample bosom, had been waiting night and day for a moth to appear.

She anticipated their reunion with great excitement, looking oh so forward to snuggling with and caressing her love again, and particularly, to feeling his soldier a rap-tap-tapping deep inside her belly once more. Without pause, she stared out of the window, bags packed, cucumber and lard sandwiches prepared and wrapped, just waiting for a single moth to appear so she could leave for Cottonsmere post-haste. There were spiders and beetles and plenty of slugs, but a drought had beset the land and nary a moth was to be found. Three months past as she sat, growing old with dejection, eating, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, and remaking the sandwiches, till her despondence grew too heavy to withstand. So, broken willed, Beatrice ran into the forest and lived the life of a wild woman, mute with anger and indifference. She ate berries and salmon like a bear and never saw another human again.

In the meantime, after waiting for Beatrice for a week at Cottonsmere, Theobald had to push on towards the coast with the army. He wrote two more letters, concerned and looking for answers but this time, each was lost in the mail. The first, which had been scented with honey, was eaten by a snaggletoothed raccoon on route, and the second, having the wrong zip code (another typo!) was still in transit somewhere between Lagos and Zurich. After four months, Theobald, a gaunt shell of a man, returned to his home, their home, but finding no one there, fell into a deep depression. He went to sit in front of the TV, and has been watching game shows while drinking beer and smoking bongs ever since.

Anyway, that’s the story of how an imaginary moth ruined a succulent slab of young, true love, and this is the lesson: don’t make typos or you’ll either end up eating berries in the woods, or on the couch, smoking a bong, watching Wheel of Fortune reruns, forever.

-ENDE-

By E.M. Vireo

Drop #103: Winston Wong

Doggy BusinessAt the dog run:

‘Lovely dog you have there. What’s his name?’

‘Winston Wong.’

‘What?’

‘His name is Winston Wong.’

‘Come on! That’s my name.’

‘You’re joking.’

‘No, I’m dead serious.’

‘Quite a coincidence, that, isn’t it?’

‘What a preposterous name for a dog!’

‘Winston Wong? I don’t think so.’

‘It is. It’s ridiculous.’

‘I think it suits him.’

‘No it doesn’t!’

‘What’s yours called, then?’

‘Nikita Caldwell.’

‘What?’

‘Nikita Caldwell.’

‘Hmm.’

‘What? Don’t tell me that’s your name!’

‘Of course not. Don’t be daft! My name’s Rex.’ He stuck out a hand.

‘Oh. I’m Winston, Winston Wong.’

‘Yes. I knew that.’

‘Of course. You can call me Winnie if you want. That’s my nickname. Is that your dog’s nickname too?’

‘Certainly not! I would never do that to him. I always call him by his full name. I suppose you call your Nikita, Nicky?’

‘Well… yes. It would hardly make sense to call him The Archduke of Crimea, for short, would it?’

‘I suppose not–Winston Wong! Stop that this instant! No, Winston Wong! Stop trying to shag Nicky from behind!–but you know what? That last line would have sounded way cooler if you did.’

By E.M. Vireo

Drop #99: Nonsense

I woke up this morning feeling counterintuitive, so I put a chunk of cheese in each pocket and went for a jog. After a light meal of sautéed grapes and raw pork, I took my foot out of the dryer and ironed one of my pot plants. Then I wrote the sentence: ‘Unger, found solace in his Stoopy’ over and over on a curtain in lipstick till there was no space left. I spent a good two hours turning every piece of furniture in my house to face the opposite direction, even those that looked identical after, then turned one of the cabinets back around so I could file my socks and paperweights in hanging folders.

At noon, I decided it was time to stop being silly and become counterproductive in a philosophical, metaphysical way. I made a small horse out of napkins, gave it to the lamp, and got angry when she didn’t show any gratitude. I chased my tail. I wrote a letter to myself, forged it with a signature I had never used, and mailed it to an address I never intended to live at. I wrote out a newspaper article on migrating sea cucumbers in a secret code I couldn’t decipher. I called myself on the telephone – crank calls and insults, mainly. I did things I didn’t know I was going to do till I did them. I also passed on doing things I didn’t know if I would do till I didn’t do them.

After a late afternoon snack of water, which I served as soup and ate with a garden trowel, and a carrot I carved into the shape of a (slightly smaller) parsnip, I burned my fingertips with matches for a few minutes, then cut all my T-shirts in half and scratched a bunch of my CDs. I sat in the dark broom closet for about an hour with the Yellow Pages, then watched TV in 30 second slots, switching channels randomly. Then I polished my sneakers with Spam.

By now, I was pretty tired of being counterintuitive, so I got back to my regular life, and soon enough, I was doing what I always do on Wednesday nights: smashing biscuits with a bible, so I could collect and dye the pieces and build a miniature active volcano with flavored yak yogurt for lava, and frozen oysters for boulders. When it blows, I watch from a distance wearing only lab goggles and a curried handkerchief.

By E.M. Vireo