Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A New Stereophonic Spook Spectacular

"Isn't this just a lovely evening, Marge? Joe?" gawked Raymond insincerely, but only as insincerely as everything he said. In truth this Italian "vacation" was a bust and this whole decaying nuclear family knew it--even though Joe was only four. Ray had worked nearly the whole time, and the fact that the work was as dark as it always would be was just the icing on the shit cake. The slimy meat of it was that the whole affair was only a feeble attempt to save an ailing marriage and fatherhood, coming also at a time of gloomy weather in Italy. No upstanding Christian and American could appreciate this ghastly, Satanic-seeming clime... or for Joe, this perfect, magical Halloween clime. Joe liked to be frightened as much as his father loathed all that was out of the norm.

The route from the city, such as it was, to the village of their stay was short enough that Ray had suggested taking it by foot a few times, and this was one. While it hardly befit a red-blooded American to miss the glory of a ride by car... there was the romance to think of, the romance dying between Marge and him.

Such a devilish gloom though. So much evil emanating from the graveyard of these half-Pagan Europeans. Such devilish laughter among the trees.

...Devilish laughter?

Was it those Catholic-school children? Almost surely not, they looked as terrified as he felt. And besides, the direction was wrong. The directions were wrong.


The laughter came from only one direction, one corner of the graveyard whose wall ran along their route, but from the other nearby corner came a series of Nazi-like screams. Yes, definitely German. No, now Russian... Italian... Polish... French... English?... German again. But all the same voice. They were moving now... he couldn't just scale the wall at the corner and catch the people... please God, let them be people... behind this atrocity. He would look like a fool caroming among the trees. Raymond Eawest will never look like a fool. Raymond, Eawest, will never look like a fool.

Then an egg hit him in the face. A putrid stench enveloped him and he gagged and doubled over.

Joe Eawest found all of this extraordinarily cool, funny, and frightening.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A fearful disquise

Glenn Anzalone stood alone on the ornate balcony. He was eleven years old, and had no interest in entertaining his Uncle's Italian relatives. Ever since his Mom dragged him to Italy he'd wanted to see some sites but had been relegated to gofer and dancing monkey by both his Uncle Alfredo and his mother. Here it was, Devil's night, and he was far away from home with no friends to play with, stuck at this grown up party with a load of drunk Italians and his Mom. Even though it was a masquerade party, and even though he was all dressed up as a skeleton, Glenn was in a sour mood and not in any shape to party. What he really wanted was to scare someone.
Just then, one of the exquisitely dressed cocktail servers stepped out onto the veranda. The lanky man glanced whimsically at him, and depositing an empty serving tray on the ledge, straightened his tailcoat and lit a short, filterless cigarette.
"Have you been admiring the full moon, Master Anzalone? She is quite pretty tonight, no?", the man said.
Glenn snapped out of his brooding and glared at him, "How did you know my name? Who are you anyway?" and he turned back to look at the view.
"Everyone knows you are my employer Alfredo's nephew. My name is Jens, and I have been assigned to keep track of you, and keep you entertained, let's say. I couldn't help but notice the look on your face earlier. I can tell you'd rather be scaring the wits out of someone than being here at this dull soiree. Why don't you let me clue you in on just such an opportunity?"
Glenn sized the man up. His English was perfect and had only a slight accent, which to him seemed a cross between Italian and German. Jens had piqued his curiosity, especially the uncanny way he had described Glenn's very thoughts. So Glenn decided he'd bite.
"Who could I scare? I don't even know any kids here and I have no clue where to even start."
He wondered if this man was a pedophile or a serial killer, or if--
"I can assure you, Glenn, I am no serial freak or rapist of little boys. And you don't need friends. You have me."
Glenn was stunned.
"You- did you just read my mind?" Glenn took a couple steps back towards the large French doors that opened onto the patio.
"I have your attention now, I see. Here, take a look at this picture,"
Jens reached into his jacket and pulled out a small black and white photo. He held it out towards Glenn, "It is of Alfredo and your father and I, back in 1957. This is proof that I am trustworthy and not out to get you."
Glenn took the photo and looked at it carefully. It was a picture of Uncle Alfredo and his Dad. There was Jens too, in a curious looking biker jacket and jeans, leaning up against a pick up truck next to his Uncle.
"How long did you know my father?" Glenn handed him the photo and took another uneasy step towards the door.
Jens smiled. "We met in school. Look, we can talk about all of this whenever you like, Master Anzalone, but the group of elementary schoolers over at St. Mary of The Lake are just about done with their meal and are about to walk to the nearby Halloween party, two blocks from the school. They walk right by the parish graveyard, which is wooded with thick pines and oak trees. There are many places to hide and I HAVE THESE," Jans pulled five eggs from his jacket pocket,"They are quite rotten."
Glenn grinned and came over to him. "Wow..." he breathed.
"Our time is short if you want to scare them," Jens breathed back.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hackneys and Themes

A 1787 dirt road in the winter is no guarantee of a trip forward on one's hackney. Sometimes it means standing still, or even going backwards. For now, Jens assumed Beethoven truly was at least standing still, and probably moving forwards.

Jens, however, was always moving forwards. He was moving forwards now, had been moving forwards when Constantine turned Europe to the Cross, had been moving forwards when he received his curse in Greece, would be moving forwards when the names of Beethoven and Mozart were long forgotten, failing some merciful act from above. For now, he still had his sanity and morals, but he feared that he only had one or two more sane centuries left in him.

He envied his master and this Beethoven fellow that they could reach the happy medium of mere cultural immortality. How he wished he could be reduced to the same. Reduced? Elevated!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Symphony of Tears

It was March, 1787. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart sat impatiently. He had a distinguished guest due to arrive an hour ago, and he was both excited and pissed that his anticipation was being extended. He scribbled notes absently on a sheet of parchment, randomly hitting notes on the grand piano in front of him.
His personal 'assistant' walked in and announced,
"Sir, Master Beethoven has sent a messenger to assure you that he is on his way, and apologizes that he had been detained by an emergency. He sends his regards and expects to be with you around five in the afternoon."

"Thank you, Jens. Have a pot of tea brought up to me. It looks to be a long day."

Jens bowed and left. Wolfgang turned again to the piece he was working on. He had worked on it off and on again for years. It was a short opera regarding the myth of Lycaon, King of Arcadia, who attempted to serve up human flesh to Zeus, to test Zeus' divinity. Zeus responded by turning Lycaon into a beast. A wolf. This resounded with Amadeus so much that writing the music to the story frequently brought him to fits of weeping, and he had to stop working on it until another time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Keep Making Fun of Me

It was two weeks after the party in Bart's basement, and Joe was standing next to a young man in a kippah in Toronto's Bovine Sex Club, listening to Kraftpark, a Kraftwerk cover band.

"This piece is by The Organization. It doesn't have lyrics, so we gave it some, because it's no fun just being a cover band all the time. Can we hear it for creativity?"

The crowd roared.

"All right. Bear with us, this song doesn't have much room for lyrics, so it might sound pretty strange. But it sounds pretty strange anyway. All you big fans, you know what we're talking about! Get ready for Milk Rock!"

Into various points in the melodious cacophony that ensued they moaned and shouted:

weiß, schmelzende Musik...

Everyone around roared approval except the guy in the kippah, who shouted "Learn German, already!" and a Japanese man next to him who shouted nothing, but frowned, only to smile when the lead singer stepped forward and started chanting a capella "Boku wa ongak' ka, Dentaku katate ni..."

Great Spirits

It was 30 days before Joe's latest visit to Bart, and he was playing Ms. Pac Man on an immaculately preserved cabinet in Cody's basement.

"Cody, who's the Great Spirit, you think?" Joe asked, deftly picking up the fruit for this level.

"You, of course," Cody deftly replied. "Just look at you. You started the game, you give the meaning, you decide the meaning. Well, you, Doug Macrae, John Tylko, and Kevin Curran."

Joe turned and stared at Cody, ruining this attempt at a one-life runthrough up to the first playability-ruining glitch. "You can name the programmers by heart?!"


"But you still suck at Ms. Pac Man after all these years?!"

"Love doesn't have to mean skill, you know... I can't claim credit for that thought by the way, Kate told me that."


"Just an old friend, you wouldn't know her."

Give Up Your Heart

In this Romania not yet reconfigured for modern tourism, is not an easy trek from the roadway to the Scărişoara Ice Cave, but Glenn is a physically fit, and driven, man. Glenn's friend's home is also, naturally, in the part of the cave forbidden to tourists and unreachable without ropes, but in this Romania not yet reconfigured for modern capitalism, restrictions melt under money and other magic, like friendship. Odd and societally odious friendships, shared with his old friend.

Even these have a limit. For the last hundred feet, he spelunks alone, in the dark, relieved when at last he spots the bonfire dominating Jens' cozy cavernous home.

"I always gotta wonder, Jens, the way how you and your Romanian friends refuse to meet... do you hate them, or do they hate you?"

"We hate each other because we are sick. We love each other because we are the only ones we know who are so sick. But you know I hate myself the most, Glenn."

"You know you have a right to live, Jens. You acted on it. Why go halfway? Why live but hate yourself?"

"I know many people had a right to live, Glenn. People I killed."

"And you had a right to mistakes."

"But not to play God."

"You weren't playing God, Jens. You were playing faithful."

"A sick faith."

"There are no others. I wrote words for you, Jens. I might not find music for them soon. When I do I will make a special trip so you can hear it. I wrote:

I am a walking screaming hell
A thing of torture to behold
This vivisection splits my soul
A thing of torture to behold
Where you run to
Won't take too long
I've come to get you
Won't take too long
And death should know we
No hesitating
Give up your heart
It ain't so lonely
Without your heart
And death should know me
My hands are dirty wirh his blood
And i can take you there
I've got a brand new god
And if i lay you there
Under my brand new god
Then i will slay you there
For my brand new god
Where are you running to
It didn't take too long
I've come and gone now
You didn't take too long
And death should know me
My hands are dirty with his blood
And death should know me after all
I prepared you for the second coming of my god

"I hate you, Glenn."

"I love you, Jens."

"I love you, Glenn. JESUS, not like that, you sick fuck." Saying this, Glenn regardless dived onto Jens and hugged him, despite the stench emanating from his tattered jacket. The thunderous embrace was too much for a threadbare patch remaining on the garment, reading "KZ Stutthof"; it fluttered into Jens' shaded kerosene lamp and briefly ignited. Now only the Untersturmführer's SS sign, eagle, and three silver pips remained.

"Do you have... Glenn do you... I'm so selfish but you know it is so hard here..."

"Don't be ashamed you need help not to go crazy. Be proud you're not totally crazy yet. Yes! Yes you'd better believe I brought something. I can't believe didn't do this before. Well I mean it's always hard with climbing the cave, but this is important. I should have done this sooner. OK, this is a Walkman. These are AA batteries, I'll talk about storing them later. These are tapes. The Japanese make great stuff, your war turned out great for them. Or us. Or somebody."

Jens frowned.

"OK here we've got Brahms, Beethoven, Bach, every musician your culture idolized. Yeah, I know, two-edged sword. I think that's OK that it's a two-edged sword. And here we have Chopin, Penderecki --" at this, Jens gave a questioning look -- "yeah not real well known in your day... he's for if you ever feel like torturing yourself with style, then we got some generic Polish Baroque... man, sorry that's all the Poles I got but to be honest with myself here, I don't fucking know much about classical, especially outside the West... damn German tastemakers never gave much room to the Poles and hey anyway I don't know if this shit'll be welcome with you or... oh... look, anyway and then here's our band's stuff. And some brainless pop, listen the hell out of it, forget everything, forget you ever did anything goddammit."

"Glenn. Always remember. All your gifts are good. But most I thank your family for my life."

Sunday, September 11, 2011


It was June 17th, 1991, and Glenn Anzalone was doing curls with a 25 pd. dumbell in the lounge of his tour bus. On the table next to him sat a cup of bourbon and a glass of iced green tea. There were three books on the table too,--Werewolf, by Montague Summers, The Secret Writings Of E. A. Poe, and Why The Allies Won, by Richard Overy. Glenn was deep in thought. You could see it in his eyes.

He was en route to the plane that would take him to a series of engagements in Germany and Austria around his new album, Lucifuge. What was to happen in the next three weeks would forever change him, remake him. He had always wanted to tour the former Third Reich. His fascination in W.W.II history and specifically the tragic story of Germany had impressed him so much earlier in his life that he chose Danzig specifically to give tribute.

"The Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia (German: Reichsgau Danzig-Westpreussen), a Nazi German province created on 8 October 1939 from the territory of the annexed Free City of Danzig, the annexed Polish province Greater Pomeranian Voivodship (Polish Corridor), and the Nazi German Regierungsbezirk West Prussia of Gau East Prussia. Before 2 November 1939, the Reichsgau was called Reichsgau West Prussia."--wikipedia

It was just a few kilometers from Danzig that the Nazis built their first concentration camp outside of Germany's borders, Stutthof Concentration Camp.

"Completed on September 2, 1939, it was located in a secluded, wet, and wooded area west of the small town of Sztutowo (German: Stutthof). The town is located in the former territory of the Free City of Danzig, 34 km east of Gdańsk, Poland. Stutthof was the last camp liberated by the Allies, on May 9, 1945. More than 85,000 victims[1] died in the camp out of as many as 110,000 people deported there."--wikipedia

Two days later he landed in Hamburg, and while he made a different (secret) connection, his band got aboard their respective tour bus. Things were going well, and they could afford two right now, and he wanted his space. He had need for secrecy, too. Therefore, his bandmates would think he was aboard the other bus, when in fact he had boarded a small two engine plane bound for Oradea, the capitol city of Bihor County in Romania. There he rented a Range Rover and set out towards one of the peaks in the nearby Apuseni Mountains. He had an appointment with an old friend.

In the Carpathian mountains, there are many folk tales. While Mr. Anzalone had a great appreciation for tales, what he was after was not a myth. It was his destiny.

The Binder on Yitzchak

It was 30 days in the future, and Joe Eawest was bound to something strikingly resembling a hospital bed, but not meant to heal. The room contained one other bed, two chairs, a blindlingly bright overhead light, four walls, and a shaded lamp. On the other bed lay Yitzchak Jasny, whose only relation to Joe, for now, was that they were both scheduled for enhanced interrogation today. Unusually, only the shaded lamp was lit at the moment: Raymond Eawest and his subordinate John Smith periodically vocally agreed, chuckling, that they didn't have to torture themselves to torture their properties. In fact, they were doing so right now as they walked in.

"...But anyway Ray, I just didn't like that last prayer session. I mean I'm not religious anyway --" (at this, Raymond glared sternly) "--of course that's normally not a problem! But I'm not religious anyway, and that was pretty hardcore stuff. Kill your own kid --"

"Prepare to kill him."

"OK, Ray, let him live the rest of his life knowing you were prepared to kill him because of voices in your head. Like that's better."

Raymond's already-cooling attitude towards his colleague now flash-froze. "When the Lord speaks, the good man listens and obeys unquestioningly, even if it means killing his own son... You know, John, there are twenty people below you vying for your position. Maybe I should find one better morally-founded."

John sighed. "OK, OK, let's just drop it. So, whatta we got here? A Yitzchak Jasný and a Joe Souther. Awwwrighty, who's on first?! I hate to push your patience, Ray, but you mind if I superstitiously leave this one to Lady Luck?"

Ray grew livid, but truth be told, there was no replacement for John -- he was the best in his field. He hoped John never realized that. "Do it."

"Heads. Yitzchak's up." He turned to the boy. "Don't worry kid, we won't start for another half an hour. And yes, we'll be right here discussing our questions... go ahead and prepare some lies if you want. It really doesn't matter."

Raymond dropped Yitzchak's binder on the table, open to page 23, where he had thumb-bookmarked it. "Alright, skipping the opening, what we have here is a geek, punk, organizer, did the G20 in 2010... can't forget to wipe his memory after this of course, discreditation would be difficult if he began to gossip. What we want are his contacts, his plans, his contacts' plans, and of course anything he knows on my son."

"You're weird, Ray."

Verse The Fifty-Fourth

It was thirty minutes before the present, and Katryn Norse was absent-mindedly humming Danzig's Mother and then, not knowing any better, singing We Are 138, thinking he had immortalized it on his own.

Joe was singing the fifty-fourth verse.

"This here is verse nummer vier-und-fünfzig
And it hypnotizes you, makes you think of Danzig
Even if you've never heard of him before
Suddenly you'll be a hummin' Danzig's whore
And it doesn't matter if you're drunk or sober
Oh when I whistle Dixie baby you'll roll over!

You see...
You just ain't allowed to hear what I'm now gonna say
And yet I feel the nee-eed to sing it anyway:
Oh baby I'm just a boy who's come unstuck in time
Tomorrow to childhood, I turn on a dime
Some people say that I'm just crazy or ly'n'
(Sotto voce: Like you. Bitch. And your dumb husband too. You're lucky I like you guys or I'd... I'd... sing nasty things about you. Or something.)
That I know very well I stick in one timeline. Like them. Like you. Like suuu-perglue.

I just can't explain the things that I feel
In the end I don't care if it's crazy or real
Maybe it's just a movie with a rickety reel
Maybe it's like a slant rhyme, running off bull
You wouldn't snicker behind my back
If you felt what I felt in that dream parking lot
And if your subconscious mind while hearing these lines
Says "he's not too consistent with reason or rhyme"
That's cuz you didn't hear what I ate and felt
In death's giant dream par-king, lot!"

"Hey Joe, I dozed off there a moment, just when I was getting into it!" Katryn tittered calculatedly. "What are we up to?"

"Oh, I just did the Fifty-Fifth Verse. Here, let me play it again."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I'm Bart Norse, who the hell are you?

It was twenty-two years earlier, and Joe was not dreaming. Bartholomew Norse was eating a bowl of microwave popcorn and glaring at him.

"It doesn't matter whether or not you agree with the premise in order for you to like it. I mean, ultimately it's a time travel movie for the entire family, I don't think Gilliam was trying to expand upon Einstein's work in quantum mechanics when he made it. You should ask yourself if you can stop thinking long enough to relax and passively enjoy a movie once in a while, Joe. Gosh!", said Bartholomew.

"I know," replied Joe, and sat the paused Beta remote control down on the coffee table, "it's just that long term exposure to midgets gives me the creeps, and the fireman could not be that dude from the desert in the other time, it's just not feasible. The whole plot is full of holes."

Bart snorted. "Yeah, dummy. Wormholes. It's called Time Bandits for a reason. Are you gonna play it?"

"I was wondering if you'd rather play a quick game of Scrabble instead?" Joe actually turned off the television and sat on the floor opposite the couch, already pulling out the game beneath.
"I really need to practice."

"Oh, all right. Practice what, anyway?"

"I am studying what words another person plays vs. what I play. You see, I am making a list of special words. I am writing the list for my idea."

The Parking Lot

Joe was dreaming. Or perhaps dead. He did not know what date it was.

It was a simple dream. That is why he didn't understand that it was a dream at first. Slowly, he realiZed, the parking lot was just too large.

He had come into consciousness walking *about 20 min. ago, and carrying in his right hand a mini mag flashlight.

It was the dead of night. I mean, pitch black outside, and the only light emanating from anywhere was the streetlights. Except they were not on a street. He was walking. And he was looking at his feet. He knew that time was being off somehow.

He stopped for a moment and just stood. Slowly his eyes became acclimated and his sense of dread grew. He saw ahead of him an enormous parking lot, as far as his limited sight could afford. But. He did not see any cars parked anywhere, or stores or mall or any structures at all, save the occasional cart-corral or waste bin. He began walking again, and his gait quickened. He had a sort of bad feeling about this parking lot. He jogged for a few minutes and stopped again. He knew. There were numbers on the parking spaces, but they were in a totally nonsensical order, as far as he could figure. His mind was reminded of code-breaking and also of sudoku. He began running as fast as he could and looking semi-periferally at the numbers. Would he awake?

If only he could find a vehicle.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Sheet of Graph Paper

At the top right a date: June 17th, 1991.

Three columns.

correct horse

a buffalo nickel
a frailing banjo
a Ms. Pac-Man cabinet
a box of Grape Nuts with Froot Loops inside
a letter from the Office of the President

loyalty, obviously
green-dyed hair
a Super Mario tattoo
the ability to do calculus
mild retardation

Scrawled across the bottom: pay phone -- said would disconnect Tuesday

Friday, August 26, 2011

Show And Tell

It was twenty years earlier, and the golden age of coin-op video games was only just now fading. Leaning with style on a Ms. Pac-Man cabinet, Joe glared at Cody Standing Bear as Cody gestured for another quarter. "You just suck, Ovation. Another quarter's not going to help."

"Do not call me that, Joe."

"You know why I call you that. Get used to it. Hey... you know how to keep a secret, right?"

"I break secrets. I do not keep them. And I think you do not want to keep one. Share."

"Share. Yes, share. With the right people. At the right time."

"So I have little to tell you. But we can ask the Great Spirit."

Joe scowled disgustedly. "Great. Spirit... great."

"Come to the sweat lodge in two weeks. Many will help. But they cannot help without you."

Joe frowned and accepted.

Joe remembers little of what he experienced in the heat of the steam and haze of the rituals in the ramshackle lodge in those days, but he remembers the important part: "The Great Spirit has watched the makers of the secret-keeping thinking machines in your grandson's time, and says you must make sure your secret can only be understood if the hearer has a thing, knows a thing, and is a thing. The thinking machines will make this easy to arrange in many years. Already they can ask for something you know -- a "passing word," I think they call it. It will be longer until they can demand something you have, and longer yet for something you are. For now, it will be difficult to lock your secrets with these spiritual locks. Work with thought, wisdom, and diligence to hide-reveal your secret."

"I'm gonna have a grandson?! Ooh, am I gonna make babies with Mandie? It's Mandie, right?" Joe shouted, and pumped his fist."

Erstwhile Joe

It was twenty years earlier. Joe Eawest was slicker, less and simultaneously more sure of himself, and he hadn't begun to play the tenor banjo yet. Things were quite different. He had not even been to spy school yet.

Joe's youth was spent running from his father, who was not an easy guy to run from.
Of course, it is on purpose that you and I do not have a clue who Raymond Eawest is, and what his role was in American History. It would be beyond our imaginations to know that Raymond Eawest was the head of a corporation that supplied certain parts of the government with certain types of labor and services. To be frank, a black ops-intelligence mercenary force. Ray Eawest was there pulling the strings when the U.S. Military and the C.I.A. invaded Laos and Cambodia. Ray participated in corporate dealings that hid funds that were responsible for coup de-tats and illegal drug seizures in Central America and Mexico. It is safe to say that Raymond Eawest had little conscience and less restraint when it came to inflicting collateral damage. His men were trained to be worse than Nazis.
Since the first war in the Persian Gulf, EaWest Corp. had been a powerhouse in the halls of the Pentagon and with the industrial military complex. The amount of money that Ray Eawest received as acting CEO during these years, you don't wanna know.

Anyway, so Joe grew up both hating the money with which his family provided for him, (because when he realized what his Dad had done for the money), and later becoming obsessed with the idea of combatting his father's world-view by getting as much of the money as he could and using it for good. This is where the need for the idea of the song originated.

Enigmas and Codes

"--cause the translation's never quite right!"

Katryn had already contacted her Navajo friend from middle school, Cody Standing Bear, regarding the One Hundred and Fourteenth Verse and it's possible implications regarding translation and codes. Cody was 90 years old now. He had been one of the army's secret code talker/translators in World War Two, and Standing Bear had some interesting things to say about the entire Dillinger Sang document.

"There is an obvious flippant defiance in these word choices in many sections, especially the last verse. Use of terms like Severus, Gandhi, and Volga, clearly indicate that the writer knows advanced cryptography, almost like he's playing with us, and I almost think that I am keeping blinders on while listening to this. I am afraid of what I might find if I really try to decipher this."

And with that, Cody backed out of the project, and demanded he not be contacted again regarding it. Something in that song really spooked him.

The One Hundred and Fourteenth Verse

All in all, Dillinger Sang had two hundred verses. Like the Masonic Rites, each revealed new mysteries, so the longer the song went on, the more important it was that the listener either be prepared to absorb the secrets it contained, or unable to absorb them at all. Katryn and Barth had already absorbed about five verses consciously in the last weeks and accepted three as fact. They had also heard the song as far as the hundredth verse while laying half-alive in a thin layer of cat hair, day-old vodka, and fresh whiskey. That had been last night. "I'm not usually like this," Katryn had moaned before passing out.

She was serious. (She was almost always serious.) And she was suspicious. And curious. The first three verses had matched her own theories about Geraldo Rivera's relations with Indira Sousa, Dillinger's bastard great-granddaughter -- and Katryn's godmother. So Katryn had been drinking from her own bottle tonight (apple juice, her favorite!), and counting anxiously on her 30 years of acting experience to pull her through. But her act was wearing thin alongside her patience, and to make matters worse, her curiosity was growing. She could feel the hidden secrets in each verse, but could not understand them, and it was infuriating. The thirteen verses that she had newly heard this night were a sort of "Volume Two," that much she could tell. But  nothing else. A hokey mishmash of allusions to My Little Pony, West Side Story, and War and Peace, she guessed. But no sense, little rhyme, and only a bit more rhythm.

The one hundred and fourteenth verse ran:

"Severus Spike tonight, everybody get drunk tonight,
Pull out your banjo like Dillinger's gun
Gandhi's aces beat a one-eyed jack
And the Volga's gonna rock 'em tonight!
But the lady fooling me is the one being fooled, because --"

Thursday, August 25, 2011

+3 Tenor Banjo

Joe was obsessed with making other people think he was transplanted in the current age (I would call it the modern age, but for all the self imposed de-evolution occurring) from the distant past, i.e. the nineteen-thirties. He came from Jacksonville, Minnesota but lived for a while in Ottowa, Ohio. He became friends with our protagonists while on a hunting trip in Meiggs County.
Joe carried around a banjo case all of the time. He seldom actually played the banjo within, and folks carried on conversations all the time all about whether there actually was a banjo in there at all, or some strange 21st century version of the Tommy Gun... or maybe an evil ventriloquist dummy. Once in a while, however, when everyone was good and plastered, and he was pretty sure noone would remember shit, he'd pull it out and lay something really wicked down on their mostly unconscious spirits. Like the night in question, when, after the fifth round of Green River Cocktail, he played Dillinger Sang.

Found in a Basement

You won't find Ottawa, Ohio on a map. So of course it's not the county seat, or the largest town in Ottawa County. It is the westernmost and the smallest, however, and most people passing through mistake it for an especially large open-air museum when they're in the west end--that's the first five houses--and for a tornado-borne hunk of Xenia on the six houses of the east end. Sprouting off the middle is the only side street, Ottawa Drive, with three forgettable houses, and one basement. That's in the house that's cream instead of white. That's the first reason you might take a closer look; the second is when you discover the meekly-sized scissors-and-magic-marker "Barth Vader" sign glued by the front door.

Ottawa is a good place to get lost, but in Bartholomew Norse's basement you can find many things, even on a good day like this. Today it's Barth's fishy guest Joe Eawest; five sticks of formerly minty fresh chewing gum; a Ms. Pac-man cabinet, functional, but suffering severe burn-in and a limp joystick, a box full of coffee-stained sheets with printouts of Facebook posts on a 1990s dot-matrix printer; a confetti-gilded tinfoil statue of Ganesh; a laptop on the concrete floor running PuTTyTray dialed in to play Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup; and a sawhorsed wargaming table set out with Klingon marine, Latvian Napoleonic-era pikeman, and Louisiana cannoneer miniatures mostly ready for playtesting of the latest Game of Joe ruleset. However, since five seconds ago it is in slight disarray after an assault from the behind of a now-impatient Katryn Norse.