Dougs in Space

Douglas Anderson never left California in his thirty-seven years of existence. He once traveled as far north as Stockton for a one-week training seminar for a rental car company he worked for while in college. He also visited San Diego on several occasions, though he wasn’t particularly fond of it. (When pressed for a reason why he felt this way about an entire city, Doug only ever averted his eyes and curled his lip.) He even once had plans to visit Vegas. It was to be a celebration of his twenty-first birthday with a group of his closest friends. The culmination of a lifelong bond forged through the crucible of childhood and, in once case, a brief stint in juvenile hall. Unfortunately for Doug, he had the misfortune of falling ill with a mild cold mere days before. And rather than risk getting anyone else sick, he took the headache and stuffy nose as a sign from the Universe to stay home. Doug would never see the neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip, nor the many fliers and pamphlets for adult entertainment that line it.

That said. Try to imagine Doug’s surprise when, without warning, he found himself ripped from atop his toilet, sent crashing up and through the ceiling of the converted garage he rented in Santa Ana from a kindly old woman named Gloria for five-hundred dollars a month, and then hurled by some unseen force into orbit.

Despite the arguments that invariably arise whenever the wholesale abandonment of Douglas Anderson by physics itself is brought up in conversation, Doug was neither frightened nor quick to make some sarcastic, witty remark with his final breath. Instead, he welcomed his end with open arms. His final thought before he found himself shredded to pieces by a passing stream of space debris, located somewhere between Newport and the moon, was this: “Dreams really do come true.”

Gloria, unfortunately, passed away several months after Doug’s ejection from the planet Earth. With Doug gone, there was nobody home on Wednesday afternoons. Thus, there was nobody around to hold the chair steady for Gloria as she refilled the bird feeder in her garden. Her body was found several weeks later by her son, Tito, who had stopped by in the hopes of borrowing fifty dollars until he started his new job.

Tito currently operates and manages daily tours of the hole left behind in his mother’s garage.

There Goes My Nipples Again

A PARKING LOT.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) In a parking lot a short drive away…

AN ODDLY DRESSED, BUT RATHER FASHIONABLE WOMAN STRUTS OUT OF A SHOP AND ACROSS THE PARKING LOT.

…a woman wearing very little strutted across the parking lot…

A VERY STUPID MAN, CUSTOMER, SULKS IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION, NOTICES THE WOMAN.

…and a very stupid man walked into a closed door.

THE VERY STUPID, NOW CHILDISHLY DISTRACTED CUSTOMER BLINDLY, BUT VERY PAINFULLY WALKS INTO A CLOSED DOOR.

The door belonged to a charmingly inconvenient boutique located in a rather busy corner of a fictional town I’ve made up just now. It was the sort of place with people to eat, things to regret, and, I suppose, whatever else one might think to bother with in an otherwise unimportant backdrop.

The man, meanwhile, belonged to – and was wanted by – nobody in particular, which, coincidentally, was the reason he was here in the first place.

A CHARMING YOUNG BUSINESS WOMAN, SHOP OWNER, STICKS HER HEAD OUT THE DOOR, LOOKS AT CUSTOMER IN THAT WAY THAT SEDUCTIVELY WHISPERS, “I WONDER IF HE’LL SPEND ANY MONEY HERE.”

OWNER: Sir?

CUSTOMER: (MILDLY CONCUSSED) Women… (CONFUSED, CONCUSSED GRUMBLING)

OWNER: Sir, far be it from me to question any man’s right to drink himself stupid in the middle of the day. But if you’re going to do that sort of thing, I suggest you do so somewhere more appropriate, like a public library or a city council meeting.

CUSTOMER: (SLIGHTLY LESS CONCUSSED) I was told that I could find a woman here.

OWNER: I suppose you’re technically correct. But I’m not sure why you felt the need to bring my door into this.

CUSTOMER: Is this “Bottom of the Barrel, We Get Paid, So You Get Laid?”

OWNER: You’ve seen our ad.

CUSTOMER: A friend of mine referred me. He suggested I come here to help with my…

OWNER: With your…?

CUSTOMER: Romance problem.

OWNER: Well, I’m not sure what you were told, but I’m afraid my door simply isn’t interested.

CUSTOMER: This is ridiculous.

OWNER: I agree. (HOLDS DOOR OPEN) Would you like to come inside and perhaps spend some money, then?

CUSTOMER CAUTIOUSLY ENTERS THE SHOP.

OWNER: Tell me a bit about yourself, Mr…

CUSTOMER: Customer.

OWNER: I’m sorry?

CUSTOMER: Customer. My name is Customer.

OWNER: Bit odd, isn’t it?

CUSTOMER: It’s the best I could come up with.

OWNER: (NODS) I’m sure it was, Mr. Customer. Now. Let me know how I can do so, and I’ll be absolutely frothy to rid you of some, most, or all of your money.

CUSTOMER: I want a woman.

OWNER: I think you simpleton’d something about that, yes. But what sort of woman are interested in?

CUSTOMER:  Oh, you know the sort. Kind, loving…

OWNER: Smart and beautiful?

CUSTOMER: If it’s not too much trouble.

OWNER: Not at all. Quite a common request. Any particular aesthetic, make, or model?

CUSTOMER: No, no. I’ll take whatever I can get. Just someone who loves me, is all.

OWNER: But also smart, kind…

CUSTOMER: And beautiful, yes.

OWNER: Of course. Anything else?

CUSTOMER: It’d be nice if she enjoyed the things I do, maybe understood me better.

OWNER: I think I understand.

CUSTOMER: Well, do you have one?

OWNER: One what?

CUSTOMER: A woman. I came here for a woman.

OWNER: Mr. Customer, what we offer at “Bottom of the Barrel, We Get Paid, So You Get Laid” is completely customizable companion design and printing of made-to-order, honey-glazed, hand-crafted artisanal friends, lovers, and assorted sexual playthings.

CUSTOMER: You mean, you don’t have any just laying around.

OWNER: Sir, again, if that’s the sort of thing you’re looking for, then I suggest you get into politics.

CUSTOMER: No, no. I mean, you don’t have any off-the-shelf, over-the-counter women in stock?

OWNER: Custom orders only, I’m afraid

CUSTOMER: Shame.

OWNER: Yes, but I assure you our services are second to none.

CUSTOMER: Well if you have no women in stock, what could you possibly offer?

OWNER: Options, Sir. Options.

SHE RISES WITH A CLICK OF HER HEELS AND A WAVE OF HER HAND.

THE WALLS FLICKER TO LIFE WITH IMAGES OF WOMEN OF ALL SHAPES, SIZES, LOOKS, AND ATTIRES.

You see, we’ve long discovered that while men such as yourself claim they’re looking for a smart, beautiful, funny, beautifully smart, and funnily beautiful romantic partner, what you’re actually looking for is a fictional surrogate to fill some contrived role in an utterly warped narrative of a poorly written love story that only exists in your head. Whether it’s the strong, independent femme fatale, the diminutive and submissive doll, or perhaps even a flirtatious lesbian whom only you can somehow magically convert into a heterosexual lifemate and plaything. Whatever outlandish concept of a woman you can fathom, we can fabricate.

CUSTOMER: This is insane.

OWNER: I’m sorry, Mr. Customer. I didn’t mean to offend.

CUSTOMER: No, no. I’m not offended. No, that was an impressively accurate guess.

OWNER: We aim to please.

CUSTOMER: This all sounds a little too good to be true. How can you possibly have such a roster of willing women simply waiting to tend to the imaginative whims of a lonely man?

OWNER: I’m afraid I’m failing you, Mr. Customer. Perhaps a demonstration.

CUSTOMER: Is there a charge?

OWNER: Not at all. This is a free sample guaranteed to wash out with little more than soap and water.

CUSTOMER: I don’t follow.

OWNER: Well then, please do!

OWNER DIRECTS CUSTOMER TO A LARGE GLASS AND METAL POD. IN THE POD IS NOTHING BUT A CHAIR WITH A TOWEL ON IT.

In just a few moments, you’ll perfectly understand what I mean.

CUSTOMER ENTERS THE POD, SITS IN THE CHAIR.

CUSTOMER: What’s the towel for?

OWNER: It helps us minimize the cleanup.

CUSTOMER: Cleanup?

OWNER WAVES HER OTHER HAND IN A DIFFERENT WAY AND THE POD DOOR CLOSES.

TWO-AND-A-HALF MINUTES ON HIGH AND ONE ADORABLE LITTLE DING OF A BELL LATER, AND THE DOOR OPENS AGAIN.

OWNER: Well, what do you think? We call this one the “Manic-Pixie Dream Girl.” It’s very popular.

CUSTOMER STEPS OUT OF THE POD IN A CLOUD OF GAS KNOWN TO THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA TO POSSIBLY CAUSE SOME KIND OF CANCER, SEIZES ON WHAT HE SEES IN THE MIRROR – ONLY NOW TRANSFORMED INTO A YOUNG WOMAN RIPPED RIGHT OUT OF SOME TERRIBLE ROMANTIC COMEDY.

A PLEASANT LITTLE TUNE PLAYS OVER THE PA SYSTEM. A DISEMBODIED, WHOLLY MALE VOICE PROVIDES COMMENTARY SEEMINGLY RIPPED RIGHT OUT OF SOME TERRIBLE NOVEL.

VOICE: (PA SYSTEM) She was a breastuous bit of leggy sex dipped in the sticky, erotic honey of a needy man’s dream.

CUSTOMER: What the hell?

VOICE: (PA SYSTEM) She played with her luxuriously unkempt hair, hastily tied up in a ponytail, and squeezed at the massive udders bolted to her chest, which were seemingly hoisted up by a series of cables and pulleys until they burst forth from her modest, low-cut, crease and crevice-hugging dress. All skewed slightly because of a pair of glasses now in her face.

CUSTOMER UNCOMFORTABLY JIGGLES AND BOUNCES IN FRUSTRATION.

CUSTOMER: What the Hell have you done to me?

OWNER: Do you know how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly?

CUSTOMER: What? No. Not at all.

OWNER: Well. It’s a lot like that, but not.

CUSTOMER: I mean, why have you made me a woman? I came here for a woman, not to be turned into one!

OWNER: Did you, Sir?

CUSTOMER: I’m sorry?

OWNER: Are you sure that’s what you came here for?

CUSTOMER: Concussion aside, I’m fairly certain that’s what I eventually said, yes.

OWNER: If you were referred to us, then I’m sorry to say that your ideal woman likely doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make one who does.

CUSTOMER SILENTLY SCREAMS.

OWNER: (SIGHS) Women are more than a collection of traits to be picked and plucked and thrown together like some macabre masturbatory stew, Mr. Customer. Some might even consider them people, with internal lives of their own and everything.

CUSTOMER: Isn’t that last bit true?

OWNER: How should I know? I started this business so I didn’t have to bother with all that nonsense.

CUSTOMER: What, you don’t mean…

OWNER: That I devised a way to take myself and any other man, put them into a metal pod, convert their physical body into an amorphous blob of malleable genetic material, and then reconstitute such a blob back into an ideal female physical specimen to suit their explicit, implicit, and exhibitionist desires, and all while keeping their male brains and identity fully intact? Yes, that’s more or less the gist of it.

CUSTOMER: Huh.

OWNER: I’ll admit, it does seem like a long walk just to avoid having to compromise my unrealistic expectations for the sake of emotionally bonding with another living soul.

CUSTOMER: Any complaints?

OWNER: Not really, no. The men seem perfectly content with their new toys. And the women are happy to be rid of all the creepy little gremlins lurking about their ankles, waiting to catch a glimpse of something she never intended to show them in the first place.

CUSTOMER: Well as much as I do love these fantastic breasts, I can’t help but feel this might be a little wrong.

OWNER: Of course it’s wrong, Mr. Customer. There are those who spend their entire lives struggling to better themselves for the sake of finding love, or to become the woman they always knew they were on the inside. But here you and I are, men who have crafted a facade – a sexual fiction and image that exists solely to placate our uncouth, uninhibited animal urges at the expense of any tattered shred of respect for women.

CUSTOMER: Sounds like this might upset a lot of women.

OWNER: Quite a few actually. But if any of my clients had the first clue about women, or what they thought about or felt, they wouldn’t come to me, now would they?

CUSTOMER: Well, when you put it that way…

OWNER: I did.

CUSTOMER: Right. Well. I guess a test drive couldn’t hurt.

OWNER: Wonderful! Would you like to wear this one out, then?

CUSTOMER: Actually. Do you have anything in a “bisexual open to a threesome”?

People is People

Good evening. A previous lapse in this publication has failed to make any notable impact. Those we deemed responsible have already been humanely lobotomized and released back into the public population. We asked several people at the scene of our crime against humanity for their thoughts, and this is what we pretended to hear.

“Did I leave the baby plugged in again?” (Gary, Accounting)

“I build miniature horses. The hardest part is taking them apart the first time.” (Glydia, Not Counting)

“I once wrong-dialed the Astoria Best Western.” (Paulathon, Hardly Paying Attention)

“I haven’t slept the same since I drank my son’s favorite goldfish.” (Raymond, Tax Evasion)

“I don’t mean to sound sexist, but if bear’s are going to shit in the woods, the least they can do is bag it up like the rest of us.” (Travis, Drinking to Forget the Pain)

“We’re divorced in the sense that she isn’t even aware she ever signed the marriage license in the first place.” (Bobert, Barber)

“Just because someone puts something in their mouth doesn’t mean they can spell it.” (Julianna, Fruit Waxer)

Terry, Please Shut Up

A LIVING ROOM. TERRY SCREAMS AND BLEEDS OUT ALL OVER THE CARPETED FLOOR AS PAULENCE AND JENNDA BICKER.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) Aside from the bloodthirsty, flesh-craving ghouls now eager to force their way into their home, it had been an otherwise boring Sunday night until just a few moments ago.

Jennda preoccupied herself for most of the day by arguing with strangers on the internet about the racist connotations of ordering a burrito platter from a burger joint owned by a sweet Korean couple.

Paulence, meanwhile, once more pleasured himself with a flaccid attempt at something resembling a novel, which mostly amounted to several social media posts about writing his novel rather than actually writing any of it.

But it wasn’t until they got around to arguing about what to order out for dinner that they finally noticed their neighbor, Terry, had broken into their home, barricaded their door, and taken to dying and bleeding profusely all over their carpet.

JENNDA: Terry! You know we just had the carpet cleaned last summer!”

TERRY: (COUGHS BLOOD AND VISCERA) Sorry. I forgot.

PAULENCE: I hope you plan on paying for another cleaning.

TERRY: Actually. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.

JENNDA CLAPS HER FEET AND LAUGHS.

JENNDA: You hear that? He wants to talk about it!

PAULENCE: I’m sorry, Terry. But you’re bleeding all over our carpet. I really hope you don’t think you can convince us to pay for your mess.

TERRY WAVES WHAT USED TO BE HIS HAND AT THIS, BLOOD SPLATTERING ALL OVER THE PLACE.

TERRY: I wouldn’t dream of it. No, I wanted to warn you about all the zombies.

PAULENCE LOOKS OUT AT THE ZOMBIE HORDE LOOKING IN FROM THE LIVING ROOM WINDOW.

PAULENCE: Is that what those are?

JENNDA: I thought it was the Mormons again.

TERRY: It’s zombies, I’m afraid.

JENNDA: How can this night get any worse?

TERRY: I think I’m dying.

PAULENCE: Don’t be stupid, you stupid, stupid man. You’re not dying.

TERRY: I’m not?

PAULENCE: Of course not!

TERRY: That’s a relief.

PAULENCE: No, you’re slowly turning into one of the undead.

TERRY: I think maybe I’d rather die, if it’s all the same to you.

JENNDA: All the same? (SPITS, THEN SPITS A SECOND TIME ON TERRY) We respect the sanctity of life in this house, Terry.

PAULENCE: That’s right. We won’t kill you until you’re already good and dead.

TERRY: Undead.

JENNDA: For God’s sake, shuttup, Terry. (SPITS AGAIN)

TERRY: Sorry.

PAULENCE: You ought to be after suggesting such an awful thing. There’s no need for such needless suffering and violence.

TERRY: I’m suffering rather bad, to be honest.

PAULENCE: Perhaps. But have you even stopped to think about how much worse Jennda and I would feel if we were forced to help you suicide yourself?

TERRY: I’m sorry, guys. It won’t happen again, I swear.

PAULENCE: I should hope not.

JENNDA NOTICES SHE’S BEING BITTEN BY A ZOMBIFIED MRS. CERVIX FROM ACROSS THE HALL.

JENNDA: Uh-oh.

PAULENCE: (ANNOYED GRUNT) I’ll go get the gun.

TERRY: Wait. Why does she get to be mercifully put down?

JENNDA: My body, my choice.

PAULENCE: First you bleed all over our carpets, and now you act like a misogynistic ass to my wife as she needlessly suffers a fate worse than death? You really are a selfish bastard, Terry.

JENNDA: No wonder your wife left you.

TERRY: She didn’t leave me – she was the one who bit me.

JENNDA: And where is she now?

TERRY: How should I know? She’s a zombie.

JENNDA: (SCOFFS) A woman liberates herself from an abusive, ignorant piece of shit like you, and the only thing you can be assed to do is start with the name-calling!

PAULENCE: (FIRM, BUT POLITE) I really think it’s time you left, Terry. (BEAT) Terry? Terry, are you listening to me?

TERRY LIES UNRESPONSIVELY DEAD ON THE FLOOR.

JENNDA: I think he’s dead for the moment.

PAULENCE: Better go get the gun, then.

Burger-on-a-Stik

I was sitting at a table in the food court of an empty mall when the young woman working the Burger-on-a-Stik found herself plucked up into the air and torn in two by a very hungry, but rather rude creature that looked like a cross between a shaved possum and an albino frilled lizard. It was the lunch rush, so you can imagine the fuss people made when the young woman’s dismemberment ate into their diminishing thirty-minutes. And with this shaved and frilled albino possum-lizard cutting all the way to the front of the line, there were more than a few choice words thrown its way. Well, one thing led to the next, and the shaved and frilled albino possum-lizard plucked up and tore just about everyone in half. Given some of the things said, I can hardly blame the poor thing for being more than a little upset. Needless to say, I haven’t been back since, and have little desire to dine there again.

A Complete Waste of Time

There is a time and place for which there is a time and place.
This is not the time,
nor is it the place, I’m sorry to say.
It is some other time that is not quite a good use of it,
some place that is not quite the point,
and either really could be defined in rather simple and direct terms
if one gave a shit about brevity.
This is not that, though.
It is, however, what one might call
A Complete Waste of Time.