The Human Condition

Do you ever stare at the human face, and think that it’s a really strange feature?

Bony bumps protrude beneath squishy orbs that we call distinct and handsome, and fangs spread wide in a gesture we recognize as friendly.
Droopy parts are pasted on the sides and smack dab in the middle -plus dead cells sprout from the top or ears and nose like a wild jungle plant’s fronds…

What gets me, when I’m in this mood, is how the arrangement of these fleshy parts causes us humans to say how attractive an arrangement it all is (or not).

You’re all so weird.

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Not By Half

I find eating decisions simple when I first sit down.

“Yes, that’s my order,” I say to the server, then eagerly take the first bite. Besides an odd habit of eating my hamburger upside-down and setting it with the bite away from me, I have no concerns of direction or hesitation.

Somewhere just past the middle is when the problem sets in.

“Do you want any?” I ask my husband. His meal is also half-finished; he was going to ask me the same.

We’ve reached the awkward point of portions: too little to box, and too much to finish.

Half is exactly the problem we encounter with brownies at home.

Easily enough, the pan is reduced to a row, two servings, then one. Once there, at a reasonable final square, we play the mind-game of a psychological mathematician.

Every time I want to eat a bite, I cut what is left in half. When my selfless husband walks by the pan, he removes exactly half of what he encounters.

If Zeno had his way, neither of us could claim selfishness. But we’re talking brownies.

And this is the real reason, I tell the doctor, that I cannot stick to my diet.

Blog Post Brew

Dedicated to Marissa. Happy very late Birthday!

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jars

“Let’s begin, Igor!” Frank cackled and rubbed his hands at their palms.

Igor rolled his eyes as he rolled the enormous pot from the storage closet. Its metallic ringing reverberated from the expansive cement walls, from the myriad hanging tools and laden steel tabletops nearby. It landed with an excessively-loud Bang! near the giant burner.

“Igor!” Frank chastened, as he jumped. “You nearly restarted my heart!” He drew his bushy eyebrows forward to deeply scowl over reproving eyes.

“Sorry, Man,” grumbled Igor. “Master!” Retorted Frank. Igor shrugged, and smiled lopsidedly once he turned away.

Igor pushed optimistically against the pot. It barely moved. “We need to put this on the fire,” he grunted, summoning Frank from his notes-study. “Of course!” Came the engrossed reply.

Igor tried again. “Master! We need to both put this on the fire.” The scientist finally looked over. He noted the heavy cooking vessel, the assistant with a raised eyebrow, the vacant burner. “Ah!” He exclaimed, abandoning his review to stalk over to Igor.

Shoulder to shoulder, they hunched to shove an edge of iron up the side of the short floor-platform. They paused, supporting, as it teetered. “Again!” Frank commanded; they complied. With a screeching metal, Eeeee! it slid to position. Clunk!

Frank sunk to sit, back to pot and bottom to floor. Igor leaned against an arm on the black lip of the cauldron, patiently catching his breath.

“To work, Igor!” Frank realized, standing as he shouted, bolting to his notes. Igor sighed, then leaned slightly further down to check the burner’s settings. He stepped away, kicking the igniter switch.

Fire flared dramatically all round the base of the dark iron cauldron. “Ready, Frank!” Igor called. “Master,” came the muttered correction.

Keeping his eye and finger on the yellowing page, Frank picked up his notebook and strode to the cooking area. He looked up for an instant, then down. “Two, I think,” he told Igor, who complied by bending to lower the gas output to the burner by half.

“Perfect, Igor! Perfect!” Frank laughed maniacally. “Mwahahahahaha!” Igor sighed resignedly.

“What first?” He asked, genuinely curious.

The scientist frowned. “I’ve told you, Igor! It’s a delicate process! It’s never been done!” He paused, looked up to meet his assistant’s eye. “It will be done -TONIGHT!”

“What will?” Igor inserted, cutting off another impending cackle. Frank looked pained.

“I told you!” He paused, for effect. Lightning flashed obediently outside the warehouse windows. “We’re going to create The Perfect Blog Post!” Before Igor could stop it again, Frank threw back his head and laughed. Thunder outside boomed as background.

Igor cleared his throat. “What first, then, Frank?”

Master,” Frank said. Then, “A CAT!”

cat

“Oh dear,” lamented his assistant. “But what about PETA?”

“Never you mind,” the obsessed scientist reassured. He stirred in some liquid Igor hoped to be water. He pulled a lenticular poster from the nearest tabletop, brandished it somewhat dramatically, then threw it in after the liquid. “It’s only a gif,” Frank explained.

“The spoon!” He commanded. Igor complied, stumping over to the supply closet and back again. Igor handed the large wooden spoon to Frank, handle-first. He leaned closer to watch Frank use the rounded end to push a yawning feline beneath wet clockwise swirls.

“What now, Frank?” He wondered.

“I’ve told you! Call me Master!” Came the indefatigable reply. Then, a mumbled, “We’ll need to appease the Skimmers.”

“The what?”

“The Skimmers,” repeated Frank. “Those that do not read everything, even if they have the time.”

“Oh,” said Igor, thinking. “Just make a few ingredients bold.”

“Of course!” The scientist exclaimed, “And, a few of varying sizes or appearance!

Igor nodded. His employer was brilliant at times, besides merely eccentric. He looked over at the available cache of ingredients. He’d helped gather many of them, not knowing what he had been collecting them for.

“So… is this what the parsley, sage, and rosemary are for?” He asked. “They don’t seem very bold.”

Frank didn’t even look over.
“You forgot the thyme!” He snapped, from the stove, “Er,
I meant that you will need all four.
They’re for singers, poets; prosaic lore!”

rosemary

Igor stood, herbs in his fist.
Then, he found the thyme that he’d first missed.
Grasping tight to stems and leaves,
he stumbled over; threw them in, relieved.

He watched the plants sink into the depths, then scrambled over to the collection nearest Frank. “What is this one for?” He wondered, lifting Mark Twain’s head. It looked surprisingly good for its age.

Frank glanced over. “Careful, Igor!” Letting the spoon fall against the side, he stretched out to gingerly hold it in two hands. White fluffing hair drifted against his wrists as he carried it to the pot. He dropped it in.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started,” bubbled up from the steaming solution. Igor snickered. “He already has a head,” he commented. Frank stirred, ignoring them both.

“Now, we need something for Romance!” He shouted, over an underwater Twain speech of, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.”

“Romance, Master?” Igor asked, also speaking over the spewing quotes.

“Yes, yes, Igor! Love, lust, kissing, sex, fondling, romance.” Frank looked wistful. Igor looked over the contents on the tables.

“This?” He asked, holding up a piece of meat.

“No, no, Igor!” Frank sounded exasperated. “That’s for horror. Bring the chocolate! Deep, rich, dark, enticing!”

Igor set the dripping meat back down in its bloody puddle, reluctantly. “I thought a piece of meat was a good idea,” he said under his breath. Finding the chocolate, he brought it over to the waiting scientist.

chocolate

“I do see you picked one with nuts,” he observed, smiling crookedly up at Frank. “Of course!” Frank ejaculated. He always had to be on top.

Submissively, Igor watched the melting pools stir into the cat, into Mark Twain’s babbling head. The chocolate was thick enough to block out whatever it was trying to inspirationally say next.

“Quickly, Igor, we need Science Fiction!” Frank yelled. Igor gave him a deadpan expression. The scientist, looking up from the steaming concoction in his secret laboratory, felt inspiration flash through his mind as lightning flashed again outside.

“Of course, Igor! We’ve more than allowed for that.” Frank raised his tufted brows in thought, then grabbed at an unidentifiable goo nearby. “I’ll throw in this alien slime, just in case.” Splurk! Said the slime, as it touched the simmering surface. Who knew what affect it might have as it slowly seeped its way into the other ingredients’ spaces?

“This is taking too much time!” Frank shouted. “No one has patience for this long!” He caught Igor’s eye. “Quick! We’ll need that meat!”

Slinking away, Igor remembered a time when he hadn’t merely assisted the scientists. It was a time long ago, long before the police had sent him into hiding. Long before he’d caught his wife, her lovers; and his mother-in-law, and her lovers, all hiding in his small brick house out on the moors.

Igor hefted the meat, its dripping flesh reminding him of the full, wet weight of a recently-deceased body -particularly ones that he had–

meat

“Igor! Now!” The scientist could feel his mixture thickening, could see it rising.

Igor dripped his way back across to the pot, and dropped the meat thickly onto the moving surface. “Excellent, Igor,” Frank complimented, “And, good work appeasing the mystery- and gore-lovers as well.” His face was deeply shadowed from the basal flames as he glanced at Igor. Igor shrugged, wiping blood casually on his thighs.

“We’re nearly there!” The excited scientist observed.

“Don’t you think we’ve skipped a few?” Igor wondered aloud.

“Like, who?” Frank asked, distractedly. The slime was congealing oddly.

“Mommy bloggers,” Igor threw out. “Um, How-to, recipes,” He thought, hard. “Fan fiction? Politics?”

Frank stirred, but thought as well. “Grab that lovely, chic, repurposed kichen décor,” he decided. Igor looked over the remaining table items, then held up a pile of leaves, squash, and berries. A few spiders skittered out of it, down his arm, and to the floor.

Yard refuse

“This yard refuse?” He asked. “That’s what I said!” Frank snapped. Igor threw it in.

“Now, this link of chain, the acceptance letter to Bogharts, and a few crackers,” Frank commanded, pointing at each item in turn.

Igor hefted the link. First, he chose the weave he liked. Second, he chose a design. After selecting materials and tools, he was ready to drop his finished product into the brew. It cascaded in a long, sliding Shoosh of clinks amidst the gurgling materials.

Next went a tattered paper, stamped with the Bogharts seal. It congratulated Frank Stein on his acceptance thereto, and listed what materials he’d have to purchase from Horizon Tall Street. Frank pushed it beneath the slimy bubbles and noxious steam without a second thought.

“We need a cracker, you Gypsy!” Frank berated Igor.

“I feel triggered,” Igor resisted, folding his arms defiantly.

“Fine!” The scientist conceded. “I said political anyway, not racist.”

Uncrossing his arms, Igor looked over what was left. “There’s only this pile of cash and these empty bottles,” he noted. “Yes! That’s what we needed,” Frank shouted.

Cash

Shrugging, Igor dumped nearly all the bills, fluttering, into the mix. He felt he was throwing it all away. Hopefully, it would turn out well spent.

Just behind came the empty bottles. Igor could read their labels as they sunk: Promises was printed on each.

“It’s working!” Came the exultant shout. “It’s happier; it’s rising!” Igor was surprised at the positive results. He’d thought they would need better ideas, a slogan, or actual data.

Frank stirred frantically. The Blog Post Brew threatened to boil over as it inched ever higher in the pot. Choking steam billowed out and around the warehouse. Igor could hardly see his employer; he caught a flash of lab-coat white in the occasional flare of firelight.

A sudden Poof! sent Frank flying backwards. He was stopped, accidentally, by the faithful Igor.

The warehouse rang with echoed silence. They looked to the dark, silent pot. It sat, inert, atop the extinguished burner. A few black tendrils of vapor curled from the nearly-empty cauldron. Frank and Igor edged closer, closer, closer. They peered inside.

“Hmm,” Frank observed, poking at the black lump in the bottom with what remained of the wooden spoon.

“You seem to have made dubious food, Master,” Igor commented.

“Well,” the scientist conceded, “At least the Gamers will be happy.”

A Quick Witch Trip

pexels-photo-547264

“What wond’rous thing, this shopping cart,”
Grismelda said, to Shadow cat.
The cat looked bored; he licked a paw.
A cart, wond’rous? He’d pick a rat.

“Eek!” Gris screeched. Shadow looked up.
“What are these monstrous gold things?”
“You mean the corn?” A worker asked.
He hated Hallowe’ens.

Curious now, she tried a taste
Of yellowed, husk-wrapped coblet.
“Ugh!” She spat. Her cat hissed back.
“These corns taste worse than carpet!”

“You’ll have to buy that now, you know,”
The worried worker noted.
Gris sneered, but dropped it in her cart,
“We’ll make it candied corn,” she voted.

A second (and last) entry for The 7th Annual Halloweensie Contest.

If You Give the Kids an Order

If you tell your children to get dressed, you will probably find them half- and wholly-naked and playing with toys. If you tell them to pick up the toys, they will realize their brother is downstairs racing his cars on the floors. They will throw their toys over the railing and join him.

Once you threaten to put all playthings underfoot in the garbage, the children will most likely announce they are hungry. Right. Then.

When you suggest breakfast, the only capable one will think it’s a good time to make crêpes.

When he is elbow-deep in flour, egg, and milk; his brother will dump out a board game and the toilet-training boy will get The Look. The children will also need syrup, fruit, sugar, meat, cheese, and utensils set on the table with their plates.

It’s just a good thing they didn’t get dressed yet, or their clothes would have gotten sticky from the crêpes.

Cognitive Creation

“What?!”

Dr. Baerkaler cleared his throat professionally. “I said,” he repeated slowly, “That is a common side effect when you’ve lost some parts of your brain.”

I felt dizzy, and tired. I felt like I’d just given birth, for Pete’s sake. The doctor wasn’t making much sense. I’d lost some parts of my brain?

I looked down at the snoozing head of my newborn son. “Could you explain what you just said in more detail?” I managed. Surely, this would have been a chapter in that What to Expect book.

The doctor settled onto a guest chair and assumed his cheerful, patient, bedside manner tone. “You’ve just given birth,” He began. He met my gaze, so I nodded. Smiling, he went on, “It’s a major strain on the mother’s body to make and deliver a healthy baby.” Dr. Baerkaler paused, obviously so that I could process such a long sentence. I nodded again.

“As the baby develops inside of you, your nervous systems -pieces of your processing abilities and memory storing capacities- are used up by this process.” He looked at me cheerfully, despite my now-blank face.

“What?!” I managed, again.

Searching the ceiling briefly for inspiration, he looked back at me and slowly summarized, “You lose normal brain functions and forget things when your body is making a baby.”

I blinked. “Seriously?”

“Why, yes,” Dr. Baerkaler answered immediately. He sounded surprised that I wouldn’t know this. “And, now that you’ve delivered, a sizeable amount of functionality is gone.” He laughed a bit, in commiseration. “Surely, you’ve noticed it’s been draining out, so to speak, over the last eight months.”

I shook my head gently, in shock. “No, I hadn’t.” I said, nearly crying.

“Oh,” he supplied. “I suppose that would make sense, too.” He stood, and offered a slight, inadequately comforting squeeze to my shoulder. Bringing his medical tablet to his chest, he turned to leave.

“Is it permanent?” I timidly asked his back.

Pausing at the beige hanging curtain, he looked over his shoulder at me. I felt small, helpless, and dumb; a disheveled, ignorant mother swaddled untidily amidst thin hospital blankets.

Perhaps sensing my distress, Dr. Baerkaler smiled a reassuring doctor smile.

“Oh, don’t worry,” he said. “You won’t be needing your brain for a while anyway.”

Utah Jones

An arid wind swept across the lonely landscape. It smelled of hope, memories, and lunches forgotten in school bags.

Utah Jones wiped a yellow-latex-gloved wrist across her bare brow, pulling a few limp strands from her eyes and mouth. Piles of discarded archaeological pieces stood sorted in orderly rows to her left: her morning’s work. She’d spent all of the half hour carefully extracting, lightly cleaning, and stacking the worthless artifacts.

So much of her job involved sorting worthless artifacts.

Just then, two aboriginal youth ran into her site. Nevermind that she’d carefully staked out the area; or set up the shiny, illuminated distraction for them. Nevermind that she’d talked patiently with them about disturbing her work. Jones sighed as they ran up to her, babbling and wantonly smacking each other.

She had convinced herself they’d understood; but knew inside, as she’d gesticulated and slowly enunciated, that the savages had actually not heard a word of what she’d said.

The younger native began pulling at her legs. “Fooooooood!” He bellowed, toddler-like. Of course he’d know that word.

Cringing at the thought of the consequences, Jones hurriedly pointed them in the direction of her dwindling food stores. She also cringed at possible future effects on the tribes’ growth based on the “nutritional” value of what she had left in those cases. No matter, she rationalized. Hopefully, this project would be done by the time the sugar hit those children’s bloodstream.

Once again, Jones turned her attention to what she’d managed to unearth so far. She removed the remaining detritus, and finally saw her goal just beneath the shallow, murky water. Grimacing, she reached her right hand into the questionable filth. She fumbled around. She braced against the edge of the exposed hole wherein the obstruction lay.

After an interminable few seconds, Jones’ fingers found a gap. She pushed into it. Water swirling inedible remains quickly drained around her groping hand as she pulled the blockage loose.

She rinsed the cup off, loaded it with its fellows, started the dishwasher, took off her dish gloves, then went to kick her children out of the pantry.