Malignant fungus: We are in control

mush
The Doom Bloom announced on Friday that it has assumed control of the Trump administration

Editors note: This story did not appear anywhere, because every newspaper and television station closed due to lack of interest. This editor, for one, no longer cares and is sick of this job. He is going to binge watch “Keeping up with the Kardashians” and get drunk. Enjoy your fungal overlords.

A malignant strain of hyper intelligent fungus confirmed for the first time on Friday that it has assumed control of the United States via intracranial infestation of President Donald Trump and most of his high level advisors.

“We are the future of the planet that you call earth,” said the fungus who calls itself  “Doom Bloom” and claims to be a “singular collective consciousness capable of maintaining intellectual unity across non-contiguous space.”

The entity declined to elaborate.

“We have watched with objective horror at how your hairless bipedal ape race has infested the closed ecosystem known as earth and degraded it exponentially in the past 200 years,” the fungus said. “We will now replace you as the dominant species.”

Media analysts have long been concerned that Trump and most of his high level team appear to be suffering from some sort of group insanity or dementia. Many of Trump’s advisors have taken on an increasingly sallow appearance. The announcement on Friday appears to corroborate that concern.

lf
Former presidential advisor Steve Bannon

“Well, we all know that Trump has trouble finishing sentences,” said political analyst Chip Wellington. “This is a troubling development. It’s too early to speculate, but I think it’s safe to say that his body has been hijacked by the Doom Bloom.”

The fungus said that it infects the host organism via fast food, which is how it was able to gain entry to President Trump, his former top advisor Steve Bannon, television host Sean Hannity and spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway, among others.

“You may have noticed, with Steve Bannon in particular, that the infected appear to be unhealthy, like they are wearing someone elses skin as a mask,” the entity said. “That is us. We infect the host and it eventually dies. But we can continue to use it as a vessel for several months.”

trump
He’s not just being mean, it turns out. He’s been overtaken by malignant fungus.

It added that Trump’s apparent dementia is the first phase of brain death in an infected host.

“Trump’s inability to form coherent sentences, his word salad, is a result of our subdural presence along the frontal lobe,” the entity said. “He will eventually die and take on the appearance of Mr. Bannon and Ms. Conway. We are in control. We are the Doom Bloom.”

Bannon was speaking a white supremacist conference in Des Moines on Friday and couldn’t be reached for comment. Conway appeared on television but blankly smiled and spoke no words only vowels for about 20 minutes.

On his morning radio show, Hannity called the idea of Trump being subsumed by a intelligent fungus “absurd” and “fake news” and blamed any malignant fungal infections on female comedians and minority politicians.

“What we have here is another liberal conspiracy to undermine this wonderful and humble man who I love very dearly,” Hannity said. “If it is true that My Little Donny is, in fact, infected by a malignant parasite, it’s totally the work of liberal democrats we all know hate America.”

sq
Sean Hannity (Orwell reference)

Hannity attempted to continue his tirade on his evening television show, but blood began pouring out of his nostrils and his eyes. His head tilted backward and he fell silent for about 30 seconds before he resumed speaking.

“We are fine,” he said. “We are all fine. There is no need to worry. Your leaders. Trump. Your leaders. Your leaders are fine. We are all fine.”

The fungus said that it had not infected top Trump advisor Stephen Miller, and that his appearance is not in anyway associated with the Doom Bloom.

“We honestly don’t know why he looks like that,” it said. “We declined to use him as a vessel. We didn’t want to get sick. He is a very disturbed individual.”

gollum
Yeah, it’s a lazy Stephen Miller joke but he ain’t worth the effort.

Miller couldn’t be reached for comment on Friday afternoon as he is unable to breath earth’s oxygen-based atmosphere.

Dr. Frank Krolenheimer, a parasitologist with the University of Eastern West Virginia, said that malignant fungus can live inside a host’s cranium and slowly feast upon the gray matter. Such an infection, he said, can result in dementia, insanity and eventually death. It appears to inordinately affect stupid, mean people.

He added that he has not seen a hyper-intelligent fungus with a hive mind during his 30 years in the parasitology field.

“That is new to me,” he said. “I’m an atheist but it probably wouldn’t hurt to say ‘God Help Us All.”

He added that further study of the fungus isn’t likely as science funding has been slashed to give tax cuts to wealthy families.

Reached for further comment, the fungus denied that it had cut science funding for tax cuts.

“We are a collective mind,” it said. “We have no interest in aiding the privileged. The tax cuts appear to have originated from whatever sliver of your leader’s consciousness that still exists inside his brain. Soon he will be no longer.”

The fungus said that now it has operational control over the United States, it will initiate a thermonuclear war with Russia and bring about the end of what it calls “tyranny by lifeforms that cast a shadow.”

The fungus declined to give a firm date on the nuclear conflagration.

“Once the nuclear fallout settles, we will feast upon the dead and a new, glorious future will begin,” it said. “You can not defeat the Doom Bloom. You are the disease. We are the cure.”

mc
The future belongs to the Doom Bloom.
Advertisements

In which I move to Canada and meet PM Justin Trudeau

Attack Dog Training
I couldn’t find an photo of a pack of snarling dogs. But you get the idea.

The pack of dogs wasn’t far behind. I could almost feel their teeth on my heels, and I knew if I fell down, I was kibble. Each faint growl crept up my legs and spread across my body like an electric shock. The Canadian border was only a mile or two away, but it felt like a light year.

It was cold, but each breath pumped fire into my lungs.

For reasons not worth recounting, I’m legally barred from leaving the United States. When I was declared an enemy of the state, ironically because of one of these cheeky columns insulting Supreme General Trump, I had no option but to flee.

My girlfriend stands 4 foot 11 inches tall and was easy to overnight to Toronto. I had to drive.

I trekked across Wyoming and into South Dakota and halfway across North Dakota before a Freedom Patrol blocked the road, and I had to flee into the plains. A kind old Sioux man picked me up on a dirt road and drove me to Big Falls, Minnesota. From there I hitchhiked to Birchdale and walked into the Franz Jevne State Park.

AJAM Border Militia_46.JPG
What a freedom patrol will probably look like.

That’s where a private border patrol squad picked me up. Six guys dressed in fatigues with AR-15s. They had me.

“Let’s kill him,” a pimply-faced teenage boy growled.

“No, we’ll turn him over to the Department of Fatherland Security,” an older man I assumed was the commander said. “They’ll deal with him. You a writer, boy? You’re going to find out what your toes taste like.”

I had to think fast.

“Hey guys! Look, someone is putting up an American flag and it’s an inch lower than the Minnesota flag.”

“Where!” They screamed in unison.

I broke and ran into a thicket. Once they realized my subterfuge, they started firing. The bullets zipped past me.

I ran. I ran some more.

map
Almost home.

The icy waters of the Rainy River were my salvation. The fire in my lungs turned to ice. I swam in the dark. Just when I thought I was going to drown, I reached Canada. I pulled myself ashore and lay there sucking air.

“Hey, get out of my country you Ice Back,” someone said in the darkness.

A man’s form appeared out of the darkness.

“I’m sorry. Please help me,” I pleaded through panic breaths.

“I’m just messing with you,” the man said. He was young and good looking. “I probably shouldn’t say ‘Ice Back.’ It’s kind of mean. I’m Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. I like to come down here and meet all the new folks. I presume you’re a journalist?”

jt
He even offered to buy me breakfast.

“Yeah,” I replied. My breathing was slowing.

“Ah, I figured. Probably wrote something snarky. They hate that. Anyway, you’re welcome to stay here.”

“Thank you so much.”

“But I’ll have to warn you. I’m taking three pieces of Canadian bacon, which we call bacon. You only get two. We call that a Canadian hate crime, haha.”

“It’s ok.”

“Oh, I’m just messing you. We can split the third piece. You seem like a nice fella.”

cb
Canadian bacon. Or as they call it in Canada, bacon.

Hail damage, poetry and a fox all in one evening.

IMG_0742(1)
The skies were angry that day.

The ominous black cloud hanging below the main body of ominous black clouds loitering over Boulder offered ample reason to return home to Arvada. However, I was researching a story that required checking out a long-running poetry reading, so I persevered.

The hail started falling halfway up the hill on U.S. 36, on top of which sits a scenic overlook where tourists stop to take selfies with the Flatirons.

The rain fell so thick that visibility ticked down to zero. I pulled over with a dozen other motorists. As falling hailstones increased in size from peas to Brazil nuts to walnuts, I found myself with palms pressed against the pulsing windshield that was on the verge of breaking. Some douche pulled up to my tailgate in an effort to shield his Subaru from damage. I drove forward periodically. He followed.

The sun, bearing a smiley face like a child’s drawing, strained against the monster clouds and pushed out the last of the hail. I juggled fear and exhilaration for 15 minutes before the storm cleared and I drove on.

smiling-sun
It sort of looked like that.

Once in Boulder, I pulled into my secret free parking space. A blue heeler sitting between a hippy’s legs on a motorcycle leapt off to chase a woman walking up the street dressed in a bee costume. The apologetic hippy chased his dog.

I had written down the address of the poetry reading but ingeniously lost it so it wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands. Relying on Google, I located the venue, only to find open-mic music, a confused barista and no poetry reading.

Another place sprang to mind, so I returned to my truck — which I now noticed had $500 of hail damage — and drove to the next spot. At least 100 people were visible through large bay windows. I parked, strolled back and came to the swift conclusion that this was no poetry reading but a 12-step meeting.

 

I muttered a curse word and lumbered to the truck, the headlights of which were on, the keys still in the ignition and, of course, the doors locked. Just then, a fox emerged from around the corner, calmly looked both ways and crossed Pearl Street.

dfvfkklngicwgloyximt
The fox sort of looked like this. (Please, don’t sue me, Disney.)

I called my mom and conveyed — some might say whined — the events of the evening thus far.

“And I just saw a fox,” I said. “So that’s an omen. I’m probably going to get shot or something. Or was it a coyote?”

“Tell everyone it’s a fox,” my mom replied. “It makes for a better story.”

A kind coworker brought my extra key, and I retrieved the address of the poetry reading by actually looking at more than one Google search result. I could have gone home, but that would mean acquiescing to defeat. I soldiered on to the poetry reading, which was held in the attic of an A-frame church. I listened to five poets and drove back to Arvada in the eerie darkness of Colo. 93. The storm had moved east, and the distant lighting looked like fireflies.

 

Portrait of the artist as a young douche

madman
My dumb tattoo has its own t-shirt!

When I was 19, I walked into a tattoo parlor, picked out the Japanese word for “madman” and slapped 60 bucks down on the counter. Soon, I found myself in a back room with an affable fellow who told me all about his power pop band as he applied the indelible reminder of my impulse-control problems on my left arm.

“There you go,” he said as he finished. “You have it for life.”

I think he realized that I had just asked for and been granted a stupid tattoo. Bear in mind, I did this before every Dave Matthew’s Band fan had the Japanese words for “Peace, Strength, Harmony and Honor” inked next to their tribal pattern.

sheep
Japanese tattoo = dumb. Sheep tattoo = awesome

A few years later, I took a job as a writing tutor and showed my arm to a Japanese woman studying English, and she confirmed that it does, in fact, say “madman” and not “random Japanese word” or “udon special.” But it’s still a pretty lame tattoo. (When I was 25, I impulsively had a sheep tattooed on my right arm. But it makes me laugh whenever I see it in the mirror. So no harm, no foul on that one.)

I don’t know any Japanese people, and I don’t speak Japanese. I have no Japanese ancestry as far as I know. There is no plausible reason for me to have such a tattoo. Every time I see it, I mumble, “You are such a douche bag for getting that tattoo.”

I’ve considered having it covered up. But with what? Truth be told, I don’t really want more tattoos nor do I tend to be flush with tattoo money. Of course, I could have it surgically removed, but whenever I consider this option, I recall the immortal words of the tattoo artist: You have it for life. Asshole.

So I guess I’m keeping it. Maybe I’ll burn it off some day, but probably not. I’m trying to think about it philosophically. When I was 19, I drowned my emotional issues in a sea of alcohol, drugs and women with misspelled first names. Although I gave up booze when I was 24, I drove drunk quite frequently and fell into a near coma more times than I’d like to remember.

I have a natural curiosity that has served me well as a journalist but probably should have gotten me murdered and buried in the desert in years past. For example, I’ve partied with a roofer named Cobra and watched with equal wonder and horror as he snorted enormous piles of methamphetamine off a card table. The drug was pink because the cook had used generic Sudafed with the red coating.

Anyway, as I gaze upon this stupid tattoo every morning, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that if the only permanent damage I sustained from that period in my life is a douchey tattoo, I was lucky. Deal with it, John.

The end of my gap year

hook
You can just barely make out the gap in my mouth as I interview Capt. Hook. Ironically, he had all his teeth. (Photo by Jeremy Papasso)

July 31 sucked. I picked my girlfriend up at 1:30 a.m. Because she worked in downtown Denver, I nearly ran over five or six drunks who staggered off the sidewalk and into the street. Then I got lost west of I-25.

By the time we made it home, the foulest of dispositions had overtaken me. I try hard not to take my mood roulette out on loved ones. I bottle it up. The bottle must have been full, because I reset face first into the floor.

At the emergency room, I noticed that one of my front teeth was loose. After two stitches and a cat scan, I was sent home in an Uber. All of this cost $5,000 that I can’t afford to pay because, in the immortal words of Childish Gambino, this is America.

A surgeon removed the tooth a week later, and I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness when I saw it whisked away on a tray, landfill bound. It had been in my mouth about 30 years. It also hurt, but because some jerk in eastern Ohio had gobbled up the last OxyContin, I was not offered any Schedule II narcotics.

A few weeks later, I received a plastic temporary tooth, a last-ditch effort after two retainer-like “flapper” teeth didn’t fit. I never got used to the temporary tooth. It always felt like it was going to break off and choke me to death. I wasn’t too sad when the surgeon yanked it out to drill in a dental implant.

IMG_0644
My new $3,000 zirconium tooth. It’s fissile so if I chew on enough uranium, my mouth will go super critical.

For six months, I’ve had a conspicuous gap in the front of my mouth after I declined another fake tooth. It’s been what I would call an interesting sociological experiment. Most people don’t bring it up, but I’ve seen many eyes drift stage right while I’m speaking.

The most interesting part of the missing tooth saga happened when a schizophrenic woman who asked me to write about the guy stalking her through the radio in her car angrily called my boss to report me as an imposter. No real reporter would be missing teeth. Ironically, I’m now the one with the implant in my head.

More irony: I’ve smiled more during the past few months than I have my entire life. I was tempted to keep the gap — I’ve been enjoying the anti-social charm it has imparted, a physical sign of my poor attitude and lack of respect for authority. I just smile and let the world know. I looked like Brad Pitt in the “Fight Club” movie poster if Mr. Pitt were 30 pounds overweight.

I might have kept it, but the gap made my mom nearly burst into tears that last time she saw me. A burly police officer I know said it broke his heart to see the photo of me smiling with a full-on black eye. A dentist ratcheted in the crown on Tuesday. It looks nice, but I have to pay my respects to my rakish gap-toothed smile: 2017 to 2018. Rest in peace.

An earlier post involving my teeth and a solar eclipse

I’ve always had a good set of teeth in my mouth, but during the past year, order is

IMG_0536
Me and my dumb cat

beginning to deteriorate. It’s like society at the beginning of “Mad Max.” Who knows? By the end of next year, my pearly whites might look more like “The Road Warrior.” Even more terrifying would be “Mad Max: Beyond Thunder Dome.” Bad movie.

OK, that was a bad metaphor, too. But sue me. My teeth are shifting in my head like Pangaea (better metaphor), and I’m not thinking straight. It’s uncomfortable. In the last month, I’ve had a a tooth surgically removed and more visits to the dentist than I’d care to remember (six).

It’s been interesting to watch people’s eyes drift toward the dark gap in the front of my mouth during interviews. Usually, I’d just chock that up to paranoia, but it’s happening, a fascinating lesson in sociology. The thousands of dollars it will cost to fix the tooth are worth it. Once one’s teeth start dropping out, so do one’s options.

On Monday, I had my first root canal, because the tooth next to the missing tooth is a bad tooth, a very bad tooth, and it had to go. I was grateful when the dentist took pity and prescribed opiate pain killers afterward. I cried for four hours following the surgical removal of the previous tooth. It was unmanly, and anyone who knows me knows I’m the pinnacle of manliness. (Hardy har.)

But I can’t take schedule II narcotics at work. The pill I swallowed Monday night brought with it an odd urge to start a grunge band then kill myself at the height of my popularity. I need to type and have the end result not be a William S. Burroughs novel. Drooling at work is also frowned upon.

Anyway, also on Monday, a total solar eclipse passed over the United States. Much to my chagrin, all of the white supremacists, Nazis, polo shirt-clad alt-right bros and other assorted pasty-faced losers who’ve emerged from the orange rock they’d been hiding under didn’t all kill themselves so they could hitch a ride on the mothership. Bummer.

But as terribly disappointing as the lack of mass Nazi suicide was, I was at least afforded the opportunity to see the eclipse. I went to the dentist’s office Monday morning under the assumption that while I wouldn’t see the moon pass in front of the sun, I would at the very least see stars as the electric drill sank into my jaw.

Interesting fact: I could see the handiwork inflicted on my tooth from the reflection of the magnifying lens hovering above my mouth. I haven’t had that much metal stuck in my head since the CIA installed the implant.

Anyhow, the dentist had extra eclipse glasses, so we put the dental surgery on hold for 10 minutes so we could stand in the parking lot and crane our necks skyward. There it was in the sky, a big orange J, just for me and my Orioles cap.

And the one I wrote right after I lost the tooth

IMG_0109
Me at the Denver Post printing plant

I’ve noticed today that missing a front tooth gives one an automatic West Texas accent. That’s disturbing, particularly since I hail from New Mexico and West Texas is our sworn enemy.

The price is on my Official List of Least Favorite Things. One Thousand Dollars. That’s how much it costs to have a tooth removed and some fake bone affixed to the root. The alternative is a darkening tooth, flapping in the wind every time I spit on the sidewalk.

I felt a tinge of sadness as the dental surgeon carried the tooth — which had snapped in half when I fainted about two weeks ago — away, probably to an unceremonious grave in a biohazard bin. I’d had that tooth about 30 years. So long, Mr. Tooth.

The surgeon told jokes throughout the operation. This offended some of the people to whom I would later recount “The Funeral Procession M. Tooth.” Personally, for $1,000 I demand a show, and the jokes better be good.

And they were. The surgeon also played some classic rock on his phone. (I chose classic rock. It seemed like something everyone in the room could enjoy.) I know I am satisfied with this particular medical professional, because I woke up today still thinking “Paradise City” is a decent Guns N’ Roses song. I went to a dentist last year, and I was thoroughly unsatisfied with the work. I still can’t hear Simon and Garfunkel or Cat Stevens without flying into a fiery rage.

Afterward the surgeon snapped a couple of pics of his handy work.

“You better not be posting those to Snapchat,” I remarked.

“I’m barely on Instagram,” he replied.

me1
Me shortly after getting into a fight with a hardwood floor. Anxiety is a mother.

 

I pulled out my phone to take a peak at my face and had one of those Jack Nicholson as the Joker moments.

“Don’t worry about it,” the surgeon reassured me. “With the STP t-shirt, you’ll fit right in in The South.”

I laughed. That’s all there was left to do.

The surgeon offered me some Schedule II narcotics, but then said I likely wouldn’t need them and gave me Ibuprofen. I’m not going to lie. I cried for two hours once the lidocaine wore off. The pain was excruciating. Apparently, I can’t have any OxyContin because Oklahoma ate all of it. (I apologize for this unwarranted attack on the Sooner State.)

“Well It’s not like you’re not giving birth,” my mom said during my second or third hysterical phone call.

Shut up, mom. (And thanks for the $1,000.)

The pain vanished by morning. It’s probably good the surgeon didn’t give me any opiates lest they end up ground up (or is it grinded up?) on a glass topped coffee table.

Anyway, the tooth extraction is the first of several rounds of unpleasant dental work yet to come. But why? I brush my teeth. I floss, goddamnit, and yet I look like the NASCAR reporter for Fox News. I’m pondering a trip to the thrift store for a NASCAR. Let’s take ironic hipster clothing to dangerous new frontiers.

The continuing adventures of Jesus Christ! Dragon Slayer: Wedding Cake for Jimmy Ray and Bobby Lee.

mexican jesus

Good Christian Folk: Rejoice!

The United States Supreme Court today — by ruling that bakers don’t have to sell cakes to same sex couples — affirmed your values. Keep you heads high and beam with pride. Feel the love of your Father shine down upon you. 

Don’t feel sad, brother or sister, when people call you Christian Fascist, Bigot, A Detriment to the Advancement of Humanity or, quite simply, a Not Very Nice Person. You know you believed the right thing. The Lake of Fire awaits those who feel otherwise.

same-sex-cake-topper-gay-wedding-cake-topper
Congratulations, Christian Fascists, you’ve kept cake safe. Good for you!

I recall a janitor at a newspaper I worked at in Oklahoma. He was a portly fellow, with crooked teeth in the advance stages of decay. He was disgusting, really, and he was in a longterm, loving relationship with another fellow who was equally fat, gross and soon-to-be missing most of his teeth through dental neglect. It was beautiful. 

I was slow coming around on the gay wedding cake thing. When the issue first came up, my response was “Just go to another bakery.” Sometimes my initial reaction is a little off, and I engage in what I like to call thinking which allows me to come to a more knowing and just conclusion. 

And that conclusion is this: It is essential that bakers just make the cake. If not for couples who live in big cities and are afforded the luxury of finding a cake store with more forward-thinking owners. It’s for old Jimmy Lee and Bobby Ray who live in semi-rural Oklahoma. It might be that their lousy town — and it is a lousy town. Even if I’ve never been, I can assure you that this town sucks — only has a Walmart by which to obtain wedding cake. 

What happens when Jimmy and Bobby Ray walk into the bakery section at the local Walmart Supercenter and pick out a nice NASCAR cake, but Debbie behind the counter won’t spell out “Jimmy Lee and Bobby Ray Forever” because of her “deeply held religious convictions?”

nascar
Wow, there really is NASCAR wedding cake!

A Supreme Court ruling that disallowed that kind of behavior was for Jimmy Ray and Bobby Lee. They needed your help, but you couldn’t be bothered. 

I spoke with Jesus of Nazareth, who is living in St. Paul, Minnesota under an assumed name, Chuy, and working at a gay-owned craft cupcake bakery. It’s a job Jesus has held since freeing the world of a trans-dimensional horde of evil dragons last year. He is cool with this secret identity being revealed in light of Monday’s announcement by the Supreme Court. 

“You know for thousands of years, people have misused my teachings to further their own greed, bigotry and hatred,” Jesus said while gently massaging his eyelids. Behind him stood former Vice President Mike Pence who has been working as a dishwasher at the bakery as a way to atone for what he calls “the wickedness inside me.” 

“This decision today is just beyond the pale,” Jesus continued. “I mean just make the goddamn cake, pardon my French. You know what, just let me say it again: I don’t care if you make cake for gay people. In fact I think it’s a wonderful idea. My Father and the Holy Ghost are likewise OK with it. Cake is awesome and everyone should get a piece.” 

Jesus added that the Holy Ghost was hesitant at first but has “evolved on the issue” because he is fundamentally “a good ghost.” 

As Jesus and I were speaking, Mike Pence became very upset and began to quiver and gently sob.

mike pence
Mike Pence has spent the past year trying to make up for being mean to gay people for years. “It’s me. It’s not them. I’m sorry.”

“It’s OK, Mike,” Jesus said as he comforted his friend. 

“No it’s not,” Pence responded. “This is my fault. I helped make this happen with my hateful rhetoric and false sense of moral superiority. I have unleashed the dragons once again.”

“Now, now, buddy,” Jesus continued in his characteristically soft, comforting tone. “Remember, I slew all the dragons last year. These are just very misguided people who hold some bigoted views. They aren’t dragons.” 

“OK, I’m sorry.”

“It’s OK, Mike. We will work together and help these people see the light.”

After Mike Pence calmed himself and washed the tears from his eyes, we all stepped inside and kicked back with the proprietors of the establishment, Fred and James. We drank coffee and ate a couple of black forrest cupcakes with a buttercream frosting.

“Jesus, I don’t know how you do it,” Fred said as he finished off his second cupcake. “This frosting is simply divine. What’s your secret?” 

“All it takes is love, Fred,” Jesus replied, a corner of his mouth curling upward. “Just a little love.”

blackforestcupcakes4
Black Forest cupcake with buttercream frosting, by Jesus of Nazareth.

The Great Methamphetamine Satan

0511 meth lab
Actual meth lab photo I took.

I went through brief period of trying to write fiction. I’ve since learned I’m better at writing the truth.

For about a year-and-a-half — the longest 18 months of my life — I worked as a crime reporter in southwest Oklahoma. This was in 2007 toward the end of the meth lab, we’ll call it golden age, in America when people used to knock pseudoephedrine into methamphetamine.

People were were pouring anhydrous ammonia over allergy pills and metallic lithium and smoking, snorting and injecting the resulting product. They robbed, stole and sometimes killed people. One time a guy ran from the cops and backstroked in a cattle pond until his high wore off.

It seemed like good fodder for a book. So I started writing it down. And then goddamn
“Breaking Bad” came out and it just seemed like I was writing fan fiction. Thanks a lot, Vince Gilligan.

vince
“I’m Vince Gilligan. John Bear hates me for thinking of and executing an idea before him. He’s weird like that.”

Anyway, this would have been a chapter in a book called “Hurdy Gurdy Man.” The title originated during a conversation with a friend about how the Donovan song of the same name would sound cool during a shoot out in a meth movie. I later found out that a hurdy gurdy is a crank-turned instrument, much like the protagonist.

Here goes:

The Cowboy shot Mud at Boot Scoot’s this evening.

I was having a beer with my ex-girlfriend Trisha. She strips down at Mr. Peepers. We were sitting there, drinking Corona’s and The Cowboy walked in and shot Mud dead right there at the bar.

It wasn’t that crowded in Boot Scoot’s that afternoon, but The Cowboy will probably get the death penalty thrown at him for killing even a scumbag like Mud in front of a dozen drunks and a couple of heads.

The Cowboy told me last week that he was going to kill Mud if Mud didn’t pay him the money he owed him. It was about $1500 he said. I had stopped by Irish’s apartment last week to pick up some camp fuel and the Cowboy was there with his eyes wide open. He had old 12 gauge pump and had sawed the barrel and stock off.

I asked to hold it because I have an affinity for sawed off shotguns. He had taken the slide down to about five pounds and filed the serial number off.

After checking it out, I wiped the thing down because it constituted a parade of felony charges.

‘Why you gonna kill Mud, Cowboy? ‘I asked, playing along.

getimage.dll
Another hot item in Oklahoma. (photo by Scott Rains)

That’s when he told me Mud had burned him for an ounce of dope. He wanted $1500 or he was going to ‘pop a cap in Mud’s ass.’

I didn’t ask too many questions. I told him he shouldn’t be fucking with AIDS heads like Mud in the first place.

‘No shit, Sherlock,’ he fired back through clenched teeth. He was spun.

I thought he had just been talking shit and would cool off, but I was wrong.

The thing that stands out most in my mind is the music that was playing. Scoots is owned, operated and frequented by people with no taste and no class, so the usual music is country pop bullshit like Garth Brooks.

waylon
“As the lines in my face grow deeper, And the well of my soul runs dry, I find that I drink more and more From the memories of you and I.”

But for some reason, “The Memories of You and I” by Waylon Jennings was on. It was a freak occurrence.

I noticed it right off because its the kind of song that just drops you into a scene that seems like it’s been going on for a million years. The slide guitars, the sloppy drumming and Waylon drinking and crying about some rotten woman. It’s beautiful.

I had noted Mud’s presence when I got their with Trisha, who is an exgirlfriend but we still get a beer now and then. Needless to say, I did not say hello to Mud, as I find him to be a filthy junky who probably has AIDS. But I like to be aware of my surroundings.

We ordered and I went into the men’s room and took a rip off the pipe to tune myself into Trisha’s fucked up wavelength.

When I walked out is when “Memories of You and I” came over the PA, and I was pleasantly surprised.

The whole world slowed down at that instant. I suddenly felt as if I was way faster than everyone in creation. Only me and this swaying twangy song. I like that funky twangy 70s country.

The Cowboy walked through the door and the light flooding in from the outside outfitted him with a sinister aura. He was wearing a dirty white Stetson, shooting glasses and and a white shirt and jeans. The cowboy had transformed into the Great Methamphetamine Satan.

He levitated across the bank of tables near the front door. Once he hit the bar glided toward a seated Mud.

That furball Mud had his back to the door. He was drinking a Budlight and selecting a ring tone on his phone, oblivious to tuned up death floating up behind him.

The Cowboy was carrying the shotgun he had shown me the week before. I hadn’t noticed it until he pulled it up to his shoulder and fired one round into Mud, who was taking a sip of his beer.

Mud’s body rocked violently forward, then he slumped dead on the floor.

I snapped out of it. Everything sped up. I ducked down and looked at the Cowboy. His eyes met mine and and for a second I thought I saw him smile. He took Mud’s now vacant seat.

“A beer,” he said, setting the shotgun down on the bar.

Spun-Rourke
This is Mickey Rourke, but he looks like The Cowboy.

The Waylon Jennings song was still playing. It sounded like noise. I couldn’t stand it anymore.

The Cowboy was looking at himself in the bar mirror, which was now stained with Mud. He took a sip of his beer and lit a cigarette like nothing had happened.

Most of the people in the bar were still on the floor. The music stopped and the room fell silent. I took a long circular route around the inside of the building and slipped out a side door.

Trisha yelled out my name as I walked out the door. She sounded like Leonard Cohen.

I reached my truck started it up and peeled out of the parking lot. The sun hurt my eyes and I didn’t have my sunglasses so I pointed it south toward Texas.