Heart to heart

During the last war I was drafted. But I was lucky and got a desk job at Fort Freedom. I was away from all the fighting, nice and cozy with army desk-jockeys. Except they were professional soldiers, so they had rifle ammo stashed in their desk drawers, right next to the staplers. And my commanding officer, do you know what he had in his closet? Two rifles and a case of ammo. He had a gun rack with rifles in full view, but I guess he wanted to keep a couple of rifles out of sight? Or maybe they were his backup rifles, I don’t know.

Anyway, the reason I know this is because he would sometimes invite me back to his quarters. He had a little house within the perimeter, used to be a local’s house, but then they turned the village into Fort Freedom. I guess I should say “we turned it into Fort Freedom,” but I digress.

Evenings at the CO’s house. We played chess and talked. He would always tell me war stories from other wars, I think three other ones, before he got promoted to the sidelines. In those stories, somebody else was always the hero, and my CO was just there to watch, and live to tell the tale. I guess this is what makes a good leader? A good leader lets others grow, props them up to achieve glory. Props them up to die for freedom. I guess.

He told me one story about a kid who risked his life for a box of fuses, so they could fix up a helicopter, so they could lift the wounded out of a battle zone. That sounds noble enough, right? Some kids who got in trouble, needed to get out of the frying pan, needed to get to a hospital, and their friend risked his life to help them. Everything about this story just says “what a good kid. What a fine, upstanding citizen.” So I ask my CO:

“What’s going on with him now? Do you know?”

“He was wounded in the battle of Dead Man’s Peak. He’s back home now, out of service for good. Making a living in his home town again. Got two kids.”

“Just like that?” I ask. “A hero just gets back to making a living, huh?”

“He was just doing his duty, son. We all are.”

“I guess we are,” I say. And we keep on playing chess and talking. One of many nights before it’s all over.

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Allergic to you

My skin itches, my nose is runny, and I cough. When you are near me. I cannot explain it any other way. I am allergic to you.

Back in school, I wasn’t. We hung out all the time and when you weren’t around, I always thought I could almost see you.

I wasn’t allergic when we met again two months ago, after 10 years. You like my face and you said I have grown up.

I cannot stand you now.

Best job Ever

I got fired from a lot of jobs. I used to sell this brand of yogurt to shops, but I got fired for pissing off the shop owners, whatever, they were idiots anyway. And I used to work for at this tobacco shop, but all the customers were idiots who didn’t know anything about tobacco, so I would just cuss them out. Whatever, no big deal.

And then I got this job at the Vatican (I’m Italian, by the way), and it’s just perfect.

There are these hallways in Vatican where tourists are not supposed to go because they are like private chambers and everything. And there are signs that say “No Tourists Allowed, No Admittance” with a little picture of a person crossed out and a red rope across the hall, but I guess people are too stupid to understand so they have to put a person in each of these places, and that’s my job. I’m the guy who tells these dumb fucks not to go there.

I like this job and I like my boss, Cardinal X. Whenever he goes down his private hallway with a little boy or something, I nod and say hello, and he says hello back. I guess he’s a good guy, even though he’s a real idiot.

Like that one time he passed me and we said hello, and then this old lady followed him, and I said “Hey you dumb cow, can’t you read? You cannot go there. Lose some weight and get less old, please. Fuck you very much.” She got all angry about it, and my boss stopped in his hallway and looked back, but I could tell from his stupid face he did not care, and he just continued on and disappeared around a corner.

So anyway, I get accused of violence and bad conduct a lot, but I’m lucky the Church doesn’t care. I’m lucky to have this job and they’re lucky to have me.

Friends

“When you travel, do you ever wake up and not know where you are or, for that matter, who you are? It happens to me sometimes, and I panic. Just for a few seconds.”

The table had no reaction to what I said. People just stared at me blankly.

“Yeah,” I continued, embarrassed, “I think it’s normal, though, don’t you?”

Absolutely no reaction. I figured asking more questions would activate at least one person.

“What do you think is the cause? How do you think memory works? How does being a person even work? Is it a process, like in a computer, you know, a piece of software running, getting data from a database? Or is it completely different?”

They remained still.

“You know, I have suicidal depression. I was raped as a child. I sometimes think about killing other people and it calms me down.”

No reaction.

“Oh, wait,” I looked through the buttons on the console. There was one that said “Paused”. I touched it and they all started moving, clinking the cutlery, clunking the glasses, chowing down food. My friends, or whoever they were.

“When you travel, do you ever wake up and not know where you are or, for that matter, who you are? It happens to me sometimes, and I panic. Just for a few seconds,” I said.

“Yeah, I get that feeling too.”

“Me too, though I don’t think I forget who I am. But I often forget where I am. That’s common I think. I wonder how memory works.”

“Hey, do you guys remember your dreams?”

The evening went on merrily.

Business trip

The hotel had guns up front, turrets, sandbags. But inside the breakfast was a buffet and the lady asked my room number. And then I got coffee and a nice fat jug of milk.

The car that took me to my meetings was armored. The building where we did business was a real fortress, and the guards were the most loyal among the brown people. They were paid well and well fed. In the meeting rooms we exchanged fat sums.

On my way to the airport I heard machine gun fire and the driver told me not to worry, it was nothing. I took off leaving the country below. With other business people, and tourists and musicians with me. It’s so punk of me to rebel.

Make it Simple

This is how I started biking to work. One morning I got into my car as usual, but it wouldn’t start. So I figured I would take it to the shop later, and I took my bicycle. The way was so nice and refreshing, and it was good exercise, so I decided to use the bicycle from then on.

But here’s how I started walking to work. You see, one morning the chain on my bike broke, so I just walked. It was still good exercise, and I could take the time to enjoy the views.

But then I started working from home. Then quit my job. Then stopped going out altogether. Do you know why? I found a trap door in my basement, that led to the basement’s basement. There, I was bit by a bug which made it so I don’t need sleep or food anymore.

Nah, I’m just kidding. I walk to work. I did get my car and my bike fixed, don’t worry about me.

Crabs

We always went out to eat on Fridays, and the meals were great. One of her favorite restaurants was Rabo’s Baked Meat, run by a bearded Armenian guy. The guy’s father was called Rabo and he set up the place when he came over from the old country. But I digress.

When at Rabo’s, we ordered our favorites: Baked Squirrel for me and Crab Delight for her. Mind you, there was no real squirrel in the dish, it was only called Squirrel. It was beef, I think, but the waiter would never tell us. Part of the charm, I guess.

Now, for the Crab Delight, I am not sure. It had a distinct sea-foody or fish-foody taste, and it was small chunks of white meat. But it wasn’t like those imitation crab meat sticks, it had more texture.

Then I got into reading Lovecraft, and I noticed certain hints at Lovecraftian lore in the restaurant, like the wonky pentagram with the eye in the center, the squid mounted on the wall, or the ceiling painted in constellations. Were they actual constellations we can see in the sky? I don’t know anything about stars, so no. They might have just been stars painted on the ceiling by a guy ordered to paint stars, no plan other than bright spots on a dark background. Or they might have been the stars you would see from an alien world, far, far away. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Wouldn’t it be cool if the meat…