Friday, December 24, 2004

Grandma and Grandpa Claus were babysitting for their son and daughter-in-law. It was an annual Christmas tradition since their son had assumed responsibility of keeping the legend alive. In his day it had been easier, Grandpa thought to himself. It didn't take millions of whirlwind visits through snowstorms, landing on rooftops, sliding down chimneys to so firmly anchor the idea in people's minds. None of that would have been humanly possible, anyhow. In his time, he thought, five visits in one night resulted in enough sightings to spread the legend and keep it alive. After that it took on its own dynamic. The senior Clauses tried not to show their grandchildren, but they were increasingly worried about their son. Last year he had returned exhausted and looking very much older, as if he had labored the night shoveling presents into a coal furnace. He had doubled and redoubled the number of houses visited, now almost 30 in one night, sadly to no avail. The ideas of peace, good will and sharing were dying out in the modern times. With consternation the aged couple thought of their grandchildren and how difficult it would be for them when they took over.

Story #118

Note from Indeterminacy: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! It's a pleasure to meet each and every one of you via these stories. Indeterminacy is now on vacation until next year. Regular posts will begin again on Monday, January the 3rd.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Ever since falling into the Christmas grog the camera had not been the same. It had trouble focusing. It added antlers to the people it photographed. But that was only the beginning. Soon, it became bolder, playing Christmas MP3s it had somehow downloaded out of the air, flashing and clicking in rhythm to the music. People began to wonder if they, perhaps, had tasted too much of the grog. When the camera started repeating "Ho! Ho! Ho!" loudly and somewhat ominously, as if it were perhaps psychopathic, everyone ran from the house into the winter blizzard raging outside. They calmed their nerves with a snowball fight.

Story #117

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Men called Sophie beautiful but she had no eyes. Somehow she got by. The sunglasses she wore hid this fact from the world. The truth of an eyeless girl might be unsettling and her desire was for easy situations. Sophie was marvelous at the facade. Perhaps men were attracted to her for that very reason. Often she would fix her head in the direction of the man in conversation with her, as if staring intently. An enticing shift in posture, a smile, and a kiss on lips she liked were distraction enough to make him forget what might be behind the darkened frames. She lived, loved and slept with an UV protection factor she didn't need at all. The fact that she was never seen to visit an optometrist failed to arouse suspicion. Perhaps the embalmer would discover her secret upon removing her decoration, but for the time being the men she met did not miss looking into her eyes. And Sophie was one of the select few who saw clearly without vision.

Story #116

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Sheryl had a problem. She was in love with six boys and couldn't decide which one go out with. Tom had a pleasant manner and was fun to be around but Joe had this way of making her laugh with his witty remarks. John was immensely handsome and candy to look at. Bill knew how to touch her but Bob knew where to touch her. If only the two could take lessons from each other! Then there was the muscular but sensitive Philip. He understood her, or was that Tom? It was getting hard to keep track with so many boys. The other day she had called Bill for one of his touches but had mistakenly dialed Joe's number. Funny though it was, his touching was all thumbs and two left feet. This could not go on! Keeping track of all these boys and their details was turning into a nymphomanic nightmare. She would have to come to a final decision. And, yes, she had it! Tomorrow she would purchase that new software package, the Ultimo Organizer, for keeping track of things. Now if only she could remember which boy was good at installing...

Story #115

Monday, December 20, 2004

The faces on the wall had consciousness, but no one ever suspected. The man and woman were intended to be a couple, and should have lived happily ever after on their flat surfaces, but the background shades of green were just the wrong match, drifting off towards opposite ends of the rainbow. This was a source of great distress for the woman. Her stale spinach mood was in constant dissonance with the 180 degrees of life transpiring before her. The man-face, hovering in his tranquil green, felt well at ease, totally at peace with the world. He couldn't have been more in the pink. The woman's cries for help were met with indifference. Persons standing close to her instinctively folded their arms and turned their eyes away. But the man with his green the color of Spring never missed an opportunity to proposition the stray females crossing his line of vision. The ladies were surprised, but never distressed, by the thoughts popping into their heads.

Story #114

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Queen Serena of the Sea hardly looked older than her daughter, Liana. The saline tide with its eternal caresses kept its ruler and Princess young beyond their centuries. But now the Queen had decided it was time to abdicate, to retire to a life on the shore. She planted the traditional kiss on Liana's cheek, symbolizing the transfer of powers from one generation to the next. Liana, a creature of untamed impetuosity, had plans. Her first intention as Queen was to introduce more tempestuousness into the waters. It was something like a game of "good cop, bad cop." The cute surfers would be thrown from their boards directly into her arms. If she liked one, she would keep him. The Queen mother had plans, too. She would rent beach chairs to the visiting tourists, making many new friends in the process. Between customers she would gaze, lost in thought, at the waves.

Story #113

Saturday, December 18, 2004

I encountered them at the medieval square, was immediately cognizant of their origin. Once, in a cloistral library, I had located a leather bound volume of magic and read of them, two Druid sisters roaming through time and worldy venues in search of a male to accompany them. I was interrupted by the closing of the library and had to return later to conclude my reading, but by opening hour of the next day the tome had vanished. The two women were strange to me at first. I seemed to hear them speaking but could not tell which of them uttered the words. Had they spoken at all or had I just imagined it? My eyes moved restlessly from one to the other, searching for some sign of acknowledgement. Somehow I understood what they wanted of me. They wished to allow my spirit eternal communion with them in the mysterious darkness of the Teutoburg forest, the mystical region which housed them between wanderings. In exchange I must first grant them brief use of my body for a ritual to be performed at their most sacred of shrines, at the ancient sandstone structure near the Exter valley, known to them as Externstein, a massive growth of stones so out of character with its surroundings it must have been placed there by an unknown God or Devil. I heard my voice telling them yes. I wanted to be with them. Always. Now it has come to pass. If only I had been able to finish reading in that antique volume. There must surely have been a warning... soul becomes theirs to nourish them. Slowly, bit by bit, I feel my essence vanishing into theirs. Soon it will be gone entirely, and they will search for their next human sacrifice.

Story #112

Friday, December 17, 2004

Elona, High Priestess of Los Angeles, stood among the concrete rubble rolling on inexorably in all directions. She had donned the ceremonial costume found ages ago in a sub-basement warehouse cache, reached through forgotten, uncharted tunnels. Her apparel mirrored the hues of the sacred graffiti runes left by unknown, supernatural hands. She stood there now on behalf of her people to pay homage to the God of Concrete. Their faith told them a new and complete structure would someday arise out of the dead, crumbled blocks strewn in the flat grayness around them. The Holy Tower would penetrate the sky, giving them new life and glory. According to the legend, it would be possible to climb a several day's journey on tower stairs bringing them past the dark dust clouds blanketing their world. At the structure's summit they could view the Holy Orb known as the Sun. The entire clan turned out for the solemn but hopeful ceremony, watched minutely each move the Priestess made and repeated in their minds each syllable of the ritual incantation, a ripple of silent echoes, thousands strong. Her people had faith in their religion. But the High Priestess, though she went through the motions, did not believe the Sun existed.

Story #111

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Better watch out. I'm Kung Fu baby. Those pre-natal martial arts classes sure paid off. Must have been quite a sight, all those soon to be mamas watching Bruce Lee movies, bulbous bellies packed into that cramped theater like sturgeon in a caviar kitchen. Yup, I came out kicking. I'm sorry about the doctor. He was just doing his job, slapping me on the bottom like that. Glad they could fix his neck in the other ward. I'm not sorry about Aunt Mildred. The way she kept kissing me, she deserved what she got. Use your opponent's weight against 'em. That's what I always say. Next time don't put my crib so close to the stairs. And you warn people not to laugh at those little teddy bear footprints on my black belt. That would be a BIG mistake. Mama? Could you put me up to the piano? That one film at the classes had some great fight scenes choreographed to Mozart. I want to try something.

Story #110

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Their instructions were clear. They were not to move from that spot. They masked their frozen fear with smiles but the thought coursing through their blood was paralyzing. And the responsibility. If they left the stairs the building's balance would irreversibly shift causing the top-heavy structure to tip over and roll down the sloped streets of the town, crushing a lot of fun places. That's what the man had told them. "Don't move," he had said, "I'll fetch a fire truck!" Then off he ran, leaving them in blind smiling terror. They took special care to leave their smiles up. Who knew the effect of lips turned downwards in a frown?

Story #109

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Electroman was one of those superheroes who created a tingling sensation everywhere he went. After a busy hour turning the cold-blooded Snow Man into wisps of vapor and frying the round white thing on Egghead's shoulders, he went on to his coup d'etat of the day, defeating the evil Dr. Wrinkle, a fiend feared by all women 30 years of age and older. Our hero knocked him flat and ironed him out with his electric iron hand, leaving the ruthless antagonist as smooth as a baby's bottom. Everyone was of the opinion that it served Dr. Wrinkle right, the way he went around, wrinkling all the women! Electroman was back just in time to party with the ladies celebrating the end of their worries. Someone put on a cha cha cha and Electroman danced like the electricity he was. Streaks of static lightning shot across the room, giving everyone a good time, and solving their remaining problems with electrolysis.

Story #108

Monday, December 13, 2004

That day in class the four girls tried something new. They concentrated on one thought, and hoped to transplant this thought to the boy, taking over his will. It had worked. That evening the boy, made restless by his mood, left his parents' house, wandered around the neighborhood with no particular object in mind, found himself finally on the doorstep of the house where the girls awaited him. A bit dazed, he rang the bell. No words came to him as he saw the four girls. They tugged him inside gently by the arms, by the waist and shirt. He stumbled along with them. In his stunned condition he hardly noticed how one by one they helped him out of each article of his clothing. They set him up against the wall and began taking the pictures. The next day he would have forgotten everything. And the girls would have the illustrations for their underground book on the boy creature. Everyone was happy.

Story #107

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Lisa visited her great grandmother at every opportunity. She was devoted to her. The others thought her mind half gone, but Lisa loved the stories of romance the old woman told her. This was a woman who had lived her life to the fullest. She had no regrets, except maybe growing old. The woman spoke to her great granddaughter, and her mind sounded as clear as the tone on a classic Steinway piano. The 95 year old woman began to tell of a secret lover she had once had, a man with an astonishing command of ancient spells. In an intimate moment he had taught her some of his magic, a magic spell that she had kept to herself all these years. Now she felt it time to pass on what she had learned. Lisa could hardly wait to hear what it was all about. "Close your eyes and think of nothing," the old woman commanded in her stately voice. The girl did as told. She fought off all her thoughts and soon actually was thinking of some kind of nothing. In that instant she felt dizzy, and very weak. Lisa opened her eyes and stared stunned and speechless at herself, as if in a mirror with no glass. She grasped her own hand, and it was the wrinkled hand of an old woman. Impossible though it seemed, Lisa's consciousness found itself in her great grandmother's body. The shock so paralyzed her, she could hardly find the strength to move. "Well, I must be off now," the young girl's body said to the old woman in the chair, "I believe Lisa will have a date tonight."

Story #106

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Yvonne had a secret. There were four women inside her yearning to make themselves known. They fought under her skin like vicious cats clawing at each other's eyes. Boys felt themselves drawn to her moody nature. They braved any torment for the prize of a smile. Girls however were repelled by the brooding manner Yvonne confronted them with. Often, when they ventured a friendly word she just stared back at them, rabid disbelief in her eyes, as if a crazy person had just spoken. They didn't like her, but did they know how it was inside her? Only when one of her natures held the other three at bay could she show any emotion, one she might venomously reject once the equilibrium shifted. For the moment the hot drops of water soothed the savageness inside her. Yvonne called a truce with herself. The water masked her frustrated tears.

Story #105

Friday, December 10, 2004

Craig was crazy about feet, a real connoisseur. He swept buildings around town, a job he loved because it afforded him opportunities to look down at the floor, allowed him, in effect, a bird's-eye view of feet. His surreptitious glances went unnoticed. No one notices the guy who sweeps up. He was invisible. In his imagination he brushed the broom over naked feet dancing seductive circles around him. One afternoon he swept a theater in preparation for that night's fashion show. His mouth watered at the thought of all those moving feet. Perfectly formed feet, as only models have. Lust fuels ingenuity. He planted a Webcam at the back of the stage, on the floor, right where the backdrop came down. No one would notice it. The models would be preoccupied with their movements. The audience would be preoccupied with the models. That night he locked the door to his room, pulled the shades, powered up the camera and watched. In horror. He had overlooked one insignificant detail, which now made him scream "Nooooo!" into his mind's ear. The anonymous heads in the audience strangled his desire with their fixated stares. His erotic experience was thoroughly destroyed.

Story #104

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Shouts and screams could be heard outside, and sloshing sounds. Something unspeakable was going on. Lorene waited. Nevertheless she felt strangely indifferent. Her life had become devoid of the fascinating milestones that keep most of us going. Where had it all gone wrong? She heard sounds in the staircase that couldn't be described as footsteps, though their rhythmic occurrence suggested a creature with two mismatched legs, causing it to bump against the wall each time it moved forward. B-boo-boomp, b-boo-boomp it went, repeatedly, growing louder and sloshier with each approaching step. Suddenly the sounds of movement ceased. Something stood at the door. Unfortunately it didn't have manners, at least as far as knocking was concerned. The door began to creak and bulge, sprang finally from its hinges, landing on the floor with a thud. A fluorescent green monster blob with bits of pineapple sticking out of it entered the living room. It was ugly and it was hungry. Fortunately Lorene knew just what to do. It was her gruff old friend, Mr. Pudding! She remembered him from dreams she had had as a little girl. So long ago. She used to feed him. Seeing him this way alarmed her. He was famished. Behind him a trail of dislodged pineapple bits littered the floor. He looked like he might cave in at any moment. She offered him a pretzel stick, the one thing she knew he liked to eat. Maybe they could talk over old times, after he felt better.

Story #103

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Laura caught a winged soul in a glass and talked to it whenever she was alone. With her eyes. No words were needed. One night she took the glass out again. She asked questions. Whose soul was it? Where did it belong? Where was it going? How long would it stay with her? She had enclosed the soul within round, invisible walls, but she could never discern whether it stayed because it truly could not leave, or whether it merely pretended to be confined, for her sake. Now she lifted the glass and waited, with a questioning gaze. Would it fly away? She closed her eyes for a moment, reopened them, and then realized. The soul was waiting for her to come with it.

Story #102

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

"Gary Wilson and Molly on a Date" ©
Photo by Joao Canziani for Stones Throw Records
This photo appears by kind permission of Gary Wilson

Captain Gary roamed the galaxy in search of his girlfriend whose body parts lay strewn across tangent lines of space on asteroids, moons and planets. A black hole in Molly's heart had wrenched and rended her beyond the power of love to hold her together. At least for the moment. The Captain was happy today as he had found one of her arms in a tunnel under the sun and would soon attach it. When his task was completed he could finally set her down and talk to her. She refused to talk now to anyone, as she felt mournfully self-conscious about not being a whole woman. The discordant yearning for her missing limbs made her bleed from the heart. However, the chances of finding the remaining pieces of her bodily puzzle were astronomical. There were no corners left in the entire galaxy which Gary hadn't searched. His split-second quantum instincts told him he would have to try Another Galaxy.

Story #101

Monday, December 06, 2004

The new youth movement in plastic fashions represented a complete rejection of anything even remotely connected with the established designers and their bizarre ideas. Up to then women had been either dangerously overladen or daringly understitched, the latter working out just fine on the beaches of the Riviera, but a woman liked to decide when she got all that attention. Not to mention the expense involved for the privilege of wearing the most curious connections of cloth ever conceived since dressing in public became an "in" thing. The polyethylene-based style was chic, modern, and easy to clean, as well as easy to obtain. You just went to a designer boutique, bought a blouse or a skirt, returned it a day later, and kept the bag it came in, cutting and trimming as desired. The repercussions unraveled the old-school world of fashion overnight, ripping it to the shreds of an imitation Levi's washed at a cheap laundromat. A few days later Armani, Gucci, Lagerfeld, and all the rest were seen working as bag packers at the supermarket.

Story #100

Sunday, December 05, 2004

What a birthday it had been! Her friends surprised her asleep in bed just as her slumber loosened itself into the consciousness of an exciting new life as a teenager. They brought her a cake and they brought her presents. There was perfume, and a belly ring. She'd have to get her navel pierced now. Her friends had even been thoughtful enough to select a darling little bikini for her. She simply must break it in today, at the lake. No, her friends told her. Not yet. First there was one more present to unwrap. One very special present. They had left the box outside her room. Taking her by each hand they led her to it... Later, at the lake, the inevitable happened. It had only been a split second of inattention while exchanging a beauty tip, but when they looked again, the pet boy had completely vanished.

Story #99

Saturday, December 04, 2004

It was one of the worst moments a band could have. The rhythm twisted away from the drummer and skittered across the stage. The three rappers faked their way through the text, trying desperately to stay in synch with each other, at the same time nonchalantly maintaining their happy party-faces. The dancers in the audience weren't aware of the crisis onstage but began inexplicably to bump into each other. Before long the rhyming syllables of the rap had irreparably skewed. It would turn ugly soon. In a last ditch attempt to save the song the two band dancers inconspicuously jiggled down close to the floor in hopes of snatching the writhing beat and tossing it back onto the drum. But they were too late. The beat had bounced out the door, down the street, into the river, out to sea, and caused some great surf in Hawaii.

Story #98

Friday, December 03, 2004

They looked lovely, extremely kissable, Tim thought to himself as his two new companions frolicked before him, enticing him further into their spell. He wasn't sure anymore how it had happened. He had been at the mall when all of a sudden he became aware of a feminine presence behind him. He turned and saw the two of them standing shyly, as if waiting for him to notice them. The girls immediately smiled smiles that seamlessly drew him into an animated conversation in which he was the center of attention. How much time had passed as they moved through backdrops of a shopping world he'd grown oblivious to? He couldn't say. His fascination rolled interminably first to one then to the other of the sweet presences at his side. He was falling in love...with two girls at once! They made his mind wander into some kind of enchanted daze. Now they sat together intimately in his living room. Soon their tongues would touch, he noticed, as his reverie intensified. That was of course the signal. The two would instantly merge into a muscular mauve-skinned male of the Protozar species. Tim would be bound and beamed to their orbiting space vessel, then whisked away to Galaxy G, which, from Earth's perspective, hadn't yet been discovered. There he would be placed among the other specimens in the giant Wal-Mart replica constructed at the zoo for the purpose of observing human shopping behavior in an authentic and humane habitat.

Story #97

Thursday, December 02, 2004

No one ever imagined it was possible to build a spaceship out of a bag of balloons, a fire extinguisher and an electric fan. That's why the rockets seen taking off from Cape Kennedy all looked entirely different. But Jack and Jill knew better. They hadn't gone up the hill to fetch pails of water. They were communicating with aliens who told them how to do it. The balloons filled with hydrogen gas and connected in a semi-circle would generate an electrostatic field to power the propulsion unit attached at the upper left of the flight module (the fan), at the same time protecting the passengers inside from the rigors of space. The fire extinguisher was merely a safety precaution, as everyone knows what happened to the Hindenburg. The formal attire was dictated by the occasion of the full moon, which Jack and Jill, aided by their craft, planned to jump over that night. They would be seen! What a shame they had assembled the spaceship indoors. Now they would have to rewire the CD player into a 16 megawatt laser and blast the ceiling away before taking off.

Story #96

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The three friends had already retired as millionaires, having found their separate successes as seducers laureate. Each had authored a best selling book on the subject of how to pick up women. Privately the three were the closest friends. Publicly, however, they represented the fiercest of rivals. Each had isolated a single key factor he swore worked every time. Alan claimed waving a cigarillo caused women to swoon into his arms. It didn't really. He overlooked that the cigarillo was much too thin and should never be lit. Phil liked walking up close to a girl and looking in her eyes while wearing sunglasses, shtick that objectively had more chance, as the girl could at least see her reflection in the lenses, which some girls liked, though most just saw a pimp. Julio rolled up his t-shirt sleeves like they did in the 1950's bad boy movies. All the grandmothers thought he was cute. Despite the flaws in their behavioral repertoire they usually walked away with any girl they wanted. But their success had nothing to do with their methods. It was the money.

Story #95