Sylvia Benedict was discovered crying inside of the Sea Lion Beach Geezer World Van by local lifeguard, Brad Stokely, as he was headed home. “I found the woman sitting inside the van, crying over Mr. Noway Sr. The motor was still running. The van’s motor, not the old fart’s. Noway had suffered a heart attack.”
Sylvia , the spouse of beloved Bolsa Chico Surf Patrol Chief, Bernie Benedict, confessed to the ambulance staff concerning the death of her eighty-eight-year-old lover:
“We’d just had a friendly dinner, celebrating Wayne’s new Thriller Driller Penile Implant. He suggested that we to go out and replace all of the steel fasteners on the Long Beach bridge with his new… Oh, poopsieeeeeeeee!” (Crying.) “Wayne seemed fine! He really did. Then, after his little nap time, he wouldn’t respond.”
“That’s quite enough, Mrs. Benedict,” said the nauseous ambulance driver.
The truth was el vomitosio. Somehow, the video of her story ended up on the local news.
Wayne Noway III’s (the grandkid) surfer buddies said that the sixteen-year-old surfer had been “blowing major chunkage,” “praying to the porcelain” and “hurling with a mighty chunder” after reading about what his grandpa and his ex-teacher had been doing. Los barfos, mesdames e messieurs.
My Sylvia! Bernie thought. And…and Wayne’s grandpa?! Noooooooooo!
He had to get out and get some fresh air, now.
After the broadcast, it seemed that the entire town of Bolsa Chico wanted to line the pier and join local hero Bernie, in his major heave fest. It was if they’d all been hit with the dreaded Nosoi flu.
For days afterward, Bernie felt as though he were wearing a big red ‘D’—for Dumbass — on his forehead. Time had come for him to leave his longtime friends, his beloved job and his hometown of Balsa Chico.
Donette’s Cafe, formerly Rosie’s, was built upon the end of the Bolsa Chico Pier, in Orange County, California, in 1956. Recently, it had been purchased by a dark, sultry, dirty-talking shark goddess, Dauna Robinson, who bought the cafe to promote her native Fijian coffee products: the high-octane Getthefuckouttamyway and Outtamywayasshole coffees, grown on her private island of Kupaio. Dauna was the one and only waitress at Donette’s.
Bernie rarely drank the coffee, but loved the food. It was the following Sunday, Bernie’s birthday, when he ordered his final breakfast at Donette’s.
The TV was on and…
“Oh, Fuck! No! Not……. on…….. my………goddamned birthday!” Bernie said. The other customers were wondering if the patrolman had caught Tourette’s from Dauna.
Nope. The news was on CNN — and Bernie was pissed. His tragic ‘train wreck’ had gone both bacterial and viral. Millions, perhaps gazillions, were following Bernie’s sad story.
One celestial evening, after 50,300 hits on YouTube the voguish goddess Leto was forced to watch (in shock and horror) a video of her daughter shopping while dressed in a hideous floral nightgown and tennis shoes.
Artemis grabbed the phone. “Daddy?” The voice on the phone was powerful enough for Bernie to hear every word. The voice was angry enough to generate lightning from the earpiece.
“Artie. Dear Artie. Your mom and I decided that you can’t come home until you lose weight and come to your fashion senses,” daddy Zeus had said. “And tell your hobo friend to hijack himself a new suit with real pants if he’s gonna paint the town with my baby. Bernie’s friend Frankie should have already told him that life’s too short to dress like a bum. And what the hell is that thing you’re drivin’?”
“Uh…” Munch, munch, munch. “Bernie’s Chia.”
“Everyone up here thinks that you’ve gotten weak and out of control. We can’t afford to have the other deities think that the Olympians are pushovers.” Zeus shouted into the phone. “For gods and goddesses sakes, Art-Art, you used to knock ’em dead.”
“Art-Art?” Bernie, her human, heard that, and giggled.
The goddess shot lethal optikos (eye) arrows at Bernie. “Shut up, sandal licker! No, not you, daddy. There is going to be an epic battle with MacHeath’s army soon, so I promised to help Bernie and his trollop friend.”
“You mean Miss Soapy Puppies?”
“Princess,” the voice said. “Don’t come home until you’ve cleaned up your circle of friends.”
Zeus hung up.
“But, daddyyyyyyyy?” The heroic figure wept a flood of tears. A text appeared. Final judgment came to Artemis swiftly in a furious “bolt of rejection.” The bolt was hurled in the form of an angry text, with an angry minotaur emoji attached. Artemis had just been officially banished from her home and family.
“What family, pop?” she texted back. “Do we even have a family name?”
“Good point, pumpkin. Let me ask your mom,” he wrote. Back on Olympus he asked his wife, “Leto, dear? What’s our last name?” He texted Artemis, “You still there? Okay. Your mom says that our last name is ‘On High.’ We don’t need a last name, pumpkin, unlike the Kardashians. We’re bigger than Lady Gaga. We only use first names. Oh, your mom wants to know…what the hell kind of shoes were you wearing on the Walmart show?”
Zeus’ mighty presence was suddenly gone, and Artemis was hurt, and that meant that she needed tacos. Artemis had become “an embarrassment” to the fashion-conscious Olympian gods, who were tolerant to a point, often turning their backs on lesser Olympian crimes, such as torture, mass murder, incest, rape, infanticide and eating one’s own children.
Čachtice, Slovakia (Formerly Hungary)
Inside his melon-sized head, the bus driver heard the menacing voice of Boris Karloff: “Even your bus is dead, Kimo.”
Please! Anywhere but here. Not in front of creepy Čachtice Castle, thought the Type A Tours driver with the name tag: ‘Aloha, My name is Big Kimo.’
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Kimo announced, “we may be here awhile, so you can get out of the bus, walk around a little and stretch if you like.”
Bats and huge fanged moths — the kind that would happily eat your shorts—with you in them — were attracted to the lights within the bus and began pounding themselves against the windows. Anyone who was about to ‘go outside and stretch’ quickly gave up on the foolish idea.
“Look, driver!” Someone stood and pointed out of the right side of the bus. Big Kimo couldn’t see anything, at first.
“It’s a lady!” said a British woman in back.
“Oh, boy…and she has dogs!” said her son. Four shadows trotted from the parked Bats Mobile and took their places behind the Countess. They held baskets in their mouths.
Sure enough, a tall beautiful woman was approaching the bus from the car. She was bathed in moonlight. She wore a bouffant hairdo and a checkered blue homemakers dress straight out of the 1950s. The lovely redhead waved at Kimo through the closed door. She held up a pitcher of an ice-cold beverage and a stack of Dixie Cups. He relaxed.
“Oh goody, goody!” a child in the front seat squealed. “The nice lady brought us Kool-Aid!”
What the tourists thought was rain, started to hit the windows. The drops were plague tears. The sound of the wind was a sickening wheeze.
“Let her in, driver! The poor woman’s blouse is soaked,” a woman from Ireland called out. All of the men were suddenly interested. “It must be the lady of the house,” she said.
I hope it isn’t the lady of the house, thought Kimo. The Bloody Countess, Elizabeth Bathory once lived here. That was centuries ago. Still, it is Čachtice!
The canines stood guard in shadows behind their mistress. Kimo opened the glass door—Oh, what the hell—with a hiss. “The dogs will have to stay outside.” The tall beauty, a very well-put-together June Cleaver—he thought, stepped up into the bus taking a wide stance in front in of the passengers. The “nice lady,” wet, was a great deal “nicer” than most had expected. She captured everyone’s complete attention despite their age, sex, race, nationality, or even in the case of Mrs. Bernstein in the back, species.
“Hello, you nice people. I’m Mrs. June Cleaver!” Elizabeth Bathory, The Bloody Countess lied.
Kimo was taken back. Cleaver? Why don’t I like that name?
Her audience was riveted on the icy pitcher of swirling sky blue liquid that she displayed.
“I brought you some refreshments while you are waiting to be rescued,” said the beguiling housewife. “I’ve got dozens of our best local Batina’s cookies and something to quench your thirst. Here! Pass them back. Thank you. If it’s all right with Big Kimo, maybe I could teach you nice folks a little bit about our local cuisine.”
The tired driver nodded, stared out the bus window into the falling tears of regret and moaning thunder, and decided that he didn’t like the size of those dogs. They were very well behaved and they were all wearing white kerchiefs. No, those are bibs! Cleaver. Cleaver. The name still made him nervous.
“We’re proud of our Fritz Haarmann cutlery,” said the perky housewife. “Mr. Haarmann was originally a meat salesman from Germany, but now he makes and tests his fine cutlery products right here in Transylvania.” She smiled at the man sitting in front of her. “Are you from Germany? Then you would certainly appreciate the craftsmanship. I mean, just look at this beautiful cleeeeeeeeaver!” The big bald German didn’t understand one word. While he smiled up at the outline of her ‘chilled’ nipples above, she stared down at the reflection of the blade on his shiny head. She raised her cleaver, “Just feel this edge!”
Soon, Mrs. Cleaver/Elizabeth was doing the backstroke up and down the blood-filled center aisle of the bus as her good doggies dragged piles of tourist vittles into the Countess’ sob-flooded front yard.
The Countess Elizabeth’s housekeeper, Penelope, disposed of the bus with an explosion fueled by bat guano.
All of this took five minutes.
The flapping bats applauded.
Elizabeth, curtsied, leapt into her muscle car, and floored the gas pedal five-hundred miles to Poenari.
The Working Dead
In 2018, after major science breakthrough, the US Supreme Court ruled that death, as it now stands, “does not terminate the deceased’s obligations to ignore paying one’s bills and taxes until the human body reaches such a state of decay that at least three out of four limbs will not stay attached.”
But dead Neal Orestein was determined to go to work. Work was his life, uh death. You know what I mean. We all know someone like this.
After scraping through the mound of loose dirt over his grave, Neal was able to see daylight and the exasperated face of his long-suffering wife, Stella.
“Just look at those fingernails,” she scolded. “The dirt! Just where the hell you think you’re going, Neil?” After 60 years of marriage, Stella, holding flowers, could read his mind, even if it was becoming worm chow.
“Oh, crap,” Neal said feeling all used up. He raised himself onto his elbows and spat out soil. “Stella, what are you doing here so soon? I thought that I was the one who was to supposed to haunt YOU! I’m off to work. I got to get a doctor’s note or that that punk Cabebe, will fire me. He hates old people.”
“You mean, dead people,” she said. “You aren’t going to work. Now, lay down and relax. I’ll call your boss and tell him you’re not coming in, ‘CAUSE YOU’RE DEAD!”
“Dead I can handle,” Neal said, “but unemployed and dead? Pour some coffee down my empty gullet . Look at the time.”
“Happy Hills Cemetery doesn’t have a Starbucks. Go back to endless sleep, old man. There is no more job and there’s no more you! Don’t you feel like a fool. You should rest, Neal. I came here to grieve, so tell me what I’m doing here. I feel like a brainless idiot.”
“No, Stella, I love brains. I mean I your love your brains, brain, your mind,” Neal sputtered.
“Where’s my tie? What time is it?”
“It’s 8 a.m. They just opened the gate.”
“Give me your hand. Help me get up. I’m already late.” Stella reluctantly pulled her husband to his feet. She was shaking her head, accepting he’d never change. “I gotta catch the Long Island Express,” Neal told her, spitting out a beetle. “Is this burial suit okay?”
“Except for the slit down the back, it’ll have to do. So … You think that you can just climb out of your grave and leave me standing here, for a crappy job? I can’t change you, silly man. Just don’t come home until you get cleaned up.”
Neal stood and wobbled unsteadily, brushing himself off. “Stella, after my first heart attack, Cabebe, said that myocardial infarction is not a good enough excuse to skip work. I’m gonna need duct tape to patch this jacket. I’ll stop by Target.”
“I’ve got a nail appointment. Have a nice afterlife, Neil. You never needed me.”
“Oh, thanks. I’m barely cold and you start in with the guilt. So, you’re saying I no longer have a job?”
“That would seem logical, Neil.”
“Logical? Well, Mrs. Spock, then I’d better hit the pavement. By law, I’m supposed to have a job until my last limb.”
“Maybe the office staff never got the memo that you’d died,”She said. “It was so sudden. I never had a chance to call them. Hey, watch where you’re tossing that dirt! I just bought this dress. Look at your dirty nails. Talk to God, Mr. Big-shot. Get yourself a manicure.”
Neal promised to make it up to Stella the following weekend, but today, he had obligations. He arrived at work a few minutes late, was given a warning by Cabebe, and was back at his old desk by 9:10 a.m.
The next day, after a restless night drinking coffee and shambling around town in pursuit of an ambiguous protein snack, Neal was able to make it to work — right on time.
Young Cabebe, was happy, because he no longer had to pay ‘old, faithful’ Neal a living wage. The slick, young exec sniffed the air and suspected that Neal had passed on. No one else knew that Neal was still working and rotting in his corner office making the CEO, Milton Armstrong, rich.
On Tuesday, when Neal realized that Cabebe was taking him for a —nearly free — ride he began to lose the feeling of pleasure he felt working. He left the office while the blinding sun was still high and the season was moving toward Daylight Savings. Neal stumbled toward the station thinking about how his grandkids needed college money. Tomorrow, he would hit the pavement, seeking the American dream like the other millions of recently deceased workers. Over 20 million of the dead wandered the boulevards. The smug living were called them ‘suckers.’ You could see them, the worn out executives, in every city, shuffling and mumbling “Jobs. I neeeeeeed a job.”
My commuter train passed by Happy Hills Cemetery as it approached Neal’s old neighborhood. Graveyards are for slackers, he thought. A real man needs to work.
While waiting at the 5th Avenue crosswalk, he saw a hopeful sign. A literal sign — on a telephone pole, illuminated by the ghostly moonlight.
Highly Motivated Executive Services Wants You! YOU need $$$ and WE need BODIES to fill our Diamond Lane passenger jobs!
We’re also seeking Parking Space Holders — Downtown, Full Time. 24 hours shifts available.
This is T.K. Betelnut, Interpol agent in charge of the TPN
Telepathica Pacifica Network. He’s about to fall in love with a potted plant.
“Boldizsár, I Came to Kick Your Bony Ass.”
Because of Laszlo’s large skeletal bald head, which appeared on the back cover of all his novels, Laszlo Toth was easily recognized by his legions of fans. Though Laszlo became famous by writing about the supernatural, he based his novels on fact and prided himself on being a rational man.
Laszlo did believe in science and while studying genetics for his new novel became involved with the a group called blameyourancestors.com. Within two weeks after sending their headquarters a DNA sample he discovered he was 87% Hungarian and, apparently, 13 % cheese, citing a few stray genetic threads to Luxembourg, Switzerland and four other cheesy countries.
Thanks to blameyourancestors.com, Laszlo was also able to narrow his search back to his Hungarian family, the Tóths. After a little bit of digging, he discovered a recent family portrait. The Tóths all looked ‘polished,’ like Laszlo. Cueballs. Melon heads. The men, women and children all suffered from a severe form of early male-pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia).
Laszlo sent more money to expand his DNA search and soon received the results that he’d been hoping for. The ‘bald problem’ that plagued his life was traced back to a — singular — human — monster, Count Oszkár Tóth.
During the 16th century, Oszkár ruled Walachia and was known for his long-flowing locks that made him look like a golden hero on the cover of a bodice-ripping romance novel. The vain Oszkár combed his proud mane day and night. One evening he summoned his magic golden comb only to find out that it had been stolen!
Oszkár’s spouse, the beautiful countess Cynthia, told her husband that she had seen a well known local magician, Madik, running away from the castle and into the Nagyon (Very) Sotet (Dark) Forest carrying a shiny yellow object in his hand.
After apprehending Madik, Laszlo ordered the Magician to be burned at the stake. At the Barbecue, Laszlo, himself, was cursed by the magician’s wife, the powerful witch, Eegahd.
The next morning, while Oszkár combed and combed, his glorious mane began to shed. The hair that made the count ‘such a wench magnet’ alllll fell to the ground.
As a result of Eegahd’s curse, all of Count Oszkár’s children, male and female, became bald as well; that is until in October 31, 1712, when the entire clan were tortured, murdered, dismembered, and turned into a savory paprika goulash by a nomadic Gibor hoard.
Only one Tóth escaped the massacre, the youngest noble in line, Boldizsár, who continued to selfishly spread the Tóth family curse throughout the western world.
“Fiend!” cried Laszlo. Tendrils of revenge worked their way into the author’s rational mind. Online, he hired a Hungarian scholar, János Harker, to help him track down Boldizsár’s resting place. That is when Laszlo made the first irrational decision since his seventh marriage, to visit his cursed ancestor’s crypt and ‘kick his bony ass to Hell.’
The following October, before the frost set in, Laszlo made his trip, alone, to Walachia.
Unfazed by local superstition, Laszlo arrived ten minutes before midnight at Tóth Citadel in rural Ploiești. He quietly drove his rent-a-car around the back to the cemetery, parked, opened the trunk, and removed his new Road Rager Crowbar.
Laszlo found the rusty cemetery gate open, and by the light of the full moon, jimmied his way into the Tóth Mausoleum. Once inside, he lit his lantern, shooed away the vermin to begin his unholy undertaking. Laszlo located Boldizsár’s resting place and slid the heavy lid off the ancient stone coffin.
Jubilant, he dragged the Count’s loosely connected skeleton outside among the gravestones.
Laszlo kicked Boldizsár’s bony ass all over the churchyard until he could kick no more. After a short rest and a drink from his flask, Laszlo dragged the broken Boldizsár parts back inside the mausoleum, dumped them back inside the coffin and took a selfies, one in front of the inscription on the wall above the sarcophagus:
‘Lehet, hogy meghalt, de még mindig halott.’
Laszlo, satisfied with the bony ass kicking, didn’t review the inscription on the photo until he arrived back home in the states. Something had changed. In red letters, his name had been added to the wording :
‘Lehet, hogy meghalt, Laszlo, de még mindig halott.’
“I may be dead, Laszlo, but you’re still bald.”
Interpol agent Bernie Benedict and the Shark Goddess Dauna pulled into a dirt lot by the river’s edge. The New York skylight twinkled. They stood along the trash strewn bank of the East River.
Dauna took a lighter out of her jeans pocket. “Listen Clam Dip, after our swim, I’m going to take you to a place that’s absolutely to die for.”
“Swim? I thought that we were going to talk over Dim Sum dumplings at Double Chins.”
“Drive over there, next to the outfall. I’ll show you dumplings.”
“You want to swim in the East River? Do you have any idea what’s in that mess?”
“Well, the rainbow plume on the surface suggests kerosene, fuel oil, gasoline, naptha butchering, sewage, and medical waste.” she said while throwing down her jacket.
“I’m not going anywhere near that petri dish.”
Dauna kicked off her shoes. “It’s safe, Hon. The East River is as dead as the River Styx. Most bacteria can’t survive in it. Let’s have a moonlight swim, chew toy. Let’s play.” She threw down the cigarette. “I’ll protect you.”
“This water will probably dissolve your earrings.”
— From the book The Kingdom of the Cats…………….
“I wouldn’t call them crop circles,” said the Queen Mum to her butler, who waited patiently outside of her golden W.C. as she finished up her three hours of ‘morning business.’
“Blimey! I’d call them bloody indecent!” said the butler Peeves.
* * * *
Wiltshire County, Great Britain-1963
During Buddy and Ada’s Liverpool “spill” where the two aliens had lost most of their songs, the Brills hovered their ship The Lollipop above the village of Hangover, on the open farmland near Stonehenge, in the county of Wiltshire, on the Salisbury plane.
The night before they landed, Buddy was busy drawing giant shapes across the English countryside as though the wheat fields below were his personal Etch-A-Sketch.
Some of Buddy’s sketches were more than a quarter mile wide. He designed the patterns on the ship’s computer and then precision cut those images, using the latest laser beam technology.
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1963, Buddy was still “doodling” on the fields of Salisbury from more than one mile above the earth. At 1:30 a.m., after Ada finished yelling at Buddy for drawing stick-figure porn and humungous boobies on the fields below, the land went back to sleep.
* * * *
Jolly Lord Capersmith
At two a.m., a distinguished gap-toothed mustached old duffer, wearing a bowler hat, was on his way home from the Laughing Gravy Pub. He pulled his Bentley over to the side of the road that faced his family’s Ancestral Castle upon his vast Capersmithshireton Estate.
“Wot?” said Lord Joseph.
Something exciting was afoot in the fields below. His Lordship quickly grabbed his fine hand-tooled leather attaché case from motorcar’s passenger seat. Inside the case were his thermos, and a brand new brass fox hunting pistol. He removed his bowler hat and replaced it with a more appropriate deer stalker. Lord Joseph furtively tiptoed down the slope to investigate the strange lights illuminating the wheat fields below.
“By Jove! Naughty stick figures. I doooooo say. Delightful!”
In the field, on his property no less, also stood what looked like…
“Pip. Pip,” he said while twirling his handlebar mustache.
“It’s a bloody American Juke box (It was the Brill’s space ship, named the Lollipop). Rahthah! Jolly good show, old bean.”
Step — step — step.
“It must be the Princess’ idea of making merry,” his Lordship quipped. “A jest, I’m sure!”
“I’ll sit on this jolly old stump, pour myself a hot cup of tea, take aim at the doodad-thingamajig with my pistol, and give myself a bit of a respite! Simply smashing!”
Though the tipsy Lord Joseph fired and missed the Lollipop, loud shots woke up the ever-testy alien musician, Ada, who was thoroughly enjoying an erotic dream wherein Serbian physicist-inventor Nikola Tesla was demonstrating his hot new invention, the Personal Harmonic Resonance Vibration Oscillator.
Capersmith stopped shooting when an invisible hand pulled back the window shade on the ship. “Something” inside the space ship struggled and cursed while trying to open the window on the front of the giant juke box. Dried paint had glued the window sill shut. Before Lord Joseph could say, with a stiff upper lip, “Oh bugger,” the window shot upward, and….
“Tallyho, asshole!” said Ada while she implemented the magic of the jolly olde ACME Auto-Suc machine upon Lord Joseph Capersmith, and thus deposited Lord Joseph’s royal rump within the Good Ship Lollipop.
Repeated screams of “Do you know who I am? Do you know who I am?” echoed deep into Jolly Olde Sherwood forest.
Ada restored the tranquility of the spacecraft when she respectfully presented His Lordship with a formal printed invitation:
“A Night To Remember
Time: June 28,1963
Location: The Probing Pub of the Lollipop Space Craft
Hors d’oeuvres and Cocktails at 8 p.m.
Dinner immediately following
As Lord Capersmith sipped a glass of champagne, Buddy approached from behind holding Farmer Joe’s jalapeño coated rototiller.