Monday, November 30, 2009

Long Road to Hoe

Born Loser 11-30-09
What has got Brutus depressed today? The fact the economy still isn't up to par? Pending lay-offs at Veeblefester Corp? Maybe it's because his hands have disappeared, I don't know but after reading the second panel I thought Brutus was going to break out into singing a Kenny Rogers song.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

POtW: Gate

Gate at Country Intersection
I don't know why this gate is here. There's no house nearby and the gate opens to a huge field but I'm sure it opened to somewhere at some time.

Difficulties Tagging This One...

Born Loser 11-28-09
"In fact, I walked in on them wrestling last night. I took pictures. Wanna see?"

Friday, November 27, 2009

Brutus Is One In Six Billion

Born Loser 11-27-09
"Waah! No one pays attention to me. No one listens to my ideas. Everybody just seems to ignore me."

Welcome to the plight of the rest of the five and a half billion people on this planet.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Teardrops On My Mashed Potatoes

I forgot to do Number Two on our POB countdown yesterday so here it is: POB #193 where I talk about the murder of Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas doctor who performed late-term abortions legally. Next week will be the number one POB entry but for now, enjoy today's Thanksgiving themed strip.

Born Loser 11-26-09
I'm pretty sure in all of Cleveland, Ohio there is a grocery still open and they will still have turkeys available. I know for a fact the grocery store I always go to is open it's regular hours as is probably the other grocery store here in town. Of course now the turkey wouldn't be done in time for Thanksgiving dinner anyway.

Also, how the hell do you forget the TURKEY!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Everything Is Jake

Born Loser 11-25-09
I don't think Brutus could look any more bored or unimpressed. Also, "bully"? I'm glad Veeblefester thinks his speech was the cat's pajamas. Maybe he and Brutus can beat it to the nearest speakeasy in a jitney and then watch some Clara Bow talkies.

And I do plan on posting something on Thanksgiving but I hope that everyone remains safe if you are driving somewhere today.

Landsman #2.7

Cameron Orr approached the large sandstone Catholic church that had a beautiful fountain in front of it. Sitting on the edge of the fountain was Father Gideon Ponziglione.

"Hello, Father," Orr greeted. "How's the religion business?"

Father Ponziglione smiled at this. "It's going good. I can't complain. How's the...whatever it is you do business?"

"It could be better. We're up to 155 now," Orr said.

Father Ponziglione shook his head. "That's too bad," he said. "And no one is doing anything?"

"155 out of six billion? More people die from choking on a pretzel. But I found a group that knows those people are missing and they've promised to help me if I help them with something."

"Really? Well, that's good. Maybe now you can find a connection or something to really help you," Father Ponziglione was optimistic but Orr stayed composed. "Who is this group? If you don't mind me asking."

"The Ptolemy Group. You've probably never heard of them. They are an organization created to tell the world that the Earth is flat."

Father Ponziglione thought for a second. "But the Earth is round."

"Don't believe everything you read," Orr said casually. He glanced up at the sky and saw a jet flying overhead. "You better get inside, Father and prepare to be bombarded with customers."

"Why?" he was confused.

"See that plane?" Orr pointed up to the plane overhead. "It's about to crash into Times Square."




"President Malcolm Russ"
President Malcolm Russ sat in the Oval Office with his Secretary of Health and Human Services and his Secretary of Education. "We need to reform health and we need to reform education. Those are the big platforms I ran on and that's what we're going to fix in these four years."

"What about national security and terrorism?" asked the health secretary Regina Cowles.

"I do not use fear-mongering tactics with my country. We need to work on things over here, not in some desert on the other side of the world. Our children and our citizens are more important than trying to pretend to go after Osama Bin Laden," Russ said.

"Well, what did you have in mind, sir?" asked education secretary Gregory Barbera.

"We need to upgrade our education system. The system we have now is an antiquated piece of garbage set up to teach farmers. We need to update it and make it a viable resource. We need to start looking at countries whose schools are better than ours," Russ explained. He then turned to Cowles. "And health. We can do better there, too."

"Surely you're not going to suggest a Medicare-for-all idea," she chuckled.

"No but Medicare needs to be stripped and rebuilt from the ground up. The insurance that we all get," he motioned to himself and the secretaries, "should be made available to the people who want it."

"Who would pay for it?" asked Barbera.

"Either the people or us. The people will have access to several insurance plans and what they can't pay, the government can subsidize the rest."

"I don't know if that's feasible," Cowles said.

"Then we will make it feasible," Russ said.

An aide suddenly walked in and headed toward the president. "Sir? We have a situation."

"What?"

"A jetliner just crashed into Times Square."

President Russ stood up. "Prepare for a press conference. Ground every flight and and get every plane out of the air. Call every metropolitan area and get them on alert."

"Ground all flights?" Barbera scoffed. "Don't you think that might be overkill?"

"Maybe if the last president would've grounded all planes immediately after the first strike maybe we'd still have at least one and the people of Flight 93 might still be alive," President Russ said. "Better safe than sorry. But this doesn't let you two off the hook. We're still gonna reform healthcare and education."




Most of Times Square was unrecognizable amid all the wreckage and rubble. People were moaning in pain and screaming in horror. A massive sprawl of flaming wreckage was scattered around the area. Cameron Orr calmly walked through the area, directing people who needed help to medical personnel who were now arriving in the area.

Orr stopped at a car on the side of the road. He opened the back door and peered in. "Matthew Landsman, I presume?" he smiled.

"Am I dead?" Landsman asked.

"Not by a long shot," Orr helped Landsman out of the car. "Good idea, hiding in this car."

"Well, when you see a huge passenger jet barreling toward you, you kind of want to hide out somewhere," Landsman chuckled. "What the hell happened?"

"Terrorist attack," Orr said casually. "Come with me, I'll try to explain everything."

"Now wait a minute! I was nearly killed in a terrorist attack and so far this day has been very dangerous. What's going on around here and why does this all involve me?" Landsman demanded.

"In short, someone wants you to do something really good for your country and someone else wants to kill you," Orr said. "Now come with me, I'll protect you."

"Why should I?"

"I'll take you to your family," Orr motioned.

Landsman shrugged and he and Orr began walking away from the destruction.

Next:
Landsman Family Reunion

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

One-Night Stand #1.7

Chris and Brett carried a couple of boxes downstairs into the remodeled basement. The basement was now split into five rooms. The stairs led down into a foyer area which had two doors: one for the basement and laundry area and other for the new rooms Jonathan had built. The new rooms were a big living space, two bedrooms and a bathroom.

"This is kind of nice," Brett said. "Almost like you have your own apartment."

"Yeah, if the apartment was one floor beneath my parent's apartment and shared a laundry room," Chris replied.

"This is only temporary until you and Heather get the hang of raising a baby and can save up enough money to start looking for your own place," Jonathan said, carrying down an end table.

"Or until Heather and I kill each other, which is much more likely to happen," Chris smiled.

"Where is Heather?" Brett asked. "Being pregnant shouldn't get her out of helping!"

"Being pregnant gets her out of a lot of things," Chris sighed.

"She's at her house finishing up the packing. We'll pick her up on the next go-around," Jonathan said.

"Wish I was with child..." Brett muttered under his breath.




"Moving Day"
Chris went back to get the rest of his clothes and saw Brett sitting on his bed looking through a photo album. "What are you doing?"

"Looking at your photo album of us in elementary school. Man, we were cute," Brett said. "I can't believe you actually have a photo album of us as kids."

"My mom took a lot of pictures," Chris shrugged and grabbed the last bit of clothes hanging in the closet. "I thought you were up here to grab the mattress."

"I was but then I decided it was too hard so I gave up. Just like the spelling bee," he showed Chris a picture of the two of them and another person at the district's annual spelling bee.

"Oh, God. The annual spelling bees. I hated those but we always did pretty good," Chris said.

"J.D. spelled 'video' wrong," Brett chuckled.

"Not J.D.'s proudest moment."

"J.D. honestly had very few proud moments," Brett recalled. "Does anyone know what happened to him?"

"He moved away after seventh grade and I never heard anything more from him."

"We should try to find him," Brett said, closing the album.

"We should. How 'bout we find him after we get my bed into the basement?" Chris said. "I'm gonna put these away and I'll come back and help you."




"What's that?" Brett pointed to a large box wrapped up like a present.

"It's a present. For Heather," Chris said. "And she should be here soon so let's get upstairs."

"What's the present?"

"I'm not saying. It's for Heather. After we get moved in," Chris and Brett went upstairs and waited for Jonathan to get back with Heather and the truck.

"So how are you and Heather doing?" Brett asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Your relationship with Heather. You're not seeing Ms. Aulthaus anymore and you've gone out with Heather three times in the last week."

"We're not in a relationship, we're just doing more stuff as a couple without actually being a couple," Chris explained.

"Oh! That's just confusing," Brett said. "Do you want to be her boyfriend?"

"Does that matter? I've been out of high school six months but for some reason the drama is still here!" Chris complained. "But how are things with you and Wendy?"

"We're doing fine. She wants me to spend New Year's with her and her parents so that may be fun," Brett shrugged.

Jonathan's truck pulled into the driveway and was loaded down with boxes and furniture. "Well, they are back. Does she really need all that stuff?"

"She's a pregnant woman, so yes."

Chris and Brett went outside and the four of them each grabbed a box and went inside to take it downstairs. Heather smiled when she saw the remodeled basement. "This looks really great, Mr. Gaelan," she said.

"Please call me Jonathan," he corrected her. "And thank you."

Chris, Jonathan and Brett continued bringing boxes and her furniture downstairs while Heather went through the boxes and began putting the contents away.




At eleven, Chris and Heather headed to bed. "Before we go to sleep, I want to give you something," Chris took Heather into what would become the baby's room. "Open that present," he pointed.

Chris sat the present up and Heather began tearing off the paper. When enough of the paper had been removed she stopped and teared up. "A crib?"

"Best one I could afford. Checked all the safety ratings and everything," Chris said and Heather hugged him. He hugged her back.

"Thank you," she sniffled. She looked at him and kissed Chris on the lips. "We should go to bed," she whispered in his ear.

Next:
In the season finale, Irene finally asks out Chris and Heather goes into labor as Brett discovers something.

Brutus Fills In: Day Two

Before we get onto today's strip, there will be another addition added. I don't have a title for it (so I am looking for suggestions, I guess) but every week I want to post a few editorial cartoons and discuss what the hell is going on in them. Mainly it's just a way for me to be political without having to come up with a huge long post. And who knows, maybe we'll find a cartoon crazier than Mallard Fillmore.

On second thought, probably not.

Born Loser 11-24-09
Miss Preen must still be on vacation or out sick with that flu that was supposedly going around. What's really sad is that even though Miss Preen is probably an idiotic bimbo, she is still smarter than Brutus.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Second Oldest Joke In the Book

Born Loser 11-23-09
We have never seen Miss Preen although I can only assume she is as unattractive as all of the other women in the Born Loser Universe.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Santa Business: We Slip Presents Under the Tree.

Born Loser 11-22-09
Santa business? Just call it Christmas shopping like every other normal person. I'm pretty sure Gladys knows that Santa Claus didn't get her a gift. I guess Brutus could be talking a big present everyone receives on Christmas Day that they refer to as a "Santa present" but please, don't call it Santa business.

I wish I knew this guy's name because I swear if he's in one more strip, I will have to start adding him to the labels.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Very Little Is Tax-Free

Born Loser 11-21-09
I hate when Veeblefester rides the bus. Veeblefester has more money than everyone in Ohio combined so he can afford a really nice, environmentally unfriendly vehicle or a huge limousine with a driver. He doesn't have to travel with the commoners in a mass transit bus that smells like pee.

POtW: Francis and Elizabeth Jeffrey

Jeffrey Tombstone
Just a normal tombstone in Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Shawnee County. What's odd about this stone is that Francis' death date was never carved into the stone which makes me think he was never buried here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Coming to You From the Satellite of Love

Born Loser 11-20-09
It's not Brutus' fault. An entire generation was taught by Mystery Science Theater 3000 that it's okay to talk during movies as long as you are making fun of it and the same goes for plays.

Things I like in today's strip: I love that the Thornapples are seeing a play based on the Stephen King novel Rage where a high school student holds some of his fellow students hostage after shooting and killing two teachers. I also like the stylized "M" on the seat that Gladys is sitting in.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fourteen Words Til Death

Born Loser 11-19-09
Tea cozies is a fickle mistress. One day you're on top and the next day you're wiping R.W. Veeblefester's spittle off your face. Now, my question is who is Creterman? Is Creterman an old friend of Chip's or just some random name he pulled out of the Cleveland phone book.

Hey! Check out the poll on the sidebar. It's asking if you still want to see the whole comic strip, just one panel or a plan link. Let me know what you want even though I'm pretty sure I already know.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Blog They Are A'Changing

As you may already know, I plan on doing some major changes to this blog after the first of the year including some layout changes, format and color changes plus a new header (if I can swing it) and I'm adding two new features. The Corner of 16th & Massachusetts, featuring random bits of history about where I'm from. The next feature is Harter Union which is a chapter-by-chapter reprinting of my novel of the same name so one of the features will be ending by the end of 2010 which means I would like to find a couple other new features to begin so if you or anyone you know wants to create a feature let me know. It can be about just about anything you want as long as it's somewhat original (and yes I know that mocking a bad comic strip isn't original but at least I chose a different comic strip).

One-Night Stand will be ending it's first season in early December just as Delaware Affections returns, Landsman will re-return in January as will Seven and in February will be the debut of new Story Series Stull.

Sadly, The Stull Chronicles have come to an end but The Point of Beginning will be back in December with brand-new ruminations. In honor of the return, I've been showcasing the top four POB's according to me. This week's is #199: Progress Takes Away... where I complain and whine about stuff being lost to progress (and some good ol' fashioned vandalism).

Questions? Concerns? Let me know what you like or dislike and please be patient when all the construction begins.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Just Go To Work

Born Loser 11-17-09
It's never happened at anywhere I used to work but I'm pretty sure if a good percentage of your employees are sick, the entire company (or at least branch) will shut down for the day. Maybe I'm wrong. Anyway, Brutus is not sick, just lazy. Now Gladys, Gladys looks sick.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Late Afternoon Update

Born Loser 11-16-09
I get the joke, or I guess non-joke because this is just a really horrid joke. I've been to diners where you have to wait to be seated and are waited on. I don't consider it trying to be upscale. A diner's a diner no matter what.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Brutus Abuses Mother Nature

Born Loser 11-15-09
I, too, hate raking leaves. One look at my yard proves that however I think putting duct tape on each and every leaf on a tree takes more time than actually raking them up when they fall. And what happens when it's time for new leaves to grow?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Obscure Simpsons Reference? You Be the Judge

Born Loser 11-14-09
Wilberforce must live in the land of Rand McNally where the air has the ability to bite you, people wear hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people.

POtW: Louis Vieux Elm Tree

Louis Vieux
This is all that remains of the Louis Vieux Elm Tree east of Louisville (northeast of Wamego) in Pottawatomie County. The tree was supposedly just a sapling when the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 and was around to witness the country expand and grow as the Oregon Trail passed a few feet north of it. The tree was a state champion in 1978 and a U.S. champion in 1979. The tree has since been ravaged by a lightning strike, Dutch Elm Disease and a pipe bomb. The county has now taken precautions to try to save what little of the tree remains. Near the tree are the burials of seven unknown soldiers, a Cholera cemetery and the Louis Vieux Family Cemetery.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stupid Reason to Get a Dog

Born Loser 11-13-09
So thanks to President Obama choosing a Portuguese Water Dog as his family's pet, hundreds of other people have flocked to animal shelters and kennels to find their own water dog and just like with dalmatians and golden retrievers before it, soon the families will get tired of their new dog and flush it down the toilet.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Brutus, Just Stop

Born Loser 11-12-09
HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Brutus so silly. The best way to get someone to spit in your root beer? Do this.

One-Night Stand #1.6

Chris knocked on Rachelle's door and waited while she answered it. Rachelle was dressed in a beautiful light purple dress with her hair down, shoes with a slightly raised heel and quite a bit of cleavage.

"Wow, you look beautiful," Chris said nervously. He pulled his right arm from behind his back and produced a single red rose. "This is for you."

"Oh, thank you. Please come in while I put this in some water," Rachelle invited. Chris stepped in and closed the door behind him. "You look really nice, too."

"Thanks," Chris looked around. "I love your apartment."

"I had to move out of my house after the divorce but I like it. It's just the right size for me."

Chris peered down the hallway that led to the bedroom and bathroom. Third date, he thought and smiled. He smiled bigger when he saw Rachelle come out of the kitchen. He cleared his throat. "Shall we go?"

"Yep, I'm ready," she shrugged.




Brett had Wendy naked and bent over his bed while he had sex with her and pulled her hair. She moaned loudly and screamed every time he pulled her hair harder. Brett was moving his hips faster and then someone knocked on his front door. He ignored it and tried to return his focus on Wendy but the person knocked again, louder.

"Damn," Brett said. "Stay here. I'll be back."

Brett got dressed and shut his bedroom door. He answered the door and saw Heather standing on the other side. "Hi, Brett," she smiled nervously. "Can we talk?"

Brett sighed and stepped back. "I guess. Come on in."

Heather came in and sat down on the couch. "Sorry to bother you, Brett but I need to talk to you."

"What about? Do you want anything to drink?"

"No thanks. About Chris. Remember when he and I went out on that date but it didn't work out?" she asked.

"Yeah?"

"I'm starting to wonder if maybe we should've tried harder to make it work," Heather said. Wendy came out of Brett's bedroom. "Oh, my. I didn't know you had company."

"It's okay. Heather, this is Wendy, Wendy this is Heather. Chris's baby mama," Chris introduced.

"Don't call me that."

"So you want to try another date with Chris?" asked Brett.

"We can double date!" Wendy squealed.

"One step at a time," Brett said. "You should really be talking to Chris about this."

"He's not home. Do you know where he is?" Heather asked.

Brett sighed. "He's on a date."

"A date?" Heather was shocked and upset. "With who?"

"Remember our Spanish teacher, Mrs. Aulthaus?"

"Yeah." Heather waited for Brett to finish but then realized what he was getting at. "Oh my God, he's out with Mrs. Aulthaus?"




"The Ballad of Chris and Heather"
"He's been kind of keeping it quiet because of the huge age difference," Brett said. "Chris said he and Ms. Aulthaus will go public if they feel right about it after tonight's date. You're not okay with this, are you?"

"The father of my child is dating our 40-year-old Spanish teacher, you could say I'm a little upset."

"You two tried having a relationship and both of you admitted it was a bad idea and decided that you can see other people," Brett said. "Are you jealous because he's actually dating while you are just growing bigger and bigger?"

"Brett!" Wendy chided.

"I don't like the way you said it but I guess a part of it is true," Heather shrugged. "I should be in Europe right now getting fawned over by some anonymous European guy. You know Chris better than anyone, Brett. How should I handle this?"

"Let him have his date," Brett began. "Go see him tomorrow and let him know your concerns. Just talk about it and see if you can come to some sort of conclusion."

"You really think so?" Heather asked. "The thing is, I'm not sure if I really want a relationship at this time. Not until after the baby is born anyway."

"I'm sure Chris would understand," Brett smiled. "You two get along very well and even if you two don't become a couple, you'll still be great parents."

"Thanks, Brett. I'll let you get back to what you were doing," Heather got up and went over to the door. "I'll probably see you this weekend if not sooner. You are still helping with the moving, correct?"

"I suppose," Brett rolled his eyes. "See you, Heather."




Chris and Rachelle made love in her bed, neither one caring about the twenty-four year age difference. Rachelle had wanted to sleep with Chris after their first date and had even prepared to bring him home but she made herself stand by a three-date rule.

She loved running her hands through her hair and loved the way Chris held her close when he was completely inside her. Afterward, Chris and Rachelle laid next to each other, the ambiance of the evening slowly wearing off.

"So I take it you had a nice night?" Chris asked, looking at Rachelle.

"I did," Rachelle purred. "I've been wanted to do this since our first date."

"I'm glad we finally got around to it because I was really wanting to do this, too," Chris said. "Where do we go from here?"

"What do you mean?" Rachelle asked.

"We've gone out three times, hung out and now made love. Do we take our relationship public? Should we start a relationship? I've never been in a situation like this," Chris mused.

"We should probably keep any relationship that we enter into private right now," Rachelle said. "I hope that's okay. Since you are just recently out of high school and the age difference, I'm just not ready to have the entire town watching us."

"I completely understand," Chris sat up in bed. "I'm gonna get a drink and get ready for bed."

"Same here," Rachelle said and she got out of bed.

The next morning, they made love again and Chris left and went back home. He went upstairs to his room and saw Heather sitting on his bed.

"Oh, this can't be good," he said.

"We need to talk," Heather began "about us. Remember our date after you came back?"

"Of course," Chris nodded. "What about it?"

"I've been wondering if maybe we should've tried harder to be in a relationship," she explained. "The reason I bring this up is that I'm thinking of how our baby will perceive us if we're not together in some way."

"I think our baby will be just fine," Chris said. "Is there something else that's bothering you?"

"I know about your dates with Ms. Aulthaus and I'm okay with them but I think we should be together."

Chris knelt down in front of Heather. "What is bringing all this up?" he asked.

"Can we please try it again?" Heather teared up.

Chris stroked her hair and looked in her eyes. "How about we have lunch today and we can talk all about this. Okay?"

She nodded. "Okay."

She got up and began to leave. Chris grabbed her arm to stop her. He turned her around and kissed her. Their lips separated and he smiled. "I'll pick you up at one?"

"That'd be fine," she replied.

Heather left the bedroom and then the house. Chris opened his cell phone and called Rachelle. "Hello? Rachelle? I don't think I can be in this relationship..."

Next:
Chris and Heather move in together.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day


Happy Veterans Day to everyone who has helped defend our country and keep us safe.

Amen

Born Loser 11-11-09
I feel the same way. I don't know what caffeine actually does but I'm pretty sure it keeps your skull from caving in.

As a New Year's resolution in 2007, I decided to give up caffeine and after getting past the initial throbbing headache and the constant temptation, I was able to make it to about mid-March before I began drinking pop, tea and coffee again. I've done a lot better in limiting my soda pop consumption but I need caffeine to survive.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Brutus and the Ball Pit

Born Loser 11-10-09
So you know that weird guy at Chuck E Cheese who hangs out all day playing the games but doesn't seem to have any children with him? Brutus is that guy.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Funniest. Strip. Ever.

Born Loser 11-09-09
I got nothing bad or sarcastic to say about today's strip because it is hilarious. If I held a contest every year for funniest strip, this one would win, hands down.

But I do want to know why it's starting to rain in the first panel. Or did Chip draw a ruler up there?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Seven #2.13

Cassius and Seven walked down Main Street of Indianola. "I hope Nicholas and Tara are still here," Seven said.

"They should be. I think they are in the toll booth," Cassius pointed ahead of him. "We can stay for the night here then leave for the next sign first thing in the morning."

They approached the toll booth and saw Nicholas sitting in it. "Nicholas! Long time, no see!" Seven exclaimed.

Nicholas looked up and saw Cassius and Seven standing at the booth. "You finally got away from Ransomville?" he smiled.

"We had a little side trip which is why it took so long. How have you and Tara been?" Seven asked.

"It's been good. Tara and I have made a pretty good life here. The Vieuxs have been very kind to us," Nicholas said.

"The Vieuxs?" Seven questioned.

"The people we're staying with. Oh, and as it turns out the giant elm tree in front of the Vieux's house is the fourth sign, the King's Elm. We're one step closer to Shmand," Nicholas said.




"Dinner"
Nicholas led Seven and Cassius to Samuel's house and pointed out the massive elm tree. They walked into the house and Seven was amazed at how large the house was. Mary came from the kitchen and smiled.

"Nicholas, you brought visitors," she walked toward them with open arms.

"These are the people Tara and I were traveling with before we got here," Nicholas introduced. "This is Seven and this is Cassius."

"We've heard so much about both of you," Mary said. "Are you staying tonight?"

"I figured we'd camp along the river or..." Cassius began but was interrupted.

"Nonsense. You can stay here tonight, have dinner with us and sleep in a nice bed," Mary said.

"We don't want to impose," Cassius said.

"Nicholas and Tara have been here since they arrived. Samuel and I always take in weary travelers and possible Indianola citizens if they can't afford a hotel or land to get started," Mary explained.

"Where is Tara?" Seven asked.

"She's upstairs putting away laundry," Mary said.

"Can I go up and see her?" he asked.

"Sure. Right up these stairs and to the left. She should be in one of the rooms," Mary said. Seven started up the stairs while Mary continued talking to Cassius. "So you have visions and you're blind?"

Cassius smiled. "Yes, ma'am," he answered. "The visions help me see where I'm going."

"That must be very dangerous and confusing," Mary replied.

"My visions have gotten me from the Delta all the way here so they must be doing something right."

Seven walked down the hallway toward an open door. He peered into the room and saw Tara, fixing the bed sheet. "Need some help?" he asked.

She looked up at him and was astonished at what she was looking at. She ran up to him and hugged Seven tightly. She teared up and hugged Seven harder. "I was worried something had happened in Ransomville," she said, pulling away.

"Nothing happened although Cassius and I had a side trip to take care of first which is why we didn't get here a couple days ago," Seven explained.

"I'm just glad you are safe. Does Nicholas know you are here?" she asked.

"Yeah, we found him in the toll booth and he brought us here."

"Will you be staying the night here?" he asked.

Seven listened at the tone in her voice and smiled. "Yeah, for the night. We'll be leaving in the morning for the fifth sign."

"What's the fifth sign?"




"It's a castle," Cassius said.

"A castle?" Samuel looked stunned. "Not going to find too many of those in Kansas."

"We'll find it," Seven said. "We've found all of them so far."

"Either way. I am flattered that my tree was one of your visions. How does your...power, for lack of a better word, decide to show you?"

"I don't know," Cassius shrugged. "They just show me what we need to look for. The problem is that I have no idea how far away Shmand is."

"Shmand. That's an interesting name. I wonder where it comes from," Samuel ruminated. "I would love to come with you but I have an entire city to run but you have to promise that when you are finished in Shmand that you will come back to Indianola and tell me all about it."

"I'm sure Tara and I will be back as soon as..." Nicholas began but Tara shushed him.

Seven looked at Nicholas then at Tara. "You want to come back? I thought we were all going back to Cassoday when our stay in Shmand was over," Seven said.

"That was the plan but Tara and I like it here," Nicholas said. "I'm second-in-command at the toll booth, a partner in Robideaux's grocery store and Tara helps out at the hotel when she's not helping out around here," Nicholas tried to explain but Seven was still surprised.

"You've accomplished a lot in the time we've been separated," Cassius said in an approving voice.

"Thank you, Cassius," Tara acknowledged. "Seven, we like it here and we do plan on coming back. These are just the plans now, they can still change. Besides, there's nothing in Cassoday for me. You have your father and Nicholas still has his brothers and father. I just have headstones," Tara said solemnly.

"You still have me," Seven muttered unintelligibly under his breath.

"Oh, please. Let's not argue. Nicholas, Tara, don't think you are obligated to come back but if you choose to then you are more than welcome. All of you are," Samuel said with a big smile.

The six of them continued eating for a while in silence. Conversation started back up again but Seven remained quiet and after dinner went outside and stood under the elm tree.

Tara came out about fifteen minutes later and walked over to him. "What's wrong with you?" she asked sternly.

"What do you mean?"

"The way you acted at dinner! Why is it so bad that I want to come back here? I like it here!"

"Your home is in Cassoday!" Seven said.

"No, my home is burned down. Your home is in Cassoday. I...don't have a home but here, with Nicholas and the Vieux's, I feel like I do."

"My father and I always treated you like family and made you feel welcome," Seven said.

"Yes but I always felt like I didn't belong. No offense to you or Tzveil, who has always been amazing, but I need to move on," explained Tara.

"Move on with Nicholas?" asked Seven with a tone in his voice.

Tara said nothing, turned and went back inside.




The next morning, the Vieuxs saw the four travelers off. They crossed the bridge and continued west. Seven and Cassius led the way while Nicholas and Tara trailed behind.

Next:
Seven returns in January with the last three signs. First, the gang meets a traveling family and Seven tries to get over Tara.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

POtW: Railroad Crossing Sign

Railroad Sign Near Schroyer
Don't see many railroad crossing signs like this anymore. This one is located at an unprotected crossing near Schroyer in Marshall County, north of Blue Rapids near Alcove Spring.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Landsman #2.6

The Story So Far...
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Landsman is given a hopeless case to prosecute Senator Robert Collyer. Collyer reveals to Landsman that the Earth is flat and there is a huge conspiracy to convince the public otherwise. Landsman is urged to contact Thomas Snow but shortly after their meeting, Snow is found murdered. Now fearing for his life, Landsman sends his family away and heads back to his office where he meets Dylan Freeman who attempts to help Landsman by sending him to New York. Meanwhile, Landman's family--Brenda, Elliot and Molly--are intercepted by Devon Jalali, Raymond Grummett and Adolph Huxley, members of the Ptolemy Group who tell her that Landsman is now in with the Empire Coalition, the keepers of the conspiracy and that they want to take over the world.




"Good Versus Evil"
Eight months ago.

Dylan Freeman was in a windowless room sitting across a table from Khalik Mahmoud. Khalik looked like your average Pakistani, however Dylan had been working with them for the last sixteen years and still couldn't tell a Pakistani from an Iranian and from some Israelis.

In the corner was Geoff Ratigan who was only in there to be a witness in case Mahmoud chickened out. At first, the interview--which is what they called this--was pretty informal. They talked about past jobs and families, sports and movies. Then Dylan got down to business and explained what he wanted Mahmoud to do.

"We want you," Dylan began, "to be an intricate part of our society. We are planning a massive attack on the country on American soil."

Khalik was shocked but wanted to hear more. "Like another 9/11?" he asked.

"Not on that grand a scale," Dylan smiled. "That was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Plus, we never planned for the towers to fall--that whole act was just plain luck. No, it'll be smaller than 9/11 but it'll push the current president to do exactly what that old one did and that's what we want," Dylan explained.

"I don't get it," Khalik said.

"All the last administration did was fight terrorism and nothing else. In doing so, everything else was relaxed--things deregulated so there could be more money to fight terror and the wars. President Russ doesn't want to do that. He's gonna pull out of Iraq by April of next year and focus on stabalizing Afghanistan. Meanwhile, he has huge plans for healthcare, reusable energy and education. He's not popular right now because of the idiots who think he should be protecting the country but if his initiatives go through he will become the most popular president ever. If that happens then he will be charged with the task of telling the world," Dylan said.

"Telling the world what?" asked Khalik.

"Telling the world that the Earth is flat."

"But the Earth is round."

"That is what we want you to think. We have to keep this under wraps because it gives us leverage in everything we do. The Empire Coalition is given billions every year to keep the secret. Some, not all of us, have grown very accustomed to our lifestyles," Dylan continued.

"All this is about money?" Khalik asked.

"Everything is about money," Dylan sneered.

"Okay," Khalik began. "Let's say I do agree to do this. What would I have to do?"

"Since our plan has not been developed yet, you will spend the next six to eighteen months doing everything you ever wanted to do. You'll get a weekly paycheck and during that time you can also make final arrangements."

"Final arrangements?"

"Yes, more than likely you will die. Now we'll do our part and make sure you are never connected to the act. We'll phony everything up good."

"But in the meantime...?"

"You live like a king."




Devon, Raymond, Adolph along with Brenda Landsman and her children sat at a table in a kitchen-like bunker. They were eating oatmeal, that being the only food they had.

"I'm sorry we don't have more," Devon apologized. "You'd be amazed at how little of the budget goes into stocking our hideouts."

"It's no big deal. We're all safe and accounted for," Brenda said. "Except..."

"Don't worry. Matthew is safe. We're keeping close tabs on him," Raymond said.

"So the entire world finds out that the world is flat. What happens then? What's in it for you?" Brenda asked.

"The satisfaction that we're doing the right thing. We're just a dedicated group of people who know the truth. We think it's shameful that the government is lying to everybody and we want it stopped," Devon said.

"So what are your plans?" asked Brenda.

"See what Empire is going to do with your husband then use him to plan a counter-attack. Mainly it's the typical watch and wait."

"I wonder what Matt is doing now..." Brenda sighed.




Khalik Mahmoud readjusted the backpack on his shoulder as he took back the credit card with Matthew Landsman's name printed on it. Khalik smiled at the woman and headed toward the gate. He boarded the plane and prepared for take off. Somewhere else, Khalik was being declared dead after an auto accident. Khalik Mahmoud is survived by his wife and three kids.

Next:
Good-bye, Times Square.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

No. 7: Sin-Jin Smyth

So what do you get when you put "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Richard Tyson (from Kindergarten Cop) and Korn's Jonathan Davis in a movie together? I'm not really sure because the movie has been in development hell since 2006. Sin-Jin Smyth is a horror movie written and directed by Ethan Dettenmaier, who also did really nothing else but apparently at one point he was going to be a huge up-and-comer. The movie, which could've been something really good if the writer had been a bit more down to earth with the screenplay, features Piper and Tyson as Federal Marshals ordered to drive to Shin Bone, Kansas and pick up a prisoner during a tornado warning. Really? Shin Bone, Kansas? You couldn't choose a better name for the town than Shin Bone? That's the first thing I'd change. Hell, use Leavenworth or Lansing since they actually have prisons but if you are going to make up a town, give it an actually plausible name.

The movie is supposedly based on the Stull Cemetery legends however I feel something better could've been done because except for the movie poster where a guy is hanging from a tree, I don't see any connection to Stull at all. I've been to Stull. I've walked around the cemetery, traipsed through the old abandoned church and wandered down the county roads that make up Stull's main streets and I can think of a dozen scarier things than what I've heard this movie is about. And unfortunately, the only thing I've ever heard about it is mentioned above. The Marshals know nothing about their prisoner except that his name is Sin-Jin Smyth. Don't get me wrong, I do want to see this movie whether it's released in theaters across the country or if it's released solely to DVD because I do want to see if it is salvageable not only as a horror movie but as a movie based on Stull.

Shortly after I created the Stull Wikipedia page, this guy told me to remove a section talking about the man found hanging from the tree immediately as the image was just viral marketing for the movie. I told him the tragic event is true because it is listed in a book chronicling the communities surrounding Clinton Lake, which includes Stull. That was the first time someone ever mentioned Sin-Jin Smyth to me and I've been drawn to it ever since. I've been waiting for two years for it to come out and I think it will because people are idiots for horror movies, no matter how badly made. I've written many a thing about Stull in my life. In Harter Union, I kill of my best friend by having him get hit by a truck at Stull. I wrote a short story, Stull, a couple years ago even though that takes place in Ohio and not Kansas. My screenplay, and subsequent short story, Tank N Tummy also is based on Stull even though I put everything in nearby Big Springs instead. Before the church was torn down, Stull was an amazing place but is now just like every other unincorporated town of fewer than fifty people in Kansas.

I will keep you updated on Sin-Jin Smyth as much as I can and hopefully it will come out sooner or later because the movie also has Jenna Jameson in it which means...well, really nothing but for a movie of this caliber, she's like Anne Hathaway.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

One-Night Stand #1.5

Half of the new basement living quarters was almost finished. John wanted the basement finished for Chris and Heather to move in on December 1st.

Chris was currently at work at the coffee shop and John and Brett were working on the basement while the radio played softly in the background.

"You want to get this done by December?" Brett asked. "When is Heather due?"

"February 28th," John replied. "We thought it'd be wise to let Chris and Heather move in together for a couple months before the baby comes."

"I can't imagine what Chris is going through," Brett said. "He had to give up everything in order to take care of this baby."

"At least he's doing the noble thing. There's a small part of me that thinks that if Heather hadn't confronted him when he came home, he'd be oblivious to it. If you don't take the precautions then you have to face the consequences," John said. "There's no way out of it."

"I did look into getting an abortion though," Heather said. The guys turned and saw her standing on the bottom step. "We had choices but I decided to keep it and tell Chris. I gave him a choice to stay or go and, like I figured he would, he chose to stay."

"He's a good guy," Brett said. "He'll be a good dad."

Heather pointed at Brett. "That is actually why I came over. I want to talk to you about Chris."




"The Spanish Teacer"
Chris stood behind the counter reading and acting bored as Irene cleaned the back counter. Chris glanced at a clock and sighed. "Two more hours," he said.

"Lucky. I have four more hours," Irene said. "Could you clean that counter for me."

"Sure," Chris stood up straight, "after this customer."

An attractive older woman approached the counter and smiled at Chris. "Just a large mocha, please," she ordered.

Chris began making the coffee and sat the cup on the counter. He rang up the order but kept looking at the woman. Finally, Chris just talked to her. "Mrs. Aulthaus?"

She smiled again. "It's Ms. Aulthaus now. Do I know you?" she asked.

"Chris Gaelan. You taught me in eighth grade. Computer lab and Spanish."

"Oh, right. Sorry but I've taught so many kids. So you're working here?" she asked.

"I graduated high school back in May and went a semester to the University of Massachusetts in Boston but had to drop out for...various reasons. Are you still teaching?" asked Chris.

"Si," she laughed. "I keep thinking I'll retire early or go do something else but every year I keep coming back."

"Retire? Nonsense. You're, what? 39, 40?" Chris guessed.

"Close. 42," she blushed.

"Just so you know, I had a crush on you back then. I loved the way you rolled your 'R's in Spanish class."

"Really?" she rolled. "Chris, would you like to go out maybe this Friday?" she asked in a quiet voice.

"I think that'd be great Ms. Aulthaus," Chris beamed.

"Please, Rachelle," she corrected. She took her coffee and left the store.

"Oh my God," Irene said. "Did Mrs. Aulthaus just ask you out?"

"You heard correct," Chris said. "I'm just as surprised as you are. I wasn't expecting her to ask me out--maybe a hot and heavy make-out session but a date could lead to sex!"

Irene sighed heavily. "I like you and all Chris but you're kind of a jerk sometimes."

"I know," he responded.




"I figured it would be safe to have sex without any protection but I guess I was wrong," Heather admitted. "Chris asked if there were any condoms."

"So the whole thing really is an actual accident?" Brett remarked.

Heather glared. "Not that we would tell our son that, I guess so. At first, I wasn't planning on it but the more I talked to Chris, the more I wanted to...be closer to him. It may have been an accident but it was a result of our feelings toward each other."

The guys were quiet for awhile. John finally spoke, "How do you like the basement so far?"

Heather smiled. "It's really nice. I can't wait until our son is here but, Mr. Gaelan, I have a question. This is for you, too Brett," she hesitated for a couple seconds before asking. "Do you think Chris will be a good father?"

John and Brett looked at each other. "I've known Chris since Kindergarten," Brett began. "And I've never even seen him look at another kid but he is caring and responsible. Him agreeing to disrupt his entire life when you gave him a choice shows me that he'll be a good father."

"And not to toot my own horn but I'm a decent father, my father was a good father and his father was a good father so it kind of runs in the family," John smiled. "Besides, Me and Kim will be right upstairs to help you two with everything. Your both going to be good parents but you'll have to learn just like every other parent before you."

Heather sighed. "I had a lot of plans after I graduated high school but now I cannot wait until I am a mom."

Next:
Chris and Ms. Aulthaus' date and the future of Chris and Heather's relationship.