Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thirty Days Hath September, Not March

Born Loser 03-31-10
I am so glad this is the last day of March. This month has just seemed to drag on.

As for the comic, Wilberforce has forgotten March has 31 days. Technically it is April Fool's Eve which I guess is the same thing.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Abraham Silly Rothschild

Born Loser 03-30-10
Maybe he was born while wearing that dreadful vest-tie combo.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Harter Union: Part Three, Chapter 2

“Oh, yeah! I’m gonna have a lot of sex in this bed!” said Heather sitting down on the bed and bouncing on it a couple of times. “Yeah, I’m definitely moving in.”

“So your parents won’t mind you living with an older guy?” I asked.

“Oh, they’ll hate it but that’s one of the reasons I want to move out. Have lots of sex and piss off the parents.”

“At least you have your priorities straight. I only have one rule: no sex on each others bed.”

“I can handle that. Can I move in tonight?”

“Sure. I’m not gonna be here, I have to go to Nathan’s dance recital,” I smiled and tried to keep from laughing, “but you can stay here tonight and tomorrow we can bring your stuff over and possibly go shopping.”

“Great. That’s fine. Wait…Nathan is in a dance recital?”

“Yeah, I know, it doesn’t add up with me either,” I said.

“So is Maggie all right with this?” asked Heather.

“Yeah, she’s going to the recital too.”

“No, I mean us living together. Another girl is living with her boyfriend, I don’t have much experience in this but I would be pretty peeved about it.”

“What’s to be peeved about? She didn’t want to move in and there are worse people I could be rooming with.” I glanced at my wrist, which had no watch on it, and sighed, “I gotta leave but I’ll be home sometime around midnight, okay?” I left Heather’s bedroom and dashed downstairs to my Jimmy.

After the recital, Maggie, Jason, and I went backstage to congratulate Nathan and found Alyson already back there. “You got back here fast,” I noted.

“I was able to push myself through rather quickly,” Alyson tried to smile but instead both of them looked at me as if they were guilty of something.

“We’re going over to the Union and raid it if you two want to join us,” I invited.

“Sure, we’ll be there in a little bit,” Nathan replied.

“All right, great job Nathan. I loved it…you queer,” I chuckled and we all left leaving Nathan and Alyson alone in the dressing room.

“They almost caught us,” Alyson said, “We just need to tell them.”

“But this is much more fun…” Nathan leaned down and kissed Alyson. She wrapped her arm around him and pulled him closer to her.

I burst back into the room. “What do you want, pizza or chicken strips?” I saw Nathan and Alyson kissing and stopped in my tracks. “Daah!” I stammered.

“Jeff, I…oh, crap,” Alyson said.

“What are you two doing?” I asked, shifting my eyes into a look of perversion.

“We…uh, we’re dating,” Alyson said. “For the last couple of weeks. We wanted to tell everyone but we weren’t sure how you would take it.”

I didn’t know what to say as I looked at Nathan and Alyson. I wondered what Nathan saw in Alyson but I was happy for them. Although I did feel that they were making a huge mistake and the look on my face went from shock to disappointment. “Why would I be mad? Congratulations to the both of you and I’m sure you’re both going to be very happy together.”

“I’m glad we don’t have keep it a secret anymore. It was really starting to eat at me,” Alyson said.

“So what do you guys want, pizza or chicken strips, because those are the easiest things to cook,” I reiterated.

“Whatever everybody else wants. We’ll be there in a minute or so,” Nathan said.

I nodded, backed out of the room and shut the door. I left the auditorium and stood in the parking lot between Rice and the Union. “Huh…” I breathed, confused. I shook my head, walked over to the Union, and entered through the back door.

“So bagels and a sandwich bar?” I asked as I finished off my grape juice.

“Yes, put those in and this place should have everything a cafeteria needs,” Alyson said, her head resting on Nathan’s shoulder.

“I’ll see what I can do and thank you for all of your ideas.” I glanced over at the clock on the wall and then looked at my wrist, which had no watch. “We should get home. I have a lot of work tomorrow.”

“No you don’t,” said Maggie.

“I know but I couldn’t think of anything else to say to get us the hell out of here,” I smiled as I got up from the chair and kissed Maggie. I went up to the belt and set down my plate and cup. The others followed and we walked through the kitchen and out the back door. We all said our good-byes and parted ways.

Maggie and I walked close together to my car. “They make a cute couple don’t they?” Maggie noted.

“Eh, I guess. I don’t think they mesh.”

“You know the saying opposites attract. I think it’s nice that they both have found someone. It’s like us.”

“No it’s not.”

“It’s kind of like us because we don’t seem to pair up but here we are,” Maggie said.

“What are you talking about? We’re together because of a long felt respect and appreciation for each other. They’re together because they obviously had nothing to do.”

“Must you dump on this like that?”

“If I don’t, people might think there’s something wrong with me,” I opened the passenger door to my Jimmy, helped Maggie in and kissed her.

Heather has her first night out after moving in with Jeff; the staff comments on Cole Bronson and Wendy meets someone on the Internet.

It's In the Last Place You'll Look

Lisa Benson 03-29-10
After the health care bill passed last week and not causing America to sink into the oceans, Democratic Senators received threats against themselves and their families. Now,you can take this comic two ways: 1)The GOP knows how to scare people and have spent the last 9 years literally fearing for their families; and 2)Bin Laden is making threats toward us again and the Democrats are too busy screwing around with health care to care or notice. Bin Laden has been making threats since the mid-1990s. It's not like we had a peace treaty with him and he's violating the terms of that. Like most everyone in the country, I have more important to do than worry about my family being in a terrorist attack. (Really? Do people actually worry about that?)

Born Loser 03-29-10
Meanwhile, Brutus has lost his glasses. We not certain about the whereabouts of the glasses but Brutus has narrowed it down to not in the car and not in the immediate vicinity showcased in these panels.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Baseball Is Still Boring

Born Loser 03-28-10
I fell asleep while reading this comic. So many words jumbled together to make coherent sentences that are rendered boring by the baseball history. Must get away...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

POtW: Fall Colored Hill

This is located in extreme northern Douglas County along North 2190 Road about half a mile south of the Kansas River and was taken during last fall when it so beautiful and all the trees were changing.

I'm thinking starting next week, I'm going to post some odd pictures I've taken of stuff no one but me seems to care about. Try to do that all through April if I can find or take enough pictures. Of course, the last two pictures kind of fit that theme.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

He Can't Sleep In the Masonic Temple Anymore

Born Loser 03-25-10
I'm starting to wonder if Brutus knows Wastrel on a more personal level which would explain why they seem to have more friendly banter than your average working joe and bum.

Why does Brutus keep giving Wastrel money? It's not helping any. Wastrel will just spend that $20 or $10 on alcohol then he'll be arrested for sleeping in the park and released into a community shelter where the cycle will continue.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

No. 10: Captain

Twice we drove by the clinic, knowing where it was but not wanting to stop. We pulled into the parking lot and we both took deep breaths. “I’m gonna smoke,” Kristin said as she got out of the car. A protester approached us but only came as close as the lot—they weren’t allowed on the clinic’s property.

“I’ll stay with you,” I said as Kristin came around to my side of the car.
We stood in silence for a few seconds, protesters directing their voices toward us. “Abortion is murder.” “It has a heartbeat.” Kristin’s cell phone rang and she answered it.


“She’ll have your eyes, mommy,” the protester closest to us said. I turned and glanced at her. She was short, glasses, a weak chin and reddish hair pulled back into the ponytail.

“Yeah we’re at the clinic. Found it pretty easy,” Kristin spoke into the phone.

“Stand up for your baby, daddy,” the protester said.

“Protesters. Yeah, it is kind of weird,” Kristin chuckled. I smiled.

“It’s not a laughing matter.”

“We’re not laughing at that,” I muttered under my breath.

“We’re leaving right after we’re done here. I’ll call you when we get home. Bye,” Kristin hung up and finished her cigarette. “That was Jen making sure we got here all right.”

“If he’s making you do this, mommy, we can protect you.”

“Let’s go in,” we walked up to the security guard who signed us in and buzzed us through. We walked up the stairs and approached the receptionist. “Four o’clock appointment under Summers.”

“Okay, please take a seat. Here’s some information and a form to fill out. We’ll call you in a few minutes for your evaluation,” the receptionist said.

“Thank you,” Kristin took the form but I took the pamphlets.
There were quite a few people in the waiting room. All ages, races, lifestyles. There was an enclosed glass room where patients could go in to smoke without having to go outside with the protesters. We sat down in a corner and Kristin started filling out the form. I sat back and watched one of the TVs mounted from the ceiling.

After awhile the silence between us began to unnerve me. “You doing all right?” I asked Kristin.

“I’m fine,” she answered, not looking up from the form.

“Are you sure…?” I wanted to finish with “you want to do this?” but the words stuck in my throat. We couldn’t afford a baby and we were only five months into our relationship and had plans that didn’t include children. We talked it over. We agreed to do it. We agreed to make the four hour trip. I looked over at Kristin and then down at the form. “I hate filling out forms,” I chuckled.

It’s not a laughing matter.

Kristin said and did nothing. I looked back up at the TV and sighed.

Almost half an hour had passed when they called Kristin’s name. She stood up and walked toward the woman who called her name and disappeared behind a wall. In that half hour, several people had left but about six guys and two women remained. Even though those eight people sat in the waiting room with me, I was completely alone. I could only imagine how alone and scared Kristin was right now.

I began reading through the pamphlets and leaflets the receptionist had given us. I read through everything. Only fifty percent of relationships last after an abortion, was the one that stuck out to me. I loved Kristin and didn’t want to lose her but that seemed like an inevitability.

There was a cost sheet also. The word vacuum stuck out on the powder blue sheet of paper. I quickly moved on to a pamphlet about counseling afterward. “Maybe I should look into that,” I muttered.

I was done with the pamphlets—only three people remained now—and started reading a local independent magazine. I actually read every single page as I wanted for Kristin. It was over an hour and a half before I saw her again. I got up from my chair and hugged her. She hugged back but with a stiffness. She also stared off into space as I embraced her.

Fifty percent.

“Why were you in there so long?” I asked.

“Evaluation. It’s a quick physical then I talked to a doctor about the procedure then a therapist,” Kristin explained. “The doctor told me that the procedure is the same as what they do after a miscarriage so we can just tell people I had a miscarriage, not an abortion.”

“Well, that’s good. I’m glad we got that figured out,” I was happy because we weren’t sure how we were going to tell our families.

“Yeah,” she sighed. She looked doubtful. She wanted to leave. “They want to see you now. They want payment.”

We went into a small room where a nurse finished typing on a computer then turned toward us. “Is this Brian?” Kristin nodded. “Follow me, we’ll get the payment from you then it’ll be just a few more minutes and we’ll do the procedure.”

We followed her through a maze of offices until we got to an open room. She motioned for me to sit down in a chair. I was getting tired of sitting. “And how will you be paying for this?”

“Check,” I answered.

“Okay, the total is $436. Just make it out to the clinic,” the nurse said sweetly.

As I wrote the check, my mind drifted to those signs along highways that read 'What does abortion cost?' One human life. I chuckled, “And $436.”

It’s not a laughing matter.

I finished making out the check and handed it to the nurse who ran it through a machine that automatically took the money out of my account. She handed me the check back and said we could go back out to the waiting room.

“I’m gonna go smoke,” Kristin said and veered off toward the smoking room.

“I’ll join you,” I said and followed her into the glass room. We sat down on a couple of chairs and Kristin began smoking. I had quit smoking a few months ago and was recently regretting it so the stale stench of cigarette smoke that clung to every atom in this room actually made me relax. “I wonder how much longer we’ll be here,” I noted as there was only one guy left in the waiting room.

Once again, nothing came from Kristin.

“You’re gonna have to talk to me again at some point,” I said.

“Don’t yell at me,” she snapped.

“How was that yelling?” I spoke louder. “You’ve hardly said anything to me since we got here. I know it’s awkward and I feel uncomfortable too but we agreed that this was the right decision. We’ve had all month to talk about it and all day to back out!”

“You’re the one who doesn’t want this baby,” Kristin said. She said it in a tone like she didn’t mean it but wanted it to hurt.

“That is complete bullshit,” I began. “We cannot afford a baby. I would love for you to have my children but right now is not a good time. But if you really feel that way, let’s go home,” I said. We looked at each other for a long time.

A nurse called Kristin’s name. It was muffled coming through the sealed room. Kristin put the cigarette out, got up and left the room. She followed the nurse back behind the wall and was gone. The one guy’s name was finally called and he followed a nurse out. I was now completely alone in the waiting room.

I didn’t have a watch or any visible means of time keeping but as I watched one sitcom after the other I figured a couple of hours went by. Finally, they called my name and led me to a smaller waiting room where they told me that everything went fine, that she’ll be a little dizzy and may get sick—at that point she handed me a barf bag.

After fifteen minutes, a nurse led Kristin out. I took her hand, we thanked everybody and I helped Kristin down the stairs and to my car. Since it was after 9 P.M., the protesters were gone.

“I’m gonna call Jen,” Kristin muttered and was soon on the phone with her best friend. “I just got done. I’m a little hungry so we may stop to grab something to eat but we’ll be home in about four and a half hours.”

Soon, we were on the road, heading back home. Kristin seemed like her own self after getting something to eat but soon had fallen asleep. For almost four and a half hours she slept and even though she was just a few inches from me, I was still completely alone.

Like a Faithful Lap Dog...

Born Loser 03-24-10
Ah, Gladys in her chef's hat. Now, unlike Loretta Lockhorn, Gladys tends to make food that is both edible and pleasing to the eye. However, using the term "gastronomical" does kind of turn me off to wanting to eat whatever Gladys might have cooked.

Tomorrow will be an update on the health care reform that recently passed along with an editorial cartoon about it. Someday, I plan on getting Seven #2.18 and Stull #1.3 posted at some point in the next ten years.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Lulliputian Arrows Have Pierced Brutus' Chest

Born Loser 03-23-10
Be careful Brutus or Mother Gargle will turn you into an apple as red as your shirt. Or maybe as green as that chair.

Also, I've never seen Wilberforce call Mother Gargle "Grammy" before. It's always been "Gramma". Wilberforce must be trying something new. Or Chip has just given up on continuity altogether.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Harter Union: Part Three, Chapter 1

“Oh, yeah, this is nice!” I said, looking in amazement at the spacious, and furnished, apartment. “But I can’t afford this place living by myself. I’ll need a roommate,” I looked at Maggie and smiled.

“Sorry, I can’t. I really like where I’m living. Besides, my lease doesn’t expire for another three months.”

“Damn! Oh, well, we shouldn’t live together this early in the relationship anyway but I really want to get out of the squalor I’m in now.” I looked around the living room, then back at Maggie and then to the landlord. “Mr. Soulimenudo? I’ll take it. I have to find a roommate if that’s all right with you.”

“That’s fine as long as I get the rent,” Mr. Soulimenudo took some papers out of his back pocket and we went into the kitchen. “This is the lease agreement. Look it over, sign it and I will need first and last months rent.”

“So $1100? Okay…” I quickly looked over the lease and then wrote Mr. Soulimenudo a check for $1100. We shook hands; he left me the key and left the apartment. “Well, I’m once again broke but at least I have a bathroom…with a toilet, not just a drain.”

“You’re certainly moving on up,” Maggie grinned as I took her in my arms. We kissed and Maggie looked into my eyes. “Are we still going with Jason, Chrissy, and Aaron to the movies tonight?”

“As far as I know but I’d rather stay home in bed…with you.”

“I know but you said you’d drive so you have to hold up your end of the bargain,” Maggie said.

“I will but when I get you home, you’re mine!” I said with a growl.

Later, I was in my office updating some files when Nathan, Jason and Chrissy came in. “Jeff, have you ever had your pubic hair caught in your zipper?” Jason asked.

“What? What are you talking about?” I asked.

“I’m trying to convince Chrissy to stop wearing underwear and go commando but I told her she would need to shave so her zipper doesn’t get caught on her pubes and she doesn’t want to.”

“O…kay, well, it does hurt so I would recommend shaving your…pubic hairs before deciding to go…pantiless?” I was so confused.

“All right, I’ll shave them,” Chrissy agreed.

“Kick ass! This is going to be sweet. I’m gonna shave too so we can have some skin-on-skin action!” Jason and Chrissy walked off. I was still confused but was glad I could help. I saw Nathan still standing there and put down my pen.

“Do you have a dilemma I can help you with?” I asked.

“No but I have my last dance recital tomorrow…”

I busted out laughing. “Dance recital? You, Nathan Yates, are in a dance recital?”

“Shut up, it’s my last one because we’re disbanding and I want some people there to watch me.”

“Who all’s it going to be?” I asked.

“My parents and Jason and Alyson are going to be there and you can bring Maggie if you want.”

“I’ll go, where’s it at?”

“Rice Auditorium, across the parking lot.”

“I’ll be there,” I said as Nathan stood up and headed to the door. “Could you send Karla and Phil in here please, Dance Recital?”

“Shut up!” he called back.

About a minute later, Phil and Karla walked in. “Please, sit down,” I instructed and Karla took the extra chair and Phil leaned against the wall. “I seriously can’t believe I have to do this. I made it a personal promise not to fire anyone while at this job but I can’t let this go unpunished.”

“What are you going to tell Darrell?” asked Karla.

“I’ll just say that you two were using Dish Room equipment inappropriately. Any questions?”

“I have one,” began Phil. “It was worth it.”

“That’s really more of a statement but I’m glad you’re taking responsibility for your actions.” Phil and Karla stood up and began to leave the office. “And, please, next time you want to hump on Dish Room equipment, make sure no one else is here to see it.” I watched them leave and grabbed a clipboard. I headed to the dining room where everybody was eating.

“Uh, oh. Run, he has a clipboard!” Aaron said.

“Funny. I have a few things to discuss with you guys so bear with me,” I climbed up on the end of the table and sat down cross-legged. I glanced at the clipboard and began. “Okay, what Karla and Phil did was incredibly inappropriate. As much as I love Karla’s butt sweat, I don’t like it where clean dishes go.”

“Did you fire them?” asked Jason.

“Of course! They were caught having sex on Dish 3 by me, Maggie and Alyson! Also, next week Facilities will be installing televisions on the far south wall but it will be part of the College Television Network like the TVs were in the Grill so they’ll mainly play music videos.”

“That’ll be cool,” Jason exclaimed.

“Music today sucks,” complained Chris. “It’s all about computers, not about the music.”

“And we’ll be getting name tags in the couple of weeks,” I started handing out a piece of paper with the staff’s names on it with lines next to them. “Not my choice, Kathryn’s, so put what you want on the tag on the line next to your name. For example, mine would be ‘Jeff Franklin.’ Put your first and last name and not any of this ‘I.P. Freeley’ crap.”

“Why do we need name tags? We all know who we are,” noted Jay.

“I told you that it was Kathryn’s idea. It’s supposed to convey some sort of professionalism,” I explained.

“Well, that’s some sort of crap!” Nathan said.

I stared blankly at Nathan and blinked. “Yes, well put Nathan. Any questions, comments or complaints?” No one said anything so I continued. “Before you leave, I just moved into my new place and I am looking for a roommate if anyone is interested. $275 a month with water, gas, trash, sewer all paid. Already furnished.”

“I’ll take a look at it,” said Heather.

“Great, whenever you get a chance.” I glanced at the clock. “All right people, let’s get to work.”

We were all standing outside the movie theatre in Olathe. Jason, Aaron, Chrissy and Melissa were standing near the ticket booth but Maggie had dragged me over away from them. “Could you at least act like you’re having fun?” she asked.

“Melissa is here! Isn’t it bad enough that I have to work with her but now I have to entertain her after working hours?”

“Her boyfriend just broke up with her so we’re trying to be nice. You of all people know how much being dumped hurts,” Maggie said.

“Ouch,” I said.

“Sorry but you should,” Maggie sighed. “Look, it’s just one two-hour movie, I’m not asking you to marry her.”

“Pfft, yet! Okay, I’ll do it but I am not sitting next to her!”

In the theatre, we all sat near the back row with Maggie on one side of me and Melissa on the other. I leaned over to Maggie and whispered “How did this happen?”

“Aaron got up to get some Junior Mints and that elderly couple wanted to sit there so she moved over one. Calm down and just enjoy the movie,” Maggie said.

I was still uncomfortable and fidgeted a little in my seat. “How can I enjoy the movie when Cameron Diaz is in it?” I stood up and began working my way through the aisle. “I’m gonna go do something else. I’ll meet you out front in two hours.” I hobbled down the steps and out the door.

“What’s his problem?” Melissa asked scooting over into the seat next to Maggie.

“He doesn’t care for Cameron Diaz,” Maggie replied.

The staff learns that two other coworkers are dating.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oh, Brutus. Make Some Friends

*Sigh* I hate when Brutus is eating alone in a fancy-shmancy restaurant. He's even ordering himself a glass of wine--granted it's cheap $5 bottle of wine but it's still wine. It's just depressing. Really, Chip? You couldn't shove Gladys somewhere in the panels?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

POtW: Panda House

Abandoned House with Panda
This house has been abandoned for a couple years of so now but since then, this stuffed panda has been keeping guard, like a sentry, making sure those blasted kids keep of his lawn. The bear has faded from dark black into a brownish-burnt sienna color.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bixby Uses A Lot of Tea Cozies

Born Loser 03-19-10
I'm taking bets as to what the hell is going on in the second panel. I mean, look at Brutus' face. He's doing something. Let's try to figure out what he's doing:
  • Wetting himself, I've seen young kids make that face after peeing. Hell, I've made that face a couple times.
  • It's hours later and Brutus has just spent a couple hours drinking at his desk, mainly because he wasn't able to celebrate St. Patrick's Day or the Jayhawk's victory over LeHigh properly.
  • Like every man every seven seconds he's thinking about sex and what he's going to do with Gladys since he has the weekend off.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'd Like to See Brutus In a Toupee

Born Loser 03-16-10
Hey, Brutus! You can stop looking at your bald spot in the mirror. You couldn't get any balder if you tried.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Harter Union: Part Two, Chapter 7

Vespers. Noun, plural. The sixth of the canonical hours that is said or sung in the late afternoon; or a service of evening worship. For us at Baker it meant hundreds of religious people filling the dorms during the holiday season for about a week. Baker pampered the Vespers and they were a good group. It was only one of two times that the kitchen staff had to change their demeanor and every year, they did a marvelous job.

The kitchen was a disaster area as everybody was running back and forth and you could plainly hear Kathryn yelling orders at everyone. I walked in and everything came to a halt. My hair was uncombed and hanging in my eyes; I also needed a shave and the suit I wore was all wrinkled and unkempt.

“Jeff?” Wendy reluctantly began. “Are you okay?”

“Huh?” I turned my head dumbly toward her.

“Are you feeling all right?” Aaron asked.

“What? Oh, yeah, sure. I’m fine…I’m great!” I lied. I hadn’t slept in two days and I had been drinking pretty heavily since I left Topeka a few days ago.

“Jeff!” yelled Kathryn. “About time you got here! I need you to come up with a dinner schedule for the staff. Just split the staff in half and give everyone a thirty-minute dinner.”

“Can do!” I stupidly said, twirling around and heading toward my office.

“Hey!” Kathryn screamed, grabbing my arm. “Shape up, Jeff! This is a very important night and I don’t need any guff from any of my staff!”

“Technically, they’re my staff! Only Melissa works under you and everybody else works under me!” I jerked my arm out of Kathryn’s grip, went into my office and sat down. I hammered out a quick dinner schedule and delivered it to Kathryn. “Here’s the dinner schedule.”

“Thanks Jeff, and you’ll be working in the Dish Room tonight.”

“What? Why?”

“Look at you! You look horrible. It looks like you haven’t showered in days!”

“I’ve showered, it’s just a little difficult to shower in a place I also call my toilet.”

“No arguments from me but you are still working in the Dish Room.”

I walked away, grumbling.

The Vespers were well-respected at Baker and every year they got the royal treatment. This year it was barbecue beef and veal, a wonderful handmade salad, sweet potatoes, Italian green beans, and for dessert was the sweetest red velvet chocolate cake drizzled in raspberry syrup I had ever tasted.

Working in the Dish Room wasn’t bad, it was just very busy because pots and pans would come in all the time and there were three “rushes” where a large group of people got up to leave and put their trays on the belt at the same time. When everything slowed down in the dining room, that’s when our dinner started. The first shift was Jason, Chrissy, Chris, Melissa, Wendy, Emily, Phil and Karla.

I cleaned off the sprayer area and sat on that while everyone else gathered around Dish 3 to talk. Maggie noticed me sitting alone and came over to me.

“Is something wrong?” she asked.

“No, everything is just peachy. What could possibly be wrong?” I said sarcastically. “I’m happy. Happy. H-a-p-p-y, happy!” I hopped down off the sprayer area, punched the side of the dish machine and stormed out of the Dish Room.

“He doesn’t sound very happy…” said Jay.

I was sitting in the small computer kiosk room downstairs in the Grill watching TV in the dark when Maggie found me and stood in the doorway. “I have wanted to sleep with you ever since I met you,” she said, kind of loud.

“What?” I asked.

“It’s true. I came down here to tell you two things: its dinnertime and I’m here.”

I chuckled and turned toward Maggie. “What?”

“I want to give myself to you. Now, I know you said that you didn’t want to ruin our relationship but tonight, it can mean whatever you want. It can mean the world to you or nothing at all. I just want to see you smile again.”

I stood up and walked over to Maggie. “Me smile? Did you know that my grandma died?”

“No, I’m sorry. How long ago?”

“A month and I found out when we all went to Topeka which was what? Four days ago? My own family didn’t even tell me that the only family member worth a damn was dead! They knew how to get a hold of me!”

“I’m so sorry, Jeff. I…”

“My ex-fiancée who once said that she loved me with all her heart and soul and would never leave me, who left me, is back in my life with a boyfriend. It’s also my 28th birthday, betcha didn’t know that!”


“And guess what? For the 28th birthday in a row, I’m spending it alone. I have nothing and even if I wanted to sleep with you, I probably couldn’t because I haven’t been able to maintain an erection since Melissa broke up with me!”


“Yes, Maggie I’m impotent! So you see why I haven’t smiled lately? There is nothing to smile about and I hope I never smile again!” I pushed past Maggie, angrily walked away and went upstairs to get some dinner.

It was almost midnight when everything was finally finished. Maggie, Aaron, Nathan, Wendy, and I were the only ones left and we had just finished giving the kitchen the best mopping it has ever had. I threw the mop over the ladder in the mop room and joined the others by the fryers. “You guys can all leave. Thanks for all of your hard work tonight.”

The four of them clocked out and left. I went into my office and sat down. “Aren’t you leaving?” Maggie asked me.

“In a little bit. I walked here tonight so I’m gathering up my strength,” I said.

“You walked? Come on,” Maggie started trying to pull me out of my chair. “I’m driving you home.”

“I can walk, it’s no trouble. I need to stop by the bank anyway.”

“It’s no problem. I will drive you home and we’ll stop off at the bank and everything will be fine.”

I shut and locked my office and we left. The bank’s ATM was not a drive-through so you had to park, get out and go into an unlocked portion of the bank. We went in together and I proceeded to get out money. A guy came in and shouted at us: “Give me your money!”

I turned around and noticed he had a gun. “Oh, crap,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Happy birthday to me.”

“Just give me your money and no one gets hurt,” the man ordered.

“Well, maybe I want to get hurt,” I said.

“Jeff…” Maggie exclaimed through gritted teeth.

“What? Think about it, Maggie. There are three cameras in this room, he’s not hiding his face and he’s robbing people in a bank across the street from the police station.”

“Shut up, man or I’ll…”

“Or you’ll what? You’re too nervous to shoot and actually hit me so what are you going to do? Pee your pants?”

“Jeff, I don’t…” Maggie never got to finish her sentence as the gunshot echoed through the room. Everything seemed to slow down as the bullet missed me by a long shot and lodged in the wall behind me. The gunman ran out the door and I fell to my knees. Maggie was quickly at my side. “Jeff! Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just take me home.”

We arrived back at my place and just sat in her car. She held my hand and softly rubbed my fingers. “You know my offer still stands…”

“What offer?” I asked, honestly not knowing what she was talking about.

Maggie leaned over and kissed me, long and full on the lips. She stopped, pulled away and licked her lips. “That offer…”

“I lied earlier. Down in the basement I said that I didn’t want to sleep with you but from the moment I laid eyes on you I had in the back of my mind that I was going to sleep with you. Right now, you are the only reason I go to work.”

Maggie leaned back over and kissed me again. “Let’s go inside,” she whispered.

“All right but I can’t promise anything…”

“It’s okay, I’ll understand.”

I lay on Maggie’s soft naked body and brushed my nose on her cheek, which tickled her and cradled her neck in my hand. I pulled out which caused Maggie to gasp and I laid down next to her and put my hand on her stomach.

“You’ll never know how much I’ve wanted this…” she said hugging my arm and snuggling into the bed. I had already fallen asleep with a smile on my face. Maggie rolled over on her side, facing me. She looked at me, touched my mouth gently with her ring finger and kissed the spot next to my eye. “Happy birthday, Jefferson Franklin.” She pulled herself closer to me and fell asleep.

Part Three begins. Jeff gets a new apartment but needs a roommate to afford it. The staff has to start wearing name tags and Jeff and Melissa are forced to do stuff together.

They're Not Swallows

Born Loser 03-15-10
Oh, sweet Lord, this is true. I guess this is something to be proud since it brings 50,000 people to your neck of the woods.

The thing that bothers me is that according to my research there is no Hinckley, Ohio. It's Hinckley Township, Ohio. I know it seems trivial but there is a huge difference.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

POtW: The Trolley Tracks

Trolley Tracks on New Jersey Street
With all the snow and ice that have happened this winter, potholes are abundant in Lawrence but with this pothole come old trolley tracks that used to go all over the town from the river to 23rd Street. It's good to know that instead of removing the bricks and tracks, the city just paves over them both.

Friday, March 12, 2010

You've Probably Seen This But....

I've written before how insane the Russians are for still having their "We-Will-Destroy-the-World" Machine still running just in case we sneeze in their direction but further proof that the Russians are bat-shit insane is this Internet meme that has been making the rounds the last month or so.

The man is Eduard Anatolyevich Khil and he is a Russian baritone singer. Now that I have watched this several times while typing this, I'm pretty sure that this is what God's voice would sound like--or Alan Rickman, he was the voice of God in "Dogma".

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

Born Loser 03-11-10
JUST LET HER EAT THE CAKE!! If someone wants to get fat and die an early death then it is their right. We're all going to die sooner or later anyway.

Plus I think Gladys' weight is offset by her height.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It Won't Be the Same Without Simon

Born Loser 03-10-10
Apparently Randy Jackson needs money and is lending his voice to echos across the country. Or this is the most complicated and difficult "American Idol" audition ever!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Meeting His Ticket Quota

Born Loser 03-09-10
So this police officer must have nothing else to do on his shift than pull people over for going five miles over the limit? I would definitely go to court and fight this one because unless she was weaving through the lanes or hitting parked cars, five miles is a pretty stupid reason to pull someone over.

Stull #1.2

Anthony Broyles lived in rural Rock Creek Township about a mile or so north of Twin Mound. He drove the same route to and from work in Tontzville every night. Nothing ever changed on his drive except once every week when something would cross the road. The figure, a woman dressed in white would cross the road from a creek that bordered a cemetery and vanished upon entering a field across the road.

Many people saw the ghostly woman cross the road but usually blamed it on their eyes or light reflections, a wild animal or mist rising from the creek.

This time was slightly different. The ghostly figure crossed the road, startling Anthony who veered off the road and slammed into a tree.

Two weeks later, Anthony Broyles' wife came into the Historical Society and walked into Frank's office. "Mr. York? I'm Lillian Broyles, my husband Anthony was in a car accident a couple weeks ago on Twin Mound Road."

"I remember that. I'm sorry Mrs. Broyles. How is your husband?" Frank asked.

"He's fine. He's at home now," Mrs. Broyles said. "Have you ever heard of the Albino Lady?" she asked.

"Of course. She crosses Twin Mound Road about once a week at Captains Creek."

"I want you to investigate the ghost. She nearly killed my husband and the police don't care. You come highly recommended by Judith Lawrence," Mrs. Broyles said.

Frank smiled then cleared his throat. "So what exactly do you want me to do?"

"Find out who she is and why she crosses the road. If possible, get her to stop," Mrs. Broyles said.

"Okay, Mrs. Broyles. I'll do what I can."

"The Poor Farm"
Frank, Matt and Katie stood around a huge map of Stanton County. The map showed every house, creek, stream, pond and cemetery in the county. The three of them focused on the area of Twin Mound.

"The Albino Lady typically crosses here," Frank pointed where Captains Creek crossed Twin Mound Road just south of Roanoke Cemetery. "So the obvious thing would be to check out the cemetery."

"So we're going to spend the night in the cemetery?" Katie asked.

"We're probably going to have to spend several nights in the cemetery because the Albino Lady doesn't have a set schedule," Frank said. "Katie, you will probably stay here, if that's okay."

"That would be fine with me," Katie replied.

"There's a cemetery across the street," Matt said.

"What?"" Frank leaned down for a closer look. On the map was a small dotted box with 'Cem' written next to it. "It is a cemetery."

"Did you know about it?" Katie asked.

"No. I didn't know it was there. Looks like we should get out there during the day. Matt, you and I will get ready to spend the night in the Roanoke Cemetery and we'll find and investigate that other cemetery. Katie, I want you to research that cemetery. I don't have any information on it so you may have to research county records. We'll be back tomorrow morning. Let's go, Matt."

Frank and Matt parked in Roanoke Cemetery and walked across the road into the field. Neither saw a cemetery but they continued walking.

"How far in was it? Do you remember?" Frank asked.

"It looked like about a half mile or so. I'm not really sure," Matt replied. They continued walking for a few more minutes until Matt tripped on a rock sticking out of the ground. "Ah! What the hell?"

"Watch where you're going," Frank said.

"There are more," Matt said and pointed to other stones that were sticking out of the ground "and here's a headstone."

Matt and Frank walked over to the stone that was lying flush with the ground. Frank knelt down and read the stone. "'David Callahan 1936-1952.' He was only sixteen. And those other stones must be graves, too."

Frank's cell phone rang and he answered it. "What's up, Katie?"

"From your records I found out who owns the land that cemetery is on. His name is Donald Taylor and I called him and left him a message but I decided to go to Tontzville anyway and look through their old records and I found out that the land used to belong to the county where it was originally used as a poor farm and after that, a boy's school," Katie explained.

"Wow. You got a lot done in an hour," Frank said. "Matt and I found the cemetery. It's very neglected but we're going to take pictures and we can try to record them," Frank told Katie.

"Okay. When Mr. Taylor calls me back I'll arrange a meeting with him for you. He'll probably be able to tell you a lot more about the land than me," Katie informed. "I'll talk to you later."

"Bye," Frank hung up. He pulled his camera out of his backpack and began taking pictures of the rocks sticking out of the ground and the three actual headstones they found.

An hour later, Frank and Matt were standing with Donald Taylor, who owned the land. They stood next to an old cement staircase that was covered in young trees and tall grass. A broken sidewalk led from the steps to the road.

"The Stanton County Poor Farm was built here in 1871. This land was chosen because at the time Twin Mound had services but was far enough away from the main towns of Tontzville, Delia, Liberty and even Stull," Mr. Taylor began. "The Poor Farm was always a busy place until about 1913 when the county quit funding it."

"Why'd they do that?" Frank asked. "The Poor Farm was obviously something that was offering a service to people who needed it."

"It was but it was losing money so the county closed it and converted it into a hospital which lasted until 1931 when the Great Depression forced its closure," Mr. Taylor continued. "It stood abandoned for several years until 1946 or 1947 when it was renovated into the Stanton County Boy's School."

"Boy's School?" Matt asked.

"It was a school for boys who had problems adjusting to society or had committed crimes. It was kind of like a military school only...well, to be honest, it was more like a prison," Mr. Taylor said.

"What's the cemetery out by the creek? Was it used by the Poor Farm or the Boy's School?" asked Frank.

"It was. First by the Poor Farm. Then by the School," Mr. Taylor began. "I've tried to take care of it by mowing it. I think there are many more buried out there than the stones reveal. People who died at the Poor Farm are marked with the stones but residents of the Boy's School didn't receive a headstone unless the parents paid for them."

"There are only three headstones out there now," Frank said.

"I'm sure there were more that are now lost to time but there were probably very few to begin with. You'd be shocked at how parents won't spend money on their inmate son's headstone," Mr. Taylor said.

"Well, thank you for your information Mr. Taylor," Frank said and shook Mr. Taylor's hand. "We're just going to take a few pictures up here and then we're going to head back to Roanoke Cemetery."

"All right. It was my pleasure. Please, take your time," Mr. Taylor walked back to his truck that was parked on the road. Frank and Matt commenced taking pictures of the steps, sidewalk and parts of the foundation that could still be seen.

"We're losing the light, shouldn't we get ready to wait for the Albino Lady?" Matt asked.

Frank had spent the last hour walking up and down all the rows of graves in Roanoke Cemetery comparing names on the stones to names in the Poor Farm Cemetery. He had heard Matt but didn't say anything.

"Frank! We're losing the light. What are you doing?" Matt said louder.

"I was thinking that maybe the ghost is related to someone in the Poor Farm Cemetery. That may be why she crosses the street. 'Callahan,'" Frank suddenly said.


"Callahan. This woman's name is Callahan, the same as in the Poor Farm Cemetery."

"Do you know how common the name Callahan is? What are the odds they would be related?" Matt asked.

"I'm betting pretty good," Frank said and began calling Katie on his cell phone.

"Hello?" she answered.

"Katie, are you back at the office?" Frank asked.

"I was just about to leave. What's up?"

"I need you to find some proof that David Callahan is related to Dorothy Callahan," Frank said.

"Okay," she began typing on the computer. "What are the birth and death dates?"

"Dorothy, 1904 to 1972; David, 1936-1952," Frank said.

Matt crossed his arms and rolled his eyes as he sighed. "Newspaper obituary dated in 1952," Katie said and began reading, "'David Callahan, 16, of Twin Mound died at the Stanton County Boy's School. The cause is unknown. David is the only son of George J. and Dorothy Callahan, also of Twin Mound. David was sent to the Boy's School in 1950 after maliciously burning down a neighbor's horse barn resulting in $1,500 in damage and causing the deaths of 15 horses. In lieu of re-payment, Mr. Callahan agreed to send David to the Boy's School despite his wife's protests. David will be buried in the Boy's School Cemetery.'"

Frank stuck his tongue out at Matt. "Told you," he said. "Thanks Katie. We'll see you tomorrow."

Frank hung up. "So are we going to spend the night in the cemetery tonight?" Matt asked.

"I think I have a better idea. She--the Albino Lady--just wants to visit her son, she wants her story told. I say we give it to her," Frank smiled.

Within two weeks, a new light pole was installed and a sign marking the Poor Farm Cemetery was erected near a new gravel trail leading from the road to the cemetery. Research was done and the sign told the story of both the Poor Farm and the Boy's School and the harsh conditions both residents went through in order to survive. The ghost sightings continued but they weren't as numerous.

When a young girl is raped and murdered, the Historical Society investigates the possible return of a cult that was based in Rock Creek.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Harter Union: Part Two, Chapter 6

Jason, Aaron, Maggie, Chrissy and I sped south on U.S. 75 away from Topeka to connect with U.S. 56 near Carbondale and then head for Baldwin. We went to Topeka after work for basically something to do and I also needed to pick up a box of junk from my mom’s place before she moved to Texas. She was originally just going to give it away if I hadn’t called to say ‘hello.’ Something my mom said had upset me so I was going well over the speed limit which worried Maggie.

“So, Jeff, what did your mom talk to you about before we left?” she asked.

What upset me was very personal and I didn’t want to talk about it. The look on my face got angrier and my grip on the steering wheel got firmer.

“It must’ve been pretty bad since we stormed out of there in a hurry,” mentioned Aaron.

“And what did she mean by that ‘are you going to kill these friends, too’ remark?” asked Chrissy.

“She meant nothing by it. My mom is just a bitch and I’m glad she’s leaving my state!” I exclaimed. “She’s never been a good mother and I’m amazed I’m not addicted to drugs or dead!”

“So does all your family live around here?” Chrissy queried.

“Not really, my family’s spread out around the Midwest,” I said.

“Are you ready for the Vespers?” Maggie called out.

“No,” we all said in unison.

“Kathryn is freaking out about it, too so it provides a little entertainment watching her explode at the littlest thing and run around mumbling like a crazy person,” Jason commented.

“But she’s got Melissa running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off then yelling at her for doing what Kathryn told her to do in the first place. It’s so stupid!” Chrissy said.

“Why do you think I hired her to work on our side when she’s not Kathryn’s little monkey? I don’t want her to shoot somebody,” I said.

“I thought it was because you wanted to bone her,” Jason crudely acknowledged.

I noticed out of the corner of my eye Maggie flinch and turn her head to look out the window. “Yeah, Jason, I really want to rekindle a romance with my ex-fiancée who broke my heart and caused me to hate everything. Getting back together with Melissa is the last thing I want to do.” I heard Maggie sigh loudly. “I’m now looking for someone who’s longing for me, you know? Has wanted me from afar.”

“’Afar?’ Using words like that won’t get you any pussy,” Jason said.

“Neither does gonorrhea but somehow you manage,” I said, looking at Jason in the rearview mirror.

“Now the doctor said that was just a simple wart and can be burned or froze off whenever I please.”

“But honestly, do you really want anything that consists of burning or freezing even remotely near that area of your body?” I said. Maggie laughed and looked at me. I reached over and took her hand, no one else in the car noticed but I almost immediately went back to thinking about what happened in Topeka.

Vespers. And Jeff and Maggie's relationship gets closer.

Cameron's Not King of the World Anymore

Born Loser 03-08 Edit
Did anyone see the James Cameron stroke-fest last night at the Oscars? It seemed as if everybody who won an Oscar for Avatar thanked James Cameron. FYI, you won that award, not him. I'm just glad he didn't win director or best picture because I'm pretty sure the Kodak Theater wouldn't be able to contain his big head and it was already crowded enough in there with both Mo'Nique and Gabourey Sidibe in the audience*.

I've been very busy getting writing done along with other things and work so posts may be few and far between over the next week or so. I hope to have Stull #2 up tomorrow and Seven #18 (the season finale) up this weekend and I am still working on getting at least two new features ready for April and getting something written for Liberty #10 by the end of March.

Now I'm off to start the day. Laters.

*That was mean. Both are fine, talented actresses who prove you don't have to be drop dead gorgeous in order to win acting awards. Congrats on Mo'Nique's Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and Gabby's nomination. I'm sorry Sandra Bullock won. That was a shame.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

POtW: Greenwood Valley School

Greenwood Valley School
The old Greenwood Valley School four and a half miles west of Lecompton. The school was built in 1896 and serviced District Number 24 until 1960 when it was consolidated to the Lecompton School District.

This school was recently vandalized by people claiming to be with the Sur 13 gang from Topeka but I think it was teenage wannabes from the nearby Shawnee Heights school district that did it because why would an urban gang tag a rural schoolhouse in another county?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Seven #2.17

Seven stared nervously at the boy holding the gun. He tried not to show his fear but it was difficult. "What are you doing?" Seven asked calmly.

"You were part of the posse that came into Ravanna," the boy said. "I plan on killing as many of you as I can."

"Okay," Seven didn't know what to say. "I didn't burn down the courthouse though. Those people are in there," Seven pointed to the town hall. "I'm not even from Eminence. I'm just passing through."

"You were still with them. You could've stopped them but you didn't," the boy said.

"I didn't know what was going on and by the time I knew, it was too late. I'm sorry."

The boy teared up but kept the gun up then pulled the trigger.

"Eminence Vs. Ravanna, Part Two"
Cassius was asleep and dreaming when the gun went off. The gunshot entered his dream, changing what he was dreaming about. The Ravanna courthouse was in flames but just beyond the burning building was a wide-open expanse. A man, dressed in robes, greeted Cassius at the edge of a large sinkhole. "Cassius," the man began "you've made it to St. Jacob's Well--welcome to Shmand."

"Shouldn't we try to put out that fire?" Cassius asked, pointing at the courthouse.

"The end has come for the Great White Elephant but the journey continues for you," the robed man said.

"Cassius!" a girl's voice interrupted his dream and Cassius turned to try and find it.

"Cassius!" this time it was both a girl and boy's voice. When Cassius woke up, he saw Tara and Nicholas standing over his cot.

"Nicholas! Tara! What's wrong?"

"Seven's been shot," Tara said.

When the three of them made it downstairs, a small crowd had gathered and a doctor was already there. "How is he?" Cassius asked as he, Tara and Nicholas pushed through the crowd.

"The bullet grazed his arm just below the shoulder. It's painful but he'll be okay. I'm going to wrap the wound and he should be ready to go," the doctor said.

The four of them were getting ready to leave but Tara would barely let Seven do anything. "I can pack my own bag," Seven chuckled. "The bullet just grazed my arm. I'll be fine."

"Still. You should go easy on your arm. Plus, I can worry if I want to," Tara said.

"You were worried?" Seven asked.

"Of course. You're my best friend," she replied.

Seven smiled. "When that kid pointed that gun at me, all I could think of was you. I'm sorry that we've drifted away from each other and that I have been kind of a jerk since Indianola. I'm hoping we can become best friends again."

"I think we can do that," Tara said. She looked at Seven and smiled then turned away nervously. "So why did that boy shoot you?"

"Because I witnessed the Eminence townspeople burn down their courthouse, or the Great White Elephant apparently," Seven explained.

"What about the Great White Elephant?" Cassius asked.

"That's what the people of Eminence called the courthouse in Ravanna. I'm not sure why."

"Possibly the size and color of the building. Also, a white elephant is a term that can describe something that has no practical use but costs a fortune in upkeep," Cassius said. "It comes from India when kings would receive white elephants as gifts but the elephants couldn't work but cost a lot to keep."

"Eminence did believe that about Ravanna's courthouse," Seven said.

"That's our next sign," Cassius said. "Next, and last stop, St. Jacob's Well."

"We're almost there? I can't believe it," Seven laughed.

The boy ran off after shooting Seven. He ran off back to Ravanna and entered the small church and sat down in one of the pews and began to cry. "What is the matter, my son?" asked the reverend.

"I shot someone," the boy sniffled.

"You're the Anderson boy aren't you? Wilkie, is it?" the reverend asked, sitting next to the boy.

"Yeah," Wilkie responded.

"You shot someone?"

"Yeah, one of the people who helped burn down the courthouse. My father spent so much time on it. So did a lot of other people."

The reverend was silent and looked straight ahead at the front of the church. Reverend Everett Drood was a mysterious yet trusted character in Ravanna. He showed up shortly after Ravanna was settled and had plans made up to build a church. Reverend Drood put his arm around Wilkie. "You didn't kill him, did you?"

"No," Wilkie answered. "I got him in the arm."

"That's too bad. Wilkie, you are needed somewhere else. I have cleared it with your parents for you to come with me. To a place called Shmand. They are nearing a civil war and you will be needed to stop the interlopers," Reverend Drood said. "Come, we need to get to Shmand before they do."

"And it's okay with my parents?" Wilkie asked, still sniffling.

Reverend Drood smiled and stood up. "They actually insisted that you come with me." At the Anderson house, Wilkie's parents laid dead on the floor, their necks snapped. Reverend Drood ushered Wilkie out of the church and they made their way out of town down the Westward Trail on their way to Shmand.

The story of St. Jacob's Well and the arrival at Shmand.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Veeblefester Cuts Down Trees for Sport

Born Loser 03-01-10
Well, that's just seems like a waste of perfectly good coffee.

At least Brutus doesn't insist on wasting cream or sugar too.

Born Loser 03-02-10
Hmm, does this mean we may see Brutus, Gladys and Wilberforce all crammed into a Toyota Prius? God I hope not.

And yes, I said Toyota.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Harter Union: Part Two, Chapter 5

I awoke about ten on Maggie’s couch. I heard shower water in the back so figured Maggie was getting ready. I grabbed the TV remote control and turned the set on. I began surfing through her channels and realized how much I sincerely missed television. I heard the water shut off and the door creak open.

“Jeff, are you up?” Maggie hollered from the bathroom.

“Yeah, I’m just watching television if that’s okay.”

“That’s fine. Hey, do you want to take a shower here and then we can stop by your place for clothes before we head to Lawrence?”

“God, that’d be great!” I replied back. “As much as I love showering with a garden hose…”

“All right, there’s a fresh towel in here for you so the bathroom is all yours,” Maggie came into the front room with a towel wrapped around her body. I turned off the TV, stood up and couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She had little water droplets lining her cleavage. I kept staring at her wet, stringy hair and dripping chest as I walked past her to the bathroom. I misjudged the turn and ran into the wall. Maggie giggled and I just tried to pass it off like I meant to do it.

At Baker, Kathryn and Darrell had the staff, which included everyone but me and Maggie, gathered around for a meeting about their recent performance. “We are really very happy with the way you all have but you do seem to be slacking in some of your less crucial parts of cleaning,” Darrell said.

“And,” Kathryn began, “with new people starting next week we need to make sure they are properly trained for the Vespers.”

“It’s nothing major just a couple of points we need to touch on: please clean the machine baskets out after every shift. It maximizes efficiency and gets the dishes cleaner,” Darrell explained.

“Why isn’t Jeff here giving us these orders?” asked Alyson.

“I will inform Jeff of our meeting and tell him he needs to check the Dish Room, and that includes The Nasty, dish machine and trough before he lets any of you leave after a shift,” Darrell said.

“So is Jeff in trouble?” asked Wendy.

“Certainly not but he needs to be a supervisor first and a friend second. Also, we need to talk about the Grill. It turns out that it has become too much trouble than it’s worth and the budget doesn’t support it so at the end of today, the Grill is closed,” Darrell revealed.

“What about Karla and Jenna?” Jason asked.

“They have been invited to work up here and they accepted until the Vespers leave so they will be here for another week or so,” Darrell sighed as he shuffled through the papers on his clipboard. “That’s all I have. Kathryn?”

“Nope, let’s all get to work.”

Heading north toward Lawrence, I thought Maggie was asleep but she reached over and rubbed the back of my head, twirling her fingers around my long hair. “Have you ever thought of getting a haircut?” she asked.

“Yes, I have and stop rubbing my head, please,” I smacked her hand away and smoothed down the hair. I had been letting my hair grow since I came to Baldwin partly because I looked good with longer hair and partly because it was getting expensive to get your hair cut these days. Maggie reached over and rubbed the back of my head again. “I said stop it!”

“Why? Don’t you like it?”

“That’s the problem, I love it,” I sighed and smoothed my hair down again. “It’s one of two places that make me really horny when you rub it.”

“What’s the other place?” Maggie asked.

“Now if I told you that, you’d try to rub it all the time,” I smiled at her.

“You wish,” she smiled back.

“So where is the health department?” I asked.

“You know where the hospital is?” Maggie questioned. I nodded. “It’s across the street from the hospital.”

“Okay, I can find it from there. Are you okay? You seem kind of distant,” I reached over and took Maggie’s hand.

“I am distant. I may be pregnant with a child I don’t really want, have no idea how I’m gonna pay for and no idea how to care for it.”

“It’s not that bad. You’ll think of something. And I know it’s not much but you always have me,” I brought Maggie’s hand over to me and kissed it, looked at her and smiled.

“You don’t have to do that. The kid’s not yours so you are not obligated to stick around…”

“Maybe I want to…” I said forcefully but staring straight ahead at the road. Maggie looked at me with her eyes wide. She turned her head to look out the window and smiled.

Jason and Nathan opened the door to the Nasty and frowned. Puddles of goop filled the basin where the gears and chains met to move the belt. Small particles of food floated on the surface and a concentrated smell of dirty water, food and rusted metal wafted up. “Ugh, it must’ve been awhile since we actually did a good job under here,” Jason said.

“Just sop up as much water as you can with a towel and pick up the food. Once we get the Nasty and dish machine baskets clean, it’ll be a lot easier to keep them clean,” Nathan explained.

“I hope you’re right…” Jason took a towel from the shelf behind him and began sopping up some water and directing a majority of it down a small hole that led to the floor.

Nathan opened the two doors to the inside of the machine and began removing the baskets and sitting them next to the sink in the sprayer area. He dumped the food down the garbage disposal and began spraying a basket. A good-sized piece of lettuce dislodged from the basket, ricocheted off the stream of water and hit Nathan in the cheek. “Sometimes I wonder if this job is really worth it…” he said, peeling off the lettuce and dropping it in the disposal.

I was reading an issue of Highlights for Children while waiting for Maggie to get done. I was thoroughly enjoying ‘Goofus and Gallant’ and ‘The Timbertoes’ when I saw out of the corner of my eye Maggie leaving the office. I put the magazine down and stood up. She fell into my arms and cried softly.

“So what’s the verdict?” I asked hugging her tightly.

“Negative. I’m not pregnant.”

“They’re sure?”

“Yes, my doctor switched me to a different birth control so they’re gonna switch me back,” Maggie stepped away from me and wiped her eyes.

“Are you all right?” I asked.

“Yeah. I’m fine. A little relieved and a little sad but I’m fine.”

“Well, that’s good. Let’s get out of here.”

I took her hand and we walked out of the building. It had really warmed up since we arrived. “Jeff? Now that I’m not pregnant, you can tell me the truth…did you really mean it when you said you would take care of me and my child?”

“Every word,” I replied.

“Why? Why take on a responsibility for something that you don’t need to?”

“I have my reasons…” I said mysteriously.

Maggie rested her head on my arm as we arrived at my Jimmy. “You are so wonderful, Jefferson Franklin,” she said softly.

I pretended like I wasn’t listening. “What?”

“Nothing. Can we get something to eat?” she asked.

I dropped Maggie off at her place so she could take a nap while I went to work to give those interviews. When I arrived, the four interviewees were in my office. The girl with straight brown hair was yelling at the guy sitting in the extra chair while a girl with curly brown hair sat in mine.

I stood in the doorway and cleared my throat to get their attention. “You all the new applicants?” they nodded in compliance. I looked at the girl sitting in my chair. “Could you hand me those applications and a pen?” the girl took the papers in her hand, leaned forward and handed them to me. “Thanks. All right, who are you people?” I looked at all of them and pointed to the guy sitting on the extra desk with unruly black hair and glasses.

“Jay Anthony,” he answered.

“Emily Reece,” said the girl standing up.

“Heather Wilmot.”

“Chris Ingalls,” said the guy with the buzz cut sitting in the extra chair. Heather had sad-looking eyes but a smile to die for. I was addressing everyone but was looking at her.

“Okay, well, welcome aboard. I would like you all to start as soon as possible so would Saturday be okay?” all agreed except for Heather who mumbled something and then showed blatant disrespect by taking my only pencil and snapping it in half. “If you could all be here Saturday at 10:30, we can get you all set up. Thank you for coming and I’ll see y’all Saturday.” Jay, Emily, and Chris pushed past me. I took a couple steps toward my desk and caught Heather as she brushed past. “Hold it, Miss Wilmot.”

“What?” she asked forcibly.

“That was my only pencil and now I have to steal another one from Darrell,” I said sitting down.

“Sorry,” she said quietly.

“No you’re not. Why’d you do it? I’ve never done anything to you except hire you…”

“I’m mad at my parents for forcing me to get a job. I swear, when I find an apartment I am so moving out.”

“Now you’re sorry. And I forgive you so get out of here. I’ll see you Saturday at 10:30.”

“Okay, uh…” Heather froze on my name.

“It’s on my door,” I smiled.

She looked at the door and then back at me, “Jefferson.” I didn’t correct her and waved to her as she left out the back door.

Jeff is angry after a visit to his mother's and tells his friends what he's looking for in a relationship.