Monday, May 31, 2010

The Thornapple Swingers Party

I know it's weird posting the return of something on the last day of the month especially if the last day is a holiday but I wanted to get this going.  A Thursday Comic should be up on Thursday also a POB may be up later this week and maybe a Customer Service early next week if I can get the thing drawn.  Anyway, onto The Born Loser

Born Loser 05-31-10
I guess it looks like the lights are off.  The coloring doesn't look any different but it is a weekday strip so the colorist is a colorblind moron.

Brutus sure is happy they are dining by candlelight.  Romantic?  Is Brutus hoping for a little swingers party?  I didn't know the Thornapples went that way.

Harter Union: Part Four; Chapter 4 & 5

“Oh…my…God!” Heather said, staring down at me and Emily sitting asleep on the couch and wrapped in a blanket. I opened my eyes and looked at Heather and then at Emily who was still asleep.

“What?” I asked quietly.

“You and Emily slept together!”

“Yeah,” I slowly got up, removed the blanket, softly laid Emily down and covered her back up, “and if you’ll notice, we are still dressed in the clothes we wore last night.”

“What is she doing here anyway?”

“Can you keep your voice down? She’s asleep. Come into my room, I need to change.”

Heather followed me into my room and shut the door behind us. I began unbuttoning my jacket. “Now, what is she doing here?” Heather demanded.

“She wanted to talk after our date so we came back here, I fixed her some coffee, we talked and ended up falling asleep. Now, unless being a nice, sensitive guy is suddenly a crime, you shouldn’t be interrogating me about this.”

“Emily is evil! You told me that yourself and here you are cuddled up next to her in a blanket!”

“So what? Why do you even care?”

“Because I am your friend, and I don’t want to see you get hurt, especially by her. She is evil!”

“She’s not that bad when you get to know her. When we were locked in the freezer together…”

“You two were locked in a freezer?”

“Yeah, I thought I told you. Anyway, since then, we’ve been almost like friends and I am starting to really like her,” I took off my shirt and pants and put on a pair of sweats and an old football jersey.

“Remember when we had sex, Jefferson?” Heather asked.

“Of course.”

“How much did it mean to you?”

“What? You know how much it meant to me. It meant a lot and it was, honestly, the best sex I ever had, now what’s your problem?”

Heather crossed her arms and sighed heavily. “I love you, Jefferson, I have loved you from the moment you kissed me,” Heather sat down on my bed.

“You do? I…guess I hadn’t realized it or maybe I didn’t want to admit it but…”

“What are you saying?” Heather asked.

“What I’m saying is…” I wanted to finish my sentence but Emily suddenly knocked on the door. “Come in.”

Emily entered and saw Heather on the bed. “Whoa, I’m not interrupting anything am I?”

“No, no. We were just talking. What do you want?” I asked.

“Can you drive me home? I need to get ready for work.”

“Of course, come on,” I slipped on my shoes and left the room. I looked back at Heather who was smoothing out my bed sheet. As I drove Emily home, both of us were completely silent.

“Thank you,” said Emily.

“For what?” I asked.

“For listening last night…you were the first guy to ever do that. Thanks.”

“I’m always here if you need anything. Always,” I offered. I dropped Emily off at her house and she got out of the Jimmy. “Emily, if we hadn’t fallen asleep, would you have had sex with me?” I asked, smiling.

“Of course,” she smiled back.

“Damn it!” I cursed. “Oh, well, I’ll see you at work…” Emily shut the door and I drove off.




Chapter Five
It was Thursday when I arrived back in the dining area where everyone was sitting and I noticed Nathan and Alyson sitting at opposite ends of the table; Jason and Chrissy weren’t being all touchy-feely and both Heather and Emily were sad-looking and quiet. Aaron was once again trying to fix the soft serve ice cream machine and Wendy was nearly asleep. The only people actually enjoying themselves were the new workers: Wanda, Katie, Stephanie, and Kepler.

“What’s wrong with everybody?” I asked.

“Nathan and I are fighting,” Alyson said.

“This machine has been a problem since Monday night!” replied Aaron.

“I’m having an abortion tomorrow and I’m starting to have second thoughts about it,” Chrissy said softly.

“We never finished our conversation from yesterday, Jefferson,” said Heather.

“Okay, since when did you people start having all of these problems?” I asked.

“What are you doing here?” Wendy asked me.

“My vacation started getting too real so I’m cutting it short. Now, if all the new people and Wendy will come into my office,” I directed. We all went into my office. I offered Wendy my chair and I leaned against the wall; Katie sat in the extra chair and Kepler and Wanda sat on the other desk.

“What’s up, Bosco?” asked Kepler.

“Well, the reason I…Bosco?” I shook my head and shrugged it off. “The reason I called you in here is to learn more about yourselves. Maybe share with us an anecdote.”

“Then why am I in here?” asked Wendy.

“You are now the assistant supervisor so you are going to be integrated into everything I do from now on. So who wants to go first?”

“I will,” began Wanda. “I live in a trailer park on Second Street and there’s a fugitive hiding out next door. And I’ve slept with him.”

“We really need to have psychological evaluations for this job. And why did you sleep with him?” I asked.

“He’s a criminal! It’s not everyday you get to sleep with a fugitive from the law,” Wanda shifted her weight on the desk.

“Please, someone else go,” I pleaded.

“All right, I’m Katie Nickerson, I like Italian food, long walks in the outdoors and small animals.”

“I wanted a story, not a brief dating intro,” I said.

Katie smiled. Katie was short and had mid-length blond hair and I just couldn’t imagine a cute girl like that needing to beg for a boyfriend.

“I’m Stephanie Caldwell, how old are you, Jeff?” asked Stephanie, who had long blond hair, a crooked nose, and sort of crossed eyes.

“I’m 28…” I answered.

“Do you want to come over to my place sometime?” she asked with a lilt in her voice.

“How old are you?” I asked, realizing Stephanie was fairly young-looking.

“14.”

“No.” I turned to Kepler. “All right, Kepler, your turn.”

“Okay, you know that body they found hanging from that tree in the cemetery?” everyone turned and looked at Kepler.

“Oh, God, you didn’t kill him did you?” I moaned.

“No, but I poked him with a stick.”

I sighed. “Well, that went horribly wrong. Please, everybody leave, get ready for work and let us never speak of this again.” Everyone left the office and I slumped down in my chair.

“Can we talk now? We never finished our conversation from yesterday,” asked Heather, who suddenly appeared in the doorway.

“No hablas Englaish,” I said.

“That was the worst Spanish I ever heard.”

“That was Spanglish but thank you.”

“You can’t avoid the subject forever,” Heather taunted.

“I can at least try,” I got up and began flapping my hands behind my ears. “Look, I’m a moth!” I climbed on top of the desk and flailed around the fluorescent light.

“Stop it, Jefferson, I’m being serious!” said Heather, trying not to laugh.

“I’m serious, too so you better climb up on a piece of furniture because the floor just turned to lava.”

Heather looked down as if to check and then back at me. “I know what you were about to tell me.”

“Meow!” I interrupted.

“You love me but you’re afraid to say it.”

“Mew-rowr!” again.

“Because you still love Melissa and Maggie!”

I hissed and batted my hand at her.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“Mr. Jolly Pussinwhiskers does not wish to discuss Jeff’s feelings at the moment so if you will excuse him,” I hopped off the desk, pushed past Heather and bounded into the kitchen.

“The floor is still lava you know!” she hollered at me.

“Meow-rrowhhrr!” I screeched.




Wanda and Heather were in the stock room folding laundry. We had our own washing machine and dryer to do the towels, aprons, rags but somehow everything remained dirty. “So you live with Jeff?” asked Wanda.

“Yeah. He’s a great roommate,” Heather answered, folding an apron.

“Have you and him knocked boots?”

A guilty look came over Heather’s face as she leaned closer to Wanda. “You can’t tell anyone but yes, a couple months ago.”

“I figured you did. How was it?”

“It was wonderful. Everything I imagined and more,” Heather gushed.

“Have you done it much before Jeff?”

“Yeah, several times but I haven’t since Jefferson,” Heather revealed and took the last apron out of the basket and folded it.

“You need to come out with me. Get a little drunk, get laid. I know guys who are so hung that it’s like they might rip you in half!” Wanda exclaimed.

“I may just do that…” Heather smiled. She and Wanda gathered up the folded laundry and left the stock room.




I was working on my courage outside of her apartment. I got out of my car and headed up to her door. I knocked and waited for Melissa to answer. The door locked shuffled and clicked, then the door opened.

“Jeff, what are you doing here?” she asked.

“I was wondering if you’d like to grab a bite to eat.”

“Well, I’m kind of busy right now…”

“Hey, Mel? Who’s at the door? The meat is getting cold,” said a male voice from inside Melissa’s apartment.

“It’s just my supervisor, Mike,” Melissa yelled back. She looked at me. “I’m sorry. Maybe some other time.”

“Yeah, sure, it’s not important. I’ll see you at work tomorrow,” I kept the smile on my face until Melissa shut the door. I walked back to my car, started it up and drove off.

Next:
Nathan and Alyson fight while Jeff goes missing.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gary Coleman 1968-2010

Gary Coleman, star of the hit TV series "Diff'rent Strokes" from 1978-1986 has passed away after suffering an intracranial hemorrhage at his home near Salt Lake City.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

No Body's Dummy

Everybody knows and loves Archie! And if you don't then you've got some nerve!! He's been around since 1941 and he hasn't aged a day except in the near-crap TV-movie "To Riverdale and Back Again" starring Christopher Rich and Lauren Holly when they were 15 years older.

Debuting in 1947, this is one of my favorite "Archie" stories where Archie borrows a dummy and hijinks ensue.

Archie in "No Body's Dummy"
Originally published in Pep Comics #62, July 1947










Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Damn It!!


And thus, Customer Service says not "good-bye" but a "toodle-oo" because this comic is going to be bouncing around like a cow in a tornado mainly because it takes me forever to get one sheet of paper done and my art is not getting better.

Anyway, the dead baby scenario is true. It happened to my cousin when he worked for a shady company that would inexplicably close shop then reopen weeks later under a different name.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

No. 11: Leaving Rossville

I.
Ashley Wray closed her copy of Eli Sullivan’s In a Gray Called Heaven. She laid it beside her bed on her nightstand and strectched as there was a knock at her bedroom door. “Yeah?”

The door opened and Ashley’s roommate Leslie Mathews walked in. “What are you still doing up?” she asked. “It’s nearly three in the morning.”

“I was finishing reading my book.”

Leslie glanced over at the nightstand and saw the thick 602-page hardcover book lying on it. “How many times have you read that?”

“You should read it,” Ashley got out of bed and stretched some more. “It’s a beautiful book and I think you would like it.”

“I’ll stick to thinner books that have pictures in them, thanks,” Leslie chuckled.

“What do you want?”

“Your notes from American History. I want to compare them with mine and add on if I need to.”

Ashley walked over to her file cabinet, opened it and pulled out several pages of notebook paper. “Here you go.”

“Can I see your book?” Leslie asked referring to In a Gray Called Heaven.

“Sure,” Ashley climbed over her bed to retrieve the book and handed it to Leslie.

Leslie carefully ran her fingers across the cover that had a snowy overhead shot of a small town that casually led into a gray that filled the upper right corner. She turned the book over to a picture of Eli Sullivan. He had messy brown hair and a beard that only covered his jawline. His blue eyes sparkled from the back cover and the corners of his mouth were turned up, even though he was not smiling himself. “Cute,” Leslie said and handed the book back to Ashley. “Has he written anything else?”

“No, he wrote this five years ago and then disappeared.”

“It says he lives in Kansas. You should hunt him down, force him to write another book, maybe even sleep with him,” Leslie smiled.

“Leslie,” Ashely rolled her eyes.

“I’m just saying. He’s cute,” Leslie started to leave the room. “Thanks for the notes.”

“Anytime,” Ashley smiled. She shut the door, turned off her light and laid down on her bed. She sighed and slowly drifted off to sleep.




Ashley was a junior at the University of Colorado in Denver. Ashley wasn’t a daring girl but she was incredibly smart and very pretty. She looked almost exactly like her mother which was good considering that Ashley wanted nothing to do with the bastard that was her father. The drunken abuse and rape had always gone on but was aimed at her mother. It wasn’t until Ashley was eleven that her father began seeing the possibility in not only her but her friends as well.

Ashley’s mom was at work and her friends, Lindsay and Tom, were over. Her dad came home from work and started drinking. After a couple beers, he began chiding Tom and Ashley for being married. They both shot back stating that they were only friends. Things quickly went downhill. Ashely’s dad had said it was the greatest feeling ever and before the children knew it, her dad was inserting Tom’s penis inside of her and Lindsay was going down on her father. It didn’t feel good at all to Ashley but Tom shuddered and ejaculated a small amount of semen into Ashley. After that, they remained friends but refused to come over. Hearing this, Ashely’s dad used his own daughter for his release.

Nearly every day and a few nights after her mom would fall asleep her dad would have sex with Ashley for the next eight months. After that eight months, Ashley took Lindsay’s sister’s pregnancy test and finally had to do something. She went downstairs and with big tears in her eyes, told her mom that she was pregnant. As they raced to schedule a doctor’s appointment, her mom asked who the father was and with even more tears and nervousness, she whimpered “Daddy.”

Within only a few days, restraining orders were produced, an abortion was performed and Ashley’s dad moved out and away, never to be seen again. Ashley, despite everything, grew up normal and had a bright future ahead.

She rarely remembered her dreams but when she did, they never made any sense but for the first time, she remembered a dream and it made complete sense and that helped make up her mind to find Eli Sullivan.

II.
Rossville, Kansas is located along U.S. Highway 24 in Shawnee County 15 miles from Topeka and 8 miles north of exchange 346 on Interstate 70. Rossville had lived a relatively quiet existence since it’s founding in 1871. Before then, Rossville had been part of the Prairie Band Pottawatomie Indian Reservation. Eli Sullivan had lived in Rossville for the last five years and taught second grade for Kaw Valley Unified School District #321 at Rossville Grade School. Nobody knew that Eli had written a book, let alone a national bestseller that won a Pulitzer. Eli’s days were filled with teaching children and making sure the Rossville district stayed a good district.

Eli lived in a two-story white on Orange Street in close proximity to the school. His evenings and weekends were spent throughout the small town talking with the local people at the post office, Hallmark Store and the library. He loved Rossville, the seclusion, the people and the area. He was known throughout the town and for the first time in a long time, he was happy.




Ashley exited I-70 onto Carlson Road and headed north toward Rossville. She passed the small unincorporated town of Willard and began to cross the Kansas River on a long grate bridge. She tensed up as she crossed but loosened as she arrived on the other side and saw a water tower with a green top in the horizon. She rounded two sharp curves and came upon the city limits, marked by a small white sign. The water tower rose out from the trees that hid the houses and businesses of Rossville.

She stopped at the stop sign with the intersection of Highway 24 and Main Street. She looked both ways and crossed, going over the railroad tracks and entered the downtown area where she slowed her car to a crawl. Downtown consisted of an American Legion Post, a U.S. Bank and the Rossville Barbershop. Also, the city hall and the post office lined Main Street. She rolled down her window and passes the community center, which had a fiberglass lion in front. On the driver’s side was the community library, a woman walked out so Ashley stopped and shouted out the window, “Excuse me! Where’s the elementary school?”

“You turn right here on Pottawatomie and you can’t miss it,” the woman directed.

“Thank you,” Ashley turned onto Pottawatomie next to Wehner’s Mid-Town Mall and drove down the street until turning into the school parking lot at the end of the street. She walked to the front of the school and headed to some door, passing flagpoles and stone benches. One bench had the district mascot—-a bulldog, another had the University of Kansas Jayhawk and the third bench had a memorial to who Ashley assumed was once a teacher at the school.

Ashley entered the school in a large room where several kids were sitting and doing some arts and crafts. Ashley went over to one of the teachers. “Hi, I’m looking for the second grade classrooms.”

The teacher looked up and pointed at a hallway in the corner. “Through that hall and down the stairs. It’s to both the first and second grade classrooms.”

“Thanks,” Ashley headed to the hallway and disappeared around the corner. She found the classrooms and peered into both second grade rooms. One was being taught by a woman but the other by a tall, handsome young man with brown hair.

“…So I want you all to reach into the back of your mind for this. Come up with the most crazy, wild, fantastic idea you can…” the man said using grand hand gestures. Ashley walked in and sat in a chair by the door. All the kids turned their heads and looked at her causing the teacher to look. “Hello,” he said. “Um, I guess we can have recess a few minutes early. Head on out, gang.”

The kids got up and raced out of the classroom and out the nearby doors to the playground. “Mr. Sullivan?” Ashley asked.

“Yes?” he invited, confused.

“’And as the dawn silently rose over the land outside of Indianapolis, my brother’s crying finally stopped but unfortunately, another day was beginning,’” Ashley quoted.

“Ah, I see you are a well-read young lady. Do you want me to autograph your book or do you want an exclusive interview for a college paper?”

“Neither,” Ashley said.

“Come on, people don’t find reclusive authors and not expect something in return.”

“No, I’m serious that I don’t want anything. I loved In a Gray Called Heaven and I just wanted to thank you,” Ashley pleaded and got up to walk over to Eli.

“Where are you from?” he asked.

“Denver.”

“People don’t drive 400 miles to say thank you for anything,” Eli began to get angry.

“Well, this person did. Your book helped me put everything in life into perspective and gave me hope after realizing that there are other people who have went through what I did,” Ashley explained. “You have done something that most authors can only ever dream about: you have reached inside me, pulled at my heart and touched my soul. I don’t want anything, Mr. Sullivan. I just wanted to thank you,” Ashley turned and started walking out of the classroom.

“Wait,” Eli stopped, “wait, um…”

“Ashley. Ashley Wray.”

“Ashley,” he sighed, “school’s out at three-thirty, why don’t you come back at four-thirty and we’ll talk over dinner?”

“Okay, I’ll be here,” Ashley smiled.

III.
The only place to eat in Rossville is a small diner on Highway 24 called Swirley Top. Eli and Ashley sat at a table in the corner with her copy of In a Gray Called Heaven sitting between them.

“This is a nice town. Kind of small,” Ashley tried to get a conversation going.

“I love it,” Eli said smiling. “It offers everything I ever wanted.”

“But there’s no…anything! How far do you have to drive for a Big Mac?” she asked.

“I can either go to Topeka nearly twenty miles away or I can head to Wamego which is a nice…twenty miles away,” he laughed.

“You’re in the middle of nowhere!”

Eli reached over and turned the book over. “I don’t want anyone to know. And I’m not in the middle of nowhere. I’m surrounded by friends and co-workers who love and respect me for being a citizen and teacher of Rossville,” Eli started explaining.

“You won a Pulitzer for God’s sake,” Ashley said under her breath.

“And I keep it on a mantle in my office at home. I didn’t write it to win awards or make money. I wrote it to tell a story—my story.”

“And it’s a beautiful one…”

“Yeah, beautiful if you don’t count the molestation, rape, murder, suicide. But then the book would only be a hundred pages long.”

“I didn’t go through exactly what your family did but there were some parts that made my memories resurface,” Ashley said and looked down at the table.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault. You didn’t write the book for me,” Ashley took the book and put it back in her bag. “What are you doing here?”

“It’s getting late,” Eli looked at his watch. “I’ll get you set up in my guest room.”




Eli’s house was a big, beautiful white house about a half block from the school on Orange Street. Ashley marveled at how clean and orderly this bachelor house was. Eli gave her a quick tour and made some tea.

“So what brought you to Rossville?” Ashley asked.

“After my book got published and I won the Pulitzer, I moved to New York City and after spending about a month there, I was crazy,” Eli started. “In New York, I had no friends and no family. The therapist I saw said I needed to make friends and reconnect with my family. I packed up what I wanted and left New York, determined to find a place to spend the rest of my life. I got on Highway 24 in Kansas City, Kansas and followed that through Tonganoxie, Lawrence, Perry, Topeka and Silver Lake but when I arrived in Rossville, something came over me and I smiled. I found this house, paid cash for it and became a teacher,” Eli concluded, Ashley hanging on every word and sipping her tea.

“You really like it here.”

“Moving here opened a new kind of creativity. I’m halfway through a second novel and have written over a hundred short stories. I have friends here and the kids in this town have got to be the best kids in the state.”

“Well, I’m sorry I bothered you. I’m gonna go now,” Ashley got up from the stool she was sitting on.

“No, it’s too late for someone to traipse across Kansas. You can stay here in the guest room and leave in the morning,” Eli smiled and took Ashley’s hand.

IV.
It was a beautiful Saturday morning when Eli and Ashley woke up. Eli made some scrambled eggs and hash browns. At eleven, Ashley decided to leave. “It was great meeting you Eli,” she said and shook his hand. “And again, thank you for writing this book,” she held up In a Gray Called Heaven.

“It was my pleasure,” Eli took the book in his hand and opened it to the first page. He scrawled ‘To a wonderful girl-Eli Sullivan’ in thick black pen and handed it back.

“Thank you,” she said. She tore a piece of paper off a nearby notepad and wrote her name, address and phone number on it. “If you ever want to visit or call, you’re welcome anytime,” she handed the paper to Eli.

Eli walked Ashley out of her car and they said their good-byes. She drove away, heading back the way she came toward Interstate 70.




A week had gone by and Eli continued to think about Ashley. He hadn’t written in his book or gotten a good night’s sleep. It was started to affect his performance at school and his best friend, Jeff Mackey, a fifth grade teacher, began noticing the change.

Jeff approached Eli in the teacher’s lounge and put his hand on his friend’s shoulder. “What’s wrong?”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve seen the way you’ve been moping around and falling asleep during recess,” Jeff sat down.

“I don’t know how to say this without it sounding hopeful. I met a girl,” Eli said.

“It’s about time,” Jeff smiled. “Who is she?”

“Her name was Ashley and she tracked me down to thank me for writing my book. She didn’t want anything. We talked and she accepted my lifestyle. I never thought I’d meet a girl like that.”

“I’ll have to meet her.”

“She went back to Denver,” Eli sighed.

“The girl of your dreams and you let her go? A chance to be ultimately happy and you let it slip through your fingers,” Jeff chided.

“I know but...she did give me her address.”

“Go see her. You haven’t missed a day of school in five years. Take a week off and go to Denver. Find her and tell her how you feel. To hunt you down and drive from Denver to the middle of nowhere must mean something.”

“You’re right, Jeff. I finally meet someone who understands me and why I’m here and I just let her go. Her visit made me the happiest I’ve been since moving here. I’m gonna leave first thing in the morning. I’m gonna get the vacation approved,” Eli got up and left the lounge.




In Denver, people gathered in a funeral home near the University of Colorado campus. Most were dressed in somber clothing and country music played softly. A limited number of people gathered around the coffin. “Leslie?” asked an older woman.

“Yes, Mrs. Wray?”

“Why was Ashley in Kansas?”

“To get her book signed,” Leslie pointed to Ashley’s copy of In a Gray Called Heaven laying with her in the casket.

“Are you ready, Mrs. Wray?” asked one of the funeral home workers, placing his hand on the casket lid.

Mrs. Wray nodded stoicly and Leslie led her away but looked behind her as the lid closed. “Good-bye, Ashley,” Leslie whispered and began crying.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Harter Union: Part Four, Chapter 3

I was about five, sitting in the passenger seat of my mom’s old Ford Grenada. It was pitch black outside and the woods to my right seemed darker than the rest of the area. There were also, for some reason, a lot of possums out. I began to doze off even though we were almost home, and awoke to the tires squealing, my mom screaming and watching her fly through the windshield and onto the street.

Everything was a blur from that moment on. I remember police asking me what had happened. I didn’t know, I was asleep. Everything faded away and I was back in my childhood home, looking out the window toward the Granada.

I walked outside and headed toward the car. The front lawn suddenly became a cemetery with only a few graves. I opened the back door to the car and saw my mom, lying there, like she had been in the casket. I looked around the cemetery and smiled.

I awoke at the same point of the dream I always do but the dream had always weirded me out because I had never been in a car accident and my mom, as far as I knew, was still alive. I never understood the dream and until now, I hadn’t dreamed it since I arrived in Baldwin. Why I dreamed it again, I didn’t know. I got out of bed and had to really pee. I opened the door and headed for the bathroom. I pushed open the bathroom door and was interrupted by a knock at the front door. “Damn it,” I muttered.

I went to the door, answered it and saw Emily standing in the hallway. I was just in flannel pants and nothing else. Emily seemed amazed to see me standing nearly naked in front of her. “Hi, I…wow! The jackets and ties you wear make you seem, I don’t know…”

“Wussier? I know, I get that a lot,” I cleared my throat. “What do you want, Emily? I have to pee.”

“I was wondering if you’d like to go out to dinner tonight.”

A smile came on my face and looked out into the hallway, up at the ceiling and back at Emily. “Where are the cameras? What’s the catch?”

“There’s no catch. I’m just asking you to have dinner with me,” Emily gritted her teeth and fidgeted where she stood, “and my friend and her boyfriend.”

“Ah-ha! I knew it was something. Look, I have to pee really, really bad so I am just going to agree to this now and regret it all later. I’ll pick you up at eight, okay?” I smiled at Emily who smiled back, waved with her fingers and headed down the stairs. I shut the front door and raced to the bathroom which was shut and locked. I saw Heather was awake and could faintly hear the shower running. “I have to pee, Heather!” I shouted.

She didn’t hear me so I went into the kitchen and grabbed a glass from the cabinet.




“This sucks that we can’t hang out downstairs anymore,” Heather complained as the group headed toward the lobby of the Union. The lobby to the Union was decorated with a mysterious jungle motif that no one who worked here could understand. Aaron sat in the only normal chair the lobby had and Heather sat in the tall giraffe and lion chair. Jason and Chrissy sat close to each other on one side of the circular couch with Nathan and Alyson on the other side. Jay sat next to Nathan and created a border between him and the couple with a pillow.

“I wanted to let you guys know that I found out that I’m pregnant,” Chrissy revealed. The staff broke out in congratulations and other vocal ramblings.

“How far along are you?” asked Alyson.

“A couple months or so,” Chrissy answered.

“So what have you decided?” Aaron asked.

Chrissy’s mouth opened but she didn’t speak. Jason did, “We decided to get an abortion. We’re not ready for this and this is what we decided,” Jason held Chrissy tighter. “What pisses me off is that we used a condom. A cheap condom but a condom.”

“So when are you getting the, uh…” Jay stammered and pointed at Chrissy’s stomach.

“Abortion, Jay. On Friday, our dad’s are taking us,” Chrissy said.

Wendy and a short, stocky girl with long black hair and Indian-colored skin came into the lobby. “Hi, there,” Jason greeted toward the girl. “Who the hell are you?”

“This is Wanda Reyes, the new assistant cook,” Wendy introduced.

“I’m Jason Yates, Dish Room dickface.”

“Don’t worry about Jason or anybody else. We’re all pretty normal outside of work. Mostly,” Wendy said.

“Do those new workers start tonight, Aaron?” asked Nathan.

“Yeah, Jeff has them starting the evening for some reason.” Aaron looked at his watch and started to get up. “We gotta get to it, guys.”




Emily and I were heading toward Lawrence in my Jimmy. Emily was looking good in a brown low-cut dress shirt and tight black pants. She was wearing just a hint of make-up and she smelled heavenly.

“Okay, so seriously, why am I going on a double date with you?” I asked Emily.

“Because I asked and you agreed.”

“You know what I mean. What’s the plan? How do I even know this mysterious friend is real? What’s the big secret?”

“I’ve mentioned you a lot to my friend Holly and she wants to meet you,” Emily admitted.

“Why does she want to meet me?” I asked.

“Somehow she got the idea that you’re my boyfriend and I also wanted to show up her boyfriend.”

“And just how did what’s-her-name, Holly, come to believe that I am your boyfriend?”

“I may have mentioned something after we were locked in the freezer and she just assumed,” Emily said.

“But it’s not like you tried to quash those rumors. What do you mean ‘show up her boyfriend’?”

“Her boyfriend is an effing jerk and she could do so much better and with you there, she gets to compare and contrast and hopefully dump the loser she has,” Emily explained.

I started to chuckle. “Why me?”

“I seem to talk about you a lot to Holly so you are the logical choice for a faux-boyfriend,” Emily said. “You’re kind, considerate, have great eyes and from what I saw, a good body.”

“Why does everybody like my eyes?” I asked, not really to anyone. “I always thought my smile was my best feature. What is it about them?”

“I don’t know, just something. The color, I think. Why don’t you ask somebody who gives a damn?”




Melissa and Mike were sitting in the far corner of a restaurant and Melissa was laughing noisily. “Oh, God, please stop! People are starting to stare,” Melissa tried to clear her throat and stop laughing but looking at Mike made her start up again. “I don’t remember you being so funny.”

“I have my moments.” The waiter came up to the table and Mike leaned in closer to Melissa. “Do you want anything else? More to drink, dessert?”

“No, thanks, I’m pretty full and I have work tomorrow.”

“Just the check, please,” Mike said to the waiter, who nodded and walked off.

“I’ve really had a good time tonight, Mike, thank you,” Melissa had obviously forgotten her nervousness.

“No, I should be thanking you. For years I had always wondered what happened to you because I was always attracted to you and always wanted to give us a serious chance,” Mike said.

“Well, I might enjoy that…” Melissa smiled and took Mike’s hand. “Take me home, there’s one last thing I want us to do.”




“’Look, you fucking dyke, stop talking and do your fucking work because no one cares how often you go to the club, let alone care for you at all you cunt-licking God damn dyke!” I slammed my fist into the table. “And that is how my first day in the corporate world started. And ended,” I shrugged.

“And you yelled all that at her?” Emily asked.

“She just wouldn’t shut up about going out so finally I got sick of it. I went the entire morning thinking she was a guy so she should be glad that I didn’t say anything sooner.”

“So you were fired?” Holly asked.

“After only five hours,” I took a drink of my tea. “Funny footnote: she wasn’t a lesbian at all.”

“What time is it?” asked Emily.

“Almost two,” I answered.

“Almost two? I have work in six hours. I have to go and get some sleep. Can you ride with them, Hol?” asked Holly’s boyfriend.

“I guess but we should…”

“Great! I’ll see you tomorrow after work, Hol,” he kissed her forehead and dashed out of the restaurant. Emily and Holly looked at each other.

“He ran out on the check…” Emily said.

“Damn it, he always does this. I don’t know if I have enough…” Holly sniffled.

“I got it,” I said.

“No, you don’t have to do that. I probably have enough.”

“I want to, now shut up and let me do this.”

Next:
The aftermath of Jeff and Emily's date which makes Jeff want to ask out Melissa. Two new employees begin working at the Union.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Read Jim's Journal, and it was pretty good

A few years ago, my mom bought me a collection of comic strips that she just happened to see.  She purchased this book during the height of my "I love comic strips" phase and thought I would like it because I was wanting to start my own comic strip and my art sucks.  Just like this art.

The book was The Pretty Good Jim's Journal Treasury by Scott Dikkers.  At first, I was a bit concerned about this strip.  The art was terrible and some of the humor was hit-and-miss.  But as I read it, the more it grew on me.  And now that I'm older, I get it.  Jim is me.  I'm very passive, never initiate conversation and I do some stupid journal-esque type writing that no one cares about too.

Anyway, Jim's Journal is up there on my favorite comic strips list (it's in the top ten) because the humor is honest, even if it's not really meant to be funny and we all have a little bit of Jim inside us.




Monday, May 17, 2010

Harter Union: Part Four; Chapter 2

Jason and Chrissy sat on the bed in the basement and just waited. Nickelback played quietly in the background. “How much longer?” asked Jason.

“It should almost be done. Come on,” Chrissy got down off the bed and took Jason’s hand. She led him to the bathroom, stopped and hugged him. “I’ll be right out.”

Chrissy went into the bathroom and came out a few seconds later with tears running down her cheeks. Jason took her in his arms and kissed the top of her head. “Positive?” he asked quietly.

Chrissy nodded.

“So what do you want to do?”

“We—we can’t keep it. We’re not ready and we have no money and…we’re just not ready,” Chrissy sniffled.

“I understand. Whatever you decide, I’ll always stand beside you,” Jason held her tightly which made her cry more. “No matter what you choose."




“We should’ve told him…” Nathan said as he sat on the edge of Alyson’s bed while she lay next to him. “We’re his friends and should’ve told him.”

“We didn’t want to tell anybody but they all found out. Wendy walked in on us, Jason dragged it out of you and between them and us not hiding it very well, they all found out. It’s Jeff’s fault he doesn’t eavesdrop on anyone,” Alyson rationalized.

“I think people purposely didn’t tell him because he doesn’t like our relationship. He feels that we’re too different people and our relationship is destined for disaster,” Nathan said.

“Yeah, and it kind of makes me mad. Doesn’t matter, I never really liked Jeff that much anyway. He’s not my type,” Alyson admitted.

“Not your type? He’s not a kidney. Jeff’s a nice guy—caring, hard-working, smart and not too bad looking,” Nathan got off the bed and found his boxers and shirt.

“Aw, Nathan loves Jeff,” Alyson said, mockingly. “Look, I just think that maybe Jeff would keep his thoughts about our relationship to himself if he had his own girlfriend, like Melissa.”

“Jeff and Melissa? Yeah, get Jeff back together with a girl he absolutely despises,” Nathan chuckled and put on his clothes.

“I’m serious. If Jeff and Melissa get back together, which if you watch them closely you’ll see they still really love each other, they will be happy and Jeff’ll quit talking bad about our relationship and stop eyeing Wendy and Heather.”

“I am not going to help you do that. If Jeff and Melissa belong together, they will end up together. They do not need our help,” Nathan argued.

“I don’t mean just pushing them together but doing some group things with them and us and creating scenarios where they are alone…”

“Stop. Where’s the kind, non-deceitful Alyson I just had sex with?”

“Getting a couple soul mates to realize that they belong together is now considered unkind and deceitful?” Alyson questioned.

“You know what I’m talking about…”

“Let me do this,” Alyson got up and put her arms around Nathan. “Nothing will go wrong and everyone will end up happy.” Alyson stretched and kissed Nathan.




Melissa sat in the back of the high school auditorium and watched the students put on a play of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. During the intermission a guy, well-built, tall with blond hair, came up to her. “Melissa?” he asked.

“Yes?” Melissa turned around and examined the mysterious person. “Do I know you?”

“Yeah, we…went out about ten or so years ago. Michael Picard?” he introduced himself.

Then it all came back to her. Melissa and her best friend went to a party when they were fifteen. They were having a good time but both had had too much to drink and Melissa was lured into a room by Michael and was raped. She told close friends and they all believed her but when she reported it to the authorities, she lost all credibility when it was discovered that she had slept with Mike twice more with consent. Melissa had managed to put that part of her past behind her but it was extremely painful to think about.

“Mike Picard? God, it has been a long time!” Melissa looked around nervously and brushed her hair back behind her eyes. “What are you doing here in Baldwin?”

“I could ask the same of you but I am the musical director for the school district so I handle that entire area for all play and events,” Mike explained. “It’s not what I want to do but it pays the bills. What do you do?”

“I’m a chef’s apprentice, of sorts, at Baker. I got sick of sitting home alone so I decided to catch a play.”

“Man, I would love to catch up on old times but I have to get back in there. Would you like to have dinner sometime?” Mike asked.

Melissa’s eyes widened and a small smile came across her face. “Yeah, that’d be great. How about tomorrow, eightish?”

“That would be perfect. Where do you live? I’ll pick you up.”

“The apartment’s on Orchard Lane. Number 312.”

“Great! I’ll see you between eight and 8:30. Enjoy the rest of the show,” Michael bounded off back into the auditorium.

Melissa sighed heavily, left the school and got in her car. She laid her head down on the steering wheel and sniffled. “Oh, God, what is wrong with me?” she asked herself softly.

Next:
Jeff and Emily go on a date as does Melissa and Michael.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

#213: To the Stars Through Difficulties


Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
I am almost finished with reading John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and it's been getting me thinking if I would've survived something like that. Being a native son of Kansas, I would like to think I would especially in the 1930s when people were heartier than they are now. Would I even want to move? I guess if I absolutely had to I would but it would but considering it seems as if no one really had a say in the matter, you'd pretty much have to. Settlers in the area of the Midwest were duped in the mid to late 1800s because everyone thought that area wasn't a good place to start of farm but good years and good rains changed everyone's mind. That all changed in 1930 when the Great Plains suffered through a huge drought which caused the topsoil to erode and be easily carried by continental winds creating huge walls of dust that engulfed large areas of South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

The Grapes of Wraths features the Joad family from Sallisaw, Oklahoma traveling down Route 66 toward California where they hope to get jobs picking fruit and cotton.  The journey doesn't go as well as one might think with Grandpa dying almost immediately but the Joads make it but unfortunately can't find any permanent work.  I enjoy working, it makes me feel like I am actually contributing to society and not just occupying space waiting to die so I think I'd be okay with that.  The only difference is that in the present day I am not very good at manual labor but this would've been in the 1930s and I would've been working on a farm anyway so I think I have it covered.

During the book, despite that the Joad family literally falls apart with members abandoning them and running off, you don't really feel sad or heartbroken.  They are persevering and that's the important thing.  You know that when everything works out in the end, they will all be reunited in some way.  It's no wonder this book won a Pulitzer and a Nobel.

Until next time, I remain...
~Brian

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blankets, A Review

Thank God Craig Thompson wrote this graphic novel.  From the characters to the art to the heartfelt plot, Blankets weaves a tapestry that can only be told in pictures.  Published in 2003 by Top Shelf Productions but started in 1999, Blankets is an autobiographical tale of first love, religion, family and school.  There isn't a single dot of ink in this book that I can't relate to.  The novel opens with Craig and his younger brother Phil sharing a bed when they were kids.  Craig and Phil get a bit too noisy and their father punishes Phil (and Craig, who's guilty he let his brother get into trouble) by locking Phil in the cubby hole, a spider-infested hole in the wall next to their bedroom.

We meet a young Craig who starts to experience crises of faith while in Sunday School and he's told that what you do on Earth doesn't matter as long as you have God in your heart because when you get to Heaven, you can be whatever you want.  But when he expresses interest in drawing while he's in Heaven, he is asked why would you want to do that for all of eternity?  Craig grows up and he doesn't fit in at school but comforts himself in the knowledge that he's only passing through.

 While at Church Camp during the winter, Craig meets a very pretty girl named Raina and he immediately falls for her.  They hang out quite a lot while at Church Camp, skipping service and going off to places they shouldn't but what Craig loves the most is sitting with Raina and watching her sleep.  Craig and Raina part ways but keep in contact until one night, during a huge blizzard, she calls him and says that her parents are getting a divorce.  She asks, nearly pleads, for Craig to come visit her which Craig tries to arrange.  After going to school every day, getting good grades and "eating" all his meat his parents allow him to go and they meet halfway at the Michigan-Wisconsin border.  Craig meets Raina's father along with her adopted brother Ben, who has Down Syndrome, and adopted sister Laura who is mentally retarded.  Ben doesn't warm up to Craig and shuns him.  Raina explains that her parents adopted Laura and Ben as a kind of "thank you" to God for blessing them with normal children.

Raina then reveals what she made for Craig.  A homemade quilt featuring patterns she said reminded her of him and of things that she cherished.  Raina also reveals that she wants Craig to paint something on her bedroom wall.  Soon, Raina's mother comes home and from what's shown, she not handling the pending divorce very well and has even given up on marriage counseling saying it's not doing any good anymore.  Craig and Raina finally go to bed, sleeping together, with Craig getting up at 6:30 in the morning and retreating to Raina's sister Julie's old bedroom where he was originally set up.

Craig and Raina spend all day, every day together with Raina skipping school where it is learned that at her school, Raina is slightly popular which unnerves Craig but it doesn't matter because all Raina wants to do is hang out with Craig even when they go to a party hosted by one of her other friends.

Craig meets Raina's older sister Julie and her husband Dave who have been married barely a year and are already talking about getting a divorce.  They have a young daughter named Sarah who they constantly refer to as "The Baby" and its learned that all Raina really wants to do after graduation is take care of Sarah and Laura.  Craig and Raina curl up with his blanket and look through family photos before going to bed.

After an evening of talking about temptation, lust, Adam, Eve, Craig and Phil using their bed as a boat and Raina throwing a tea party back when her family had a pet monkey, they go to bed--falling asleep nearly naked and finally content with where they are in life.  The alarm doesn't go off and Craig and Raina are caught in bed by her father who, while showing how upset he is, doesn't do anything but realize that this is just another nail in the coffin of his family.  On their last day together, Raina is sick.  They spend the day packing and then head back out to the Michigan-Wisconsin border where Craig and Raina say good-bye, hug one last time and he watches as she drives out of his life.

Back at home, Craig falls into the same routine but tries to reconnect with Phil looking at things he has drawn and continuing to phone Raina but as the snow begins to melt, Craig realizes thing aren't the same anymore either at home or with Raina and with three weeks to go until graduation, Craig tells Raina good-bye then burns every reminder of her--except the blanket.  Craig moves out shortly after his 20th birthday.  He returns for Phil's graduation, no longer a Christian.  Craig returns home again for his brother's wedding and rediscovers both his Bible and the blanket Raina gave him and he thinks about Raina again--picturing her selecting the fabric and sewing the blanket together.  But what's so perfect about this novel is the end where even though Craig has lost Raina, his first love, he is still happy and glad that he met Raina.  He was glad he was able to make a mark on her--to be a part of her life despite it being short-lived.  We never learn what happened to Raina and, apparently, neither does Craig.  The whole theme of the book is summed up in the last two pages:  "How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface.  To make a map of my movement--

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Summer Break

What's going on here?  Where's all the posts?  Well, "Losers Are Made, Not Born" is going on a hiatus for an indeterminate amount of time as I focus more on writing and the other sections this blog has.  Another reason for this change is because I now spend nearly half my day at work and I just don't have enough time during my days off to do a lot of stuff online and I have a house and family to take care of.  The summer is going to be pretty sporadic until September or so but I'm hoping to get some interesting "Thursday Comics", "Liberty"s and "Point of Beginning"s up so keep Watching This Space.

On another note, yesterday was the 45th Anniversary of the start of The Born Loser.  What began as a little comic strip called The Loser by Art Sansom, has remained a little comic renamed The Born Loser (at the urging of the syndicate) now done by Art "Chip" Sansom, Jr.  Congratulations to Chip for 45 years of his father's creation and here's to 45 more.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Harter Union: Part Four, Chapter 1

I was in my office with Wendy discussing some changes I was going to start. “Now, this is the difficult part. Since we’re trying some new meals and everything has gotten a little more complicated, I am going to hire you an assistant.”

“Really?” Wendy smiled real big. “I’ve been asking for an assistant for years! It’s about time, thank you.”

“You’re happy about this? I figured you’d be mad.”

“Of course not, I was getting so sick of cooking all this food by myself. When does the assistant start?”

“Her name is Wanda Reyes and she starts tomorrow along with the three new workers. Also, I am taking some vacation time and I’m leaving Aaron in charge.”

“Why Aaron?”

“I understand that it should technically be you but Aaron just seems like more of a supervisor. Hope you don’t mind.”

“No, I don’t care but why are you taking a vacation?”

“I need to get away from this place. My head is about to explode and I figure a week away will stop any short circuits from happening,” I got up from my chair and popped my back. “Come on, let’s get some dinner.”

We all sat down at a table near one of the TVs. Emily had a big bowl of salad and a small bowl of tofu. “Great idea ordering tofu for the salad bar, Jeff,” Emily said.

“Tofu? I thought those were packing peanuts. Oh, well. Aaron, how you feeling about being in charge for an entire week?”

“Fine. Everything is going to be great, because I know where to hide bodies. Are you leaving right after you eat?”

“Yep, and I’m not leaving my apartment until next Monday.”

“Kinda makes you wish you had a girlfriend so you can just screw her all week, huh?” Nathan asked.

“Why? She would probably just cheat on me like all the others. No offense, Melissa.”

“When I was dating Trina, the first week after we made love, we spent about the next three days just humping like rabbits,” Nathan stated.

“I remember that,” Jason began. “You were so happy that you gave me $300 without even asking what it was for.”

“Sweet. That’ll do,” I said. “Alyson, Nathan, start fornicating as if your life depended on it. Chop-chop!”

“We already have. We got it out of our system,” Alyson said, laughing a little.

“Really? Well, good for you,” I didn’t know what to do and my face showed it. “I’m gonna head out. I’ll see you all in a week,” I got up, took my plate to the belt and threw it down. I walked through the kitchen and toward the back door. Melissa caught up with me at the door to my office.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“I’m perfectly fine. Did you know that Nathan and Alyson had sex because it seemed like I was the only one who didn’t know.”

“I found out from Wendy about a week after she walked in on them after the Old Castle Dance,” Melissa explained.

“Why doesn’t anybody tell me these things?”

“What were we supposed to say? ‘Hey, Jeff, I know you think Nathan and Alyson are in a bad relationship but she just lost her virginity to him.’ We didn’t want to hurt you so we…didn’t tell you.”

“I am so sick of being left out,” I scoffed and headed for the door.

“What makes you madder? The fact that no one told you that they had sex or the fact that it wasn’t with you?” Melissa shouted at me.




When I got home Heather was on the couch reading Catcher in the Rye. I sat in the chair next to the window and looked at her. “Are you reading again?”

“You have a lot of books and I figure I should broaden my knowledge of fine literature.”

“You don’t go out much anymore.”

“I’m saving myself for someone,” she smiled. “Is something wrong?”

“Did you…did you know that Nathan and Alyson have had sex?” I asked Heather who slid a bookmark into the book and placed it on the coffee table.

“I heard something about that but I didn’t think too much about it,” Heather leaned forward. “They had sex?”

“Yeah, Wendy caught them after I dropped her off after the Old Castle Dance.”

“Wait. You dropped her off after the dance? I thought what’s-his-name took her?”

“His name was Steve and he never showed up to pick up Wendy,” I explained, “so I did. We went together and it was a wonderful evening.”

“Why didn’t you tell me, Jefferson?”

“I didn’t want it to seem like I was cheating on Maggie because it was the best date I had had in a long time.”

“So nothing happened between you two?” Heather got up, came over to me, kneeled and grabbed my leg.

“No. As much as I wanted something to, nothing did.”

Heather quickly stood up. “You can be such a cocksucker sometimes!” she angrily said and stormed off. “I’m gonna take a shower.”

I watched as she walked off with my mouth open, confused.

Next:
Chrissy discovers that she's pregnant; Alyson wants to get Jeff and Melissa together and Melissa reunites with someone from her past.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Harter Union: Part Three, Chapter 7

Heather and I woke up the next morning in her bed, naked and face to face. I smiled at her and kissed her nose. “Good morning.”

“Good morning,” she put a hand on my cheek and looked into my eyes. “What do you want to do about this?”

“About what?”

“We’re naked in bed together. We had sex,” she giggled.

“Well, what do you want to do about this?” I asked Heather, running my hand through her curly hair.

“I don’t know. I’ve never been in this situation before.”

“I think we should keep it quiet. At least for now. See what develops in our relationship and go from there,” I said. I got out of bed to stretch and pop my back.

“Do you regret what we did?” asked Heather, sitting up.

“Never,” I looked back at Heather.




The guy from Facilities finished hanging up my framed picture of Myrna Loy and put his drill back into his tool belt. “Hey, thanks for doing this,” I said.

“No problem since we were downstairs anyway,” the guy began to leave the office. “Do you need any help moving this cabinet?” he asked, referring to the old file cabinet that, until now, was just taking up space in my office. I had moved it outside the door because I was going to throw it away and make some more room in here.

“No, I can handle it. Thanks again.” I sat down in my chair and looked at my picture of Maggie that was on the desk.

“I can’t believe she would do that to you,” said Wendy, walking into my office.

“Yet she did. Story of my life.”

“Well, if you want to talk, you know where I am,” Wendy left the office and went back into the kitchen.

I looked at the picture of Maggie once more, opened the bottom desk drawer and placed the picture inside, upside down. I closed the drawer and left the office. “Hey, Jeff,” Nathan came up behind me, “have you ever been ghost-hunting?”

I turned and looked at him. “Yeah, I’ve been once or twice.”

“Well, a group of us, including Alyson and my cousin, are going ghost-hunting and thought you might like to join us.”

“Where are you going?”

“My cousin lives in an apartment with a haunted basement and then there’s an old abandoned house on Baker Street that we’re going to look at.”

“Yeah, I’ll go, it’ll help me stop thinking about Maggie,” I agreed.

“I heard. I’m sorry, man. We’re meeting at Sonic at ten tonight.”

“Okay, I’ll be there.”




Later that night, everybody was at Sonic waiting for me. Nathan and Alyson, along with Nathan’s cousin, Dean, a guy who went by Nate, a girl named Crystal and a guy named Troy. I pulled into the parking lot and parked next to Nathan’s Explorer, got out and met with the group.

“Sorry I’m late. Are we ready to head out?” I asked.

“Let me introduce you: this is my cousin Dean, Crystal, Troy and Nate. Everyone, this is Jeff.” The group grunted in acknowledgement.

“Can we hurry up? It’s getting cold out here,” Nate complained.

Nate was about as tall as me only extremely skinny and dorky-looking with shoulder-length greasy blond hair. Also, he never wore an actual shirt. He was always shirtless or wearing a tank top, like now. He also had a nipple ring which made me cringe in pain. Crystal was an extremely cute girl with black hair and beautiful green eyes. She had potential to be wonderful girlfriend but has slept with nearly every guy in Baldwin because her home life was crap. Her father was lazy and forever on Worker’s Comp, her younger brother kept running away and her mother abandoned them all. Dean was nearly 25 but slept with girls under the age of 18, probably because he’s slept with all the girls his age. Troy was the seemingly normal one and seemed cool enough despite that he was kicked out of school for threatening to kill the principal. But, honestly, Troy threatened to kill everybody.

When we arrived at Dean’s apartment, which was a converted sorority, we had to climb up stairs originally used as a fire escape. His apartment was a mess with used condoms lying all around.

“Why don’t you clean these up?” I asked, poking at one with a yard stick.

“I would but some of them aren’t mine,” he answered.

“Ew.”

Dean’s “haunted” apartment wasn’t interesting or scary. The only evidence that the basement was haunted was a single string blowing in the wind when there was none. I asked Dean what the story was and apparently, back in the 1970s, the sorority was having a party, this girl had an altercation with her boyfriend and then fell three stories to her death.

“I wonder what happened,” wondered Alyson.

“She had an argument with her boyfriend, who was more than likely cheating on her, so she committed suicide,” I replied.

“That’s a little depressing isn’t it?” asked Alyson.

“That’s life,” I said. “Now are we still going to that house on Baker Street or not?”

We all went to the abandoned house in Nathan’s Explorer. The dilapidated house was near the highway but hidden from view by trees. It was still a nice looking house and at one time, had a nice garden with arches for vines to grow on but now the arches needed a good coat of paint. The front door was unlocked so we all walked right in. The smell of the house was all musty and it looked like someone ransacked the place because there was stuff lying all over the floor from pictures to knick-knacks to tarnished silverware on the kitchen floor. Everyone stayed downstairs but I took a chance and went upstairs to look in the bedrooms.

The first bedroom was like a teenager’s room with magazines on the floor along with National Geographics from the 1930s and yellowed newspapers crumbling with age. I looked down and saw a torn piece of newspaper with a cartoon drawing on it, done in crayon. I picked it up and looked at it: Mopsy. I folded up the paper and put it in my pocket and went into the next bedroom that was filled with books. Hardy Boys Adventures and mainly Boy Scout type books lay about in the shelves and on the floor. Three books: Faulty Diction, Guide to Writing English, and Laurence Sternes’ Sentimental Journey followed Mopsy into my collection. I went into the last room that had children’s toys in it. In the middle of the room was a box full of letters. I sifted through the letters which talked mainly about church or a vacation to California. Soon, everyone was ready to go but I left the box and vowed to come back and pick them up later.




When I went back about two weeks later, nothing remained of the house. It was just an empty field surrounded by trees with one right next to where the house should’ve been. Even the basement was filled in and grass was already growing on the dirt. It was as if the house never existed. The only mementos I have from the house are these three books and a drawing of Mopsy, a comic strip character from the 1950s.

I sat under the tree for about two hours listening to the birds and the cars passing by on the highway…

Next:
Part Four begins. Jeff learns Nathan and Alyson have had sex and he tries not to let that ruin his night off.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

POtW: North First Street?

Battery Place & N 1st Street
This is a picture of the sign located at Battery Place and North First Street in Lawrence. The funny thing about Lawrence is that Lawrence doesn't actually have a First Street, either a north one or any other one. Apparently the Westheffer Company, maker of fine agricultural sprayers, is located on North 1st Street but they are the only thing on North 1st Street so I just consider it a huge driveway.

What's interesting is where West 1st Street would be, it's not there. We start out at 2nd Street and go all the way to 34th Street but there is no 1st. By my calculations, 1st Street should be about here. What's even stranger is that the numbered streets didn't even start out numbered. They were changed about a decade after the Civil War which makes me think 1st Street used to exist before the town grew north.

This will be the last Picture of the Week until September.  What with work and writing I have been unable to gather enough pictures I deem worthy enough.  Hopefully with the summer fast approaching I will be able to get out and get some pictures taken.