DWTS 4

DWTS 4

What a great night! Full of hooting and hollering, laughing and chills and loving the dancing. And not a dud in sight (I’m being kind here). I’ve always considered Leah Remini one of the more unpleasant celebrities to don the shiny shoes. I guess she’s something of an acquired taste. I think I love her as a judge, though. Anyone who’d stand up and yell at Len for a 4 paddle is okay by me. I loved the madcap ambience she lent to the ballroom. Len may never be the same. Maybe they should adjust his meds.

My full on favorite of the night had to be Ally and Sasha’s jive. Hot dang, that’s how it’s done! She was channeling Tina Turner for all she was worth and getting it. I was totally covered with chills from the moment the silver dress came off. Oh my god! So good. I had a flashback to 12 year old me sitting up past midnight on a Saturday night with the TV turned low to watch them on the Midnight Special. I was enthralled with those four women spinning like dervishes, only a suggestion of a dress, hair in the wind. Wow, it got my blood up. Still does. Here’s a flashback. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzQnPz6TpGc If that don’t make you dance, you got no soul.

My other full on chill blade moment was Lauren and Gleb. OMG how good was that? So flowy, with shaping and swaying. Lines and stretches galore. A Classic. I always liked that song anyway. Hey, I’m southern. So sue me. And kudos to Gleb for not waxing. He’s the only male dancer on the show with the cojones to show a little chest hair.

Then there was Sailor and Val. Someone needs to tell him the manbun is really not working for him. But on the ballroom floor it was a wow performance. Fun and fringy. I love her joyous smile and legs for days. As Len would say, a proper cha cha. Mom crying in the audience was so touching, but could her boyfriend look any more like a goober?

JVDB and Emma had one of the better QS in a while. He kept it smooth and moved with confidence. You always had the sense he was steering and knew where he was going. Not seeing that in the other men yet. Again a great rondé. He was robbed. It was much better than Kel. A point of order. I hate people who say “We’re pregnant.” No, your partner is pregnant. As the guy, you have done your part. You are not pregnant. Now she does her part. She is pregnant. Ain’t no we about it.

I liked Karamo and Jenna’s tango. It looked mostly like a paso doble, but it did have intensity. He totally owned it, no doubt about it. From the wink, he had me hooked. Hmm. That didn’t come out right. Anyway, phooey on Carrie Ann for her lift obsession. But Karamo needs to stand up straight.

Hannah and Alans paso was so fierce. She knew what she was about and she went for it. There was a deadly calmness to her reminiscent of an assassin or, even better, a black widow spider. But she kept letting the grin slip out. It kinda ruined if for me. She’s got it going on. Just needs to control that face.

I seem to be the only one not blown away by Kel and Witney’s cha cha. It was competent and workmanlike. I didn’t see the Cuban motion the judges claim they saw. I think they were fooled by the wiggling around in non cha cha moves. Where’s Len when you need him to call them on stuff like that? Not bad at all, but I’ve seen comparable in Greensboro. Sorry for the inscrutable comment.

I assumed Kate would grow on me. Seems I was wrong. I’m just not liking her. I was trying to subsume myself into a sexy tango and all I could think was “fat legs” “bad hair” and “pinched face”. Len and Bruno called it. She missed the character. Sorry maybe it’s just me. I’m not a fan. But still, not a bad dance.

I gotta say I am a Sean Spicer fan. I’m so pulling for him. Three times out and all he gets is latin. The man can’t catch a break. His body just ain’t built for latin. Let him try a waltz or foxtrot. Tonight he was so entertaining. Lindsay was dancing like nobody’s business keeping the attention off him. And it mostly worked. He walked around like the General on inspection like he usually does. But there were hints of paso in there. My favorite part however was the faces he made. Just like the ones he made when he had to lie for Trump.

Lamar. Thank goodness he’s gone. He didn’t even do one full measure of VW in hold. It was his best dance and I’ll give him props for gracefulness and lyricism. He’s just not a dancer.

Next week is Disney Week, God help us.

Looks like Ally, Hannah, Lauren and JVDB are the odds on favorites for the finals. That’s my prediction.

Best comment of the night: Lauren “No more sixes, praise the lord.”

Best face. The look of surprised befuddlement on Lindsay’s face when she heard she and Sean were safe. It totally said “how the hell did that happen?”

Mea Culpa

I owe a big mea culpa to Lauren and Gleb. I said she dallied with 20 men on TV. That was Hannah. Lauren was on some singing show.

I was out for a medical procedure yesterday and my computer was out for one today. We are both recuperating. Thus, no new story this week. I did spend a good bit of time editing three versions of The Fourth Reich today. I have the original and the “clean” version for submitting to a website that wanted clean sci fi. I liked some of the clean version changes so I now have a revised version. I kept all the cursing. Let’s face it. That’s more realistic. I kept von Hoek’s prey as Jennifer. The captain can’t have all the fun. Dr N’duru (changed from N’dutu) shows her marksman chops and Jonesie gets to kick more Nazi ass. I like the extra scenes. You also find out who Jennifer fantasizes about. It ain’t the captain. I’ll post it once the editorial changes are more than ink stain and lemonade on paper -I had technical difficulties at Panera. Their tables are just long enough for three piles of paper and a pick two. But the lemonade didn’t want to share. According to the web the story has way passed short story and is about to pass from novelette to novella. The length will hinder getting it published anywhere unless I serialize it or make it a part of a book of short stories. I guess I could add more episodes about where they land next. That was actually in my first version but i liked better the idea of ending it with the dive into the wormhole. Spoiler alert: They survive.

And best news of the week, I now have 3, count ’em 3, short stories picked up for publication. Two will be in Ariel Chart Literature Review, an online only mag and my third will be in Down in the Dirt which has a hard copy distribution. No money changed hands. From now on I’m only submitting to paying mags. I got my validation now.

DWTS 3

Oh, good grief. Already with the gimmicks. Movie Night. Then there’ll be Latin night (hello, Latin is half of ballroom dancing). And Disney Night, which is just movie night all over again. I mean what else could they do; put a big dress on someone and say she’s Space Mountain? And the ever popular My Most Miserable Memory Night. At least with the fall season we’ll get Halloween. My guess is October 28. And who doesn’t love a Halloween party where the costume budget is unlimited?

Last night could have subbed for Latin Night. Only one non-Latin number: Quickstep. And what’s with all the rumbas? 40% of the dances were rumba. Okay, so let’s take the rumbas in order best to worst.

Ally and Sasha. Total redemption from last week for Sasha. He was working that rumba. But so was Ally. Only one performance separated it from Hannah, and way to smack her in the face and throw down the gauntlet. So much light and dark and shading. It actually had texture. She so rocked it. But what’s with Len’s “Don’t touch me”? Who made him God?

JVDB and Emma. This is the point in the competition I wait for. When the male celebrities actually start leading. You could see it all over that dance. He was so strong and pulled out real moves instead of all the acrobatics. One great rondé. Maybe he should have done the splits instead of Emma.

Hannah and Alan. Yesterday’s news. Ho hum. It was fairly hot, but not really rumba. All she did was spin and split. Over and over. Alan knows better than that. I did have to laugh at his sexy cop thing. Had to be the unsexiest cop ever.

Kel and Witney. He’s got those second position breaks down. Did them three times. Loved the confused look when he couldn’t find her leg for the assisted developé. Carrie Ann called it tight. That was a good word for it. And how come Witney wasn’t wearing the blue pendant from the movie? I mean it was Movie Night.

It’s hard to call a winner for the night. No one gave me chill bumps. Kate and Pasha did a very nice QS. Much better than we usually get this early. But her costume made her look fat. Reminded me of Hazel, that maid from the 60s. And those white legs. Did she miss her spray tan session? The glare was blinding.

Sailor and Val. Who’s the producer who doesn’t know what a tango is? This is two weeks in a row with the wild tangos. Way too much smiling going on. It didn’t sound tango; it didn’t look tango. Val grounded it and slowed it down, but it was fighting the music.  And the practice session. What is it with guys who wear hoodies with the hood up while dancing? He looked like some mad dancing monk.

Lauren and Gleb. Interesting how she so easily walked into the character of a hooker. But then she was dallying with about 20 men on national TV. Just sayin’. A whole lotta scrambling going on. She seemed surprised by some of Gleb’s moves. It’s been done before and much, much better. Look here to see how it is done. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHPY0oRfYzM

And it went downhill from there.  

I like Karamo and I hope he’s around for a while. He’s a hoot. But, what the hey, dude? The song title was prophetic. Except instead of still standing it should have been “I’m just standing”. That’s all he was doing much of the time. Jenna was jiving for all she was worth, and he just stood there. Even when he did dance it was so slow. Instead of fun it was more like walking my grandma around the mall. Two shuffles was all we got in the way of synchronized kicks so as far as I’m concerned it wasn’t a proper jive.

The night’s two cha chas were bad and badder. Hard to pick. I guess I have to go with Lamar for possibly worst cha cha ever. And I’m even including Master P, Billy Ray Cyrus Buzz Aldrin and Tom DeLay. Those are the big guns of badness to go up against and he held his ground. There were two actual cha cha moves and both vied for worst ever. After his outing as the Jolly Green Giant last week and this misbegotten mess he really needs to go. The show had the perfect opportunity for a double elimination last night. Losing him and Ray in one night would be a blessing. And as for the song, that also has been done before and much better by Jake Pavelka. See it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onmqBp0hZ_o

Let’s see Lamar shake it like that. I miss Miss Chelsea, as her rodeo celebrity called her. His great line was “I just do what Miss Chelsea tells me.”

And Sean, Sean, Sean (slapping him lightly on the cheek). What can I say? It was good until he started dancing. In actuality it was an order of magnitude better than Lamar, but still several orders of magnitude away from being presentable in public. At least he’s a good sport about it. Give him a few drinks to loosen him up. I hear he’s a real party boy.

The entire night can be summed up in my favorite police line.

“Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.”

DWTS 2

Night Two

Like a Sergio Leone movie gone wrong, the night was a mix of the good, the not so good, the bad and the ugly. Strangely enough, I can allow five dancers into the good category. Please understand I am being very generous here. Very generous.

Hannah was the real standout. It was a long wait, but her dance gave me minor chill bumps. Call them proto chill bumps; not the full Monty. Still, it was the only time all night. Len was right (it does happen on occasion), it was the best dance of the night. It actually looked like what it was supposed to be. So many of the dances missed that fundamental mark. But she’s also a ringer. She admitted up front that she’s been in dance classes since she was 3. She said she had stopped for a while. I noticed they didn’t mention how long she had stopped. Ten years? One year? A month? She’s got an edge no one else does. Not exactly fair. But it should be fun to watch. Alan is a bit like Mark Ballas. He can take her to the finals, but he tends to choke. He may torpedo her at some point.

I don’t know Kate Flannery and don’t exactly like her yet. I think she’ll be an acquired taste. Not much foxtrot going on, lots of side by side. It was good, but too Broadway. And I got distracted by the dancing spacemen in the background. Or more exactly, the spacewoman, with the form fitting space suit.

I so wanted to love JVDB after last week’s tango, the only dance I got to see. And his agility and extensions are wild. A mid-air split? A rondé over Emma’s head? Dang, he’s rocking 42. But dancing is more than acrobatics (although they do tend to like the acrobatic dancers). I was not blown away by his cha cha at all. He did one little segment of hip rolling and apparently that was the Cuban motion section of the dance. Didn’t see it again. I got to the end and said “that was it?”

I loved Karano’s spot. The practice segment was more entertaining than the dance. He is such a cutup. I couldn’t stop smiling from beginning to end. That helped to assuage the pain of his quickstep. Not so good, but as Carrie Ann said, it had pizzazz. And in this competition, pizzazz goes a long way.

If you gotta do paso, you gotta do skirt work. I remember Kate Gosselin set the bar for awful skirt work many seasons ago. She played “peekaboo, can you see my undies” rather than whipping it around. Best ever was Julianne Hough and Apolo Ono. She’s a pro, but that’s how it’s done. That said, Lauren had some credible skirt work. Gotta give her credit. Best shot was in practice when the skirt got tangled around Gleb’s head. The dance had moments of sass, but mostly looked like community theater and mediocre acting.

That was as good as it got. The good news is it has to get better. Doesn’t it?

The Not So Good

As for Sailor’s rumba, the best thing was that it actually looked like rumba and not vertical sex. I saw recognizable steps. But she was wooden and flat footed. She also had the best come on smile ever. I’d give her a ten paddle just for the smile.

I kinda liked Kel. I think he’ll grow on me. But I think I’m being too generous to put him in the Not So Good category. His dance contained recognizable samba steps like the judges said, but Bruno called it when he said it didn’t look Latin. It lacked anything that would make it look like a samba. No bounce, no life. Just blah. Yeah, I think it belongs in the bad category, but I’ve already written this so he gets a pass.

The Bad

Ally and Sasha got 20 points for their VW. What the hey? Who was the short guy standing in for Sasha? That couldn’t have been the real one. He was awful. He walked around, never had any lift, never achieved take off. Totally earth bound and klunky. And he’s the pro. When they were in hold and spinning, none of the ones were recognizable. Just plain awful. Best part was her Princess Di sapphire and diamond earrings.

I hated to see Mary Wilson go. There were many other candidates who were more worthy of the boot. She’s this year’s icon, our diva. No, she can’t dance at all, neither can several others. She couldn’t keep up with the foot work, but she was channeling Tina Turner for all she was worth. So, so sad to see her go.

Which leads us to the ugly.

Ray was the least ugly of the pack. His opening looked like me in the morning stumbling around looking for my shoes. And trying to straighten out my back. Len called it. Ray just walked around.

Even Lamar knows he’s in over his head. And that’s pretty deep considering he’s about seven feet tall. And what colorblind person designed their costumes? His shirt and pants were different shades of green, just close enough to clash. And it wildly clashed with the color green Peta was wearing. At least it added interest. He’s my pick as the next to go. Please.

Sean, the man we all love to hate. As the kids would say OMFG. That was soooo bad. First off, when did Shut Up and Dance become a tango? There was no tango about it. Same with Sean. I spent the dance alternating between wild laughter and loud groaning, and throwing popcorn at the tv. No tango in the house tonight.

I think Hannah, JVDB, and Kate are the ones to watch. If Sasha finds his lost groove, he’ll put Ally in the running. And never count out Gleb. I think Lamar will go next, then Ray. As I said, we love to hate Sean so he may stay around longer than anyone expects, just so we can gape at the train wreck. It’s definitely time for a double elimination. Get the dead wood out and start working the rest.

I still need to do some work on the site. I’m a dinosaur and everytime I converse with wordpress help they just confuse me with technospeak. I think I need to hire someone to fix up my blog the way I want it to be.

DWTS

For a few years I have posted a tongue in cheek review of each week’s DWTS during the season. With a background of 40 years of teaching and dancing ballroom I know a little bit of what I speak. But I don’t really get into the technicalities. My posts are usually scurrilous, frequently profane and always catty. I’m a curmudgeonly old man and I call it like I see it. It’s my blog so I can say what I want. Some find it amusing; some wish I’d go away. I’m going to post my thoughts here on the blog. Aside from this one, it won’t take the place of my weekly short story (unless I run out). I’ll just put a menu tab for DWTS.

Dancing With the Stars: Preview

As predictable as a plague of locusts it’s that time of year again. Dancing With The Stars is upon us. Wow. A new season and hardly a star in sight. Used to be they had a few stars but seems it has now devolved into people few have ever heard of, has beens, and people who are known for being known, not anything they may have done. I call it Mysterious Notoriety. An example is Paris Hilton. Or the Kardashians. Why are these people famous? And this year is no exception. They are offering a gallywhumpus of misbegotten misfits and pusillanimous personae. Sadly, the definition of ‘star’ seems to have gone downhill. I always think of the classic definition- movie stars, stage stars, TV stars and music stars. These are few and far between in this crowd. One comic once commented that Dancing with the Stars would be more accurate if called Dancing with the Vaguely Familiar. So true. 

I have been tempted to boycott this season after last year’s debacle. It was won by a talentless radio personality from Arkansas. He couldn’t dance a bit but apparently everyone in Arkansas voted for him. I hate when block voting lifts the talentless over better qualified dancers. I keep reminding myself that, regardless of what Len says, it’s not a dance competition, it’s a popularity contest. Thus we end up with anomalies like Bobby Bones or that stumblebum baseball player the year before. When you leave voting in the hands of the public you sometimes get unpleasant results (like Trump). Occasionally there is a break out dancer who just wows everyone and runs away with it. Nyle DiMarco comes to mind. But then, I thought that was happening for Juan Pablo last season. He was killing it until suddenly bumped for some unfathomable reason. Even the judges were pissed.

I’m also annoyed at the departure of Sharna Burgess and Artem (I’m not even going to try his last name). I can understand Sharna. She’s getting older and she has her mirror ball now. Artem said he wanted to come back but was dropped. Why? He was a wonderful dancer and partner. He was a great example of masculinity married to grace. He was one of my favorites.

Over the years DWTS seemed to pull in their celebrities (a better and more accurate word than stars) based on categories.  Archetypes even. Such as:

Divas/Icons. These have tended to be bona fide stars. People like Patti Labelle, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Florence Henderson, Cloris Leachman, George Hamilton, Donny Osmond, Marie Osmond, Valerie Harper, Billy Dee Williams. People we have actually heard of and consider stars. This year we have Mary Wilson. She was a Supreme. And not one of the nine who sit in Washington. She stood behind Diana Ross and said doo wa. Still I consider her the only true star on this year’s show. Maybe Kate Flannery.  I’ve never seen The Office. It seems like a lower tier TV show, but what do I know?

NFLers. Emmett Smith, Jerry Rice, Jason Taylor, Warren Sapp. The show always has a few football players. They usually do well. All that stepping inside tires at practice makes them nimble and quick on their feet. Ray Lewis gets the nod this year and an honorable mention for Lamar Odom since he’s basketball. Bballers have not been successful on the show. Too tall.

Boy Band Refugees. Aaron Carter, Nick Carter, Mario Lopez, Joey Fatone, Joey Lawrence, Lance Bass, Drew Lashay, Nick Lashay. It seems all the Backstreet Boys and InSync have been on the show at one time or another. They seem to have cleared out all the boy bands. What about Boyzone and Menudo? Now they have moved on to girl bands – Pussycat Dolls and Fifth Harmony. Nicole Schwerzinger won it running away along with Derek Hough. He could probably win with a potato sack as a partner though. I mean he even got Big Girl from Glee across the finish line. He strangely couldn’t do much with L’il Kim, though. Fifth Harmony’s steatopygian Normani did respectably on the last outing. Ally Brooke will now try. BTW I only recently noticed that Camila Caballo ( of the recently wildly popular “Havana-na-na”) was with Fifth Harmony at one time.

People Seeking Redemption. Paula Deen (no), Kate Gosselin (definitely no), the Kardashians (Kim, nope; Robbie, yes), Li’l Kim (no), Jerry Springer (surprisingly, yes), Ryan Lockte (kinda). This is definitely the place for Sean Spicer. I don’t know who came up with him, but it was actually pretty savvy. People will watch just to see what he does. I have to give him credit for fleeing the Trump madness. I’m predisposed to like him just for that. He seems to be be pretty funny when he’s had a drink or three. Maybe they can let him have a few in the Celebrequarium and he can entertain us with his sparkling repartee. Maybe Sarah Huckabee Sanders next season. She’ll have to learn to wear a dress like a lady and stop fidgeting with her bra strap.

Embarrassments, WTF or Why?. Tom Delay, Steve Wozniak, Redfoo, Macy Gray, David Hassellhoff, Michael Waltrip, Rick Perry, Charo, Kareem Abdul Jabar. This sometimes is a catchall category. Since DWTS has cleared the celebrity B listers and C listers, they are really scraping the bottom of the barrel. Remember the bull rider? Or the rodeo guy who kept calling his partner Miss Whitney. So many times after scratching my head and saying “who?”, my next question is “why?”  There are a few this year. Hannah Brown has two claims to ‘fame’. She was on the Bachelorette aka “I can’t find me a man so I need to troll the whole damn country” and was Miss Alabama. Since her state seems to be winning the race with West Virginia to see which can be the most backward state, I wouldn’t brag about it. And Queer Eye guy Karamo. Is he the token homosexual? They’ve taken to being a little more inclusive recently. They also had that Carson guy from Queer Eye and Lance Bass. They even had Chaz Bono to represent transsexuals. I’d like to see them run a transsexual who hasn’t had their parts altered. I mean who DOESN’T want to see RuPaul on DWTS? They had a drag queen on DWTS Australia this year. Christie Brinkley? Okay, everybody knows her so the name recognition is good. She’s rich as God, but all I can tell that she has done is have her picture taken and marry and divorce Billy Joel. But she has also lasted nearly 50 years in the business without saying or doing something so unutterably stupid that the whole world hates her. Not so easy these days. Maybe she’s just really a nice person. Still doesn’t answer why she’s on the show. However, models have rarely done well on the show. Except for the brainless Brooke Burke. They tend to be stiff for whatever reason.

Career Reboot. All the Backstreet Boys, Mario Lopez, Ralph Macchio, Frankie Munez, Vanilla Ice. The bills gotta be paid, you know. This is where I put James van der Beek. The Dawson’s Creek and BH90210 kids have not done well. One died recently, one has been reduced to playing a dad on Riverdale, several have been in and out of rehab. I checked James VDB’s work and found he recently worked on Vampirina. Nuff said. Kel Mitchell may be a ringer. He’s listed as a comedian but has done some TV and movie stuff. In 2011 he was in “Dance Fu”, a kung fu/dance movie. So he’s had some dance experience. Most recently idb says he’s in Spongebob Squarepants. I guess it’s a voice part. The only live action I’ve seen is Spongebob on Ice. Not sure I’d put either on my resume.  And Lauren Alaina is listed as a country music star. Well, kinda. She was a runner up on American Idol. But maybe being runner up means she’s good. Like Clay Aiken. I mean, who remembers the guy who beat him? Although another Idol winner took DWTS by storm – NC’s own Kelly Pickler. But she charmed her way to the mirror ball, plus she was a good dancer.

Creepy. Gary Busey wins this category hands down but I think Macy Gray gave him a good chase. Still, Rick Perry’s bromance with Vanilla Ice was the stuff nightmares are made of. As creepy as Bing Crosby singing a Christmas carol with David Bowie.

Kids. Bindi Irwin, Zendaya, Bristol Palin, Milo Manheim, Duck Dynasty swamp girl. Kids usually do well, except NC’s Hayes Grier from a few seasons back. They’re kinda hard to break.

Handicapped People. Linda McCartney (one leg), Marlee Matlin (deaf), Noah Galloway (one leg, one arm), J.R. Martinez (deformed face), Amy Purdy (no feet), Nyle DiMarco (deaf), Danelle (blind), Terra Jole, the midget lady (Poor Sasha was saddled with her. When he first met her the look on his face was priceless. It totally said “OMFG what am I supposed to do with this?)

Olympians. Kristi Yamaguchi, Apolo Ohno, Dorothy Hamill, Charlie White, Meryl Davis, Evan Lysacek (I sense a theme here), Shawn Johnson. Athletes also do well. We call it Dance Sport for a reason.

People We Love Just Because. Jane Seymour, Dawn Welles (Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island), Bill Engvall, Tommy Chong, Danica McKellar (Winnie on Wonder Years), Niecy Nash (and all her jiggly parts), Susan Lucci, Pamela Sue Anderson. Not any lovable scamps on the new season.

People We Love To Hate Just Because. Nancy Grace, Jerry Springer, Kate Gosselin, Tamar Braxton, Pamela Sue Anderson. Sean Spicer might also fit this category for some.

Singers Who Surprisingly Have No Sense Of Rhythm. Billy Ray Cyrus, Michael Bolton, Master P, Wayne Newton.  I have to say I was so surprised.

Heroes. Buzz Aldrin (the man couldn’t dance a lick but he made 11 year old me want to be an astronaut), Noah Galloway, Alek Skarlatos, J.R. Martinez. Everybody loves a hero. I wish we had one to like this season.

People With Funny Accents. Helio Castroneves, Gilles Marini, Victor Espinoza, Cristian de la Fuente, Kelly Pickler, Bindi Irwin.

(Scary factoid: I pulled nearly all the above from off the top of my head. I did need to look up a few last names. I seem to have an alarming amount of my limited brain space devoted to this).

So there you have it. This year’s miscellany of miscreants. Off the top of my head without seeing anything about the contestants I’d say Mary Wilson won’t last long. She’s 75 years old. Ally Brooke, Ray Lewis and Kel Mitchell are my bets to do well. We’ll see. It starts up next week. Get the popcorn ready.

A Dark and Stormy Night

I have a dim memory of an old episode from the tv series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” about a storm and some nervous nurses waiting it out. Something about a nurse killer on the loose. In the final scene we find that one of the nurses is the actual killer. She was a big woman and I think she was a man in a wig. Anyway, that errant memory flittered through my mind and left a seed. Storm, nurses, murder afoot. After a wrote it, I had to go with a tongue in cheek title. Hence “it was a dark and stormy night.”

A Dark and Stormy Night

            A dim flicker of light glimmered at the office window. Candace, ‘call me Candy’, Johnson barely noticed as she continued inventory of the med stocks for what seemed the hundredth time that week. A few moments later a soft rumble could be heard in the distance.

            “Storm’s coming in,” Denise Patrick said. Master of the obvious, Candy thought sourly.  “It’s supposed to be a big one,” Denise continued. “I just heard about it on the radio.”

            “Just my luck,” said Candy, slamming a cabinet door.

            “Huh?” asked Denise.

            “Just my luck to draw the late shift in this rustbucket place with a storm brewing. By midnight we’ll have bedpans all down the hallway catching water from the leaky ceiling.”

            “It leaks? That can’t be very safe.” As I said, thought Candy, master of the obvious.

            “No, it’s not. But we’re not St. Joe’s. We’re a poor little clinic run by a poor little hospital in a poor little section of Philly.” Candy decided the only upside of the situation was they had no patients in their care for the late shift. The decidedly downside was that she had to work it with Denise. She wasn’t sure exactly what it was about Denise that rubbed her the wrong way. Pretty much everything. She was a mousy little hausfrau, seemingly afraid of her own shadow. She didn’t appear all that bright and Candy wondered how she ever got through nursing school. Candy, on the other hand, was a plus size blonde, brassy and full of life. She sashayed her way through her daily rounds, flirting with the patients, keeping up a light banter. It kept the men’s spirits up and she didn’t mind the occasional pat on her fanny. God knows some of them had seen horrors she’d never know. A smile and wink for our brave boys cost her so little, she thought. But working the late shift sucked. Especially with a freak storm coming in. But they were stuck until two am when the overnight relief came on.

            There was a bright flash of light through the window. The rumble came quicker this time.

            “It’s moving fast,” Denise offered.

            “Good, maybe it’ll do it’s thing and get the hell out of here fast, too. I hate having to dash out to my car in the pouring rain.” Another flash, shortly followed by a louder rumble.

            “Lordy, I hate storms.” Candy noticed Denise babbled when nervous. “We used to have bad ones back in Kansas. Big storms, and sometimes tornadoes and hail. I just want to crawl into a cellar and hide.”

            “Well, our cellar is over that way,” Candy nodded with her head, as she lifted a load of towels to be sorted.

            “I can’t go down there,” Denise looked at her with fear bright in her eyes. “That used to be the morgue. I don’t dare go down there.”

            “Don’t tell me you’re a nurse and scared of dead people?”

            “I just haven’t had much experience around them. I’ve only been a nurse for a few years.”

            “Well, honey, it’s something you’ll just have to get used to.” Candy figured Miss Mousy’s patients would be dropping like flies from her tepid care. Candy kept her men’s spirits from flagging with her brazen sexuality. She didn’t dial it down, and her men responded. She was a very popular nurse.

            A brilliant flash and crash almost simultaneously made them both jump. It was followed by the rattle of a hard rain hitting the flagstones outside. Over the next few minutes there were multiple flashes and the rumbling never stopped, rolling and echoing through the air and seemingly through their bones. Candy thought it sounded like a bowling alley with the constant rumble of the balls. Maybe I’ll get Hank to take me bowling this weekend. We haven’t done that in ages, she thought with a smile. Hank was back from the Pacific with everything intact. She was so afraid he would return with a loss of limbs or a shell-shocked zombie like she had seen so many times over the past months. Or not return at all. Stop thinking about downers, she told herself. Hank’s home and all is right with the world. The war is over.

            A sudden massive crash shook the entire building. Denise screamed and her pile of towels flew through the air.

            “Wow, that one was right on top of us,” Candy said. Then she silently chided herself. Now who’s stating the obvious?

            Candy felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned but no one was there. Then a cold splash of water hit her nose. She looked up and got hit in the middle of her forehead with another cold splash.

            “Oh, Hell’s Bells. I need a bedpan for this leak. You take the back hallway and check. I’ll finish looking around up here.” Within the next half hour they found fifteen leaks and had bedpans in place collecting the spillage.

            “At the rate the rain’s falling, we’ll have to empty them before the next shift comes in. What a gruesome night. Glad I’m going home and not coming in.”

            Over the next hour the flashing and rumbling would sometimes abate for a few minutes but always came back with renewed vigor. Candy didn’t know if it were multiple storm fronts or the same storm just circling. Either way, they were receiving severe punishment from the elements.

            Another particularly violent crash hit and the lights flickered and then failed altogether. Denise emitted a short shriek.

            “Oh, ain’t this just grand,” Candy said sarcastically. She had several other choice phrases that came to mind but didn’t want to totally offend Denise’s delicate sensibilities. The sudden darkness was total. After a few moments their eyes had adjusted but it was still nearly impossible to see anything.

            “The generator’s supposed to kick on when the power goes out,” Candy complained. “I wonder why it hasn’t tripped yet?”

            “I don’t like it.” Candy jumped because Denise’s voice was right at her elbow.

            “I think there’s some candles in the supply cabinet. Let me check.” Candy groped her way to the supply cubbie behind the nurses’ station. Within a few minutes she had a couple of white tapers lit and sitting on the desk.

            Candy had just said, “Well, ain’t this comfy,” when the phone rang.

            “Bellhaven Clinic,” she said automatically into the phone. “Oh, hi, Ray. Yeah. Yah don’t say. Well, the power’s out. No, it didn’t kick on. Where? Crap. He said what? No. No. I said hell no.” She listened for a moment more and slammed down the phone.

            “What?” Denise wanted to know.

            “The main road’s flooded. Ray said our relief might not be here till daylight. We have to stay all night.”

            “But, I don’t want to.”

            Candy glared at her. “You think I do? I would walk out on ‘em, but the road is flooded so I couldn’t get home anyway. Either way you look at it, we’re stuck. By the way, Ray told me how to get the generator on. We just need to push a button on the side.”

            “Oh, good. Where is it?”

            “In the cellar.”

            “Oh.” Denise’s eyes were wide.

            “Oh, for Pete’s sake. Are you that afraid of the cellar? Come on. I’m not going down there by myself.”

            “But there used to be dead people there. There might be spirits.”

            “Oh, for crying out loud. Come on.” She roughly grabbed Denise’s arm in one hand and a candle in the other.

            Once in the cellar they found that other undiscovered leaks had let water in and there were small puddles in various places. They found the generator and, sure enough, there was a big red button on the side. Candy pressed it. Nothing happened. She pressed it again, holding it longer. The generator made a wheezing noise. Then after a few burps it began a soft hum. Looking up toward the door they noticed a soft glow meaning the emergency lighting was working. They hustled up the stairs, ready to leave the dank and disquieting place behind.

            The emergency lighting was just sparse dim lights that did little to enlighten the place and nothing to dispel the gloom. Still, they could see.

            Candy decided it was time for a break. She plopped down in a chair at the nurses’ station and picked up her Hollywood magazine. She ruefully noted it was two months old and she had read every article at least twice. She tossed it aside.

            “Well, I ain’t doing much else tonight. I’ll take my double time pay sitting on my bum. How about you, Toots?” Denise approached the desk looking fearful and browbeaten.

            “Yes. Me too.”

            “That’s the spirit, girl. Show some gumption.”

            Denise picked up the Hollywood magazine and looked at it. After a moment her eyes grew wide.

            “What?” Candy asked.

            “Are they really making a movie about that man who killed those seven co-eds? That was so awful. Why would they make a movie about it? I was almost too scared to go to work for a week after it happened.”

            “Sorry, hon. Blood and sex sells. It’s gotta have one or the other.”

            “But that’s so awful.”

            “Yeah, and it’ll make ‘em a bazillion bucks. People love a good horror story. I think they call ‘em slasher movies. You know, like Hookman or the Midnight Caller or the Scarecrow.”

            “I don’t know about that. All that kind of stuff scares me. Especially the Scarecrow.”

            “Listen,” Candy said loudly. Denise clutched her heart. “The rain. It’s stopped.” They both noted how quiet it was for a moment. There were more flares followed by rumbling, but it was no longer directly over them. It still rolled and echoed, drawing out each rumble. “I think we’ve survived the worst of it,” Candy said with as much enthusiasm as she could gather. She looked at the clock and it was just now two am. She should be getting off right now. The long night loomed.

            They went to the front window and looked out. There were no street lights, but by the occasional flashes of lightning they could see tree limbs scattered about. Some lawn furniture was missing or overturned. The yard crew had their work cut out for them. But the rain had stopped.

            “You don’t really believe all those slasher stories, do you?” Candy asked. “They aren’t real. Just stories people tell to frighten each other or the kids.”

            “Daddy said the Scarecrow is real. He wouldn’t tell me a lie.”

            “Well, maybe. But I think he’s overblown. One kook kills a few people wearing a scary mask and everybody goes crazy. I bet the others are just copycats. Or didn’t even happen. There is no demented serial killer running around killing, killing…”

            “Nurses.”

            “Well, yeah. I don’t believe it.”

            “I wish I was that sure.”

            After a few more minutes of desultory conversation Candy said she had to go to the ladies’ room. She could tell Denise didn’t want to be left alone but she was damned if she’d invite her to the bathroom. The girl needs to grow a spine, she thought. Then she got an idea of a fun prank. After finishing her business, she quietly slipped out of the lavatory and crept to a linen supply closet. She grabbed a pillowcase. Using her scissors she cut two eye holes, and drew some black lines on it with a felt pen. She pulled it over her head, cinching it around her neck with a draw cord. She pulled an abandoned old black great coat from the closet to hide her nursing whites. She crept up the hallway, just out of sight of the nurses’ station. She picked up a bedpan, dumped out the water and tossed the pan into the room. The clanging of the pan startled Denise, eliciting a shriek. Candy jumped into the room using the lowest voice she could muster and said “The Scarecrow has come for you!”

            Denise’s earlier shriek was nothing compared to the scream she now emitted. She ran from the station screeching as if all the demons of hell were after her. Barely able to contain her laughter, Candy pursued her down the hallway. Denise ran into a supply closet and closed the door behind her. Candy thought, what an idiot. Now she’s cornered. I guess I need to teach her how to handle an emergency.

            Denise was crying, trembling and hyperventilating so hard she could hardly hold the door handle. She braced herself to keep the Scarecrow from opening it. Oh lord, I’m so scared, she thought. She looked around to see if there were any type of weapon or protection in the closet but it was too dark. She just trembled and moaned, holding on to the knob as if her life depended on it. She never heard the click as the door was locked from the outside.

            After what felt like hours of kneeling hanging onto the knob, her hands began cramping. She whimpered, not daring to let go. She kept catching herself almost falling asleep, jerking upright each time. Finally she did not catch herself and fell into a fitful exhausted sleep.

***

            Denise jerked awake. At first she was disoriented, finding herself on the floor in a closet. Then the fear grabbed her heart like a vise. The light coming under the door was brighter than the emergency lighting so either the power was back or it was morning. She carefully twisted the doorknob. Or tried to. It refused to move. She realized it was locked and she was trapped inside.

            As she considered her predicament she also had another realization. The monster who had chased her last night was wearing a white skirt and shoes under the black coat. It was Candy all along. She played a mean trick on me, she thought, feeling incredibly foolish. Gathering her courage, she rattled the doorknob. She shook the door, shouting, “Candy, let me out!” She beat on the door and pleaded with Candy to let her out, but no one came. She was kneeling by the door crying when she heard sounds outside. Fear still spiked through her, but she knew she needed to get out. She heard what sounded like people talking. Multiple people was good. That would be safe. She pounded on the door, yelling for help. In a moment she heard the click as the door was unlocked. The bright light of day blinded her as it was opened and unknown arms pulled her up. She fought down the urge to struggle against them.

            “It’s okay. You’re safe now,” said a man’s voice. As her eyes adjusted she could tell he was wearing a policeman’s uniform. “It’s all over now.”

            “I was locked in,” Denise began, not knowing exactly what to say, totally disoriented.

            “That’s okay. Come outside and have some coffee.” That sounded like a wonderful idea so she allowed the officer to lead her outside to an ambulance where there was coffee and some doughnuts.

            Denise looked around. There were a number of official looking cars in the parking lot.

            “Where’s Candy?” she asked.

            “You need to drink your coffee first,” said the policeman.

***

            Inside two detectives were conferring.

            “Well, the MO is the same. Slashed from side to side. She bled out in minutes. The same message written in blood. I don’t know why he didn’t take them both, like over in southside last month. Maybe he didn’t know she was hiding.”

            “She was lucky. Looks like she barely escaped the Scarecrow.”

Sturm und Drang

“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” This quote from MacBeth is an apt opening for today’s offering. I can’t call it a story because it has no plot, just a slice of life. But not only full of fury, also full of venom and bitterness.

Facebook has become today’s version of Jerry Springer. People seem to have no qualms about saying or doing anything in public, as long as they feel they are getting attention. An innate need to matter, to be heard. But some of our thoughts don’t need to be heard. They should lie unspoken in the junkyard of our minds.

I have taken this little psychodrama directly from Facebook. I’ve made no changes except for names. Punctuation seems to be a fading convention, its lack sometimes making a thought difficult to follow or parse. I’ve added no help. The spelling was sometimes erratic, but I’ve made no changes to that either.

My only regret it that, alas, I am actually related to some of these people. But then, as I say every year at Thanksgiving, oh god, I hope I’m adopted.

Sturm und Drang

Characters:

            Bobby Branson – subject of much of the discussion

            Chrissie Carter Oaks – Bobby’s former fiancée

            Ethel Branson – Bobby’s mother

            Mary Lane – Chrissie’s best friend

            Randall Oaks – Chrissie’s husband

            Chad Branson – Bobby’s brother

            Sally Branson – Chad’s wife

            Ashley Branson – Bobby’s sister-in-law

            Johnny Branson – Bobby’s brother

            Jessie Branson – Bobby’s cousin

            Steph Branson – Bobby’s cousin

            Brandy Laws – Bobby’s cousin

            Katie Allen, Donna Walls, Josey Gardner, Mike Rawls – Bobby’s friends

Facebook

May 4

Ethel Branson:            To all my FB friends Ethel Branson and the late Milton Branson proudly announce the engagement of their son Robert Branson to Chrissie Carter. Please pray their marriage will be blessed by GOD.

A person wearing a hat

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June1

Bobby Branson:          The weekend is here going to spend these two days off spending some much needed time with my soon to be wife Chrissie Carter. I love you baby from the moon and back counting the days down.

June 6

Bobby Branson:          What you find out in the end the love hurts the most. The wedding got called off I’m single again and this crap sucks. But I know I will always have my mama and my brothers to try and pick me up I love all of y’all.

June 6 and following

Chrissie Carter:          Take the pic off. It has my child in it.

Mary Lane:                 Ok retard. For 1 this is not ur child take it down 2 ur being a fucking child this is not ur kid so take it down im not playing ur nothing but a perv taking someone elses kids pic and putting on ur facebook really grow the fuck up she don’t want ur perv ass so leave her and her kid alone and take the pic down or ill make sure u regret it and im not one to play with so u better take it down right now u fucking perv.

Chrissie Carter:           Mary Lane get into this with us girl.

Mary Lane:                 Hes fucking stupid girl.

Randall Oaks:             You’ve got till Saturday to get the fuck picture off your Facebook page.

Katie Allen:                What the fuck are you gonna do?

Donna Walls:              Exactly.

Randall Oaks:             You fucking perv you will never have the chance to be with her she going to be my wife in a few weeks.

Chad Branson:            All I can say to this is good luck with that shit. She’s about the most useless thing called a female I have ever met and thank you for taking one for the team and getting her out of circulation. You’re alright in my book.

A few weeks pass

Chrissie Oaks:            Bobby take the pic off your page stop being a spiteful asshole. Take my daughters pic off your Facebook so I can move on with my life and be happy with my husband.

Chrissie Oaks:            This dude is sick in the head I think and has a thing for kids. I think that’s why he won’t take it down. what ya think Randall Oaks.

Katie Allen:                If you really think that, why on earth would you agree to marry him? Take family pictures? To make his mama happy? No, bitch. You did it just to fuck with good people because you are scum of the earth and ain’t got a lick of common sense.

Randall Oaks:             He’s a piece of shit.

Chrissie Oaks:            Oh I agree but think about it he won’t remove a pic with a child that is not his. It kinda screams that he has a thing for children. And woman that are way outta his field.

Mary Lane:                 Ya its gross damn thats y I called him a perv lol. Right u dont want him he needs to move on damn plain and simple.

Chrissie Oaks:            I think deep down he really is. He has no life and all he is doing is trying to fuck with my child.

Mary Lane:                 Ya i know its rediclious.

Chrissie Oaks:             It sure as hell is. I think this is what he does in his free time.

Randall Oaks:             You one thing you don’t do a fucking post pictures of my wife and child.

Brandy Laws:             When this fucking picture was taken your “wife” was with Bobby. Shes got shit to answer to. Faking a pregnancy and using this families good nature then saying this shit.

Sally Branson:            At least until the next sucker comes along. Then she’ll move on from you like she did Bobby.

Mary Lane:                 He just needs to remove the pic is all and this all will stop.

Donna Walls:              She sure as hell didnt mind when she was using his house as a resting place when she was out leaving hoeing around y’all all better back off.

Randall Oaks:             No bitch she was with me so you need to get the fuck out of it. My wife ain’t a hoe.

Sally Branson:            I beg to differ.

Donna Walls:              Wow he pulled ur wife from u? Some kinda scam y’all got goin.

Donna Walls:              Randall tell that to the guy she brought out here and was in camper for 3 hrs.

Ashley Branson:         She is a hoe. And nothing more. Bitch only knows how to hoe round and use people.

Mary Lane:                 Horing around really with no vehicle get a life.

Sally Branson:            She didn’t need a vehicle. I saw the men coming by to pick her up.

Randall Oaks:             Yep it was me and it’s not your business.

Mary Lane:                 Ya cause she choose to leave and thats her choice u cant make someone love someone they dont.

Mary Lane:                 And thats not men thats a big deff.

Sally Branson:            Then why does she keep coming back to his place. What about the “gay” best friend. What about the “brother”. And she slept with Bobby. All in the course of 2 months. Wow!!! My family, my business.

Mary Lane:                 K well i know nothing about them i only know about Randall and Bobby no one else and i talk to chrissie just about everyday.

Donna Walls:              None of y’all know what the hell is going on but the shit that flowing out her mouth which isnt nothing but fucking lies.

Chrissie Oaks:            All you fucking do is use Bobby for your personal shit and make him feel bad when he won’t kiss your ass over your child. The dude needs to take the pic of my child down before I have her father involved in it.

Katie Allen:                Oh so kinda like you did?

Donna Walls:              No the mf would come get her thats why she had everyone stay in the house. So y’all get a life. Grow up.

Chrissie Oaks:             All you do is stay fucking drunk so don’t tell us to grow up.

Donna Walls:              Wow u don’t know me I don’t drink. I believe u got drunk at my house.

Mary Lane:                 he needs to take this pic down its not his daughter and none of this would be going on right now get the big pic much.

Brandy Laws:             None of this would be happening right now if your so called friend wasn’t a con. All she did was use him and you’re here like a blind puppy.

Chrissie Oaks:             Mary Lane is one of my closest peoples and knows everything about me.

Sally Branson:            It’s funny how Chrissie injected herself into Bobby’s life & his family bent over backwards to try to help her out. They were rewarded with nothing but lies from her for their good deeds. She is a manipulator & a con artist & a compulsive liar. This is the behavior she shows after all she had done.

Chrissie Oaks:             Look here you crazy ass crack hoe bitch stay outta it.

Sally Branson:            I’m a crack hoe? That’s funny. You’re just a straight up con artist whore. I’ve seen you first hand bringing men in the camper, leaving the house for weeks with different men just to beg to come back. Faking pregnancy. Stealing jewelry. Should I keep going…

Chrissie Oaks:             At least I didn’t put drugs before my kids.

Sally Branson:            Funny I still have my kids. No you put everything before your kids or you would still have them.

Chad Branson:             Exactly.

Donna Walls:              Ashley Branson, Katie Allen look at this shyt.

Chrissie Oaks:             Donna Walls, get everyone in it why don’t you let’s have a big fuck fest

Donna Walls:              Heck u did.

Donna Walls:              All lies tell I’m pulling the truth.

Brandy Laws:             You fucking tagged your damn friend into this shit.

Donna Walls:              What about the pic u had Bobby pay for.

Chrissie Oaks:            Mom wanted that taken I didn’t want that fucking pic taken for shit. So therefore I made her happy.

Donna Walls:              More lies.

Randall Oaks:             Look at the picture he looking at the child inappropriately.

Chrissie Oaks:             omg it’s true.

Brandy Laws:             Doesn’t matter if its not his daughter he treated this crazy bitch and her daughter like they were damn on a pedestal. They were automatically added into the family and showed love and this woman was treated like family.

Randall Oaks:             Yep i was the men she left with and had a lot of fun with I’m the daddy of the baby’s and the one she’s married to hahaha.

Chrissie Oaks:            You don’t know a damn this all I want is my child’s pic removed off Facebook it’s not his kid he has no rights to her nor will he ever. So therefore it needs to come down and everyone needs to stay outta it.

Brandy Laws:             I know everything of whats going on and i know you’re a conniving bitch that only lies. Saying you’re pregnant and then faking a miscarriage saying you feel kicking and that its twins, then 3, then 4. You’re a dumb bitch that thought no one would be smart enough to see through your half assed lies.

Mary Lane:                 He just needs to take this pic down plain and simple that’s y i got involved its not his kid it shouldn’t be up on his facebook at all and i know how it feels when someone does this shit cause im going through the same shit so if he just takes it down it will all be done and over with on my end.

Sally Branson:            Maybe if she would just give the ring back it will all be done & over with.

Randall Oaks:             The ring is gone lol lol

Ashley Branson:         Warrant for her arrest cause it wasnt paid for. I have a good lawyer who will help you Bobby Branson.

Mary Lane:                 Ya and they had a plan to give it back and for the pic to be taken down and he refuses to do so and if i remember correctly he told her she could have the ring and that he didnt want it back so u dont know everything either. What men exactly huh? Were u there? Can u say what they were wearing or what they looked like? How tall? Cause if not then u dont really know then now do u?

Sally Branson:            I saw enough from my house.

Ashley Branson:         She a fuck whore and dont deserve a good man. Bitch need to give the ring back her lying cheating ass.

Randall Oaks:             She don’t have the ring it on the side of the road since it’s a fucking lie from his mommy that said it was a mommy’s day present.

Sally Branson:            More lies.

Chrissie Oaks:            What no one understands is the ring is lost I lost it last night and can’t find it at all it’s insured they will give another one it have a life time warranty.

Brandy Laws:             You mean you pawned it. Give the money that was spent on the damn thing back. All this could easily go to the law in 2 seconds. Y’all wanna threaten to press charges when there was nothing wrong done on Bobby’s part at all.

Mary Lane:                 Just have him take this pic down and im out thats all i want.

Randall Oaks:             I fucking trashed it since it was a lie about it being a present.

Ashley Branson:         It wasnt a present or gift. The bitch promised to marry him and due to her cheating and hoeing around. It is owed back to Bobby Branson cause she is a trashy slut.

Brandy Laws:             I think your bitch is lying to you hunny.

Ashley Branson:         Yeah whatever all lies just like everything you ever told him. Lies about being pregnant and everything. Lying ass bitch.

Randall Oaks:             She is pregnant I’ve got pictures of my baby’s.

Sally Branson:            I need to see that to believe it.

Ethel Branson:            If she is pregnant then post picture. When baby is born we will DEMAND a DNA test and if it is Bobby’s. We WILL see you in court.

Josey Gardner:            Take him to court anyway mom he said he trashed the ring that’s right there shows he destroyed someone else’s property she’s all up here saying she married someone else. She needs to give the ring or take her ass to court. Got proof up here screen shot it all.

Randall Oaks:             let’s go.

Sally Branson:            I wouldn’t try to act so cocky if I was you. Josey is right. The proof is all right here for everyone to read. I am ecstatic that you have taken her off of our hands. You two are perfect for each other. She looks like trailer trash & you look like a straight up drug addict. You two belong together. I hope you both get everything that you have coming to you.

Randall Oaks:             You don’t know me and so good luck trailer trash.

Sally Branson:            hahaha…Can’t you be any more original than to just repeat what I say? Oh hunny, you need to get a clue. This girl is using you just like she uses everyone else. You’re just too blind to see it. When she has used you up she’ll leave you just like everyone else. You think you are special? No. You’re just her next victim. But who knows? Maybe you’re just as sick in the head as she is. Maybe you are just as worthless as she is. All you two do is run your mouths & spread your lies. But don’t have the ass to back up what comes out of your mouths. You want to get up here & try to bully someone but can’t take it when the table is turned. He took the photo down. Now she needs to return the ring. She needs to suck it up & realize that her scam didn’t work this time. Bobby has all the proof he needs to take her to court. I’ve seen her records. I don’t think she wants another charge.

Ashley Branson:         You sure you the daddy?

Donna Walls:              it’s the one in the camper. Hell or one of the 3 guys.

Randall Oaks:             Hell yeah she been with me since she moved up there.

Sally Branson:            What about “Ricky”.

Mary Lane:                 This crazy r u sure ur the daddy really come on now lmfao right now.

Donna Walls:              U keep thinking that buddy.

Ashley Branson:         She is just a slut lying ass bitch. She dont know who the daddy is. She a slut.

Mary Lane:                 Now thats enough cause shes not and she can sit here and say the same shit about u all.

Donna Walls:              Doubt it. We all stay with our same man.

Brandy Laws:             Shit I dont go and find people online and lie to them just to have a place to live while i sleep with other people and get married to the other person knowing damn well that im gonna run off with the ring.

Mary Lane:                 Ya well i know what happened and they worked shit out thats how it rolls would us stay with someone u thought u loved but dont? She thought she loved him and she didnt and he said she can keep it so how is that running off with it?

Sally Branson:            Lies. More lies.

Mary Lane:                 Well i know what she told me so im just saying from what she told me and ive been down that road to thinking i loved someone but then really didnt so i broke it off but the only diff is he never bought me anything so.

Brandy Laws:             Would you go through marrying them and then the next day you’re apparently engaged to someone else? Then while you’re with this new person you’re asking for them back in the SAME DAY.

Mary Lane:                 Hell no i would not but i would try to be friends is what i would do cause thats who i am i have a big heart and care a lot and when i do sometimes i get screwed over and shit.

Chrissie Oaks:            I am a slut but honey you know that’s a lie. Hey look everyone get their panties outta a wad or dicks outta their asses.

Sally Branson:            Chrissie I do think that you brought all of this on yourself. Everyone is tired of being quiet while you take advantage.

Ashley Branson:         If she does have any babies they all gonna have different daddys cause she cant be faithful to one man. Lmao. YOU ARE JUST A HOE.

Chrissie Oaks:            I know who my baby daddy’s are bitch. So don’t even go there with my kids that’s crossing the line you stupid bitch.

Mary Lane:                 So damn true it is crossing the line.

Brandy Laws:             Plural, bitch? Lmao.

Sally Branson:            “daddy’s”… Exactly.

Katie Allen:                I’m dying with her multiple baby daddy’s!!

Randall Oaks:             I’m the daddy been in there every night since she moved up there when people sleep daddy plays.

Sally Branson:            You are only making her look worse. Keep talking.

Chrissie Oaks:             I like it when daddy plays it’s fun.

Sally Branson:            Wow… How weird is that.

Ashley Branson:         Exactly.

Bobby Branson:
(Screen shot)  

            Chrissie:         I don’t wanna take it off   (the engagement ring)

            Bobby:            Why not?

            Chrissie:         Because I still have hope of us.

Bobby:            I have hopes of us to but I won’t to hold on to it so I can get down on my knee again and place it on your finger.

            Chrissie:         Please just let me hold on to if for now.

            Bobby:            I won’t to hold on to it.

Mary Lane:                 Whats the date on this. Cause there isn’t any.

Bobby Branson:          Yesterday.

Donna Walls:              Yesterday.

Ashley Branson:         Exactly what I was thinking, she begging to keep the ring and keep the wedding date. But fucking every dick she crosses.

Donna Walls:              Oh its gets better she just messaged him and asked us to stop she will give ring back next Friday! Sooo who lies on this.

Ashley Branson:         She should have gave it back. She shouldn’t have even got it in the first place. How many dick already been in her before she moved there. Lol. Well its funny how she begging Bobby to still let her back just yesterday right. Bitch don’t know what she wants.

Donna Walls:             Damn how many daddys do u have.

Ashley Branson:         To many for her to keep up with obviously.

Chrissie Oaks:             Y’all can all go fuck yalls selfs my two kids are none of your business

Mary Lane:                 Damn right girl.

Katie Allen:                But its every other man out theres business right?

Ashley Branson:         Right. I bet father’s day is very busy for her. Must have to make appointments. Lmao.

Johnny Branson:         Enough is enough. She’s gone and its nobody’s business but theirs. The situation is bad enough without continuing to drag it out.

Donna Walls:              They shouldn’t have attacked him nor threatened him. We didn’t say anything until then. Sorry but we don’t stand back and let family get done like that.

Jessie Branson:           Johnny is right. Bobby just let her go, cuz. Let the ring go too.. if she can live with it then you can live without it. God has someone better for you I promise.. someone whos got her shit together.. this girls just looking to validate her fuckedupness. Idk her at all but watching ur posts is painful.. stop giving her all this power and give them all one of these (middle finger emoticon).

Chad Branson:             I agree with Johnny on this one. Glad the bitch is gone though.

Ashley Branson:         Good riddance. To unwanted bullshit.

Steph Branson:           Some people come into your life and teach you a LESSON. And I hope you learned from this one Bobby. Y’all need to block each other and move on! And stop giving your heart to shit women. Period.

Donna Walls:              Amen!

Randall Oaks:             Amen. She been with me from the day she moved up there. Sorry Bobby.

Steph Branson:           Randall Oaks you can move on too. Take her.

Ashley Branson:         Randall Oaks please keep her. Cause her ass ain’t wanted here. I mean how many other men has she promised to marry. Lmao.

Donna Walls:              Who ever they run scam on.

Randall Oaks:             I’ll be happy to so fuck off and end the childish name calling.

Brandy Laws:             Yall are perfect for each other. Both dumbasses. You’re just proving that she’s a slut.

Randall Oaks:             No she a good house wife so don’t you worry about that Plus she loves my house and land and animals I have she loves my tractor no Reasons to leave my farm.

Sally Branson:            Then why did you have her living in another man’s house.

Brandy Laws:             You just said she was sleeping with you while she was engaged/dating another man. Like I said BOTH DUMBASSES.

Randall Oaks:             No y’all are dumbass i was fucking her when she was living there then she find the love for me and moved to my house.

Brandy Laws:             Exactly you stupid adultering fuck. Jesus.

Ashley Branson:         Can’t fix stupid yall. Their comments show how ignorant they are. Perfect match for each other. I’m just glad she is out of Bobby’s life.

Katie Allen:                Randall Oaks. ARE YOU LITERALLY STUPID?! Omfg WHY WOULD YOU LET YOUR WIFE SLEEP AND GET ENGAGED TO ANOTHER MAN?!?! Like.. both yall stupid asf.

Donna Walls:              I was thinking the same thing but obviously they don’t understand intelligent things.

Mike Rawls:               Him and Bobby was hitting it. What does that.

Donna Walls:              Hoe.

Ashley Branson:         Nasty hoe. And he bragging about it. I just wish Bobby knew how trashy she was before all this.

Steph Branson:           Yalllll. Let it goooo.

Ashley Branson:         Im done. I have a graduation to take care of. Plus fun family trip tomorrow.

Chrissie Oaks:            Everyone just stop the shit. Johnny said leave it be so everyone keep my damn name outta your mouth.

Jenny Branson:           Just my opinion nobody would have had anybody’s name in there mouth if they would have just kept there legs closed but that’s my opinion can’t expect to go around and be a whore and continue to think everyone is peaches and cream love you Bobby keep your head up.

Jenny Branson:           But it’s not my business just stating facts.

Johnny Branson:         Why??? Just let it die down please!

Billy and the Bush Ax

Sorry, I missed posting last week. Life got in the way. Not much to say about this story except that it is true, bizarre as that may seem. It is one of the few stories from my time in college I can tell. Statute of limitations and all that. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Billy and the Bush Ax

(caution: contains underage drinking and partial nudity)

Back in the 1970s I went to college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’ve heard people speak of their ‘misspent youth’. Mine was definitely not misspent. I had a helluva great time. I came out of my shell and became a hardcore party boy. I raised hell with the best of them and still managed to graduate with honors. You just have to pace yourself.

While at UNC I joined a fraternity. I didn’t come in thinking I would join one; I didn’t really know what they were about. It just kinda happened. Has to be one of my better decisions.

I lived in the fraternity house for 3 years. Now that gave me plenty of stories, most of which I can’t print. Most of the degenerates I hung out with are now pillars of their respective communities, which still boggles the mind.

My fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, was on a little side street in Chapel Hill. We had four fraternities and two sororities in our little two block area (plus a small daycare and a Lutheran Church. Go figure.)  Our house, a huge Victorian with a wrap porch was on a corner and faced onto a little street, which connected two of Chapel Hill’s main thoroughfares. To our right was the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. We called them the Lambchops; they were our buddies. Behind our house, facing on a main street were the Tau Epsilon Phi’s, the Teps. We did some service projects and street parties with them. Great guys. Across the street to our left was the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. The Thetas. They looked upon us with the sisterly affection and tolerance one has for a wayward little brother. Diagonally behind us, between the Lambchops and Teps was Kappa Delta sorority. KD. These were the hardcore 70s preppies. You know the kind. All about pink and green, sweaters around their shoulders, adda pearls and lavaliers and way too much makeup. They pretended that the Delts, Teps and Lambchops didn’t exist. The final fraternity in our little neighborhood, across the side street from the Lambchops were the Alpha Tau Omegas, also known as ‘the Enemy’. I’m not sure why the other 3 fraternities and Thetas disliked them so much. The KDs just hated everybody. It could have been because the ATOs were mostly lacrosse players or mostly from New Jersey. My guess is that is was because they were mostly arrogant pricks. But that’s just a guess. It was an established hatred when I came into the fraternity and who am I to buck fraternity traditions?

Directly across the street from us was a Lutheran church. All three years I lived there, I had a room with a window overlooking the church. When that bell started ringing at the crack of eleven o’clock on a Sunday morning, it could be sheer hell. I, like most of my compatriots, was usually a hungover mess on Sunday mornings. More than once I cursed that blasted bell. And if you stood in my window and looked closely, you could just see the red and green fletching of two of our darts sticking in the wooden statue of Mary on their second floor.

The Delts, Lambchops, Teps and Thetas got along fine. We did things like the aforementioned service projects and street parties together. The Thetas would call on the guys if something needed fixing or if a girl needed an escort after dark. Their pledges made us chocolate chip cookies, our pledges cleaned their house, we booby trapped their door with saran wrap or a pyramid of beer cans. That kind of thing. The KDs had their noses in the air and were above it all. The ATOs just grunted and scratched their genitals.

One of my favorite brothers was Billy. We roomed together my junior year. He was full of life and a boundless source of energy, fun and stupidity. If there was a bad decision to be made, he had probably already made it. Like the time he was at a local bar and, in his words, “this short dude on crutches was mouthing off at me.” He said, “I figured, you’re short and on crutches. You don’t need to be mouthing off at people. That’s probably why you’re on crutches.” So the guy keeps it up and Billy finally has enough and pops the guy in the jaw. It turned out the guy was on the UNC football team. The rest of the team was in the bar. The night did not end well for Billy. The other brothers and the townies joined in a general brawl. Some of the brothers managed to grab Billy and drag him out while the team was busy with the townies. Such a character, just fun to be with. But not at a bar with the football team.

Billy had a special hatred for the ATOs. It stemmed back to a time he got a black eye when hit in the face with a snowball thrown by an ATO. There was a rock in the center of the snowball. He was ready to brawl but we held him back. But the seed of enmity was sown.

I believe it was just before school started in 1977, maybe ’78. We had arrived early to work on the house. There were grouting guns and putty knives and other implements of mass construction laying about. We also had several large slabs of sheetrock propped up against the wall in the hallway to replace the wall in a bedroom. There were a couple of rocking chairs and a sofa on our porch. We liked to sit there on afternoons, drinking beer, rating the girls who walked by. Well, one morning we found that one of the rocking chairs was missing. Billy immediately said, “It was the ATOs. Let’s go get ‘em.”

Our president was more prudent. First he asked the Lambchops, Teps and Thetas if they had seen anything. No one had. He talked with the ATOs but they claimed to know nothing. Billy just ‘knew’ they were lying.

A day or so later we awoke to find our sofa missing from the porch. We were pissed, but Billy was livid. He said our honor was besmirched. Our president once again asked around with the same results. Billy wanted to force our way into the ATO house and search it. Our president counseled against starting a war. Billy could not be mollified. It was a matter of honor. He was a volcano ready to explode.

I’m not sure if it was the following night or later, but Billy and I sat up drinking, as we were wont to do. At some point, after many beers, he became convinced the ATOs were going to come that night and steal the remaining chair. I reminded him we had moved it indoors for safe keeping. Not good enough. He had a plan. He went downstairs and put the rocking chair back on the front porch as ‘bait’. He was going to wait and catch them in the act. He was kind of fuzzy on what was to happen then. He decided he needed a weapon to protect himself. He went looking through our garden tools. He came upon an old bush ax. If you are unfamiliar with the tool, it was a wooden handle about four feet long to which was attached a two foot single edge blade. Kind of like a machete on a stick. It is used mainly for clearing ditches of undergrowth. I should have been concerned that he had picked up such a deadly weapon, but I refer you back to the beers mentioned above. I went to bed. The rest I pieced together from various witnesses.

Billy came down to the living room near the front door to wait. He brought a sheet to wrap up in and he was wearing his usual sleeping attire – his tighty whities. However, these were no longer tighty, nor very whitey. I can attest that these had seen better days. But, he rolled up in the sheet on the sofa and laid in wait.

Meanwhile, another brother, Bubba, had scored a date with a Theta. He and the Theta  had come back from a club and Mick asked them up to his room to share a joint before Bubba walked her home. Now, Mick was a big guy, about six feet tall, three feet wide, mostly muscle and at this point, already three sheets to the wind. Bubba was talking about his summer job selling Bibles door to door. He was bragging about how he could go into poor areas and convince people who had virtually no money to shell out what they had for a Bible. The Theta exclaimed that it was despicable and how could he and that he was awful. That kind of thing. She stormed out, down a flight of stairs, clip, clip, clip, a 180, down the hall and out the front door. Bubba was hot on her heels, down a flight of stairs, clop, clop, clop, a 180, down the hall and out the front door, apologizing all the way. Mick, barely cognizant at this point, figures they’re all going somewhere. So he went down a flight of stairs, clump, clump, trip, tumble, tumble, crash into a pile at the foot of the stairs. The old adage that God looks after drunks proved true. Giggling, Mick sat up, and grabbed the sheetrock leaning against the wall to pull himself up. He overbalanced it and the slabs of sheetrock propped against the wall fell over. Luckily it missed Mick. But the crash was loud and shook the entire house.

This finally woke Billy who was lying in wait in the living room. He leaped to his feet shouting “ATOs!” He raced to the front door waving his bush ax in the air with his war cry. As he reached the front door, it opened and the Theta ran in to see what the noise was. She ran headlong into Billy, nearly naked in his not so tighty whities, murder in his eyes, waving a bush ax and whooping. She screamed, turn and ran from the house, knocking down Bubba in the process. Billy also screamed and ran the other way. He tripped on Mick who was lying on the floor giggling. He went airborne and did a belly flop beyond the pile of sheetrock. The bush ax flew from his hand, skidded along the floor and buried its point in the back door. Billy apparently decided the tile floor was comfortable because he just laid there, passed out.

A few moments later, Dan and Jeannie were coming back from a date. They tried to come in the back door but Dan had to push mightily to get it to open. Once inside, he found a bush ax stuck in the door. Looking up he saw Billy laid out on the floor, his underpants slipped down showing half his butt, a pile of fallen sheetrock, Mick laying on the floor giggling and Bubba standing at the front door, bent over laughing his ass off.

The next morning there were two very hungover brothers feeling a bit sheepish. The other rocking chair was gone. But the sofa was back. And the Theta was never seen at our house again.

Whatever Happened to Denny Blue?

            This story was very hard to write and will probably be hard to read. It deals with one of the greatest evils of any time, child prostitution. I’m sure that like others, I’ll turn a blind eye to may evils, but this is the lowest form of depredation mankind has every found, and we are pretty good at plumbing the depths of evil.

            It picks up shortly after “It Happened Like This”. In that story Joey mentioned a friend named Denny. As the title suggests, this is about what happened to Denny. Some of it may sound fantastical. But do a little research. Everything I put in this story is actually going on today. As I said above, human evil knows no bounds. Sorry to end your week with a downer. I’ll post something lighter next week.

Whatever Happened to Denny Blue?

We’ve been staying with the Contessa for about a month now. I’ve been thinking it’s time to start looking for our own place but she keeps saying she “won’t hear of it”. She says she gets lonely rattling around her big palazzo all alone. Hardly alone. Besides all the servants she is continually entertaining luminaries and glitterati from all over the world. But she says we are her family now. I guess there are worse things. We do love her. It’s hard to believe that just a month ago I was living in a New York fire hazard and on the run for my life. Suddenly “inheriting” a mob boss’ retirement fund has a way of changing your life. The “we” in this equation is Brandon and me, Joey. He’s like my brother. I love him dearly. But do we split up and buy separate mansions now that we’re rich? I’d hate to lose him after all these years together. Well, only three years, but they were special. He’s all the family I have. I guess staying with the Contessa allows me to avoid that question.

The palazzo on the outskirts of Florence is so huge I believe my old neighborhood in New York City would fit inside it. And she is always entertaining someone you’ve seen in a magazine or on tv somewhere. Today we had a luncheon with Sheik Jahar al something. He’s headed back to Abu Dhabi after a meeting in Zurich where they tried to raise oil prices again. So, he stopped in for a few days. The Contessa is right when she says, “the Contessa knows everyone”.

The Sheik was a well-preserved middle-aged man. Somewhat handsome in a dark way. Not my type, but whatever. I was surprised to find him in a business suit rather than robes and a towel on his head. Is that racist? I don’t mean to be. I just don’t know what they call it. And every important Arab I’ve seen on tv is usually dressed like that. But he was totally Western. Intelligent, well informed, spoke with a bit of an English accent.

After lunch I was headed back to my rooms. The Contessa and Sheik were off to some museum. Brandy was doing whatever it is he does this time of day. As I made the long trek I had to pass by the ‘Lagoon’. This is a central atrium with a large koi pond. It’s open air but since it is protected on all sides it is usually very warm. There is also special heating if it becomes necessary. The Lagoon is filled with tropical plants – hibiscus, flowering ginger, gardenia, liana, even palms. And of course, lily pads. It is a little paradise right inside our home. The flora is thick and there are benches and chaises in little cleared areas. It is one of my favorite places in the palazzo. I had already wasted several entire afternoons drowsing in the sunshine in my month here.

As I was passing I noticed someone sitting on the low wall by the waterside trailing his hand in the water. It looked like a young man but I couldn’t be sure with all the plants in the way. I decided to check it out.

As I approached he was looking the other way, apparently lost in thought. His head was covered in thick, lustrous yellow gold hair, not quite shoulder length. He had on what looked like silk long gym pants and a very brief vest.  

“Hi,” I said, hoping not to startle him too badly. I was not prepared for his reaction, though. He immediately dropped to the floor in a kneeling position and pressed his forehead to the ground. WFT?

“Um, you can get up.” No reaction.

“Look at me.” He raised his head but stared steadfast at my knees. That’s when I got my second shock.

“Denny?”

He visibly started, but then said in a soft voice.
“That person is no more. I am Abdur of the house of Sheik Jahar al Said bin Hassan.”

“Denny! It is you. What the fuck? We all thought you were dead. What happened? I heard the Dutchman got you.” I would recognize that golden hair and those soft blue eyes anywhere. How the hell did Denny get here? And why was he with the Sheik?

I guess a little background is in order. Before I worked for Tip in New York (another story for another time) I was on the street. Literally. And I was a kid. I was about 15 when I met Denny. He supposed he was the same age but wasn’t sure. You don’t have friends on the street. Just people you distrust a little less than other people. But Denny and I seemed drawn to each other and became best of friends. I remember that cold winter we lived in a box behind a dumpster on the lower East Side. We wrapped up in every piece of clothing we could find or steal and held each other to share body heat. We literally didn’t know if we would wake up in the mornings. We survived by pan handling, shop lifting, dumpster diving, selling cans, occasionally doing odd jobs, lurking around the backs of restaurants for leftovers, and when necessary, selling ourselves to lecherous guys looking to get off. That’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s just a fact. If it sounds like a hard, unpleasant life, well, yeah. But I found over that winter that it was better than what Denny had come from; far better.

I learned Denny’s story over time. He told me pieces stoically, totally without emotion. I was the one who always cried. I was appalled that level of depredation existed. His mother was a teenage crack whore, no more than 14 or 15 when he was born. She had no business even being near a baby, much less having one. He was born in a crackhouse, midwived by hookers. His mother always reminded him of what a burden he was, that he was the result of a defective condom and not enough money to afford an abortion. Her pimp knew that blows to the body can cause a miscarriage so he beat Denny’s mother badly several times, but Denny stubbornly refused to abort. The pimp made her breast feed the infant to keep her milk flowing. It made her breasts larger and some of the clients would pay extra to breast feed from a whore. Other than that, he was mostly neglected. The other hookers took more care of him than his mother, but they were a transient lot. She made him call her Carol, because ‘mom’ made her sound old. She never mentioned a last name. He eventually called himself Denny Blue because it was his favorite color. He never had medical care, never went to any kind of school.

By some miracle he survived and by the time he was five he was a feral child, like a wild animal. Then things changed. As Denny told it, “I don’t remember much about my early life. I guess it’s probably better that way. I didn’t have much language. I never needed it. No one talked to me and if I said anything I usually got hit. So I just zoned out. When I was about 8 though, Uncle Alvin came into my life.”

“Uncle Alvin was Carol’s new pimp. Her old one got cut and died. Uncle Alvin was good to me. At first. He talked to me, got me new clothes that fit, made sure I had food to eat. I got real attached to him. Then he taught me about blowjobs. I’d been around sex stuff all my life so it didn’t seem unusual to me. He was so nice to me that I wanted to do what he said. I didn’t like it too much when he started bringing other guys around, but he petted me and said I was a good boy.” It took a while for me to get this much of his story. And what he did tell, it was so emotionless and without affect. It was almost spooky. Like he wasn’t even there, just observing from afar. After all my years on the street, it took a lot to get to me but this did. An eight-year old being forced to give blowjobs? I didn’t think anyone could get any lower than that. I was so wrong.

“When I was about 10 or so, I came home one day and found Carol dead, with a needle laying beside her. She was only about 24. Uncle Alvin said it was a pity and then he tossed her body in an alley. He said now that Carol wasn’t here to make money it was up to me. He wanted me to be a full service whore. I knew enough to know what he wanted. I said I wouldn’t. He told me I didn’t have any say in the matter. I screamed and cried every time he sold my ‘virgin ass’. He said that was good because it made the john believe I was really a virgin.”

Besides being evil the pimp had a mean streak and began beating Denny. He had always slapped Carol around but not Denny. But that had changed. He was always careful to avoid Denny’s face because he didn’t want to mess up his beauty. One night while particularly mean and drunk Uncle Alvin grabbed a kitchen knife and said he was going to “cut up that pretty face”. Denny grabbed a chair and broke it over the pimp’s head. It was a cheap chair and broke into pieces. But it was enough to stun him. Denny fled out the door and never looked back. He’d been on the street since he was 12.

I was always amazed at his peculiar stoicism. I guess it was the only way he knew how to survive. Just cut off all emotion. In the two years we ran together I only ever saw him show any emotion just once. One evening he crawled over me into our box. I could tell by the streetlight that his face was bruised. He said he’d been beaten by a john. That was an occupational hazard but that night it really got to him. I instinctively put my arms around him to give him comfort. After a few moments I felt a wetness on my shoulder and realized he was silently crying. I just held him tighter and began stroking his hair and crooning “it’s okay, baby, it’s okay”. That opened the flood gates and he began sobbing; huge, gut wrenching sobs as if his heart was breaking. I guess he was venting the pent up despair of 15 years. I just held on till he was done. It took a while.

Then, one evening he didn’t show up. I looked at all our regular places but there was no sign of him. Soon, I heard the rumor that the Dutchman had been seen in the area and had grabbed a blonde kid. The Dutchman was the local boogie man that the street kids told tales about to scare each other. He was also a very real child predator. No one knew what he did with the kids he took but no one he grabbed ever returned. It was common on the streets to hear kids say “watch out for the Dutchman.” It wasn’t long before I had to conclude that the Dutchman had taken Denny. The kid couldn’t seem to catch a break. All this went through my head in about half a second while I stared dumbstruck at Denny.

He finally looked up at me and said, “Hi, Joey.”

I plopped down on the low wall and grabbed both his hands. “Denny, you’re alive! I was sure you were dead.”

“No. I’m okay. I probably shouldn’t be talking to you, though. I might get in trouble. Master has eyes everywhere.”

“Master?” That didn’t sound good.

“I’m a household servant of the Sheik. I should go.” He made to get up. I refused to let go of his hands.

“Denny, don’t go. We’re about as secluded as you can get. No one will see. Talk to me. What’s going on? What are you doing here? We really thought the Dutchman got you.”

“I’m not sure where ‘here’ is. Master said we were going on a trip.”

“We’re in Florence.” He looked puzzled. “Italy,” I added.

“That’s in Europe, right? I never had no schooling.”

“Yes, and how did you get here.”

He lowered his eyes and his voice got softer. I saw the old, stoic Denny appearing.

“I did get caught by the Dutchman. It was pretty awful. I was talking to a john, but getting a funny vibe from him. He wanted me to get in the back of his van to do him. I suddenly felt like I didn’t want to be in that van. I tried to bolt but he grabbed me. I got in a few good blows before the van door flew open and I was dragged in. They zip tied me and put a bag over my head. I felt a sting on my arm so I think they shot me up with something. You probably don’t really want to hear the rest. It’s pretty bad.”

“Denny, we’ve always shared everything. You know I care about you. You can tell me.”

He fixed me with his emotionless stare. That alone was frightening. “I woke up in a cage in a warehouse somewhere. There were ten of us. five girls and five boys. The age range was about 12 to 16 I figured. I was pretty sure I was the oldest. The girls were in one cage and we boys were in another. Most of the girls were crying but the boys were just huddled together looking scared.

“His face flushed a bit and his breathing became shallower, but he paused a few moments and got himself back under control. “I really don’t like to talk about it.”

“That’s okay, you don’t have to. I’m just so glad to see you alive and looking so well. That’s enough for me.”

“No, you said you wanted to hear it all. I think you need to.” After a pause he continued, “A real ugly guy came in later and talked to us. He said he was Van Hoek, who we call the Dutchman. He said we were now his property. If we cooperated we would be well, if we did not it would be ‘unpleasant’. We were taken out of our cages and walked to another room. We were stripped and washed with hoses. We were put back in the cages but with only a blanket each, no clothes.

“Van Hoek came back in with a couple of his men talking about us like animals. He didn’t seem to care if we heard what was to become of us. I guess he wanted to keep us scared. He was saying that he had an order from somebody named Marco who need two girls and a boy for a snuff film. He pointed to two of the girls and said they were too ugly to be good whores so he’d send them. His men took them out of the cage and led them away. When they came back he came over to our cage. After a moment he told his men to take the redhead. They pulled out this kid, he couldn’t have been more than twelve and took him away. You know what a snuff film is, don’t you, Joey?”

“Yeah, they torture and kill them on camera. That’s so sick.”

“Well, the Dutchman was a sick fuck. At the far end of the room was a metal table. The Dutchman’s men took one of the boys, a sweet looking black haired kid and led him to the table. He started to fight when he saw the tie downs on the table. The men strapped him down in a spread eagle position with another strap across his waist. The so-called doctor lifted the boy’s prick and taped it to his stomach. Then reaching between the boy’s stretched legs he sliced through the little piece of skin that held his balls to his body. The boy was screaming like crazy. The doctor just packed a lot of wads of bandages between his legs, they unstrapped him and put an adult diaper on him to hold the cotton in place and brought him back to the cage. We were scared to death. One by one they did us all, cut our fucking balls off without any painkiller. When we were done, they set about getting rid of the other three girls.

“All of us in that room were from the streets so won’t none of us virgins, but it was still rape what they did to those girls. Whenever they felt like it some of his men would come in and grab a girl, take her over to a mattress in the corner and fuck her. I guess we were lucky none of them liked boys. I guess it don’t really matter ‘cause they were going to a couple of whorehouses down in Jersey that had young girls who ‘like it rough’.  

“In a couple of days I could unbend from my balled up position but it still hurt. The black haired boy’s wound turned bad. He got real sick. The doctor decided it would be too much trouble to keep him so he told his men to ‘dispose of him’.”  A single tear slid down Denny’s cheek. He angrily brushed it away.

“Besides me there was another blonde and a very young brown haired boy, probably 13. The Dutchman said he was shipping him to a warlord somewhere. One of his men said it was his third order this year. The Dutchman said Ratso liked to play rough. His boys didn’t last very long. He said we final two were going to Africa and the Middle East. Because of our blonde hair we would be very valuable as house slaves. Having a blonde servant is a very high status symbol in their cultures. I ended up in the Sheik’s house.”

“Wow,” I said, rather stupidly. “So you are a slave? Isn’t that, like, illegal?”

“It is very real where I live. I don’t know about anywhere else.”

“So you what, scrub floors, pick cotton?”

“Joey, don’t be stupid. He uses me for sex.” Now this was just getting too weird.

“I thought that was just made up for porno movies and stuff. People don’t really do that.”

“You’re dumb if you think that. Sex is big business in my country. I was trained for several weeks before I came to Master. It was a very painful time I try not to remember. My master has six wives and ten concubines. I am a concubine, but they call me a body servant. When allowed, I bathe and dress the master as well as attend him in bed. My duties are light. He mainly prefers women.”

“But, Denny. That’s just so wrong. This is the twenty-first century. No one should be a slave, especially a sex slave. Can’t you see that?”

“You never did tell me how you got here,” he quickly changed the subject. “Last time I saw you we were sharing a box in an alley.”

“A lot can happen in four years. In my case a pimp inadvertently left me twenty-three million dollars.”

“No.”

“Yes. I’m rich. Crazy, huh? Hey, that’s it. I can buy you from the Sheik. You can be free. I don’t care what it costs, I can afford it. I’m sure the Contessa will help me convince the Sheik.”

“No, Joey. Stop.”

“What?” I thought it was a great idea.

“Let it be. What would I do if you freed me? Live off you for the rest of my life? I have only one real skill and it’s not talked about in polite company. I can’t even read. I would probably end up where I was a few years ago, cold, hungry and on the street. Forced to have sex with strangers, risking Allah knows what dangers at every turn. My master cares about me and cares for me. I am a member of his house. I have family. He never beats us and he has promised to never sell me. When he dies I will be freed with a pension and a residence on his estate.”

“But it’s wrong. He forces you to have sex. That’s rape.”

“You weren’t so concerned with the niceties of it four years ago when it was your legs up in the air,” he said. “The will to survive forced you to have sex just as surely as my master forces me. And besides, I love my master. He is good to me. He likes to have me serve wine at his banquets so everyone can see what a beautiful body slave he has. If some important guy seems interested, Master will sometimes offer to let him have me for the night. He also allows his younger sons access to me to keep them away from respectable girls. Both of them are quite hot. You’d do them in a heartbeat. So it’s not all bad. Except for that night in our box when you put your arms around me, I had never had anyone show me they cared. Never. In my master’s house I am loved. People care about me. Can you imaging being cold all your life and then suddenly finding a blanket? It works for me. And I am picking up some skills. I am fluent in Arabic and am beginning to learn to read it. I’m learning to make friends and trust people. That’s a major thing for me. For the first time in my entire life I feel…safe,” it took him a moment to find the word. “And that’s as close to happy as I can probably ever get.”

I wanted to argue it with him. I wanted to tell him about Stockholm Syndrome. No matter how you dress it up, slavery is wrong. But he was also one of the best friends I had ever had. I had loved him then and I love him now. So I hugged him and kissed him and said maybe we’d get a chance to see each other again before he left.

“I doubt it,” he said. “I’m not supposed to mingle with freemen.” Once again, I gritted my teeth. But I did have a germ of an idea. I talked with the Contessa about it. Of course she was in from the word go because she loves a good conspiracy. She made the pitch to the Sheik who was only too happy to do what he could to please his hostess.

So, two nights after my encounter with Denny there was a soft scratch at my bedroom door.

“Come,” I called.

Without looking up, the young man slipped in, knelt on the floor and said, “his excellency Jahar al Said bin Hassan would like to offer you my services tonight, Master.”

“Wonderful,” I said happily. His head jerked up.

“You!”

“Yes, you said the Sheik sometimes lends you out, so I decided to get in on a good deal.” Denny’s face was turning red. I hoped he didn’t think I was making fun of what he is.

“Don’t worry. I just want you to lie in bed like we used to do in our box, and talk and giggle and just be young. Think you can do that?”

“Of course, Master. Your wish is my command.” And Denny actually smiled.

Denny was gone when I awoke. The Sheik and his entourage left that evening. I don’t know if I’ll ever see Denny again, but, hey, I’m rich. I may find myself travelling near the Middle East someday. Why not drop in on my old friend Sheik Jahar. As a visiting dignitary I might even get the services of that cute blonde boy.

Kenjo on Guard

In mid-September last year and hurricane was headed for North Carolina. We decided to head west to visit relatives in Tennessee to avoid the storm. While there I was working on Manitou. One afternoon I became frustrated when I realized I would have to trash part of the story and start over. I closed the file to cool off. Once settled, I opened a new window and wrote the following little puff piece. It is short and some may think silly, but I like it. And that’s what counts.

Kenjo On Guard

           Leader is home. I recognize the rumble I always hear just before he comes in. I race to the door he always uses. I always miss him when he goes away. He enters saying, “Down, Kenjo.” He knows I want to jump up and lick him to show how glad I am he’s home. Not-Leader is with him. The three of us are pack. She has not been here for a few days and I was concerned about our pack. For as long as I can remember we have had a routine. Most days Leader and Not-Leader leave every morning and return every evening. I stay outside and guard the den. Every sixth and seventh day the routine is gone. Both are in the den most of the time and I get lots of attention. I like that. Sometimes we take trips. I especially love trips. Except to the place where they pour water over me. Sometimes instead I have to go stay at a place with other people like me for a few days. Maybe I was bad. I don’t know.

            I am very glad that Not-Leader has returned. She feeds me more often than Leader and frequently slips me treats. I immediately notice she has something in her arms. I also detect a new, unusual smell. Leader takes the bundle and kneels down. I come forward to smell the bundle.   

            “Kenjo. This is Billy. Protect,” says Leader. I look at the bundle and see a very small person, not a person like me, but a person like Leader. We seem to have a new pack member. Since Leader said ‘protect’ I know the new person is one of us. I lick the little one’s face. He makes a gurgling noise. It seems to please Leader and Not-Leader. His smell and taste is like a mixture of my other two pack members. I like that.

            I follow as they take the new one to a room that is rarely used. They have a raised crate similar to the one I had to sleep in when I first came to the pack. I am confident that once he knows the house rules Leader will let him out to run and play.

            Later that night Leader and Not-Leader go to their sleeping place. I usually sleep at their feet but not tonight. I hear Not-Leader ask Leader “Where’s Kenjo?” “I don’t know,” he replies. I am not in my usual place. I have to check that the little one is safe before I can sleep.

            Standing in the little one’s room I am not satisfied with how things are arranged. Leader and Not-Leader are frequently oblivious to all the dangers surrounding us. They rely on me to protect them. So, I lie down between the crate and the door. No one gets to the little one without going past me first. Don’t worry, little pack mate. Kenjo is on guard. As long as I breathe, I will protect.