Archive for August, 2013

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 27 — GEEK
Current mood: considering the needs of the many…
Category: considering the needs of the many… Life

 

Okay, I’m seventeen and working late at the used bookstore — the place with all the best Star Trek books by my fave comic book writers.  The kids at school call me a geek for doing it, but I just tune them out.  My own version of a modified universal translator. 

There’s only about 3 days left of school before summer break, so I am already feeling a little crazed, even before I had to work late.  It’s that summer-is-heating-up-and-all-the-guys-are-starting-to-go-shirtless kind of buzz in my head — and parts lower. 

I’m cataloging my favorite softcovers, the ones where Captain Picard makes the good speeches, Data locks out the Enterprise’s main computer, and Bev does some quick work in sickbay to save the day.  You get the picture. 

Just when I’m thinking that maybe I should move the episodes featuring Counselor Troi to a lower shelf, the window behind the counter explodes inward.  Pieces of glass shower the Sherlock Holmes and Stephen King shelves as I toppled off my three-step ladder.  Crashing hard on the Danielle Steel display, I ignore the searing pain and twist to look toward the counter area.  Two women with black clothes, black hats, and black crescents under their eyes (like football players) leap through the broken window frame. 

I stifle a scream — it’s Thelma and Lorraine, my city’s most notorious female cat burglar team!  They’re known on the street for stealing rare books; all of us on the used book circuit have read the flyer: “Do not approach! Consider this duo armed and dangerous. Call 911 immediately.”  Of course, there was that whole thing where people speculated whether they were lesbians or not — but I never really got involved with that. 

“We’ve got company,” Lorraine sneers, looking directly at me.  “Whattaya think, Thel?”

I scurry backwards toward the sci-fi section as Thelma approaches.  “I dunno, Lor,” she says in a throaty tone that lets me know she smokes at least a pack a day.  “He looks kinda flimsy,” she says, kicking out with a black sneaker at my crotch.  I throw myself sideways and her foot misses me entirely, landing instead on the rare Mister Spock cardboard cut-out our shop acquired last year.  The autographed cut-out.  Her blow takes off Mister Spocks cardboard hand, raised in Vulcan greeting.  

Now I’m known around the store for being a bit mousey — even if someone insults Levar Burton’s acting ability, or imitates William Shatner’s singing — but this is an entirely different matter.  This cut-out is signed by Leonard Nimoy himself.  I was the one who waited in line at the United Federation of Fans Convention for almost two hours to get it.  And now this unthinking bitch has ruined it in less than ten seconds.  

Something from deep within me erupts.  It’s my rage at the jocks on the playground who laughed when I wore my tricorder to school on Halloween.  It’s my rage at the girls who snapped the nacelles off my ninth-grade science fair exhibit: an independently assembled Enterprise model (with running lights and warp sound effects).  It’s my rage at the narrow-minded people who don’t want me and my boyfriend to think about a future where gay people can live in harmony with humanity — and the multiple races yet to be encountered.  And suddenly, without processing through it (like every other emotion in my life), my rage has found a focus. 

With a howl worth of a Klingon mating ritual, I leap off the floor at Thelma, cracking the ladder across her skull before she’s had a chance to hurl a smoke-breath curse in my direction. 

Lorraine pulls back behind a row of Nancy Drew books.  “What the fuck–” she yells as I spin to face her.  We stare at each other across the yellow spines for almost ten seconds.  Long enough for me to identify the cylindrical shape stuffed into her crotch.  Her trademark swiss blade; the flyer warned me about that as well.

It all happens at once: she reaches toward the buldge in her pants; I grab a hard-cover William Shatner novel (we’ve stacked them on the counter to try to get them to move); now I’m flinging it with frisbee-like precision; now it cracks her across the nose and blood showers the scene; now she’s down next to Thelma and I’m using duct tape to secure their arms behind their backs. 

Even after the police award me a medal for my bravery, even after America’s Most Wanted sets up the shooting schedule for my feature story in their “Apprehended” series,  it’s actually the call from Leonard Nimoy himself that I most treasure. 

“You know, back in the Sixties, people used to sometimes call Spock a geek,” he laughs over the line.  “But I never let it get me down.”

“I hear ya, Leonard,” I say, as a smile consumes the lower half of my face.      

For FUN, I put my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com 
I invite you to visit my stuff.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 26 — FURY

I’m sixteen and camping with my high school buddies in the forest down by my parent’s cottage.  My loyal spitz-husky, Cooper, has to stay home, otherwise the ground burrs and cottonwood fluff weave themselves permanently into his furry Eskimo coat.

I just got my permanent driver’s license, so this is our first excursion in a motor vehicle with just “the guys”.  Joe, Pani, and my best friend, Guy, all pile into my ’97 Plymouth Fury (at 216,000 miles, it cost me $1200 bucks of my Starbucks earnings…but the engine runs good.  And it’s got a great stereo.)

It’s not one of those camp sites with electricity and bathrooms — it’s parking the car on the loggers’ road and hiking for about a half hour through the leafy brush to set up tents.  Making jokes about the Blair Witch the whole way, we find a clearing and set up shop.

As the sun heads toward evening and dusk, Joe works on the fire pit while Guy prepares the chicken kabobs.  Pani scouts for firewood.  I use my camera phone (a Palm Treo 755p with a maroon skin) to take pictures and chronicle the event (getting more than my share of Guy’s muscular pecs — in real life, he’s just my best friend, but inside my mind, he’s a whole lot more…) That’s when the scene erupts: from both the right and left, four guys in prison uniforms break out of the forest and start punching us! Too late, I recall the warning we heard on the car’s radio: FOUR CONVICTS, IN JAIL FOR RUNNING A CHILD PORNOGRAPHY RING, BUST OUT OF JAIL IN AN UPSTATE TOWN.  THEY MAY BE ARMED AND CONSIDERED DESPERATE. 

“Mack, tie ’em up,” the tallest con barks at his buddy, a chubby white guy with a sinister sneer. 

“Mack” uses our tent ropes to bind all eight of our wrists together in one big, nasty knot. “Okay, Billy.” 

“Hey, these boys look pretty fresh,” a third con laughs, a harsh, gravelly sound, as he looks us over.  “Maybe we can use ’em in our next flick,” he spits out. “That is, if they got anything under the hood,” he says, kicking at Guy’s crotch. I hear my best friend, my secret crush, give a high-pitched wail, a sound that should never emit from a man’s throat, and the blood in my veins moves from a slow burn to a full-pitched boil. 

What the four porno kings don’t know is that I’ve studied “The Hardy Boys’ Detective Handbook”.  Studied it extensively.  What they don’t know is that I’ve rehearsed abduction scenarios in my head.  What they don’t suspect is that I’ve positioned my wrists so I can reach my Treo’s stylus and have used it to pick through the tent rope while they launch another kick at my sweet friend’s manhood.  What they can’t dream is that I’ve spent almost three years trying to bottle up the rage of being gay and wanting something I’m not sure I can have, and that my righteous, furious frustration at the Catholic Church’s edicts, at President Bush’s gay marriage policies, at the guys who hang around the school showers and snap their towels at unsuspecting butts and yell “FAG SWAT!” 

They can’t know any of this…but that’s too bad for them. 

Before the gravelly voiced con’s foot connects a second time with Guy’s package, I free myself and leap in one movement.  Giving a howl worthy of Tarzan, I bring the heel of my hiking boot down onto Gravel-Voice’s ankle.  I hear a satisfying ‘snap’ even before he starts screaming in pain.  Guy, Joe, and Pani all stare at me as I am everywhere at once: kicking, punching, delivering blows as I learned in the Handbook — maximizing the element of surprise at their disbelief that a single sixteen year-old boy can be this ferocious.  The chubby one is down; the third con is down; finally, it’s just me and the tall one, the leader. 

I stand in front of him, my legs slightly apart, my right foot slightly forward (the Handbook taught me it’s the most stable stance).  “So what’s it’s gonna be, BILLY-GOAT,” I goad him.  “You want a piece of me, too?”

“Oh, you’re gonna be my piece,” Billy growls, launching a full-frontal attack.  I’m ready for him; through my fury I mentally calculate his speed and weight.  As he lunges for me, I grab a low-hanging branch from the forest above us.  He can’t stop; I swing easily over his head as he grabs at empty air.  My swing arcs backwards.  I connect my hiking boot with the back of Billy’s head and kick with all the might of oppressed homosexuality. 

He goes down.

Afterwards, as Joe, Pani, and Guy use the tent ropes to security tie Billy, Gravel-Voice, Chubby, and the last con, I use my Treo to call 911 (I’m able to get a signal on “Roaming”.) 

As Joe and Pani guard the bad guys, as we wait for the cops to arrive (with the $10,000 reward money), I take a seat next to Guy on a fallen log just out of earshot of the others.  Guy looks over at me, tears just beginning to form in the edges of his eyes.  “Greg, I was gonna tell you this tonight in the tent, but after all this, I want to tell you now.  Just in case…in case something happens.” 

“What is is?” I ask my dearest friend, looking deep into his cola-brown eyes.

“I love you,” he whispers, looking at me, half smiling, half crying.  

For FUN, I put my stuff at http://www.GregoryGerard.net

For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at http://www.JupitersShadow.com

I invite you to visit my stuff.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 25 — FORTY-TWO
Current mood: Alien
Category: Alien Life

Okay, I turned forty-two this week which, if I were twenty-one, would only be half as much fun.  But I am forty-two, so I head out to have a night on the town.  Cooper, my furry spitz-husky, trails behind as he is known to do, sniffing at the bushes and bags of grass clippings at the curb. 

The lilacs are in full bloom — it’s been just cold enough out that they’ve stayed in bloom for over a week.  Which is great, ’cause they are still around for my birthday, which seemed questionable seven days ago. 

I wander toward the East End — my town’s collegy hot spot.  While I walk, I talk to Cooper about the Web site I want to put up with famous quotes of things that I made up, things like “Gay men are like teenagers with money” and “Sleeping is like roasting on a spit — you just turn over and over until you are good and done.” 

But I only get halfway through my idea when we are stopped in the middle of the planetarium parking lot.  Something is flashing at the top of the dome on the planetarium — the place where every first-grader in my city goes to learn about the stars and see “Little Green Arrow” point out the constellations. 

Tonight, it’s not Little Green Arrow, it’s disco-dancing aliens.  Not figuratively, literally. There are six or seven little green men dancing around on the top of the planetarium dome.  They’re wearing high heels, I note without thinking.  In the background, I hear Irene Cara’s “Flashdance, What a Feeling” booming.

“What the f?” I say to Cooper, curbing my language in front of my puppy-dog.  He begins to bark furiously. 

The six (or seven) little green men, who I now realize are NOT green, they are more like a brownish-beige, all stop dancing and stare at me.  Too late, I recognize that they are not here to celebrate, they are actually using their disco ritual to poke miniscule holes in the roof of the planetarium.  It’s an insidious plot to confuse all of the first graders of my town.  By poking holes in the planetarium’s roof, the stars will appear distorted and malformed for all of the subsequent tours.  Of course, this misinformation to my city’s youth will give these aliens an edge up when they try to dominate earth in the years to come.

With a tremendous cry, I rush at the curved roof of the planetarium, preparing to save my city from this ominous threat.  Cooper, sensing my forty-two year old physical limitations, rushes ahead and knocks various barriers out of my running path — a traffic cone, a discarded banana peel, a crumpled map of the Andromeda Galaxy.  In one daring leap, I clear the grassy knoll at the edge of the parking lot and scramble up the outside of the planitarium’s shell.

The seven (or six) aliens are prepared for my frontal assault — they pull three hefty laser-like guns from beneath their web-like clothing and take aim.  “Cooper, now!” I yell, managing, even with my forty-two year old knees, a quick dive to the right, with a duck and roll.  Cooper, at my command, bites cleanly through the main power cable feeding the entire campus.  Darkness descends like a blanket as laser blasts shoot wildly through the night.

It’s not clear to me later just how I managed to get the six (there were six, actually, not seven — I counted when I shoved them through the portal of their tiny pod-ship) aliens subdued.  It had something to do with their laser shots giving away their location, their natural aversion to pre-1980 disco music (I blasted “Dancing Queen” by Abba from my Palm Treo — it brought them to their knees) and Cooper’s enthusiastic barking, which appeared to disrupt their mental processes (but I’ll cut ’em some slack on that one — Cooper’s continued barking can interrupt MY mental processes if left unchecked). 

Regardless of the exact details, within the hour, all six of them were rocketing back past the outer rings of Saturn, cursing the day they’d ever visited Earth. 

After the planetarium society repaired their roof, after the mayor and state’s democratic senator congratulated both of us (the republican senator refused to attend, saying encouraging such aggressive tactics on public property only led to higher taxes and larger government) I turn to Coop.  “Let’s go get some birthday ice cream, Boy” I say, heading for the blizzard stand on Park   Ave.  “After all, we’re not getting any younger!”

His tail wags in enthusiastic agreement.

    For FUN, I put my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com 
I invite you to visit my stuff.

                                                                     

Currently listening :
  ABBA – Gold:   Greatest Hits
  By ABBA
  Release date: 1993-09-21     

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 24 — SINK HOLE 

Current mood: Loving that Cooper!

Category: Loving that Cooper! Life

 

 

I’m fifty-three and gardening.  We’ve hit a record high today (eighty-six degrees) so, even though it’s April, I’m wearing shorts.  My knees dig into the warm earth and it feels fine to be alive.  My tough-acting, tender-hearted husky, Cooper, sniffs around the early season tulips nearby. 

 

I just have a small city garden — nothing like the big patch out behind the barn I had as a kid.  But I still like planting my own tomatoes and zucchini and, if I can keep the squirrels out, strawberries. 

 

I’m just turning the soil with my trowel when a sound like what I imagine an avalanche must sound like engulfs me.  I vaguely hear furious barking as I, my trowel, my six-inch Beefsteaks, and Cooper get sucked into the ground.  Not just falling — there’s actually a sucking sound to the swirl of dirt around us.  Too late, I realize we have fallen prey to my city’s most recent scourge: subterranean sink holes.  They’ve been cropping up all over in the wake of this unnaturally warm spring.

 

We juggled back and forth violently for a few seconds, going down and down, and it’s dark, and now colder, and I’m coughing.  Then we kind of mush-more-than-hit into what must be the bottom of a sink hole — in this case, a mucky mixture of dirt, groundwater, and last year’s tomato vines.

 

As one might imagine might happen in a sink hole, I begin to sink. 

 

“Cooper!” I shout, as my knees slowly disappear into the muck. There’s enough light coming down from the sunny, eighty-six-degree day above that I can make out shapes and, as the dirt-dust settles, bones.  Dead people’s bones.  I see pelvises, skulls, and several arms and legs.  They are not white and polished like you’d see on TV — they are spotted and creepy.  The ground is choked with them as far as I can see.

 

“Cooper!” I am screaming now. 

 

My black-and-white husky pops into view across what I’ve decided must be some underground burial cavern.  I see that the ground is mucky under him, too, but with his four short legs, he’s having better luck doing a half-scramble, half-doggie paddle.  Somehow, he’s staying on top of the sludge.

 

My knees are completely gone, and the ground is now threatening to engulf more sensitive areas.  Areas that men prefer not to have threatened.

 

I try to throw my body sideways (I read somewhere that you have a better chance in quicksand if you are horizontal) but I’m only partly successful.  Now my right hip and elbow are disappearing. 

 

Cooper reaches my side, assesses the situation, and barks in rapid, spit-fire fashion.  If we were in the house, I’d think he wanted a snackie.  But here, at the bottom of a creepy graveyard/sink hole, I’m having trouble reading him.   

 

He gives up on me and makes his way to the nearest pile of bones — somebody’s rib cage.  Clamping it in his jaws, he drag-swims it to my side. I grab at the mass of bone and cinch my arms around them. 

 

My sinking slows.  Now I get what Cooper’s trying to tell me.

 

“The bones aren’t sinking!  Fetch, Boy, get the bones, get me more bones!” 

 

I sense Cooper’s desire to roll his eyes at my command — to let me know that he’s way ahead of me.  He continues the difficult work of negotiating the cavern bottom, dragging bone after bone to my side.  The pile grows exponentially as I help out — tearing my shirt into strips and using them to lash the bones together, forming a makeshift lattice. Together, after much excruciating work on both our parts, Cooper and I are able to make a tall enough bone pile to scramble up to freedom.

 

Later, after we lay gasping in the warm sunlight for a good long time, but before I take a shower and call the city’s sink hole hotline, I mix some of Cooper’s most favorite snacks in his food bowl and invite him to partake. 

 

He barks appreciatively.      

 

    For FUN, I put my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net

For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com

I invite you to visit my stuff.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 23 — DEATH AND TAXES

I’m nineteen and wondering if I spelled nineteen right.  My mom passed away last month, so I’m kind of riding as low as a guy at nineteen can ride.  But it was peaceful and special and I was there with her at the end, so the lowness feels profound and high somehow.  Those are the thoughts on the first day I’ve ever had to file taxes in my life. 

I fill out the EZ form — my job at the publishing house (okay, disbursement clerk isn’t exactly being an author, but it’s one step closer to my dream) only earned me $17,000, but it’s enough to put me in the rat race. 

I seal the form and head to the post office.  I’m not quite sure why I waited for the last day — but with the mom situation, I cut myself the appropriate slack.

There’s a line at the post office — the BIG post office downtown, the one where the clerks wear ties and look kind of like Alec Baldwin — so I stand and wait. That’s when the gunman shouts.

“ALLRIGHT, ALL YOU M*&THR-F*$#ERS, DIE FOR YOUR SINS OF PROCRASTINATION!” he screams and points something black, metal, and slender at us. 

I don’t scream like all the other people in line.  I don’t hit the cool linoleum floor like they do, either.  I don’t even tremble. 

Something about the way he yells “M*&THR-F*$#ERS” pushes just the right button inside me.  I was there with my mom; she is gone; he yells M*&THR-F*$#ERS.  It offends me to the core.

I drop my 1040EZ mailing envelope and hop onto the post office counter.  The one that has forms like “change of mailing address” in little cubby holes.  The gunman looks my way. 

“Didn’t your mother ever tell you it’s not polite to curse in public?” I shout, whipping a stack of international mailing envelopes at him.  They shower the air and he shouts, waving the gun in a circular motion.  It’s like I feel, more than see, his finger tightening on the trigger. 

I don’t think, I just do.  My do includes a half-flip, half-Buffy-kick, as I land my nineteen-year-old bulk right on top of him.  He’s down before anybody can say the words “additional postage.”

Later, after the crowd has lifted me to their shoulders in salute, after CNN has compared me to Sylvester Stallone and Steven Segal, after I’ve put up a tribute page to my mom at www.JupitersShadow.com/tribute.html, one of the Alec Baldwin clerks calls me at home. 

“Somebody found your 1040EZ form on the floor of the post office.  I went ahead and post-marked it for April 15.  I hope that was okay with you.”

“That’s okay,” I smile through the phone.

“Maybe we could get together for dinner sometime and I could share with you some of the benefits of filing your taxes early,” he continues.

I’m almost sure he can see my grin through the line.  “I look forward to it,” I reply.

For FUN, I put my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com 
I invite you to visit my stuff.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 22 — SUPER

I’m twenty-two (twice as fun as eleven) and sipping my first martini.  I always thought they would be skanky, like something Darrin Stevens would serve Larry Tate from that crappy little wet bar they had next to the stairs.  But, to my overwhelming surprise, martinis made from vodka and fruit juice with a little plastic body of an elephant hanging from his trunk on the edge of my curvy glass are not only fun — they are tasty.  

I check out the crowd at this martini bar — The Vodka Volcano it’s called, because of the large, gas-fed fireplace in the center of the room — which recently opened so close to my apartment I can walk (or stumble, depending on how many of these overly expensive, non-skanky drinks I can afford) home.  Not only are the blazing fireplace and the martini warming my world (it’s about twelve degrees outside), but so is the guy in the corner seat, near the bowl of salty goldfish crackers.  I check out his Eighties hair and his semi-sad, just-needs-a-hug appeal and consider introducing myself.  

That’s when the bottles behind the bar begin to launch themselves at us. 

I’m thinking it’s an earthquake, but we don’t have them here on the East Coast.  Instead of debating the possibility, I dive under the bench where I’ve been sitting.  Incidentally, right next to Eighties-Hair Guy. 

The bottles explode against the far wall, spraying alcohol in every direction.  Over the screams from the bar patrons, I hear a low, evil chuckling.  

It’s not an earthquake.  It’s our city’s most notorious supercriminal, GlassArt, one of those really obnoxious villains who makes humorous quips while they chop up doggies or pulverize little old ladies.  He’s got all the powers a supercriminal needs: the ability to control anything made of glass.  I’m grateful I wore my thin-plastic contacts instead of my Coke-bottle lenses.

“So who wants to be part of the martini special tonight?” GlassArt laughs, pointing toward the dessert display case.  It shatters without hesitation, embedding chunks of clear death into the Chocolate Mousse, the Lemon-Swirl Cake, and the Raspberry Truffle. 

I’ve read about his dastardly pursuits, the stories of senseless violence toward gay men and women, small animals, and cub scouts.  But to witness this absolute destruction of sweet, sweet desserts caused something in my head to audibly snap. 

“What was that?” Eighties-Hair squeaks out.

“It’s the sound of ENOUGH,” I spit out, standing from beneath the bench.  I face the villainous creep, rage emanating from my pores like lime juice from a lime press.

“Hey, GlassFart, why don’t you pick on somebody your own size?  Except I don’t know if we have anybody around here who qualifies,” I smirk, waving my pinky in front of my face. 

The air in the room changes; it’s something everybody — the lady bartender, the six-odd couples in the dining area, and the Eighties-hair Guy — feels.  Almost like the electricity before a lightning bolt. 

“Say your last prayer, queer boy,” the supervillain rasps, as he slowly raises both of his arms. 

That’s when I laugh.  A quick, bold sound. “Do you know that glass turns to liquid at approximately 2400 degrees Fareheit?” I yell and leap at the same time, landing both feet in the center of his chest, driving him backwards into the volcano fireplace.  I slam the gas feed value up to the highest setting marked “Danger, May Melt Glass.” 

As GlassArt screams, I grab a bottle of Absolut and sprinkle it into the inferno.  It makes a pretty blue flame. 

Later, after the restaurant patrons give me a standing ovations, after the City Newspaper takes my picture next to the fireplace (holding the empty bottle of Absolut), after our city’s ineffective superhero, ButterCup, shakes my hand and whispers in my ear ‘You’ve saved a lot of lives tonight, Greg,’ I get ready to head home to my apartment. 

That’s when the Eighties-Hair Guy stops in front of me.  “Hey, man, that was pretty brave.  Can I buy you a martini?” 

Of course I agree.  In just a short time, more than the soothing vodka we’re soon sipping, more than the reactivated volcano fireplace, it’s his toothy smile that warms my heart.

For FUN, I put my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com 
I invite you to visit my stuff.

                                                                     

Currently   listening :
  Mary Poppins (2005   Original London Cast)
  By Richard M. Sherman
  Release date: 13 September, 2005     

Monday, March 03, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 21 — FLOOD
Current mood: loving the warm weather

I’m thirty and home from work early because of the gorgeous weather outside — sixty-four degrees.  My manager let us go at three, something she normally would not do unless there was a fire in the building or Ed McMahon showed up to give her a million dollars.  But we haven’t seen the sun for about three months in our lake-side town, so even she is mesmerized by its shine. 

I crack open a beer and invite Cooper, my fluffy Eskimo dog out onto the back patio.   I pop on my headset, we drink in the rays, and all is well with the world.  Until a text appears on my Treo screen: Flood Warning.  Melting snow floods lake’s banks.  Emergency evacuation.  And a list of just three streets in peril.  Mine is one of them.   

Cooper and I race down the driveway, but we’re too late.  A wall of water comes at us from the north.  Fortunately, all of my neighbors are still at work.

“Cooper,” I scream as the frigid wave bears down.  It’s taller than my SUV, taller than the balcony on my second-story, taller than the new roof I had installed last December (by a hunky crew of twenty-somethings from the local tool exchange.)  The only structure on my street that the wave does not appear to dwarf is the historic oak on the corner of (ironically) Elm Street and Miller Ave. 

The tree grows out of Miller’s Mound — some guy named Miller planted it back in the 1800s.  Something about the soil agreed with it; it grew huge.  Big enough to be  featured on the Sienna Club’s Web site and even a PBS NOVA special.  Today, I don’t care about its fame, I care about its height.

Grabbing Cooper by his pudgy belly (he’s been munching and sleeping quite a bit this winter, not unlike me) I sprint down the street.  I can feel the humidity of the spray on the back of my neck.  Reaching the tree, I calculate that I have about twelve seconds before the water pulverizes both of us.

Next to Miller’s Mound is Miller’s Park, where they’ve used public funds to build one of those funky kids’ playgrounds.  The kind with curvy tunnels, artsy benches, and a huge bungee-jumping court.  Balancing Cooper under my left arm, I grab one of the bungees and leap.   

As the water descends, we ascend, swinging a lazy, powerful arc to the top of Miller’s Oak.  I grab for one of the highest branches and cling.

After the death toll is miraculously tallied at zero, after the houses on my street dry out, after Oprah features me, Cooper, and Miller’s great-great grand-daughter on her show, Cooper and I head back to my patio for a beer, headphones, and a flood of much-desired sunshine. 

                                                                     

Currently   listening :
  Moon Over the   Freeway
  By The Ditty Bops
  Release date: By 23 May, 2006     

Friday, February 29, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 20 — GOOD BOOKS
Current mood: Somewhere between Bayport and Buckland
Category: Somewhere between Bayport and Buckland Life

I’m twenty-four and supposed to be doing something “I never did before” because it’s Leap Day.  This day that people come on the news and say dorky things like ‘they’re only seventeen years old — even though they have gray hair and are retired.’  All I really want to do is stay home and read a good book.  Maybe a detective story; maybe a fantasy.      

BUT, in the spirit of leaping, I take a jog — not on the regular route by the museum with the duck pond.  Instead, to do something “different”, I head down toward the tools factory with the cigarrette butts in the bushes. 

I’m just about to turn around and head back to the museum (and the duck pond) when I notice that a small shed behind the factory has a lit sign next to the door.  I go closer.  “Speak, Friend, and Enter,” the sign reads.  Since I’ve been reading my Lord of the Rings this winter, I decide to go for it.  After all, it is Leap Day. 

“Friend,” I say out loud and reach for the door knob. That’s when three guys leap out of the dark and overwhelm me. 

“What a geek,” one of them laughs as they tie my hands behind my back.  “I told you that Lord of the Rings crap would reel them in.”

Too late, I recognize them as “The Datong Dudes,” a nortorious trio who kidnaps nerdy, intelligent gay men in my city and forces them into male prostitution overseas.  But I quickly gather my wits. 

I remember my training from The Hardy Boys Detective Manual (my favorite book when I was thirteen) and make sure to flex ever muscle while they cinch my bonds.  I study their mannerisms, looking for weakness.  

“Put ‘im in the truck,” the big one (the leader, my Hardy training tells me.)  The other two throw me into the back of a moving van.  It’s pitch black, but I feel other bodies around me.  The door slides shut; a lock clicks. 

“How many of you are there?” I ask into the blackness. 

“Eight,” a voice near me whispers.  “But you make nine.  Just like the Fellowship of the Ring.” 

I roll my eyes, even though nobody can see.  “Hang tight, guys.  I think I can get my hands free.”  No one speaks as I force my body to go limp.  The ropes fall off.

“Hey, that worked pretty well,” I think to myself.  I pull out my Swiss army knife (I always keep one in my pants, for any emergency) and free my fellow prisioners. 

“What do we do now?” one asks. 

“It’s darker than the Mines of Moria in here,” another mutters.  

I take control.  “Okay, here’s the plan.  By law, these vans have to have an air vent near the cab exchange.  We locate it, escape, and turn the tables on the The Dudes.  There’s nine of us, and only three of them.”

I find the air vent and pull back the mesh.  One by one, we climb through.  Our captors are on the other side of the van, talking. 

“I think we should get a few more.  This load of geeks won’t bring us more than a hundred grand,” the leader says. 

Before either of his companions replies, I give the signal.  “‘By Elbereth and Lúthien the Fair!” on of my companions yells. 

“Just take them down,” I say. 

After the police commend us for our brave efforts against these nefarious crooks, after the DA successfully convicts all three, after we’re featured on a Comedy Channel special titled “The Nine Gay Nerds”, I go back to my apartment and crack open my Hardy Boy Detective Manual.

For FUN, I put my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com 
I invite you to visit my stuff.

 

                                                                     

Currently   listening :
  Lord of the Rings   Cast Recording
  By Original London Cast
  Release date: 05 February, 2008     

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 19 – THE EXORCIST

I’m fifteen and spend the evening writing in my journal.  I used to call it a diary, but now that I’m trying to be cool like the other guys at my all-boy Catholic high school, it’s a journal. 

I got a 78 on my Geometry test today, but I don’t really care, because Tom, the tall star of the basketball team sits next to me in Geometry.  Sometimes he puts his massive hand on the back of my neck while he’s talking to me — and my insides melt.  That’s the kind of stuff I put in my journal, which pretty much feeds my status of non-cool. 

I go downstairs to watch some tube; everybody else is in bed.  We don’t have cable and the channel I’m getting is from the next city over, so the screen is full of snow, but The Exorcist is on, so I watch.  I’m particulary psyched, ’cause my high school English teacher (a priest), is actually one of the priests in the movie.  Another thing for my journal.

We get to the part where the girl’s bed is lifting up into the air and slamming onto the floor, and I’m sufficiently creeped out because it’s late at night in our creepy farmhouse way out in the country, where anybody could hide out in the woods after committing an axe murder or something, where they could be looking in the pitch-black windows at me watching The Exorcist, where they could be just about to bust the back door in and slice me into little chunks. 

That’s what I’m thinking about when  the couch, my mom’s rocker,  the coffee table, and the family dog start going up and down in the room at the same rhythm as the onscreen furniture. 

I scream, a girly, embarrassing scream that would also keep me off the cool list at school, and try to figure out what to do.  The dog barks; he’s hanging in mid-air with his legs and tail dangling. 

I start hearing a low cursing whisper coming from the corners of the room when I realize this is for real — it’s sink or swim.  I’m an altar boy, so I have some idea how to handle such situations.  I leap from the couch and, with a half-flip that might actually earn me some cool points, land near the wall with the crucifix.  I grab it and wave it around, yelling some Latin prayers I had to learn to pass my altar boy test.

The furniture begins to vibrate; the dog looks like he’s going to throw up. 

The girl’s head on TV is spinning now — when it stops, she is looking right at me, which freaks me out more than the furniture.  With a judo kick worthy of Emma Peel, I smash out the front of the TV screen, glass flying everywhere.  As added incentive, I stick the crucifix into the smoking guts and move it around a little.  The couch, Mom’s rocker, the coffee table, and the canine all slam to the floor. 

Even though the fire department (with the beefy Saturday night truck crew who I secretly wish would linger) determine that my parents’ house is not in danger of burning down and that the dog hasn’t broken any bones, even though the local paper features a picture of me next to my high school teacher/priest/actor with a caption “Altar Boy Strikes Back”, even though the cool kids invite me to eat lunch with them in the cafeteria, it’s Tom’s massive hand on the back of my neck in Geometry while I tell him the whole story that sets my heart to racing. 

For FUN, I put my stuff at http://www.GregoryGerard.net

For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at http://www.JupitersShadow.com

I invite you to visit my stuff.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 18 – PLUMBER

I’m forty-one and late for work.  It’s freezing out this a.m.; last night the weatherman (the cute one with the dimples) said we might hit negative numbers.

I’m just over bronchitis, so I’m still dragging, which I’ve been doing for a month now.  Even though I’m late, I linger in the hot shower, the favorite part of every day.  The warm, steamy water cascading over me — until it stops abruptly, with a healthy groan from the maintenance closet. 

I try to wipe shampoo off my face and press the buttons on my cell phone at the same time.  The muscular plumber arrives and assesses the situation.  I assess him. 

“Looks like your supply pipe froze,” he says, tapping on the hot water heater.  “We’ve had a dozen calls so far this morning.  I’ve been up since 3 a.m.” 

We go to the basement to find the “supply pipe.”  He hooks up a hairdryer to rectify the matter, then prepares to leave.  “You should be all right in a couple of hours,” he says.  I open the back door, regretting that my pipes weren’t in need of more maintenance, because he’s really hunky.  He steps through the back door and shakes my hand.

I see it before he does: an icicle the size of Jaws rocketing toward us from above. I’m in motion before I can cry out: I tackle him around the waist and we both tumble into the holly bush.  The icicle explodes on the white-marble patio, spraying frigid chunks in every direction.  The impact splits the marble slab where we had been standing.

We get out of the holly; we’re pretty sincerely scratched up — not quite enough to go to the hospital, but enought to go back inside, dab each other’s bodies with iodine, dress in robes (we were scratched EVERYWHERE), take some hot cocoa (with marshmallows) by the fireplace, and wait for the water to thaw so we can take a much-desired shower.

For FUN, I put my stuff at http://www.GregoryGerard.net

For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at http://www.JupitersShadow.com

I invite you to visit my stuff.