Archive for the ‘The NERVOUS STOMACH Series’ Category

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 16 – TV NIGHT
Current mood: In the twilight
Category: In the twilight Life

Okay, I’m thirty-six and vegging out in front of the big screen.  Not the regular big screen, the freakin’ awesome nine-foot-by-nine-foot projection I rigged up on the third floor.  Cooper is with me.  He likes the commercials where dogs bark — he tips his head and stares at the screen.  Tonight, we’re watching the Twilight Zone marathon on SciFi.  It’s the one where everybody’s afraid of the little boy in town.  The one with all the strange powers. 

When the little boy makes a guy disappear, Cooper begins to bark furiously at the big screen.  The boy looks directly into the camera.  Directly at Cooper and me.  “Shut up” he says.  Cooper stops barking immediately.

I should be frightened, but I’m mad.  “He wasn’t doing anything wrong!” I yell at the screen. 

The boy looks at me now.  “Drop dead,” he says, and a bolt flashes out of the nine-by-nine screen, right at my armchair.  I dive for the floor as the room explodes in a blue crackle that smells like burning hair. 

“Cooper, down!” I yell, giving him the raised arm signal the obedience trainer taught us.  Cooper hugs the floor. The little boy seems focused on us now.  He takes a deep breath, then points.  His arm comes out of the screen, right into our room. He cocks his thumb like a gun and gestures at my beloved doggie. 

“Bang bang” he starts to say, but now I’m not mad, I’m furious.  My dive from the armchair rolls around toward the screen.  I kick with my feet, like Keanu Reeves.  The kid’s arm goes down, as bullets pummel the carpet.  I reach and grab the arm, and give one, firm yank.  The kid falls out of the TV screen and onto my floor.  I quickly cover his mouth with one hand and hold his arms with the other. 

“I bet your parents don’t believe in spanking,” I say, as he struggles in vain. 

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series — Ego-Strategy 15: WONDER WOMAN
Current mood: Guilty Pleasure
Category: Guilty Pleasure Life

I’m thirty-five and listening to Maroon 5.   I’m not even sure who they are, but my nephew got me into them, so I go with it. 

It’s one of those steamy hot summer nights at the campground.  I’m there with my spitz-husky, Cooper, who loves the bluffs where the waves crash when it’s windy. 

Coop and I head out for a midnight run on the beach near the bluffs, and that’s when he starts barking furiously.  It’s pitch black, all I can see in the late moon glow is someone backed up against bluff.  I call Cooper off and try to explain, but suddenly two guys and a dog attack us — from the left, right, and middle. 

Cooper takes on the dog while I’m working against the two others.  I’m glad I’ve been working out so much this summer — because as I’ve always imagined might happen in a situation like this, I explode into one of those scenes from The Matrix where Neo is throwing body kicks and punches at lightning speed.  The first guy is down before he knows what hits him.  The second is more of an equal opponent — I sense he’s seen The Matrix too.  We back slowly away from each other, evaluating in the dim light.  We pace in a half circle, then I do the Morpheus hand motion, waving him forward. 

With a huge yell, he assumes the crane pose from Karate Kid and launches himself at me.  Taking him off guard, I do a Lynda Carter Wonder Woman spin and beat off his attack.  Now he’s on the ground.  Now he’s out cold.

After I check on Coop, who’s chased his doggie opponent away, after the police come and arrest the two guys for smuggling cocaine through the caves at the foot of the bluff (a la The Hardy Boys), after Cooper and I are featured in the local newspaper “The Bluff Blog” — I rent some Wonder Woman DVDs.  Cooper and I settle into our regular spots at home and enjoy some guilty pleasure TV.

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.



Currently   listening :
  Wonder Woman   (Theme Song

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Current mood: Heavy Sigh…

I’m seventeen and ready for bed.  It’s one of those nights where I’m up late screwing off with all my friends when I really should be doing my Chemistry lab.  But, what the hell, it’s not due until Friday, and this is only Wednesday.  

I get ready for bed at my sisters’ apartment, the one near my school in the city, the one where I stay and pretend I’m an orphan or some kid who didn’t really belong in my family, just somehow showed up one day and got included.  I’m sleeping in the living room, ’cause that’s where I fit best when they are both home.  On nights when my one sister works at the nursing home I get her bed — but tonight she’s not working, she’s drinking vodka with me and my friends.  That’s why we didn’t get the Chem lab done.

My friends are there too — my sisters seem to like them, so they are welcome at the apartment, and we all crash on the floor of the living room.  It’s one of those times when I wish I was alone with my best friend, because my head is buzzed just enough to admit that I’m hot for him.  But our other friends are right there too, so nothing happens, and I lay down with my own sleeping bag and think about what might have been.  Or what could be. 

We are all trying to fall asleep but I am really having a hard time of it.  The vodka was stronger than normal — Absolut, not Smirnoff — and my head is spinning.  I start humming, then giggling, then singing lyrics.  “My baby takes the morrning train…”  My friends punch me, then laugh, then join in the singing.  Pretty soon we are singing all the way to the end of the song, where “he works so hard …” and I am giggling to myself thinking about him working so hard….then thinking of my best friend…then somehow I am finally asleep.   

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently   listening :
  Sheena Easton :   Gold Collection
  By Sheena Easton
  Release date: 13 July, 1999

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Current mood: Holiday Happening
Category: Holiday Happening Life

I’m twenty-five and Amy Grant has come out with another awesome Christmas album — Home for Christmas.  I pop it into the CD player, crank up the volume, and open a bottle of wine. 

Just when I get to the part in Grown-Up Christmas List where my eyes tear up, somebody starts beating on my apartment door.  I look through the fish-eye, it’s some girl.  She sorta looks familiar, but I can’t place her.  But it’s Christmas Eve, so I open.  

“Glad you answered,” she says, pulling a sawed-off shotgun from behind her right leg.  “Shut off the fucking Christmas music, gay boy, or I’ll shut you both off.”

She points the gun at me.   Too late I recognize her as “Mad-On Martha”, the gay-bashing right-wing hate-crimer who’s been terrorizing my city for too long.

I walk toward the stereo.  My heart pounds, my hair tingles, but my mind races.  I mentally calculate the distance: the couch, the CD tower, her gun, the distorted light from the Christmas tree. 

“Did you know,” I say, pushing the Eject button on the CD player, “that I was discus champion at my high school?”

It all happens at once: She pulls the trigger, I’ve got the CD in my hands, I fling it into the air between me and the barrel, the bullet is deflected toward the ceiling, I grab the bonus DVD from the Amy Grant pack (the one with the “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” video on it), now I’m spinning it into the air, now it’s cracking across her forehead, now she’s on the carpet and there’s blood.  

“By the way,” I say, as the police haul her away in handcuffs, as they praise my finely honed disc-throwing skills, as I receive the $10,000 reward for apprehending a wanted felon, as the reporter from The Empty Closet asks me again to spell my name. 

She turns for a brief minute. 

“Merry Christmas!”  

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.  


Currently   listening :
  Home for Christmas  
  By Amy Grant
  Release date: 06 October, 1992     

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 12 – LAW & ORDER
Current mood: Sci-Fi Zone

I’m forty-one and watching Law & Order: SVU.  It’s a good episode: Mariska’s hair looks especially fine.  I mute the commercials ’cause they drive me crazy. That’s when I see the flash outside the window.

I climb up the stairs so I can see through the skylight. There’s a strange glow under the roofing tiles — the new ones that the cute construction boy just put on a few days ago. As I watch, a grey glowing ooze starts flowing from beneath the shinges. It’s fluid and moving — it approaches the skylight; I can make out three pale spots — maybe eyes? — forming in the ooze.  I “hear” their violence in my head — I sense the spots want skin.  Mine.    

I scream — a girly, high-pitched wail — but I’m more worried than scared. Worried for my partner and puppy dog, just one floor below me, watching Boston Legal. Worried for the neighbors who drink martinis on their porch every evening and invite us to swim in their pool. Worried for all the people in my town who have had their roof tiles recently replaced.

I jump for the switch that automatically activates the skylight. It starts to churn open. The grey slime oozes through the open crack. When it’s about halfway through, I hit the reverse button on the skylight control. The window closes with the same slow assurance, squeezing the slime in two with a very satisfying squiching sound. A high-pitched shriek — like the sound the steering wheel on my Jeep makes when I turn it too hard to the left — fills the room. The three pale spots plop onto the rug. I grab the empty bathroom trash and scoop the goo into it. The spots look up at me, but I just take the trash out to the curb.

The next day, I hire a new cute construction boy to replace my roofing tiles — just the gooey ones.

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.  


Currently   listening :
  Calling Occupants   Of Interplanetary Craft
  By Carpenters     

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 11 – BLOG
Current mood: semi-wistful
Category: semi-wistful Life

I’m sixteen and blogging.  It’s late at night when the house seems creepy, even though it’s the house I grew up in, with the thick lilac bushes lining the sidewalk, and the ivy that crawls further up the brick facing every spring, and the hilly field grass beyond the barn that makes my bare legs itch when I walk through it. 

The screen is glowing like a lantern in the basement — where my latest fort is set up. It’s a cool fort, nothing like the ones I built when I was a little kid.  This one has real walls and furniture and a file cabinet, where I keep records of all my cases. 

I’m adding details to the ongoing mystery blog that I write everyday — my subscriptions are up to 7,523 — when I hear just the littlest creak.  It’s not a creak like the house is settling, or the wind is rustling, or my dad’s getting a midnight snack.  It’s a creak like there’s somebody inside the cellar, close to my fort, and their sneaker is just damp enough from the field grass to creak on the freshly painted cement.

I click the screen off in silence, the image of the words “Are You Really In Love?  take the love test and find out” still glowing in my sight, even though I close my eyes to try to get them to adjust to the dark fast. 

The creak repeats, closer now.

My hands are shaking, but I remind myself that a good detective has to face adversity.  And I’ve planned for just such an occurrence. Planned for YEARS.

I flip three switches near the door to my fort, starting with the one that if there was enough light I’d see the word “SIREN” etched right below.  A wail fills the cellar as I flip the second switch marked “STROBE”.  Disco lighting floods the room as I flip the third and final switch marked “NET”.  I grab for my cell and dial the sheriff’s office (which I’ve programmed into speed dial for just such an occasion.)

Later, when they’ve printed and booked the cat burglar, after they’ve done an expose in our town’s newspaper titled “Boy Sleuth Nabs Crook In Detective’s Snare”, I calmly type up the results of the case and print a hard copy for my case files. 

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.     



Currently   listening :
  A Christmas to   Remember
  By Amy Grant
  Release date: 18 September, 2007     

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego Strategy 10 – ANKLE
Current mood: sorta silly
Category: sorta silly Life

I’m twenty-eight and I busted my ankle.  It hurts like hell. No grand dramatic story I can tell anyone: I sat on the toilet too long and my whole leg fell asleep.  When I stood up, I pitched over onto the floor, with my ankle twisted miserably beneath.  I tell the doctor “I tripped in the bathroom”.  “Were you drunk?” he asks. 

While I’m laid up for five days (no pressure on the foot, says the doctor), I spend too much time watching TV. I see old Star Treks, old Law & Orders, old I Love Lucys.  Then I pop on the local news.

They are showing pics of a guy who robbed the credit union up near the lake.  It’s a fuzzy picture from the bank’s security camera, but I recognize my landlord who lives downstairs from me — who also watches the local news.

I hear creaking up the front stairs and a knocking on my door.  “Hey Greg,” my landlord yells.  “Whatcha doin’?”  I mute the TV, hoping he can’t hear it from the hall.   He knows I hurt my ankle; he knows I’m on crutches; he knows I can’t run.

“I’m just watching The Wizard of Oz!” I yell through the door, hopping on one foot toward the bookcase. 

“I thought that was on last night,” he says.  I can almost hear the wheels of his mind turning through the too-thin wood of the cheap door.

“Oh, they play that stuff again and again on cable,” I say, grabbing my biggest book, the full edition of Lord of the Rings — all three books in one. 

“I just wanted to make sure you were okay,” he says. I hear the master key in the doorknob.

I hobble back to the doorway and raise the book high.  The door swings open and I bring the full volume — The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King — down on his thieving skull.  He drops to the floor unconscious, the silver metal of a kitchen knife clattering next to his body. 

The 911 operator commends me.  The hunky police detective tells me I’m foolishly brave.  But I just want to get back to my recliner and get my foot elevated ’cause it’s starting to throb.   

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently   listening :
  I Am Sam – Music   from and Inspired by the Motion Picture
  By Various Artists
  Release date: 08 January, 2002     

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Current mood: utterly goofy
Category: utterly goofy Life

I’m ninteen and the drinking age is changing to twenty-one tomorrow.  My friends and I head to the liquor store to stock up — since it will be two more years before we can legally drink again. 

I hit the vodka aisle while they wander toward the Jim Beam, Southern Comfort, and Bicardi.  While I’m back there, I hear a scream and a crash up near the front of the store.  I look around the Absolut cardboard cut-out of a hunky skiier sipping his screwdriver (made with Absolut) in front of a cardboard fireplace with some hot cardboard chick.  Near the cash register, there’s a short guy with a nylon stocking over his face.  He’s got a black pistol in his hand, and he’s pointing it at the clerk, an older guy who always smells like cigar smoke. 

He screams at all my friends to lie on the floor, but he doesn’t see me.  I grab a smaller bottle of Smirnoff (.5L) and sneak up the side aisle, the one near the coolers of boxed wine.

He shouts at the clerk to stuff all the money into a black satchel that he’s brought with him.  He keeps glancing around and waving the pistol, and although I don’t know a thing about guns, I imagine that it’s a semi-automatic, something that will “riddle me with bullets” like in a Raymond Chandler novel. 

In a single moment, several things happen at once:

The front door swings open, ringing the bell hanging just above the hinge.  It’s two college-age girls. 

My high-school best friend (the one I secret have a crush on) shouts at them to get out.

The gun man fires once toward the girls, missing them completely, but shattering the large glass display window that explodes into a billion pieces.  The crook pivots, aiming the gun at my best friend. 

I’ve seen all this happen, but my body is in motion without me thinking about it.  I’m climbing the cases of local New York wines, yelling at the top of my lungs like something out of Platoon, and I whip the Smirnoff bottle at the perp’s nylon-covered skull.

Later, when the police and ambulance lights are flashing at frantic intervals in the parking lot, when the cops are talking to each of us, writing furiously on their triplicate forms, when radios are buzzing with static and barking orders from some unseen dispatcher, I watch them haul the crook away on a stretcher, his head still bleeding from the force of my well-aimed blow. 

The girls, the clerk, the cops are all praising me — but it’s the full-body, never-ending hug from my best friend that makes my heart race. 

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently   listening :
  Buffy The Vampire   Slayer: The Album (1999 Television Series)
  By Various Artists – Soundtracks
  Release date: 19 October, 1999     

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego Strategy 8 – HALLOWEEN
Current mood: A little tipsy
Category: A little tipsy Life

I’m forty-one and hosting an Open Mic at Writers & Books.  People are crowding out the door to hear the speakers. 

A hush falls over the crowd as I approach the podium.  I drop a pin.  The crowd listens.  I snap my fingers.  The crowd looks bored.  I read my latest work. 

The crowd applauds.

After it’s all over, the guy in the back row — the one who had funny hair bumps and weird glasses — tells me he really likes my work and wants to publish me.  Can  I send him some more stuff?

I can.

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently   listening :
  Pure Disco  
  By Various Artists
  Release date: 08 October, 1996     

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego Strategy 7 — OLD
Current mood: Wistful Without Cause
Category: Wistful Without Cause Life

I’m seventy-nine and sitting near the canal.  It’s not an offical park, it’s a private place along the canal path, quiet and serene.  The afternoon breeze is kicking up just enough to make the tree branches make that wonderful wordless chanting.  The sunlight is bouncing off the ripples of the water in ways that poets would describe in phrases like:

Sunlight danced across my soul, or

The ribbed edges of life shine their glimpses of
Both silvern past and cerulean future

I’m having a good day — remembering most things that I like to remember — and my aches and pains seem a little less. 

A teenage boy comes by on a bike.  His hair is scruffy in the Han-Solo style that has come and gone so many times in my life.  He’s got a bookbag wedged behind the bike seat.

He stops, looks at me, pulls a book from the bag, and approaches.  I see that it’s one of my books.

“Is this you?” he asks, pointing at the picture of me back when I was forty-something, back when I first knew I was destined to be as bald as my father. 

“Yeah, it’s me,” I say.

“Cool,” he says, and sits in the grass next to me. 

We talk and talk as the wind and the sunshine and the water continue their business. 

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently   listening :
  Hymns of the 49th   Parallel
  By k.d. lang
  Release date: 27 July, 2004